Author: J.W. Hawkins
I was born into one of the most suburban parts of surburbia, Chelmsford in the legendary county of Essex. It was growing up here that gave me a lot of inspiration towards creating the Wilderwood. Chelmsford is an odd place, essentially a tangle of little villages that have organically grown over the years into a city. This left a lot of very interesting quirks, such as farmers fields surrounded by housing estates, sheep and cow pastures beneath the motorway fly-over and other such unusual juxtapositions. It was due to growing up in such a place, both urban and rural at the same time that I started seeing many parts of our own civilisation reflected through and represented by various members of the animal kingdom.
This was further combined by growing up amongst a slightly unsusual family, my dad qualified to be a lawyer, yet never became one, simply because the bar association wanted him to cut his hair, refusing ever to buy a car and instead ferrying my sister and I everywhere as small children by means of a gigantic tricycle whilst wearing an aerodynamic hat that made him look like a luminous green seal.
Although I would like to think that my slightly off-kilter writing is entirely down to myself, I think that it's probably only fair to admit that my wonderfully loving, yet nonetheless somewhat odd family has had something to do with it all.
Illustrator: Matthew Burton
As a child I often wandered the surrounding forest of my hidden-away home in Buxton, otherwise known as "The Gateway to the Peak District". I studied the stream that passed by my garden, the life flowing through it and the tweeting above it. It's safe to say that I had a fond fascination with the workings of nature from an early age and I still do today. A forest, at least to me, has always been a canvas from which events of particular significance can or perhaps already have transpired. I see it as my responsibility as an Illustrator to not just present a scene to the audience but to show its history or even, in some cases, its potential future.
I studied Fine Art and Graphic Design at Prior Pursglove College and then graduated in Games Design at The University of Central Lancashire because I wanted to join the digital revolution of conceptualised art. It was in Lancashire where I finally met like-minded people who were also as weird as me, fascinated by the world around us, all wanting to paint their perspective on what it is they're studying.
I've studied environmental art for as long as I can remember and am proud to have made it my full-time profession. So, when I read an advertisement from a particular J.W. Hawkins looking for someone to help bring visual life to his wonderful writing, I had to make sure I was involved.