Gillian Tyler IllustrationBiography Gill Tyler

Close-up 1Making pictures is something that I have always done to amuse myself, and entertain my family and my friends. I was brought up in the small mining community of Thurnscoe in the Dearne valley of South Yorkshire and being always cheerful I became known as ‘Smiler Tyler’ on our street. From a very early age I realised that making pictures made people happy and I enjoyed being part of that process.

I am the second of four sisters who were all obsessive about making things. From a very early age we wrote and illustrated our own books, put on plays, dressed our dolls and made our own clothes. Home was always full of resources. Grandma had been a milliner and a seamstress. Mum liked to paint and she had a set of fine watercolour paints and a roll of watercolour paper under the bed which I would be allowed to cut a piece from if I was going to do something special.

Illos close-upWhen I was 10 my aunty Jean entered a picture of mine in the Doncaster Art Fair. To my utter amazement not only did it win first prize - I won £5! I remember the noise and the almost terrifying sight of her bursting through the door brandishing the note triumphantly in the air. At this point I thought there’s got to be something in this and I guess from that day on I never looked back.

Years later, I’m still trying to entertain with my pictures and amuse myself in the process. Sharing a beautiful book with a child is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I love the art of picture books and am fascinated by the way they come together. I constantly draw on my family and friends for inspiration. I’m also lucky to have almost total recall of my childhood. My earliest memory is of sitting in my big green pram looking for birds on the telegraph poles and I still entertain my sister with the story of what happened the day she was born. I was five at the time. I remember in great detail objects, emotions, faces, even complete conversations. I see pictures all the time and the art is just to get them down on the page in an accessible way. When I’m making a picture for a book I am just tapping into that enormous resource that was my own happy childhood.

Gillian Tyler