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I live a dangerous life. A life on the edge...
...the crater edge of the greatest volcanic explosion in human history (also known as Lake Taupo in New Zealand). Its last eruption was recorded by Roman and Chinese scholars in AD180. Perhaps living beside this sleeping giant explains my drive to seek an international audience for my books – I want to leave my mark on the world before the world leaves its mark on me.
I came into this world in 1971, a stone’s throw from the golden beaches of Perth, Australia. Alas, my life as a bronzed, speedo-wearing, barbarqued prawn eating surf god was not to be. Instead my family returned to New Zealand and I grew up nestled between, what would one day become, Hobbiton and Mordor in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. The bush and geothermal areas around our home were great adventure lands, where spiky Cabbage Trees became Dr Suess' Truffala Trees and the stone strewn hills were a perfect stand-in for Bill Peet's Droofus The Dragon.
Artistically my early years were dominated with dinosaurs, and I created such classics as Person without a Skellyton. As I got older others began to take full advantage of my drawing skills. Mum used my drawings for her high school classes, and pictures of Kenworth trucks were a great way to get the school bully on-side.
At the age of seven a major creative input came into my life, when mum read us The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. This was an amazing source of material for an imaginative little mind, which kept me going for years. My grandmother would be horrified as my Grandfather encouraged 'more gore!'. An illustration of Shelob and Kentucky Fried Frodo is typical of the period.
Soon after I discovered Asterix and Footrot Flats, and I began drawing funny little comic strips of my teachers and classmates, utilising such time honoured lines as 'the students are revolting!'. When the family moved to Indonesia for 4 months I spent my time maintaining a detailed comic of everything I saw. When our correspondence work didn't arrive for 3 1/2 months it became an obsession.
High School art took me someway down the path to a career in art. But it was my parents who introduced me to something I never even knew existed - Graphic Arts. At the end of high school I was accepted into the AUT school of Art and Design in Auckland. This was what I was after - and dark and twisted paintings for graphic novels were the order of the day. Emulating my heroes, Kent Williams and Dave McKean, I created an attitude laden 90 year old character of myself, who lived in some totalitarian future. That was until final year, when we were informed that we had to prepare for a real job.
My wife and I graduated right in the middle of a recession. When no-one leapt at the chance to employ us we ended up starting our own design business. I soon fell back on my illustration skills doing storyboards for TV Commercials. My first big break came doing regular editorial illustrations for The Listener magazine.
Since then I've illustrated more than 100 stories and book covers as well as over 70 books, including the international hit Dinosaur Rescue series (with award winning author Kyle Mewburn and published in 13 countries), the bestselling Wheels on the Bus, Old MacDonald's Farm and Harry Hobnail and the Pungapeople by beloved New Zealand author Barry Crump. I've also written and illustrated half a dozen books - most notably Faithfully Mozart which was a finalist in the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.
Having fun is singing and playing guitar and piano with my bandmates "Toe Jam" and being vocalist for the funk-jazz ensemble "Hot Tub". I also love getting up on stage for the odd muscial and have played Marius in Les Miserables and Frank in the rock horror comedy musical Fang. Unfortunately I hardly have any time for windsurfing, yoga and volleyball. I live in Taupo with my wife and 3 daughters.