The Great Cycle Challenge

This October I am taking part in the “Great Cycle Challenge” to raise money to help fight children’s cancer.


To see a little more about the kids and why it is import to raise money, follow this link


My current cycling goal is to reach 150km. In truth I would like to hit 200km, I will just have to see how I go. I am also hoping to raise at least $500. Again I would obviously love to help raise more.


So to help with the fundraising goal, I have decided to offer some incentives as gifts for people who donate. As I rarely offer original illustrations for sale this will be one of the few opportunities you will have to get one of my illustration.

If you donate $25 I will post you one of my books, signed with an original drawing in it. If you donate $50 I will send you an original drawing (see image below). If you are in the Canberra/Sydney area and donate $100 I will offer you either a visit to your child’s school to talk to their class about illustrating and writing books or a commissioned illustration of your pet. The offer for the pet portrait is internationally available. The first person to donate $50 will receive this image which I would call a part of my ‘New England” series.

Cycle challenge 1

I created this image on my recent trip to Boston/Cambridge Massachusetts, America. I will post other illustrations that are available on facebook as the challenge continues.

To donate my Cycle challenge page is

Edward Lear at Harvard

Imaging my delight and surprise yesterday, when after a morning or recording and sketching notes from the original Alice in Wonderland pencil sketches by John Tenniel (with even a few rough sketches by Lewis Carroll (aka Charles Dodgson) I found out the Harvard’s collection of rare books and manuscripts included works by Edward Lear. ELear book

While I didn’t get to see the Owl and Pusscat illustration on this visit, I did look through a wonderful collection of drawings for his 2nd book of nonsense. I was also give a copy of the Harvard Library Bulletin, special edition on the ‘Edward Lear collection at Harvard University’ (2011)

ELear Feathers

This collection is housed in the Houghton Library in Harvard Square. If you want to see some these amazing images check out the libraries webpage as they have scanned some of the work.

I love the ‘Newt’ (below), while a lot of Lear’s book of nonsense poems have simple and often quite distorted characters, you can get a idea of what an accomplished illustrator Lear was form these alphabet book images. If you look at his work online, check out his watercolour works as well.

ELear Newt

Ready to fly

I’m making final preparations for my trip to America on Wednesday. I am heading to the International Visual Literacy Conference which is being held at the Leslie University in Cambridge Massachusetts.  At the conference, I will be presenting a paper on ‘Illustrating Visual Language Research” at 10 am on Sunday the 17th. In which I discuss some of the overlapping theories from the academic world on illustrative works and from the world of illustration practice.

Slide Vector 6 v2

While I am in Cambridge I plan to take advantage of some of Harvard university’s collections. I will be heading to the wonderfully named “Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology” to draw some of the Mayan artifacts from expeditions conducted in South America in the last 1800’s. I plan to include these in an upcoming book project.


I also hope to get access to some early sketches by John Tenniel. Harvard has some of his early drawings for his version of the character of Alice, from Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass”. I’m sure that these will great for future research work and may link back into my current Thesis on illustrative work practices and visual literacy.

Houghton Lib Alice image

And finally, if I get time I would love to catch a train to Salem one evening for a ‘Voodoo, Vampires and Ghost walking tour’. I’m sure that this tour would be illustratively inspirational in some way. It should also be heaps of fun as I haven’t done a Ghost tour in years, The last one I went on was at Port Arthur in Tasmania.


Little Pig Dress Up

With Book Week almost here, 21st to 26th of August, kids around Australia are starting to gear up for the all-important ‘come to school dressed as your favorite book character”’ day. My niece Eleanor has asked her mum help her make a Little Pig costume this year. So this is for you Eleanor I hope that it helps. I would love to see a photo of you all Ninjaed up. Little Pig dress up smf

If anybody else wants to try and dress up as Little Pig or one of the other Ninjas from my books, Samurai vs Ninja. I would love it if you could post your photos here as well.

WestWords in Parramatta

I will be in Parramatta (N.S.W, Aust.) for the next 2 weeks as an illustrator in residence at the Parramatta Artist Studios. This is a program organised by WestWords ( .

During my time here I will run workshops at the Max Webber Library,

Friday 7th July 10:30 to 12:30(tomorrow).

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 8.25.16 am

Today I set up an exhibition of illustrations from the PhD research interviews that I have conducted with such illustration greats as Ann James, Stephen Michael King and Graeme Base. This runs through to Tuesday the 18th of July.


Tuesday the 11th, I will be giving an illustrators’ talk at 6:30pm at the Parramatta Artist Studios, level 2/68 Macquarie St, Parramatta. There will be a light supper and wine.


Thursday the 13th, I will run 2 workshops at the Parramatta Artist Studios 9:30 to 11:30 and 12:30 to 2:30.

Wednesday the 19th talks at Parramatta North Public School.

In my spare time I will be working on a picture book project and finishing an academic paper to a conference presentation in September in Boston (ma, USA).

If your in the Parramatta area feel free to send me a message (on Facebook or in comments below) and you are more than welcome to come along to the studio and see the progress on the picture book project or just have a coffee and a chat.

IVLA conference 2017

I have been lucky enough to have a paper accepted for the International Visual Literacy Association Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For those of us not from the States, that is right next to Boston and the home Harvard University and a number of other universities, I will be presenting at the Lesley University. The conference runs from the 14th to the 17th of September.


My paper on ‘Illustrating Visual Language Research’ comes from the research that I have been doing for my Ph.D. at the University of Canberra. I have been extremely lucky to have had a number of generous illustrators open their studios and their homes to me. Allowing me to invade and ask all sorts of questions about how they create their amazing images.

Blog image 1 announcment

I would like to thank Graeme Base, Rod Clement, Sarah Davis, Stephen Michael King, Freya Blackwood, Ann James, Gus Gordon and Matt Ottley. Who all gave so generously of their time and patience.


I would love to share more about the talk, but that would mean you no longer have an excuse to come and see me in Cambridge! I am sure that you will be able to follow some of the proceedings on social media in September.

Build your story night

I will be taking parting in an event organised by the ACT Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) on Tuesday evening, 5:30 pm to 9 pm, on the 20th of June. The event, “building your story” will be a great night if you’re interested in creating your own stories or just love children’s books. There will be a number of author talking about story structure and plot work.

SCBWI June2017 ACT

I will be presenting a talk on illustrating story plot elements. This will be one of the first events that I have done since completing some extensive research into illustration as part of my doctoral research. So I intend to skim some of the words of wisdom on the night, from such great illustrators as Stephen Michael King, Graeme Base, Ann James, Rod Clement, Freya Blackwood, just to name a few.

I hope to see you there.


For more SCWBI events visit their web page,





(Stian Hole)

From 09 to 30 September 2017, the International Centre for the Picture Book in Society (ICPBS) will host an exhibition in collaboration with BIBIANA, the International House of Art for Children in Bratislava, Slovakia. The exhibition, titled MIGRATIONS, will coincide with the Biennale of Illustration in Bratislava (BIB) and its symposium.

The Brief

 We invite our illustrator friends to send us a postcard (10x15cm) with your illustration of a bird on the picture side of the card and a relevant message, phrase or thought on the theme on the message side of the card.  The bird could be representative of a real bird from your country, a fictitious bird from your culture or your own fantasy bird. The postage stamp from your country of residence and your name will indicate the flight of your artwork first to the UK, then to Bratislava and who knows … to further exhibitions thereafter.

Hello! Notable Book CBCA awards 2017

Notable award 2017 Hello

I have been very fortunate this year as the book ‘Hello!’ which I illustrated for the National Library of Australia has been placed on the ‘Notable’ book list for 2017. This is wonderful recognition for the book that explores 12 cultural groups from multicultural Australia. As the libraries blurb says

“Yiasou! That’s hello in Greek!


Or would you like to say hello in Chinese? What about Italian or Korean? Murrinhpatha or Kaurna?


Meet 12 Australian friends who can speak different languages. They tell us how to count from 1 to 10, say hello and goodbye and lots of other words in their languages about play, food, hobbies and clothes.”



The Publishing industry is a funny one as it celebrates the authors and illustrators of any book. But as anyone who has ever worked on a book can tell you it takes a team to make a book. Hello! was the brain child of editor Joanna Karmel and publisher Susan Hall who were working with graphic designer (and an old friend mine) Liz Faul. In addition, each cultural group represented in the book was also reviewed by cultural advisors ranging from the Embassy of Lebanon, the Australian National University to indigenous advisors and Elders. A fall list of acknowledgements is printed on page 65 of the book.


I would to congratulate all of the people that have helped bring this project to life. Without your efforts the it would have been impossible to create this book.

I would also like to extend congratulations to all of my fellow author, illustrator and publishing team friends who have books represented on the CBCA’c Notable list (see link below for full list). It is a truely reward industry to work in.



If you haven’t had a chance to see the book ‘Hello!’ here is an extract from a book review;

“I see this sturdy children’s picture book being very useful in primary school libraries as well as pre-schools. Schools where children learn languages other than English will love the book as an introduction to general language acquisition. Each child shares a few phrases, and there are three indigenous languages as well as many more languages commonly spoken in Australia. In the back of the book, there’s an excellent pronunciation guide, as well as image resources from the National Library’s collection.


Apart from making an excellent choice as a non-fiction picture book for kids 3+, Hello would make a great school resource for celebrations like Harmony Day (March 21 in Australia) or Universal Children’s Day (November 20).” –  Susan Stephenson (August 2016


For a full list of the Notable Books for 2017, click on this link CBCA Notable Books 2017