There was no time for shyness at Ed Vere’s Festival talk, says Anthony Pius. Children and their parents had an hour full of fun and laughter, with a live drawing session of his famous character Max the brave kitten.
When it comes to Ed Vere’s illustrations, it all starts with a circle. “A circle that always turns into an eye. Then that eye turns into a gorilla or another animal for my picture books,” he explains. “Max the cat just appeared one day, I wanted to do something graphically simple.”
The award-winning illustrator has always liked to express his characters through minimal means and Max is as minimal as he can make him. But simplicity comes with challenges. Ed explains that trying to show emotion is the most difficult part when drawing his characters. Max doesn’t have a mouth which means Ed has to focus on the body posture and eyebrows to let the reader know how he’s feeling.
London-based Ed grew up with four cats, but surprisingly none of them were his main inspiration. Looking at life was. He believes that writing and illustration start with looking around you and taking the time to observe what’s in front of you. “I like my books to have a message where you can open up your mind to the world,” he says.
Exclusively for the Barnes Children’s Literature Festival, Ed read aloud from his latest in the Max series, Max and Bird, out 3 June. His aim with this book? To help children understand the value of friendship and togetherness.
“The talk was really good because Ed connected with the kids and even with the adults,” says mum Natalia, who was in the audience. “It was fun and really interactive. Everyone thinks they can’t draw, but Ed helped teach the kids how a shape can be turned into something magical.”