Lauren Child and the art of wasting time

By Lauren Billings

Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child walks us through her creative process, and how we should all strive sometimes to just do nothing.

Lauren Child signing books at Book Marquee. Photo Credit: Liesel Bockl 2019.

Looking particularly fabulous in her tailored black suit and red, glittering gloves, Lauren Child poses the question: “Do we ever think about nothing?” While today’s social pressures can make us feel like we must always be doing something productive, Lauren asks us to stop and consider allowing ourselves time to do nothing at all.

“Let children just stare into space,” she says. “That’s when ideas really form.” Lauren also stresses the importance of doing things just for the fun of it. Having a strict teacher and doing grades caused her to quit practicing piano as a child. Now, as an adult, she has picked it up again, and says that concentrating on playing is her own form of meditation.

Thinking back on her own childhood, Lauren remembers the works that inspired her to draw. She would copy Peanuts characters freehand, over and over again, and would often create her own comics. Drawing and writing go hand-in-hand for Lauren, and she’s very particular about the look of her characters.

“If Charlie Brown’s nose was pointier, he wouldn’t be Charlie Brown,” says Lauren. “It’s the same for me; if Lola didn’t have her signature tippy eyes, she wouldn’t be Lola.”

Before becoming the household name she is now, Lauren worked as a receptionist, and would illustrate her now infamous characters, Charlie and Lola between tasks.

“I had cut out a drawing of Lola when the phone rang, so I put her down,” she says. “When I hung up the phone, I saw she was sat on the wooden table, and I loved the look.” Lauren’s use of collage, texture, and layering in her illustrations is iconic. Whenever she finds something she loves, she puts it aside for later use. This even includes hoarding envelopes with patterns inside that spark her interest, which she used effectively for her recent illustrations in P. L. Travers’ classic book, Mary Poppins.

Her latest spectacular book, Hubert Horatio: How to Raise Your Grown-Ups, stars a child genius who’s the best at everything, from scuba-diving to modern dance. Lauren’s passion for quirky, unique characters continues to shine through, and her signature style remains instantly recognisable. Look out for Hubert on bookshop shelves!

Lauren Child signing a young boy's book. Photo credit: Liesel Bockl 2019.

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