Bristol

Big Issue seller becomes children's book illustrator

  • 15 August 2011
  • From the section Bristol

A Big Issue seller in Bath has landed his dream illustration job after a chance encounter.

Jon Brown, who lives in a caravan near Bath, was selling the Big Issue outside Waterstones on Milsom Street.

While at his usual pitch he made a comment about illustration to a passer-by and was invited to sketch some drawings.

He has since designed the book shop's window display and is in the process of illustrating three children's books.

Mr Brown said: "I was standing in front of the window selling Big Issues and a woman came up and asked me to move out the way so she could take photographs of the children's books.

"I just said, 'oh I'd love to illustrate children's books' and it turns out she was writing a book about dragons and [she asked] could I sketch some."

Mr Brown said after making a few sketches he had showed the staff in Bath Waterstones, who in turn asked him to paint a dragon window display to promote Inheritance, a book by Christopher Paolini.

"Then someone else came to find me and they wanted me to illustrate three children's books that are already written and hopefully that will lead to even more."

Mr Brown said he had also been asked to proofread two further stories and do some sketches, but with the books in the early stages he was "not even allowed to show my mum".

Image caption A few sketches have turned into a large window display for Waterstones and a new book

"I'm quite proud of it [the dragon], I see little kids walking past and by the time they've got past it they're making noises like dragons."

Marilyn, from the art shop where John buys his materials, said: "He's really working himself up the ladder, through trying and working really hard. He's brilliant."

While illustrating, Mr Brown continues to sell the Big Issue, a job for people who are homeless, housed in vulnerable accommodation or the long-term unemployed.

"Some days it could be good, but most days it's not so good. You've just got to keep going with it.

"It gives me extra stuff to get out of bed for and I've been getting out the right side of the bed since this all started."

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