Children's illustrator receives award at graduation ceremony
29 Jul 2015
Illustrator, Emily Gravett, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Brighton for her contribution to modern children’s literature and promoting literacy.
One of Britain’s foremost children's illustrators, Brighton-born, Emily’s rise to the top started from humble beginnings. She left school with four Grade C GCSEs and a Grade A in art, and spent eight years living on the road in a variety of vehicles including a truck and a caravan, before moving back to Brighton and getting a place on the Illustration BA(Hons) course at the university. Her first picture book Wolves, published in 2005, won a string of awards and marked the start of a stellar career creating books for children. Emily has won the Best Emerging Illustrator Award at the Booktrust Early Years Award with ‘Monkey and Me’. Emily advised graduates to “value imagination”. In Taipei and Korea, she said, children go to school from 8am to 5pm and then to an after school club until 11pm: “Undoubtedly they have more academic success than children here but even in specialised art schools I visited there is no emphasis on imagination or creativity and no time for the children to develop as people.” She urged teaching graduates to inject imagination and creativity in whatever subject they teach in the future.And, she said, “wasting time isn’t always wasting time”. The eight years she spent on the road, she said, allowed her to find out who she was: “So if you do nothing for a while you can be pretty certain something will come along and fill the gap.”She said “seize the moment”, take risks to make dreams happen, and don’t compare yourself to others: “It only leads to self-loathing or intolerable arrogance.” She said: ”My final piece of advice is not fear fear. Bravery is about feeling the fear and doing it anyway.”