Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 11, 2015

Illustrator Saturday – Ed Briant

1010579Ed Briant is an author, illustrator, and sequential artist, living and working near Philadelphia.

Ed’s mother had always wanted him to become a dentist. Ed’s father had his heart set on Ed becoming an accountant. Not wanting to disappoint either of his parents Ed chose to compromise, believing that a career as an illustrator would combine the thrill of oral examinations with the glamor of adding up long columns of figures.

In the end being an illustrator proved to be more like being a fireman. The phone would ring, Ed would leap on his bike, and ride as fast as he could to the offices of The Times, or Vogue, or The Guardian. Once there he would be commanded to produce a minor work of art in barely more time than it took to scratch his head, make a mug of tea, and sharpen a pencil.

One afternoon the phone rang and it was Glamor magazine in New York. This time Ed left his mug of tea untouched and his pencils unsharpened. He left his bike locked to the railings outside the British Museum and for once he took public transport. A few hours later Ed found himself scratching his head, making tea, and sharpening pencils in a tiny room on New York’s West 11th Street. But even here the phone continued to ring. This time the callers were from Premiere, The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Pentagram, and many others.

A decade and many hundreds of illustrations later Ed found himself yearning for something a little more long-term. What would it be like to spend more than an hour on a piece of art?

Still in New York, Ed began frequenting dingy bars late into the night. Finally after many months––and far too many Cosmopolitans––Ed met up with Neal Porter of Roaring Brook Press. Plots were hatched, book deals were signed, and Ed embarked on a new career as an author-illustrator of picture books and comics.


Now Ed can spend weeks on a single illustration. He can spend days merely scratching his head and making tea while he dreams up the perfect concept, but every now and again he still casts his mind back to his days as an illustrator-fireman. There really was a kind of thrill and glamor in the frenetic world of editorial illustration. Could he ever go back to it? Would he even have the energy now?

After all, his bike is still chained up outside the British Museum.

Here is Ed sharing his process:






Two Pictures books below.


Interview Questions for Ed Briant:

How long have you been illustrating?

Since 1980 (35 years. Yikes!)

What was the first thing you created where someone paid you for your work?

An editorial illustration for a magazine called the Tatler. This was humorous piece about school dinners.

How did you end up living in the USA after being born in England?

Around 1985 I began doing regular illustrations for Mademoiselle and Glamor in New York. After a while it just made sense to move here.

In your bio you do not mention if you went to college to study art. Did you study art in Philadelphia? What did you study?

I studied Illustration at Central St. Martins in London.

What helped you to develop as an illustrator?

My girlfriend at the time, Caroline Nisbett, probably had the biggest influence on me. She basically taught me how to draw during a bus journey in Brighton England.

How did you get involve in News Papers and Magazines?

I was a motorcycle dispatch rider for a photo processing business, delivering black and white prints to magazines and newspapers.

How many years did you do that type of work?

Only about six months.

Did you always work full time illustrating?

No. I also teach and write.

How many children’s books have you illustrated?

10 in total. I’ve written two books that I didn’t illustrate.

What was the first picture book that you illustrated? When did that happen?

Paper Parade. It was initially based on paper sculptures I made for my new-born daughter, Rachel.

How did you manage to get that contract?

Pure Luck.

Do you think your style has evolved since you attended college?

I used to use gouache for all my color work. Now I use acrylic.

Do you use Photoshop in any of your work?

Yes. My comics.

Would you consider working with an author who wants to self publish?

Yes. Depends on the book.

Have you worked with educational publishers?

If so, which one’s? Oxford University Press.

Have you done any artwork for children’s magazines?

Nick Junior.


Are you represented by an agent?


Do you do any types of promotion on your own to get your work seen by publishing professionals?

I send out samples to connections on Linkedin. It seems fair as it’s a business connection platform.

Have you gotten any work through networking or the Internet?

Yes. Linkedin and Facebook.

Do you use software for painting like Photoshop or Painter?


Do you own a graphic tablet? If so, how do you use it?

I draw out the line work using traditional pen and ink, then scan the drawing, and use the tablet and photoshop to add color/ texture/revisions.

How much time do you spend illustrating?

I illustrate when I’m not sleeping, writing, eating, or walking my dogs.

Do you have a studio set up in your house?

Yes. I love my studio, but I’m breaking it down now as we are about to move.

Do you still do artwork other than for children?

Yes. About half of my illustration is for children, and half for general audiences.

Do you ever exhibit your work?

Yes. Usually about once a year there’s a show somewhere.

Any picture books on the horizon?

Always. It’s the horizon that varies.

What are your career goals?

To keep making art until I can’t see any more. Although Monet kept going after he was blind.pier-fb
What are you working on now?

A picture book and a middle grade novel. I’m also putting work together for a possible exhibition.

Are there any painting tips (materials, paper, etc.) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?

Draw every day. Fill a sketchbook a month.

sound-the-moon-04Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?

Be persistent. Don’t give up. And remember that happiness is not necessarily linked to commercial success.img_3872


Thank you Ed for sharing your talent, process, and journey with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us.


If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Ed. I am sure he’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Lovely!!: I’ve really like his style. Thanks a lot!


  2. Unique styles in some of the pictures. Very original!


  3. Great post. Loved the nice short answers and the whole story. Illustrations are fantastic. Thanks for another excellent interview, Kathy.


  4. Thank you for sharing your work! Very fun and eccentric – I really enjoyed it!


  5. Thank you for interviewing me, and posting my work, Kathy.


  6. I really enjoyed this post, love the pictures and the story. It was interesting to see the changes in style, yet the hand of the artist/illustrator remained strong.


  7. Wonderful interview and such interesting artwork, thanks Kathy and Ed!


  8. Oh! I’ve just spotted typo error. Caroline Nisbett was your wife.


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