I’ve seen children spending an unprecedented amount of time hypnotised by a screen. This is one of the reasons I am so excited about this book. I believe it is very important for children and families to have interactive activity books in today’s hi-tech world! Don’t get me wrong computers and the internet are useful for learning and growing, however, my book provides something wholly different. Books are about pushing the imagination and activity books like mine are the spark to encourage children to create their own pieces of art. It’s about nurturing the imagination together. Direct involvement in reading and hands-on activities will benefit both the adult and the child. There are so many benefits, such as improve concentration; recognition of colour and shape; fine motor development; hand-eye co-ordination; sense of personal accomplishment and probably my favourite is that you learn whilst having fun. We are living through a very weird time where we are spending a lot more time at home and with our close family and friends so it really is important to limit time spent on the computer and spend more time interacting, inventing and playing in real life with real life activities, and activity books are perfect to encourage this play.
Q: What about Fun for Fingers makes it unique?
A: Fun for Fingers! was born out of years of working with children and families, developing the importance of play and developing my aesthetic style. It follows in the footsteps of my heroes Nick Sharratt and Herve Tullet, both masters of the interactive book. However, I hope that Fun For Fingers! is paving its own path in its own unique way. I have yet to find a book as performative as mine, a book that allows you to play on your own as well as with a friend, or a book which is as fun and accessible as mine. The point of my drawings isn’t to distance myself from you, it’s about bringing you closer, making sure every reader realises that they too can be an artist, that they can create games wherever they see fit; from giant games in the garden or local park, to drawn games in the back of an exercise book. Nobody understands and supports play like I do. So have a go, create, invent, play and most importantly have fun.
Q: Has your experience with theatre prop and set design helped you with this book?
A: I have been working in the theatre industry for nearly 20 years. I trained in Theatre Design/Design for Performance at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design graduating in 2004. I started making props and designing sets at several theatres, from The West End, to repertory theatres, to community art venues including working in Wormwood Scrubs prison, women’s refuges, mainstream and SEND schools. And in 2012 I created A Line Art https://www.alineart.co.uk, an interactive art and theatre company with poet-partner Arji Manuelpillai. We specialise in creating interactive playful art events and theatre performances for children, young people and their families. We tour our work to weird and wonderful places all over the UK and across the world, from libraries to schools, from shopping centres to art galleries, from theatres to outdoor spaces.
I’ve always thought picture books are like mini stage sets and the person reading the book is the audience/participant. When you create a set for a stage you have to draw a smaller version of the design and make a miniature model box which always remind me of a picture book. Since creating A Line Art and working and playing with 1000’s of children and families over the years it has given me the passion and inspiration to create playful picture books and activity books. I love seeing families jumping, dancing, wiggling on my illustrative games, laughing whilst having fun together. That’s why I’m so excited to hear about audiences playing the finger games, I want to see pictures of new creative games and I can’t wait to see this grow into a Fun for Fingers! world for everyone and hopefully there will be more to come!