I was born in Darlington and when I was four years old I declared to my parents that one day I would go to art school. And I did, I went to Glasgow School of Art. My first illustration job was when I was 15, I drew a horse for a bookies' window. After art school I worked as an editorial illustrator for a while, before having my first picture book published in 1998.
'How to Hide a Lion' was nominated for The Kate Greenaway Medal, The Redhouse Book Awards and won the Prix Livrentete. The New York Times wrote a lovely reveiw here. It has been adapted for stage by The Polka Theatre who are the talented people behind the stage adaptation of 'We're going on a Bear Hunt' by helen Oxenbury. The Guardian wrote some nice stuff here.
I regularly read at schools, museums and literary festivals, and taught on the MA in Children's Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. I have lectured for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and for the Association of Illustrators. My work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions and groups shows.
An exciting thing happening this year is the Picture Hooks Mentorship Scheme. Here we are, mentors and mentees.
Zoe Tucker, Art Director wrote this nice thing:
'Helen Stephens is my hero! Her work is beautiful, straddling a modern world with a nostalgic style. She has a good sense of humour and an amazing work ethic and most of all she challenges me all the time. She responds to my comments but always pulls a blinder with something better!'
I have illustrated for authors including Michael Morpurgo, Cécile Aubry, Sophie Hannah, Holly Webb and Roger McGough, as well as writing my own texts.
My favourite picture books always have a strong sense of place, so drawing from life is an important aspect of my work. When I illustrated the Michael Morpurgo books, I travelled to Switzerland and Venice so that I could draw, explore, and get a feel for the places he wrote about.