Ian Coate is a renowned illustrator who has been depicting Australia’s wildlife, landscapes and inhabitants for over 25 years. So when we needed something special to celebrate this year’s Book Week theme, Australia: Story Country, we knew just who to ask. “Drawing cute Aussie animals was right up my alley and I love to read, so combining cute Aussie animals reading books was just fun,” says Ian, who has illustrated many books for in addition to his work as a commercial artist and visual historian.
When it comes to narrowing down his favourite children’s books, Ian says “That would be a long list […] But you can’t go past Australian authors: Mem Fox and Marcia Vaughan who wrote Possum Magic and Wombat Stew and the illustrators Julie Vivas and Pamela Lofts.” Like these well-known Aussie titles, Ian’s design for the pencil case features loveable native animals in a distinctively Australian landscape, huddled around the trunk of a gum tree enjoying their books together.
Ian says the best part of his job is “Expressing ideas through illustration – especially my love for Australia.” Having started at the age of 17, he’s got some words of wisdom to share with kids who share his enthusiasm for artistic expression. His advice is “draw what you love – it always shows in the finished artwork” – something that’s plain to see for anyone who receives one of our Book Week pencil cases.