Learning From Oliver Jeffers

I’ve always liked Oliver Jeffers – both the man and his wonderful picture books. I first met him almost ten years ago, just after his first book, How to Catch a Star was published. It was at a Children’s Books Ireland conference in Dublin and from the start I loved his passion and his enthusiasm for his work.

The weekend before last I had the good luck to catch him not once but twice at Offset, a wonderful conference held in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin which celebrates design and illustration. He spoke to a crowd of thousands about his painting and his picture books. Afterwards he gave a very honest and inspiring public interview to one of the Offset organisers.

During this he spoke about ‘people who do things and people who talk about doing things’. Oliver works on a huge amount of different projects – often simultaneously – exhibitions of his paintings, exhibitions of his drawings, picture books, illustrating other people’s novels, book covers. He only takes on projects that he truly loves and he works HARD. His work has to mean something – to him. If it means something to him, then he figures that maybe it will mean something to other people too.

There is no secret to his success – yes, he’s talented and driven but most of all he simply ‘does things’.

He believes in his work. He believes that his work is important, yet approaches it with a sense of fun and play. Are YOU a doer or a talker? Do you believe in your work? Do you approach it with a sense of fun and play? It’s worth thinking about. We all have a lot to learn from Oliver Jeffers.

Yours in writing,