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James Newman Gray

James Newman Gray

I was born in Sheffield, and have spent most of my life there; close to my beloved Peak District where I love to walk, cycle and draw inspiration from. Drawing and painting is something I spent a lot of time doing as a child and is something I became good at through practice. I strongly believe practice makes perfect! Naturally after school and technical college I chose a degree in illustration at Wolverhampton University, which set me up well for a being an illustrator, and so far have enjoyed a long career doing what I love. 

Initially I was lucky enough to work in-house for several well known greeting card companies, the main one being Hallmark Cards. There I learnt my craft; trying many different styles and media both in traditional and contemporary illustration. I developed a few distinctive styles of my own, whilst continually trying out new things and keeping an eye on what was current. I love hand drawn typography and cute characters.

The illustration studio was introduced to the digital age through my persistence as I felt it was the way forward and I have never looked back. Now most of my work is done digitally, although quite often the paints make an appearance to do some mark making or textures. I also like to draw in my sketchbook from time to time, particularly line-work. For many years I worked on licensed characters and became a Disney approved artist to work on anything needed for Hallmark using Disney characters. I was also one of the main artists on a team that worked on the development of new forever friend artworks. 

After many years working in-house I decided to make a go as a freelancer, and my natural choice for representation was Advocate Art. They had provided Hallmark with quality illustration for many years, and so far I haven’t looked back. I am always kept busy with a wide variety of work in both greeting cards, books and magazines.

I am particularly proud of my work that has appeared in adult colouring books, and enjoy illustrating cute characters, which has set me up well for the children’s book market.

Other achievements as an artist include an appearance in the annual AOI exhibition and inclusion in their book, and also a watercolour panoramic view of Sheffield that was included in a touring show for the Sunday Times Watercolour exhibition. Watercolours are my favourite chosen medium for painting with, as the marks made with watercolour are very fluid and random at times, and they favour a more expressive technique.

Other than illustration I have many interests. In recent years I have taken up cycling and more or less walk and cycle everywhere. My poor old car sits there looking quite forlorn! I have been in many bands in my life as I have an interest in vintage synthesisers and acoustic guitar. I love acoustic music, and am a life long fan of Nick Drake in particular and often imitate his finger picking style.

I am a collector of vinyl records and also love to dance. I have been a northern soul dancer for some years now, despite dodgy knees! And have long believed in dancing being good all round for happiness, fitness and being smiley! I am keen on partner dance too; salsa, Lindy Hop, Charleston, and Jive in particular.

Books By James Newman Gray

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