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“A picture tells a thousand words”, or so the saying goes, which is why choosing the right illustrator is important. The CopyPress take care to pair authors with many talented Kiwi illustrators who can elevate a story to that next level, and help to create something truly engaging for young readers.

Here we feature Mike Howell, an illustrator from Nelson/Tasman. Mike has had a hand in creating – either writing or illustrating – a total of 11 books through The CopyPress.

Mike says, “I have always been keen on art and took art as a major at Teachers College, studying painting and  photography. Later, Professor Ray Thorburn invited me to join the National INSEA art Education group, and over the next few years, I attended meetings and huis all over the country. In this time I met and talked to many of our leading artists and came to realise that art is a vital part of learning. I try to make all my artwork for stories educational and factually correct.

This experience was invaluable when I left Primary teaching and became Head of Art at Motueka High School for nearly 30 years.”

After Mike meets an author and discusses the design and layout, he creates an “online book” so that the author can keep up to date with his progress and and offer their input. He says it’s a helpful process, but can be frustrating, as their views can often be at odds with his own, due to different backgrounds and experiences.

“This is why I prefer to only choose story lines where we share common ground; ie: animals, birds and conservation concepts.”

Mike uses a combination of photographs, digital, pencil and paint to create his illustrations. The result is a mild collage effect, with plenty of lively detail.

“I’m often using my own photographs or those of a client as a base for painting, and pen and pencil work to finish.

“I draw inspiration from my eyes! Da Vinci said the secret of all knowledge is too know how to see … and I like to put in lots of small relevant detail to extend the readers understanding of the story visually”.

His favourite book for children is the classic Where The Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak.

“It is very short on words but huge in visual appeal and very creative with the monsters apparently representing Max’s emotions.

“I am amused that it was banned in some places because Max was sent to bed without supper and people thought that was too cruel as a punishment.
I think it showed that actions have consequences. I have used a little bit of shock treatment in a number of illustrations for stories I have worked on, and have had great feedback from each case.”

Grandad and the Three Greedy Goats (2015)
co-written with Clayson Howell

The Three Greedy Pigs and the Big Friendly Pig Dog (2015)
co-written with Clayson Howell

The Tale of Two Tough Toms (2016)

Tangaroa’s Fingernails (2017)

An Ode To Overstretching: The Old Gypsy Ways of Madame La Jaune (2017)
co-written with Lisa Howell (published by Amazon)

Taniwhasaurus (2018)
co-written with Clayson Howell

Ram on the Roof (2019)
written by Suzanne Clark

The Terror of Tavistock Road (2019)
written by Louise McIntyre

Micky Finds a Pet Human (2019)
written by Debbie Wastney

Micky’s Mischief (2020)
written by Debbie Wastney

Micky goes to Dog School (2021)
written by Debbie Wastney

The Dragon’s Egg (2021)



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