Illustration Inspiration: Jarvis, Creator of The Boy with Flowers in His Hair

An Illustration Inspiration interview with Jarvis, Creator of The Boy with Flowers in His Hair
The Children’s Book Review

In this interview, Jarvis shares why he makes art, his inspirations, and the process for creating the visually stunning picture book, The Boy with Flowers in His Hair. This touching tale gently explores childhood illness and the support of friends through acts of kindness and acceptance.

Jarvis is the author-illustrator of Tropical Terry; Follow Me, Flo!; and Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth and the illustrator of Pick a Pine Tree and Pick a Pumpkin, both written by Patricia Toht. He is also an animator who has worked as both a record jacket designer and an animation director. Jarvis lives in Manchester, England.

Read on!

I make art because …

I have to. I need to have something on the go- a book, a song, a poem, an animation…anything creative. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t. Even on vacations, my brain wanders into pictures and stories. I can’t help it!

The Boy With Flowers In His Hair: Book Cover
My latest published book is …

The Boy with Flowers in His Hair, published by Candlewick Press. It’s the story of David, a boy with flowers growing where hair usually does. It’s told from his friend’s point of view and it’s the story of their friendship.

Art medium used …

This book was the first time I used the iPad to make a book. So it may look like a collage of different mediums but it’s all in Procreate on the iPad. For a while, I was a bit snooty about digital brushes and art, but I found that I was able to draw so naturally that the art I was making felt more personal than ever before.

Jarvis Coloring
Artistic process …

When I’m writing I tend to write in pictures. As if I’m storyboarding a little film. When I’m illustrating I pick the one thing about a book that stands out—the thing that if you took it away, there wouldn’t be a book, and I focus all my energy on trying to create that in the most satisfying way I can. For this book, it was the flowers. Everything else then followed.

I am inspired by …

Simple concepts. Usually, the inspiring stuff catches your eye when you’re not looking. I’m not really one for leafing through other artists’ work looking for inspiration (although I do like to display books I like in my studio on those old school bookshelves).

My favorite place to create & illustrate is …

Alone. In my office. Music loud. Dog sleeping. Fizzy drinks. Chewy sweets…ideally.

My most used art supply or tool is …

Either the notes app on my phone, or Procreate on the iPad. After that, it’s whatever’s closest. I go through phases. Before the iPad phase I was obsessed with pastels, and before that cut-out paper. I have just bought a load of magazines and printed bits and bobs as I’m getting the urge to do some collage.

Illustrator idols …

Ralph Steadman is probably the first illustrator I was drawn to as a kid. I stole a book of his work from my art teacher. I love the contrasts in his work, the messy madness with the precise and bold shapes. His work is funny and strange and although I’ve never made anything like it, it has all the things that I like – mark making, bits of abstractness, funny characters, bold and striking images.

All-time favorite children’s book I didn’t illustrate…

This changes. My current favorite is a dreamy and unusual book called Little Fox by Edward van de Vendel and illustrated by Marije Tolman. It looks beautiful.

A literary character to create art with …

Someone enthusiastic. Let’s go with the little bird from Bob Shea’s book New Socks. He has a lot of creative energy and…new socks.

Currently working on …

I’m making a couple of books that started off as a song called Bear and Bird. It’s my first book with chapters and more words. A little collection of funny stories about friendship, loosely based on things from my life. It feels very natural and personal to me. It should be out next year.

To learn more, visit

About the Book

The Boy With Flowers In His Hair: Book Cover

Written and Illustrated by Jarvis

Ages 3-7 | 32 Pages

Publisher: Candlewick | ISBN-13: 9781536225228

Publisher’s Synopsis: Jarvis offers a moving tale of friendship, kindness, and acceptance, softly touching on the subjects of illness or hardship in a way that young children can understand.

Everyone likes David, the boy with flowers in his hair. He’s sweet and gentle, just like his colorful petals. David and his best friend have a great time together, finding the good puddles, making up songs, and running away from the bees. But one day David comes to school wearing a hat, and he is quiet. When he takes off the hat, his bright petals flutter down like butterflies. Now, where his flowers were looks twiggy and prickly, causing the other children to stay away. But David’s best friend has an idea—a way to help David get his color back, wielding paintbrushes and plenty of love.

Sensitively told and simply illustrated, Jarvis’s story invites even the youngest children to talk about difficult subjects in an age-appropriate way—and feel inspired to support others when they face trying times.

Buy the Book

THE BOY WITH FLOWERS IN HIS HAIR. Copyright © 2022 by Jarvis. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

Discover more illustration inspiration and books like The Boy with Flowers in His Hair, created by Jarvis, on The Children’s Book Review by following along with our Illustration Inspiration series and articles tagged with Acceptance, Friendship, Illness, Jarvis, Kindness, and Picture Book.

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April 26, 2022 at 12:44PM Guest Posts