Satoshi Kitamura

Satoshi Kitamura was born in 1956 in Tokyo After dropping out of school to pursue art, Kitamura decided not to attempt a 10-year apprenticeship as a potter and instead worked as a graphic artist.

He was not trained as an artist, but at the age of 19 began to do commercial work as an illustrator for adverts and magazines.

He moved from Tokyo to London in 1979 where he worked mainly at designing greeting cards. More than twenty publishers declined his work until Klaus Flugge of Andersen Press asked him to illustrate Angry Arthur in 1981 after he had an exhibition of his work at the Neal Street Gallery in Covent Garden.

Since then he has published more than 20 of his own books, as well as illustrating many more.

He says that when he was young he read comics and admits that these have had a great influence on his style. He refers to Kamishibai as an early influence, as well as the story of Heinrich Schliemann told by a primary school teacher.

His work is known for quirky perspectives, brilliant watercolours, attention to detail and unique characters and for regularly including animals or animal characters, most frequently cats. Boots the cat is a recurring Satoshi Kitamura character featuring in two board books and The Comic Adventures of Boots, a picture book whose style is reminiscent of graphic novels and comics.

Regular collaborators include Hiawyn Oram, Roger McGough and John Agard. Satoshi Kitamura worked with Colin McNaughton to create Once Upon an Ordinary School Day, published in 2004, Sheep in Wolves' Clothing was adapted into an animation series that screened on the BBC and also sold to overseas markets.

In 2009 he left London and returned to Japan to care for his parents, but continues to travel and work for publishers across the globe. Apart from writing and illustrating children's books, Satoshi has been commissioned for various projects including Tokyo Underground posters, signage at Birmingham Children's Hospital and designing stationery. He also translates David McKee's Elmer the Patchwork Elephant series for the Japanese market.

With thanks to James Stacey and in partnership with the Japan Foundation

Satoshi Kitamura Online

The Guardian: Satoshi Kitamura - a life in pictures