Children’s author and illustrator R.W. Taylor studied on the Access to HE Diploma (Art and Design).

His new book 'STARFISH, KITES AND FISH THAT FLY’ is his fourth book for children and the first featuring linocut illustrations, a process he discovered during his studies.

The book is a collection of stories and rhymes featuring High 5 the Spectacular Star Jumping Starfish, Kite Girl, Wriggle the Fish with the Frozen Fins and Fishy on a Fountain 1, 2, 3,.
His other publications include The Curiosity of Sadie, a collection of stories about a little girl and her puppy, A Little Girl You Might Know and Slap Dab.

Below R.W. Taylor talks about his experience of studying on the Access course and taking a leap to start a new career:

Since attending Leeds Arts University I worked mainly with primary schools to encourage the next generation to benefit from all things creative (and often all things wonderfully messy!). I’ve had work exhibited both locally and overseas and have continued my writing and illustrating career with both the publication of my four books, which I’m delighted are receiving such positive feedback, as well as illustrative work for the BBC Doctor Who range.

Since I completed Access to Higher Education course I became a member of the Print Workshop in Leeds. I have also continued to explore new creative ventures including the huge privilege to work closely in collaboration with Manchester International Festival and my hero Yoko Ono on the Bells for Peace project. There are already plans for my next book which will again be illustrated by linocut, but I won’t give away any spoilers about that at the moment!

Image: Courtesy of Richard Taylor

I attended Leeds Arts University on both Diploma in Visual Arts and Access to Higher Education where I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my experience. It truly is that – an experience, following what was a very different career, it was something that came at just the right time in my life and allowed the freedom to discover and experiment with new techniques, materials and styles amid a wonderfully nurturing environment. Every morning the creative freedom hits you as you enter the building – a feeling that anything and everything is possible. Although, the course requires a lot of hard work to get the most from it, no doubt alongside many other commitments and difficulties, it is something that needs to be fully embraced to get the very best from it. In order for you to shape your own experience and self-discovery of where you want to go once the course is completed, whether that be Undergraduate or Postgraduate courses or out into the big wide world.

Something my time at the University taught me was to rediscover the beauty of the world around us, the beauty of what can so easily be missed in unexpected places. My main inspiration has always been the next generation and this is why I write for children, to encourage their own imaginations, wellbeing, creativity and a love of the world around them. To children the world is new and something wonderful to discover every day, but as an adult we so often lose this.

What Leeds Arts University so often does is give us the opportunity to rediscover that part of us and learn to reach for our dreams once again. My dream was always to write and illustrate books and to encourage children, so because of my books such as ‘Starfish, Kites and Fish that Fly’ I am in some ways proof that at least some of our dreams can and maybe do come true.

I hope anyone joining the University, whether through Access to Higher Education or any other course, takes full advantage of the many inductions and workshops on offer, as you may not have yet discovered your passion. Before I joined I may well have known the direction I wished to proceed as an author but in all honesty I had never even heard of linocut let alone tried it! The day I took my first induction in the Print Room changed my illustrative style with bright and bold child friendly pictures interpreting of my words ever since, so don’t just let your work in newly discovered processes and materials challenge you - also never stop challenging the new processes and materials themselves.

I also wish to encourage and hopefully inspire children with all my books, as they have always had running themes of both a sense of belonging and a sense of freedom, two things we never really stop needing and two things that I’m sure you will gain in your own unique way from your time at Leeds Arts University.