As the illustrator of the Gruffalo, Axel Scheffler has achieved what many picture book artists can only dream of: the goofy monster with his pointed claws and bright orange eyes has crept into children's rooms a million times over and spread little scares. But what is the secret of the Gruffalo's success? What kind of artist is behind this genius creation? Axel Scheffler is a master of subtlety, a humorous storyteller and a keen observer of human emotions.
He has developed an unmistakable pictorial language, characterised by a luminous yet muted colourfulness, by a high plasticity of his figures - animals mostly, but also humans and sometimes monsters - and by expressive facial expressions. His characteristic faces are now often imitated.
Axel Scheffler has found a congenial professional partner in the author Julia Donaldson, with whom he has worked for many years and not only created a bestseller with the Gruffalo. He also illustrates his own stories and texts by others. His readership is primarily children of picture book age. However, Axel Scheffler also illustrates for an adult audience.
On the occasion of Axel Scheffler's 65th birthday, the International Youth Library is showing well-known and less well-known works from the illustrator's studio. Originals, sketches and preparatory work provide an insight into the studio of an extraordinarily productive and witty illustrator who is far more than the father of the Gruffalo.
The exhibition opens on 13 October at 7 pm.
Illustration 1: aus: Axel Scheffler; Frantz Wittkamp, In die Wälder gegangen, einen Löwen gefangen © 2016 Beltz & Gelberg in der Verlagsgruppe Beltz, Weinheim Basel
Illustration 2: © Axel Scheffler, Gruffalo
Illustration 3: © Axel Scheffler, Lieschen Radieschen, 1994