Nick Butterworth (born 1946) Nick Butterworth has concentrated on children’s books since 1980, initially in collaboration with Mick Inkpen. He remains best known for the series featuring Percy the Park Keeper, which began in 1989 with One Snowy Night. He is now a partner in a production company, Snapper, which aims to produce high quality animation for children’s television. Q Pootle 5, a little alien character first introduced in book form in 2000, is in development.
Nick Butterworth was born in Kingsbury, North London, but moved to Romford, Essex, at the age of three when his parents took over a confectionery and newsagent. The shop gave him unlimited access to a wide range of inspiring comics, and from an early age he filled sketchbooks with cartoons.
This talent for drawing was encouraged by his art teacher. Then, on leaving school, he trained as a typographic designer in the printing department of the National Children’s Home. After working for several major design consultancies, including Pentagram, he formed a graphics partnership with other artists, including Mike Inkpen. Illustration proved such an important element of his work that, in 1980, he decided to concentrate on books for children. The reactions of his own son and daughter helped him to hone his texts and images to robust youthful tastes. On completing his first book, B B Blacksheep & Company, he began to produce the ‘Upney Junction’ strip for the Sunday Express Magazine. The success of the strip led to live appearances on the new TV-AM, telling and illustrating stories on Sunday mornings. Most of the stories were written by Mike Inkpen, who then developed as his regular partner in work on books, greetings’ cards and television programmes. Some of the illustrations for these projects were produced collaboratively, Butterworth drawing the line and Inkpen adding colour. However, Butterworth now tends to work alone. He is probably best known for the series featuring Percy the Park Keeper, which began in 1989 with One Snowy Night, while another of his acclaimed books, QPootle5, is likely to be animated for children’s television. Though he dislikes children’s books that moralise, he hopes that his work conveys the values of friendship and kindness. He also believes that good design is essential to the success of a book, and has stated:
To open the cover of such a book is like opening a doorway into a world of imagination where the things that happen have the effect of sending the reader back to the real world with a new sense of possibilities.
Recent publications include Annette Butterworth, Jake Our Hero (in the ‘Adventures of Jake’ series, Catnip) published in 2009; and Trixie (Puffin), published the same year. In 2012, Nick Butterworth published four books in a series for Collins Baby & Toddler, entitled When We Go Shopping, When There’s Work to Do, When We Play Together and When It’s Time for Bed. His most recent publication is The Fox’s Tale with Mick Inkpen.