Blake set Child on a path, and years later – after she had been to art school in Manchester (and dropped out after a year), graduated from London’s City Guilds, worked as a window dresser and as a spot painter for Damien Hirst (a period that perhaps explains why she has been dubbed ‘the Tracey Emin of illustration’), and started a lampshade company called Chandeliers for the People – he was to cross her path again.
The Magic Pencil exhibition, curated by Blake for the British Council in 2002, featured more than 300 artworks by 13 of the country’s most gifted illustrators. Many were already household names – Raymond Briggs, Michael Foreman – but one or two were lesser known and scouted by Blake.
‘It was quite life-changing for me because it was right at the beginning of everything,’ says Child. Her first book, Clarice Bean, That’s Me was published in 1999. ‘So to be included was a very big thing.’
Blake considers the matter and laughs. ‘See! I was right!’ Child now lives in north London with her partner, Adrian Darbishire, a criminal barrister, and their daughter, Tuesday. Blake grew up in Sidcup, where his father was a civil servant and his mother was a housewife. As a boy, he was ‘silent, but drew a lot’, and had two cartoons published in Punch when he was just 16.