In late 2005 I left my day job as a financial journalist and editor to pursue my true love of illustration full time. But I still consider an essential element of my work to be editorial – digesting an article, no matter how dry and technical, and coming up with the visual metaphor that will bring it to life.

I now illustrate regularly for a wide range of UK and international magazines and newspapers, including The Daily Telegraph and The Week magazine (both the UK edition and the US edition).

I am delighted to have illustrated my first two children’s picture books, I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll (March 2009) and When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore (April 2011), both Flashlight Press.

I have also illustrated the Ghost Detectors series (Adbo Publishing, August 2009); a selection of retold classics for children (also Adbo Publishing, September/December 2010); the cover illustrations for a series of four Kit Salter adventures (Quercus Books, March 2009); and the cover illustrations for the Alfie the Werewolf series (Hodder Children’s Books, April 2010).

I am represented in the US by my agent in North America, Jean Blasco of Blasco Creative.


25 Responses to “About Howard McWilliam”

  1. Alex F Says:

    My wife and I are in the very early stages of writing/illustrating a picture book, so we went down to B & N to do some “research”. We came across “I Need My Monster” and both wished it had been out when our son was younger. Regardless… I purchased the book due in large part to your fantastic illustrations. I’m hoping you can give me a little information on what “digital acrylic paints” are. I love the idea of getting that real paint look without the real paint mess. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Alex F

  2. Luke Says:

    Hi Howard,
    I found your website after having seen your illustrations on the front of the week magazine. Your caricatures are really brilliant.
    Can you give any advice on how you get a likeness of a person? What are the things you look out for when you do a caricature, I’m guessing it’s not about proportion because you distort those a lot. Is it expression?

    Thanks a lot,

  3. Jason Says:

    Love your work!!Just came across it at children’s illustrator website.
    I’m an aspiring illustrator myself and your art is influential.Keep it up!!

  4. thegolar Says:

    Hi McBill. Absolutely loving your illustrations. I saw a piece of yours in Police Review and thought I’d take a look over here. Inspirational story too. I’d love to take the plunge myself and do the same but I’m waiting to hone my skills a little first. Keep up the great work.

    • mcbillhow Says:

      Thanks very much, and good luck with your own work. Took me over three years to leave the day job after I first considered it…

  5. Andrew Black Says:

    Hi Howard,

    great work. Do you sell your originals ?

    Andrew B

    • mcbillhow Says:

      Thanks Andrew. Because of my technique, my only originals are pencil sketches. When someone wants to buy my work, I tend to offer signed and/or mounted one-off art giclee prints of the final piece. The original is one of the casualties of the digital working method unfortunately.

  6. Jeriann Says:

    Hi Howard,

    Did you sketch this cartoon?

    I’m hoping to use it for a published poster for scholarly research and want to make sure I have permission, first.


    • mcbillhow Says:

      Hi Jeriann,
      Yes, I did. Can I ask how the poster is going to be published, and where distributed? We can arrange it through email if you like.

      • Jeriann Says:

        Thanks for writing back! I would be happy to contact you through email if you can give me one. It will just be an undergraduate research poster, printed only for the sake of a poster presentation session at a university as a graduation requirement.

        If you can leave an email address, I’d be happy to write you with more information!

  7. Roxie Rodriguez Says:

    Hi there Mr McBill, I am currently new to all this as far as illustrating childrens books, I just signed my first contract two weeks ago and so excited, its been a life long dream of mine. I just need someone to give me the chance… While I was doing some research at BnN, your books, “When a Dragon moves in”.. and “I need my Monster” really caught my eye, the illustrations are so inviting and fun, truly inspiring !!!!.. Fun and colorful creatures.. I was curious when you started getting into drawing where you knew that it was what you wanted to do..?.. You probably get this a lot but if you had two pieces of advice to give me, what would they be..?

    Thanks for the inspiration!!!

    • mcbillhow Says:

      Hi Roxie,
      Thanks for your kind words, and congratulations on signing your first contract. As a child I always wanted to do something artistic when I was older, and you were probably the same – life just threw up the odd road block and diversion in my case via writing and magazine editing.
      As for two pieces of advice, mine comes from the editorial side of the fence where I started off. The first would be that I find attitude goes a long way: if you are flexible and make an editor’s requested changes to your work without complaint, even if you were really attached to the elements that have to go, it will work in your favour in the end. In my experience and from knowing editors, this can sometimes seem almost as important as artistic ability: the most incredible artist in the world might find the commissions drying up if they’re a prima-donna to work with. Editors really appreciate an easy and collaborative working relationship. That’s my main piece of advice, and the second is fairly lame and obvious: make sure you meet your deadlines!
      There, hope that’s helpful in a small way, and I hope you enjoy working on that children’s book!

  8. Sylvia Lang Says:

    Hi Howard,

    I’m currently writing my bachelor thesis about the consequences of helicopter parenting in emerging adulthood.

    I found this cartoon of yours and I wanted to ask if I get permission to put it into my thesis.

    The cartoon I’m talking about: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mdxpym5S1l1qzpwk0o1_400.jpg

    I’m not going to sell it or make money out of it in any way, just hoping to get a good grade. 🙂


  9. pacomontoya Says:

    Howard, I absolutely LOVE your style. Love how alive your illustrations are. I happen to see the book “I Need My Monster” on a road trip and wrote down your name to do some more research on you. Curious if you ever post any of your original sketches online for people to see. I’m assuming you go in digitally and color in? Not sure if you keep the original sketches or not, but if you do, I’d love to see them! Keep up the awesome work and can’t wait to see more from you.

    • mcbillhow Says:

      Thanks! I occasionally post a sketch in its progress to final, and yes you’re right: I sketch on paper to begin with, and then all colour after that is digital. If I fail to post any sketches here (have been very busy lately), I might email you a couple for your interest.

  10. Dave Martin Says:

    I have a unique children’s story that I wanted to share with you. I think it would be on par with “I Need My Monster.” It hasn’t been done before, and I think it would go over well. I live in Southern California and have been published in several forums. I have two-children and when I told this story to my son, he couldn’t stop laughing. I had to tell the same story with slightly different themes each night for ten days. I think it’s a real winner. Dave Martin.

    • mcbillhow Says:

      Your story sounds interesting Dave, and I’m certainly intrigued, for its comic potential for my own sons if nothing else. However, I’m afraid I’d be unable to illustrate it, as I’m so maxed out with work from my regular publishers – schedule filled into 2016. Sorry about this.

  11. Erich Schöps Says:

    Dear Mr. McBill,

    I find that your caricature of Cameron clinging to a strong, heary, Scottish leg and begging “please don’t go” says it all. For the forthcoming renegociation of the UK terms with the EU I suggest that you simply replace the PM with Donald Tusk (the new President of European Council) and have him clinging to a Beefeater. It would reinforce the feeling of many Brits that “they need us more than we need them” and encourage the PM to be tough with that bunch of backward continentals.

  12. Dear Mr. McBill,
    I am creating a facebook page called Legendary Love Affair and would love to use your parody of The Kiss. Is this copyrighted? Can i use it and give you credit? Thank you.

  13. Corinne Says:

    I am wondering how you create your illustrations? Did you use technology in any way or just pencils, pens etc…?

    • mcbillhow Says:

      Hi Corinne,
      After a pencil sketch on paper, I use a mixture of Photoshop, Corel Painter and Procreate (iPad Pro) to create my art. Makes it much easier to accommodate deadlines and change things for editors!

      • Jon Says:

        The front covers you do for The Week are sensational – there’s so much detail and I love the humour – it’s worth buying the mag just for these! Are you really doing these masterpieces mostly with Procreate? And how long does it take you, especially when you’ve got lots of prominent people to draw – is there anybody/thing you can’t draw? And it would be great if you could put up a video blog on how it’s done – surely you can’t be doing each illustration from scratch?

        Long may your genius continue, regards,


      • mcbillhow Says:

        Thanks very much, Jon. I do about 95% of the work in Procreate these days, just a few finishing touches in Photoshop. I normally get around a day to work on a cover, and they take between 8-12 hours to complete. However, I’m working on a cover for a book we’re bringing out in October, of a decade of my work for The Week, which is taking about ten times that – with 48 faces in it! The book will explain my process a bit, but yes, I do start from scratch: Procreate allows you to record video of the painting process, and I’ve been intending to post a few, but have been looking in vain for a way to speed them up a bit. They’re time-lapsed, but still last seven or eight minutes which seems far too long. (Though if I could paint that quickly I’d be happy!)

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