In our opinion, Alex Latimer’s unique drawings, in the form of ninjas, crocodiles and the like , have swooped down and saved the future of children’s books. The Capetonian author and illustrator recently launched his book, The Boy Who Cried Ninja, at the Book Lounge in Roeland Street. We find out more about Alex and his quirky style.
What is a typical day in the life of Alex? I’m usually up early for play time with my six-month old daughter. She does most of the playing while I wait for the coffee to work its way through my system. At around 8am I’m at my desk ready to work. Some days I draw and some days I write. Drawing days are best because it feels like my brain is on holiday while my hands are at the office.
What projects are you currently working on? I’m currently working on my third picture book. I completed my second last year. To me it feels I’m getting better and better at making them.
How would you describe your drawings? My illustrations are playful and often child-like – but I always try to include elements of humour in my work. Ninjas aren’t a regular feature in children’s books.
What inspired these characters? Ninjas are easy to draw. I wrote The Boy Who Cried Ninja before I was an illustrator so I chose characters that I felt I’d be better able to draw when the time came. I worked on my illustration skills for a couple of years before I started drawing the book.
What other recurring doodles can we find in your work? My stories influence what I draw – and the only major theme in my stories is silliness and humour. So whether it’s a fox burping the alphabet, a sunburned crocodile landing on the roof, or a moose who likes fencing – I’m happy to draw it.
If House and Leisure asked you to style a child’s room, how would it look? I’d make the walls a calm stone colour and add vibrancy through pictures hung on the walls and bookshelves crammed with great books.
Tea or coffee? Coffee until midday. Rooibos tea after that.
Describe your style. I’m very relaxed. But I work hard. Mostly so that I can finish my work and relax again.
Favourite thing to do in Cape Town? I live on the Peninsula – and I love just being outdoors. On the beach, on top of a mountain with my dogs, or milling around Kalk Bay or Simons Town. Do you work in an amazing space? I’m in the process of making a more creative studio space – my current space isn’t very inspiring, though it has a great view and a lot of sun. Those two things are very important. It’s in Glencairn, on the beach.
What age is your children’s book suited for? Ages three and up. There are elements in the story that older kids will also appreciate, and some things that perhaps only adults will get. The Boy Who Cried Ninja (R100) is available at The Book Lounge in Roeland Street, Cape Town. See Alex’s website for more details. And for his hilarious comics, visit The Western Nostril.