Reading provides fuel for the imagination; it helps introduce children to new ideas, experiences and concepts that they might not get otherwise. Imagination is what drives invention, creation and progress. Allow your kids to recieve as many ideas in their minds as possible. Introduce them to a wide array of concepts, thoughts and notions. In return, their imagination will run wild with endless conceivable combinations and possibilities. They will be the ones who create an even better future! Pick up one of my books to read, enjoy and explore with the whole family:

Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison

This is a potent book. Look at just one line from it:

“Eddy is white, and we know he is because nobody says so.”

Eddy’s an alcoholic in Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not. There are non-white people in the book and we know that because the narrator can’t stop telling us about the color of their skin.

Reading this book led me to remember something I read a long time ago in an interview with Woody Allen:

When asked why there weren’t any black people in his films, he said “I don’t know the black experience well enough to really write about it with any authenticity. My characters are mostly New Yorkers, kind of upper-class, educated, neurotic. It’s almost the only thing I ever write about because it’s almost the only thing I know. I just don’t know enough about these other experiences.”

“My characters are mostly New Yorkers, kind of upper-class, educated, neurotic,” and we know they are white because nobody says so.

What an incredible failure of imagination on Woody Allen’s part that he cannot picture black people as New Yorkers, or upper-class, educated, or neurotic. What an incredible failure of humanity.

Then there’s this from an article published last year:

“Allen’s horrified when I bring up the subject. We talk about the new generation of wonderful black actors like Viola Davis and wonder if they’ll ever be cast in a Woody Allen film. He doesn’t hesitate to respond: “Not unless I write a story that requires it. You don’t hire people based on race. You hire people based on who is correct for the part. The implication is that I’m deliberately not hiring black actors, which is stupid. I cast only what’s right for the part. Race, friendship means nothing to me except who is right for the part.”

"I cast only what’s right for the part,” and we know those he casts are white, always white, because we can see them in his films.


Compare that narrowness to Toni Morrison’s breadth: “The imagination that produces work which bears and invites rereadings, which motions to future readings as well as contemporary ones, implies a shareable world and an endlessly flexible language. … How compelling is the study of those writers who take responsiblity for all of the values they bring to their art. How stunning is the achievement of those who have searched for and mined a shareable language for the words to say it.”


I am now accepting commissions.

I’m keeping things quite strict though, so this is how it will work if you’re interested in owning some original art.

If you would like to buy an original drawing, email me at rob [at] thisnorthernboy [dot] co [dot] uk , you can request one of the following:

A robot
A Spaceship
An imagined place

What you’ll receive will be a black and white pen drawing, on an A4 sheet of good quality, 200gsm cartridge paper. The artwork will be approximately A5 in size, centred on the paper so you can frame it easily if you’d like to. The drawing will be packed flat  in a hardback card envelope.

You can also request for the illustration to be landscape or portrait in orientation.

Any other requests – type of landscape, style of robot etc. can be made, but there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to take this into account. I know this sounds a little strict, but I only want to accept commissions that I’ll enjoy drawing right now, and in return you get a lovely surprise when you open your finished illustration.

What will this cost?

I’m going to charge a flat rate of £40 including post and packaging for the UK. And a rate of £40 + post and packaging for the rest of the world.

When you email me to request a commission, if you can include the country you’d like it shipped to, I’ll work out the cost of postage and let you know. If you’re happy with the overall cost I’ll accept payment by PayPal.

When will you get your drawing?

I’ll aim to complete and post all illustrations within two weeks of receiving payment.

What might your commission look like?

Well, it could look a lot like the illustrations at the top of this post. To see more of my work go here, here, here, or here.