Ned Jolliffe


Oxford, England

I am an illustrator from London, England, but thanks to heritage and upbringing I’m somewhere between 30% and 90% Australian, I’ve never been able to decide. I have always drawn and it’s my major. I minor in talking to strangers and bonhomie. I am, somehow, incredibly, all of a sudden in my mid-fifties … married with a fantastic family, eleven of us if you count the animals.

“There are only seven basic human problems.”

Any person who really helped you in your awesome artistic journey?

I was left to my own devices, a bit of a latchkey kid. My first boss saw through the disaffected teenaged fuck-you thing that I had going and offered me a job in his graphic design studio. I arrived three hours late for the “interview,” sauntering through the building playing a harmonica. What a little twerp! Despite this inauspicious beginning, I worked with him for five years and he taught me the trade of (pre-Mac) design: typesetting, layout, color mark -up, chromalins, wet proofs, etc., …
and late-night drinking. Thank you, Ed!

Have any special tricks or insights into how to connect with your audience and make ‘em respond?

Not in an especially cognizant way … I believe in storytelling, I suppose, by which I mean that we all have a shared situational vocab and I plug into that somehow. I illustrate an agony column for a

newspaper here in the UK, where my job is to encapsulate the dynamic on the page, which I think I’ve gotten good at over the years. I’ve sort-of kind-of developed a theory: there are only seven basic human problems, and all the multitudinous maladies in our lives are simply variations of this archetypal core. And this common base makes us all very relatable to each other. That understanding underpins what I draw and also what I WANT to draw. Does that make sense?

How does creativity run in your family?

Both my mum and dad were animators, and pretty big names in that industry. They worked on the Yellow Submarine together. My (long-dead) dad is revered even today for the “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” sequence. I have to admit, it’s three minutes that captures an era. He was a true artist, I think. But I am easily the better father! Can one be both?

What did you get in trouble for as a kid? Anything adults told you to avoid that’s actually a big part of your life now?

My younger self had quite the opposite pressure. My mum was terrified I’d rebel against my bohemian roots and “run away and join the bank.’’ Fear not, ma, I never did. I was a graffiti artist as a teenager but I told her what I was up to, going out to “bomb walls” at 2 am. All she said was, “Don’t get caught.” And likewise, I never did.