Former SMart presenter and children’s author Jay Jay Burridge has recently released his latest book The World Of Supersaurs: Raptors Of Paradise. We caught up with the inspiring author and artist to see what goes on inside the mind of a true creative.
Your new book World Of Supersaurs : Raptors of Paradise has just been released. Why is this book set to be the perfect stocking filler for kids this year?
The book is for both boys and girls and covers a pretty big age range too. It’s also a great one for reluctant readers, as it comes with a free Supersaurs app which allows you to look at all 100 illustrations and literally bring them to life. There’s a game to play along with too, so it’s a lot of things in one brilliant book.
What inspired you to create this book? Was it a fun journey?
I find writing difficult and I was diagnosed as dyslexic pretty early on, so was side lined to the art room as an easy solution to the problem! This of course ended up being hugely beneficial for me as I went on to art college and made a career through my love of art, but my writing is all self taught. I consider myself a story teller rather than a writer and I had to learn a lot of methods which allowed me to get my story across in the books. It’s been a pretty hard journey but a very enjoyable one. What inspired me primarily was my two boys and being able to relive my childhood through their eyes.
Has your time as a presenter/artist on SMart influenced any of your projects?
The great thing about the BBC is that it teaches you to make the best out of what you’ve got to hand! It’s not like commercial television where funding isn’t a issue. This conditions you to think of the simpler solution which generally always ends up as the best.
Your love for dinosaurs runs through all of your other creative projects. What is it about them that fascinates you?
Dinosaurs are real, whereas dragons, elves, vampires, ghosts and wizards are all fictional. They are not just for boys or girls, but for everyone who was once a child. Their appeal stretches worldwide and will never go away.
There has been a lot of coverage in recent years on whether creative subjects are deemed important enough to teach in schools. Why do you think the arts are imperative to the educational system?
In our ever changing automated and digital world, what sets humans apart from robots is our own creativity. Children are naturally creative and for many years the education system has pushed this aside in favour of the more academic subjects. I would like to see the spotlight being put back on creativity and the arts in education, as I truly believe that it empowers children and young adults to be the very best versions of themselves. It allows a freedom to explore and is a way of looking at the world, which is a vitally important right throughout adult life.
To date, what has your favourite creative endeavour been?
I’m a sculptor by trade and occasionally I get the chance to physically make something. The last big thing I built was the full size Black Dwarf Tyrant which appears on the front cover of the book and is currently stomping its way around the UK promoting the book. It’s a real show stopper and seeing people interact with it fills me with great pleasure.
How can parents encourage children to express their creativity?
Giving them a blank piece of paper and a pencil is probably the worst thing you can to do. You need to help them spark that imagination. What I would do is draw something small, like a table fork, on a piece of paper and then ask the question..”what’s on the end of the fork” . See what happens!
What is the most important lesson your career taught you? What advice would you offer younger you?
Learn to touch type.
What plans do you have for the rest of 2017?
I’m currently promoting book 1, whilst illustrating book 2 and writing book 3….so I’m pretty busy!
Finally, how would you sum your artwork up in one sentence?