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Johanna Basford

illustrator , writer

Tumble down the rabbit hole and find yourself in her inky black and white Wonderland.She's an illustrator and ink evangelist who prefers pens and pencils to pixels.She create intricate, hand drawn illustrations predominately, although not exclusively, in black and white.


Basford, 31, is an example of the ability of creatives to live local and work global.She is a country girl by custom and preference. Apart from her very earliest years spent in Aberdeen itself, her student years in Dundee and a brief, unhappy spell in London, she's not chased the bright lights. The daughter of marine biologists, she grew up on her parents' freshwater fish farm pushing wheelbarrows, hauling nets and permanently in wellingtons.


After school she moved to Dundee where she put in the time. At Duncan of Jordanstone she would arrive with the cleaners early in the morning and not leave until 14 hours later. "I was the kind of person who thought, 'I've got four years. I'm paying to be here. I'm not going to get this opportunity again.'"

She'd opted to study printed textiles rather than illustration, mostly because the latter department was located down in the basement and didn't have a view. Her attraction to black-and-white hand drawings was partly personal choice, partly expediency. "When I was in my final year we got our first digital printer in the department. Everyone was doing digital textiles and the queue was really long for this printer so I just thought, 'I'll do screenprinting.' And I was skint so I worked out black and white was the cheapest way to screenprint."

It proved a smart move. At the end of fourth year she contributed to a graduation show in London entitled New Designers. It led to a phone call from American fashion label DKNY. "I'd never been phoned from America before. They wanted some wallpaper to hang in their store in Bond Street."


After graduating she exhibited her work at New Designers in London. She set up a hand printed wallpaper business. She leased a studio for screen printing, and designed very expensive wallpaper patterns for interiors.During the recession, the market for luxury interiors failed. She was forced to change her business. She realised that drawing was her passion and that becoming a Graphic illustrator was a good move. She is now based in Aberdeen, in North East Scotland. She works from her home studio.


  • Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book

  • Secret Garden 20 Postcards

  • Also Basford's works of illustrations are widely recognized and can be found in products such as wallpapers, beer bottles, and even tattoos.

    (Also Basford's works of illustrations are widely recogniz...)


She pronounces the H in her first name. She loves tea, but not mayonnaise. She is not a big Mariah Carey fan, would love to design a Christmas window for Selfridges and, oh yes, she's sold one million copies worldwide of her colouring book Secret Garden.


  • Artists

    Jessica Hische, Seb Lester and Alex Trochut