John Minnion: Biography

John Minnion has been drawing in black and white for so long that he can remember a time in the early 1970s when, for a while, it was fashionable. At that stage he was scraping a living from selling his own Alice in Wonderland posters. He followed up the posters by publishing books of drawings — more Lewis Carroll subjects: Jabberwocky and Hunting of the Snark — then decided to do things properly by enrolling at the London College of Printing to study book production and typography. Much of the fascinating stuff he learned there became obsolete within five years... but in the meantime he had started earning a proper living as a freelance illustrator.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, John Minnion had regular slots in many British magazines and newspapers including New Statesman (where he was political caricaturist for most of the Eighties), The Listener, BBC Worldwide and On Air magazines, the FT, Sunday Business, The Guardian and, particularly, The Times.

He built up a collection of around 500 caricatures of composers over six years of weekly illustration for The Listener, adding to it with work done for the recording company Naxos.

Possibly his best illustration work was done for the Times in the 1990s in collaboration with columnists like Lynne Truss, Nigella Lawson, Ned Sherrin, Anthony Howard, Richard Morrison and Joanna Coles.

John Minnion retired from commissioned work in 2001, having drawn over 4,000 pictures, and returned to self-publishing under the imprint of Checkmate Books. This gave him the opportunity to develop as a writer.

Self-publishing has led to him giving a lot of talks and slideshows on the subject matter of his books. This in turn has led to a series of pictureshows that bring together music, projected images, animation and narration. These include three programmes, in collaboration with pianist Mirsa Adami, that combine projected graphics with a live piano recital.

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