Grapevine Stories

An Interview with Charlie Mackesy

Charlie is known for his beautiful ink illustrations that have touched the hearts of so many. He is best known for his wonderful book, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse.

Were you always very artistic as a child? Was it encouraged by your parents?

Yes, I drew a lot as a boy. A lot. Mainly horses. It was encouraged by my parents I think, they certainly did nothing to stop it, so I believe they encouraged it.

Did you have another career before you were an artist?

No, I’ve always been an artist.

Where do you draw?

Right now, I draw in a barn in Suffolk, on a big table, standing up.

How did the Boy, etc drawings take off? Was it just via Instagram? Was there one person resharing a post which kicked off the momentum?

No, it was just a quiet and slow build on Instagram. Bit by bit.

Bear Grylls is one of your oldest friends - how did you first meet? Have you had some fun adventures with him?

I’ve had so many adventures with Bear. I think I first met him up a tree, at a kid’s camp, and we were really bored.

Mental health is a theme that runs through your drawings - why is this so important for you?

It’s important to for me because mental health is important to the human race and it’s the least attended illness, I think.

Which of the four characters in the book do you most relate to?

I relate to all of them very equally, I think. I mean probably if I had to say one, it would be the Mole because I’m quite greedy for life - and I like snacks.

Why a mole? Why a fox? Why a horse?

They just happened, I think, just because I felt the characters fitted with the different parts of me.

How did you feel when you saw your drawings in hospital wards or on walls or lampposts, etc?

It moved me a lot because it felt like I was in some small way helping people, which really moved me. I got very emotional.

If you had to choose one drawing in the book, which is your favourite?

Probably “Nothing beats kindness,” said the horse “It sits quietly beyond all things.”. If I had to choose one.

You seem a very relaxed person? Are you always like this?!

No, my mood varies, sometimes I can feel very anxious or sad. I’m not always relaxed.

Are you someone who likes to travel a lot? Where are your favourite places to go?

I don’t travel a lot, but I mostly like being in the Alps. I like the height and the light and the feeling of the mountains a lot. Anywhere wild really I love.

You do these very amusing little drawings involving puns for your mother - does she love them?

Yes, they’re all over her walls and they make her laugh. She walks very slowly now and she often stands and reads them while walking.

Are there plans for a film as I see you’ve been doing some short animations?

Yes, there is which is very exciting.

Will you be doing a follow-up book?

Maybe, I hope so.

Illustrations extracted from The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy”.

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