Peter Mitchell

Peter Mitchell is an award-winning illustrator who lives in Toronto with his young family. Since graduating from the Sheridan College Illustration program in 2002, he has worked primarily as an editorial illustrator for publications all over the world, including The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, and The Globe and Mail. His work also hangs in the collections of Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and many others.

Born outside Baysville in central Ontario, Peter spent his childhood tromping around in forests, gravel pits, and marshes, thinking about everything other than what he would do when he grew up. Drawing was in fact of no particular interest for him as a boy; however, stories for children—the complete works of Roald Dahl were never far from reach—and illustrator Quentin Blake clearly left their mark. It was probably the simplicity of Peter’s childhood and the creativity needed to conquer a boring summer day that led him to become an illustrator. To this day, Peter will take any excuse to escape to the wilds of Ontario where he loves walking really slowly while listening hard, and paddling with a backwind. Many spreads for the book i.d.: Stuff That Happens to Define Us (2010) were drawn in a little cabin near Algonquin.

While i.d. marks the beginning of Peter’s work in book illustration, it was a path set in stone after reading that first book by Roald Dahl. Peter subscribes to the same philosophy as Dahl: not only can children handle the tough issues in life, but they also crave them. In fact, it is how the children in Dahl’s stories stubbornly refuse to be victims of those circumstances, by striking out bravely and creatively, that gives his readers a sense of control and comfort.

In keeping with that theme, i.d. was a perfect first book for Peter, if a little daunting with 140 or so full-color pages to illustrate and all the text to be hand-rendered. The truly collaborative process around editing and shaping these stories provided a great chance to have the illustrations really resonate.

His latest book with Annick Press, Freaking Out: Real-life Stories About Anxiety (Fall 2013), features his distinctive illustrations.   

Annick Press books
illustrated by Peter Mitchell