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Open Right

Graeme Base

Author, Corporate, Illustrator, Speaking Out

A couple of decades ago, Graeme Base’s job description was distilled by his then six-year old son as “Oh, my dad just stays home and colours in.” Unable to forgive or forget this devastatingly accurate dismissal of his life’s work, Graeme has finally decided to embark on a global speaking tour to set the record straight: Sure he stays home and colours in, but he also writes the words!

Where were you born?

I was born at a very early age in England. I recovered from this setback at the age of eight when my parents moved to Australia and I decided to tag along.

What other jobs have you had?

Paperboy, Barman, Advertising Executive. (This last one is a lie – I lasted in advertising less than 18 months and got sacked for incompetence.)

What themes are recurring in your work?

Nature and fantasy because I love animals (people are too hard to draw) and I love making things up (people can’t tell you you got it wrong). In recent years I have also started basing my books on worthwhile messages like ‘Look After the Planet’, ‘What it Takes to be a Good Leader’ and ‘Steven Spielberg Called and Wants You to Call Back ASAP’.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Other than the Steven Spielberg call? That’s a hard one. Animalia’s colossal success back in 1986 is a pretty high bar to get over. I think it might have been the letter I got once that read “Dear Mr Base, I really like your book Animalia. I nearly bought a copy”. That is hard to beat.

Where have your works been published?

Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Japan, China, Korea, Indonesia, UK, France, Denmark (a real favourite – those crosses through the O’s look great), Italy, Germany, Israel (another neat looking one and also it goes backwards) and possibly a couple of others I have forgotten.

What are you passionate about?

Creating stuff. It’s the only thing that gets me up in the morning now that the kids have finished school.

Haven’t I seen you before?

I have been around for so long that when I do book signings these days there’s always a young mum with her daughter who tells me that their mum brough them to get a book signed when they were little. (And no, it’s not always the same mum.)

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Lots, but you have to book me to come and do a talk. Then I’m yours!


Just wanted to pass on my thanks for organising Graeme’s visit today – it went really well and he was an absolute gem. He stayed around and spoke to everybody and he very generously signed all of the books people brought along, and posed for numerous pictures.

I was really happy with the service and Graeme’s overall attitude was really inclusive and patient, and just made the day super special.

—J. Holmes, Buloke Shire Council, July 2018.

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