Emma Valenghi is a freelance illustrator based in Hull, UK, who specializes in character design and storyboards.

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Since being a child I have always been drawn to cute characters with big personalities. Pippi Longstocking with her odd stripy socks, wild red pigtails and boundless energy. Paddington Bear with his big red Wellington boots, blue duffel coat and always with a sneaky snack in his hat! Characters are so incredibly fun to invent and so important as a tool to help nurture children's imaginations. My passion for creating them really took off whilst employed as an In-House Designer at Hallmark Cards. We had development days where we could spend time with Senior Designers and Illustrators who worked on some of the most recognised characters in the Greetings Industry. It gave me an opportunity to learn what makes a character 'cute' or 'quirky', how to aim characters at different ages or genders and also helped focus my interest on this particular area of Illustration. Working in the Greetings Industry gave me a chance to try out lots of different styles and find what I felt most comfortable as my own. To create a successful character firstly it's important to know the age of the target market and translate this into appropriate illustrations for that age. Secondly it is good to know what the character's personality is like, whether they are sweet and innocent or cheeky and energetic for example. I start by sketching out a few different ideas of how this could be portrayed in a character and develop them from there. I have been lucky enough to have been chosen to illustrate a number of self published children's books for independent authors, a short story for Highlights for Children for their High Five Magazine and have illustrated a couple of books for Jellycat London based on their soft toys. I am constantly working on my skills in this area, there is rarely a day that I don't sit and draw! Like with any skill, practice is of the utmost importance and luckily I just can't seem to get enough of illustrating characters!


  • Jellycat London
  • Highlights For Children
  • North Yorkshire Moors Railway
  • Hallmark Cards, UK
  • American Greetings


Who is your favorite cartoon character?
Agnes from Despicable Me. I love her proportions with her big head and doughy eyes. I also love her outfit with boyish dungarees and I am always drawn towards stripes for children's clothes, in real life and in my drawings. There's something cheeky and a little alternative about a stripe. It brings to mind Tim Burton's quirky illustrations and Pippi Longstocking's odd sock! She's a wonderfully cute but feisty little character.

What storybook do you remember from your childhood?
The Giant Jam Sandwich by Janet Burroway and John Vernon Lord. It was my favourite as a child and my children now love it too. The absolute absurdity of it and the wonderful imaginations of the people in the story are just fantastic!

What is your super power?
My superpower is being a Multitasking Magician! Having four children under seven years old means this has been a very useful superpower!  

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