Illustrator Tim brings bagpipes, beasties and bogles to life in new book

Tom Archbold (Kelso) illustrator and author.
Tom Archbold (Kelso) illustrator and author.

FOR the last 30 years, Tim Archbold has built up a successful career as a freelance illustrator, with more than 100 children’s books featuring his creative talents.

However, this month sees the publication of the fourth children’s book in which Kelso-based Tim not only supplies the illustrations, but the text as well.

Entitled Bagpipes, Beasties and Bogles, it is published by Floris Books, priced £5.99.

A native of Northumberland who has lived in the Borders for the last 20 years, Tim says bagpipes are famous all over the world for their fantastic, and sometimes frightening, music.

Tourists flocking to Scotland each year often wonder what makes bagpipes wail and screech the way they do, and in his new book, Tim comes up with the intriguing answer to this long-standing and vexing question.

The book tells the story of Charlie McCandlewick, a nightsweep who collects up all of the creatures of the night who hide under beds, flap in cupboards and wail at windows. All the beasties and bogles go into his special thistle cloth bag, to be used for a very special purpose...the making of bagpipes.

Speaking to TheSouthern following the book’s official launch in Edinburgh, Tim, a father of two teenagers, said he had set out to write a book for young readers with a Scottish theme.

“But I wanted it to not just appeal to children, but to adults as well, as it is usually them who actually buy the books and often read them to their children,” he told us.

“My son was learning to play the bagpipes and it got me thinking as to how I could feature something so distinctly Scottish in a story.

“I had the idea of this 
person who swept up all these little creatures of the night – but what would he do with them? And then it struck me that he could put them in bags which would then go into the making of bagpipes.

“That seemed like a nice, fun idea and really grew on me.”

As well as his work on children’s books, Tim also does a lot of work for such prestigious clients as the Tower of London, the Maritime Museum, also in London, the Ashmolean Museum and the Oxford University Press. But it has not been easy establishing such a successful career in what is a highly competitive market.

“The children’s book market is very competitive and, as an illustrator, you have to develop your career through time, by keeping slogging away at it.

“But it’s like anything, if you do a good job and meet deadlines, people will come back and use you again.

“It’s through time that you develop a style of your own. However, there’s no guarantees that publishers will always use your work,” said Tim, who headed to college right after school to start training as an illustrator. “It’s all I’ve ever done and I was originally inspired when I was young by comic books and strips, such as The Broons.”

Tim says books still have great appeal for children and he gets great satisfaction from working on them.

“For children, especially those learning to read, a book is something new, fresh and exciting. It’s about engaging their imagination, as well as their parents if they are going to reading it to their kids.”