I love drawing!When I was a small boy my grandfather told me there was a wolf in the plantation across from his farm. I think I've been trying to draw that wolf ever since.For me there's a delicious connection between illustrating and that mysterious world of shadows that live under pine trees, something to do with the blackness of the pencil, the hunt for the story, the endless forest of our imaginations.

David Elliot was born in Ashburton, in the South Island of New Zealand. He has a Diploma of Fine Arts and trained as a schoolteacher. His previous jobs include: gatekeeper at Edinburgh Zoo (which he describes as the 'pivotal experience' which led him to a career in illustration); dishwasher in Antarctica; and interior designer, designing pubs in Australia. David now lives and works in Port Chalmers, near Dunedin.

David has illustrated a wide range of children's books, including poetry, short stories, novels and picture books, working with both New Zealand publishers (most notably, Random House) and also for U.S. publisher Philomel (Penguin) in New York. In addition to his writing and illustrating, David also teaches art part-time to adults and he is actively engaged in the New Zealand Book Council's Writers in Schools scheme. David has won many national book awards, including being the inaugural recipient (2011) of the Mallinson Rendel Illustrators Award. This Award is presented every two years, in association with the Arts Foundation, to a children's book illustrator with published work of a high standard.

Internationally, David has illustrated numerous books in the well-known Redwall series and two further books in the Castaways series, both by U.K. author Brian Jacques. He was cover and interior artist for The Great Tree of Avalon series, by T.A. Barron.  In 2006 David provided illustrations for Time journalist Jeffrey Kluger's first book for children, Nacky Patcher and the Curse of the Dry Land Boats, published in 2007. In 2011 David provided illustrations for John Flanagan's Rangers Apprentice series.

Closer to home, David has written and illustrated five picture books, including the 'Sydney penguin' books (Sydney and the Seamonster and Sydney and the Whalebird) and Pigtails the Pirate, which won the 2003 New Zealand Post Children's Picture Book Award. David has illustrated for many other New Zealand children's authors, including Jack Lasenby (Aunt Effie series), Pauline Cartwright, Joy Cowley and Arts Foundation Icon artist Janet Frame, illustrating Frame's only book for children. Most recently, David has illustrated the work of internationally acclaimed writer and Arts Foundation Icon Margaret Mahy, including the The Word Witch (2010) and this year's New Zealand Post Children's Book of the Year Award winner, The Moon and Farmer McPhee (2011).

David has exhibited widely throughout New Zealand. Since 2005 has also had a close association with the Ashburton Gallery, where his work is housed and regularly exhibited. The Making of the Word Witch, an exhibition curated by Ashburton Gallery's Kathryn Mitchell, toured both the North and South Islands in 2011.  This exhibition provides a window into the imaginative worlds of both David and Margaret Mahy, as they worked towards publication of The Word Witch

The surreal poetry of Lewis Carroll has long attracted David's interest and he was delighted to be part of the University of Otago's Printer in Residence Programme in 2006, working with other artists on a Private Press edition of The Hunting of the Snark. Just 101 copies of this poem, re-illustrated by David, were produced and all were sold before they were even printed!

More recently, David completed illustrations for John Flanagan's bestselling Ranger's Apprentice series. David's latest picture book Henry's Map published by Philomel Books (USA) was selected by School Library Journal (USA) for it's Best Books 2013 list.

In 2014 David received the Margaret Mahy Award for lifetime contribution to Children's literature in New Zealand and in 2017 Daivd won the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year award as well as the Russell Clark Award for Illustration at the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults for Snark.



Shane Gilchrist writes for the New Zealand Herald on David Elliot's involvement in the publication, 'The Moon & Farmer McPhee', at the time of its release.


David Elliot (Illustrator) features on the TVNZ 7 broadcast of The Artists, produced in partnership with the Arts Foundation.


Like many illustrators I often like my preliminary drawings better than the finished artwork that is tidied up for publication.There is something about that first hunt for the drawing, the layering of corrections, that energises the image
David Elliot has illustrated numerous children's books and stories by other authors. He has also written and illustrated five of his own picture books.
David Elliot is the current illustrator for both Redwall and the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series.
It's the passion and the intrigue of the hunt that makes a good drawing for me; the movivation to really get into it and the imaginative searching to break it open.
Born, Ashburton, New Zealand
University of Canterbury, Diploma of Fine Arts (Painting)                   
  Christchurch College of Education , Teaching Diploma
   Russell Clark Illustration Award (NZLIA)Arthur and the Dragon by Pauline Cartwright, illus. by David Elliot
Bursary Award for Illustration - QEII Arts Council/Unilever/Choysa Award, NZ, Dragon Tangle
Best Illustration Title in Interactive Category (ITANZ)  Mungo: the only pirate left;Finalist, Russell Clark Illustration Award (NZLIA) for Dragon Tangle, Ashton Sholastic, NZ
Honour Award - New Zealand Post Awards - Sydney and the Sea Monster written and illus. by David Elliot; Dunedin Teacher's College Children's Writer in Residence
Highly commended award, Best use of Illustration, Spectrum Print Book Design Awards (in association with BPANZ) for Sydney and the Whalebird, Random House, NZ
Pigtails the Pirate written and illus.by David Elliot - Winner, Best Book - NZPost Children's Picture Book Awards;Finalist, Russell Clark Illustration Award (LIANZA); Listed as a Storylines Notable Picture Book
Sydney and the Seamonster and 100 New Zealand Poems for Children, (Random House, NZ) - Winner, NZ Booksellers Association Silver Award
Mona Minim and the Smell of the Sun by Janet Frame, illus. by David Elliot, winner Best Children's Book - Spectrum Print Book Design Awards and Runner-up Best Book - Spectrum Design Awards
Chicken Feathers by Joy Cowley (Penguin, NZ), Finalist, Picture Book category, NZ Post Children's Book Awards
The Moon & Farmer McPhee, by Margaret Mahy, illus. by David Elliot Best Book, NZ Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults
The Moon & Farmer McPhee (Randon House, NZ), winner Picture Book Category and Book of the Year, NZ Post Children's Book Awards;Shortlisted, Best Childrens Book - PANZ Book Design Awards;Finalist, Russell Clark Illustration Award (LIANZA);Inaugural recipient Arts Foundation Mallinson Rendel Illustrator's Award.
Henry's Map (Philomel Books USA), selected by School Library Journal (USA) for it's Best Books 2013 list
Recipient, Margaret Mahy Award for lifetime contribution to Children's literature in New Zealand
A Chinese publisher buys the rights to two of Elliot's books, Henry's Map (2013) and Henry's Stars (2015)