CaptureCurtis Jobling, famous the world over as the designer of BAFTA-winning show, Bob the Builder, inspired a whole new generation of artists when he visited a north east specialist arts college in Hartlepool.

Cleveland College of Art & Design (CCAD) welcomed back the former student, who has gone on to achieve a highly successful career in illustration and storytelling after studying a higher national diploma in illustration at the college’s campus in Middlesbrough in 1994.

Only six months after he left CCAD, Curtis contacted Aardman to ask if he could show his portfolio and within a week, he was working on Wallace and Gromit’s A Close Shave. After his model work with Aardman was complete, Curtis worked on the Tim Burton movie Mars Attacks and then found himself with unemployed for the next 12 months. However he used the time to develop his portfolio, working on children’s picture stories, drawings and paintings, and finally got his big break with Manchester-based Hot Animation on Bob the Builder.

Curtis visited the college’s University-level campus to address over a hundred degree and foundation students from courses including graphics, illustration and production design for stage and screen. During his entertaining lecture, the 43-year-old artist gave an insight into his successful career, with engaging and irreverent anecdotes and insights which entertained everyone.

The hopeful students learned about his work in film and television and his career in animation and publishing, as a creator of content and author and illustrator of books for children of all ages. As creator and designer of his own shows, Curtis’s successes include the adaptation of his infamous picture book character, Frankenstein’s Cat, into an animated series for the BBC, in addition to the hit preschool series Raa Raa the Noisy Lion for CBeebies. He also introduced the students to his most recent work, the acclaimed Wereworld series of fantasy novels he has written and published to critical success.

On his first visit back to CCAD, Curtis said: “I loved my time at here at CCAD. Middlesbrough remains my second home, so much so I married a lass from the town. I learned how to take criticism at CCAD and also realised that if I wanted to work in creative industries I needed to have desire and dedication along with talent.

“My advice to the students is to keep learning your craft and take nothing for granted. Make the most of every opportunity that arises and ensure that your folio is only your very best work, as quality impresses ahead of quantity every day of the week. It’s harder than ever to get work experience, certainly in the animation industry so students must keep knocking on doors and don’t take no for an answer. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get that experience, but it’s a great insight into how the industry works and it was certainly an eye opener for me.”

After the talk, students were able to ask Curtis questions and seek advice on their portfolios. 19-year-old Lauren Bailey from Mansfield in Nottingham is on the first year of the illustration for commercial application degree and really enjoyed the lecture. Lauren, currently living in Hartlepool, is passionate about comic art, character design and fantasy art, and said: “Curtis had us all howling with laughter and I feel very inspired! Thank you for answering my question on writing and drawing.”

Jessie Butterfield, 23, from South Hylton in Sunderland is on the second year of the illustration degree, and was visited by Curtis in the illustration studio. She said: “I was able to show Curtis some of my illustrations as part of my course work, including my drawings of butterflies and how they represent the journey through life, which he was interested to learn more about. I hope to become an illustrator once I graduate, so it was great to meet a fellow CCAD student who has done so well, which is very inspiring.”

Fellow second year illustration degree student Beth Wood, 22, from Hartlepool, said: “The talk was was really fun and entertaining and Curtis had an extensive portfolio which was interesting to look through. I was inspired by his enthusiasm to create and to have fun.”

Bethany hopes to go into Illustration as a career after she graduates.

Ben Clowes, Programme Leader, BA (Hons) Illustration for Commercial Application, said: “What an amazing opportunity the students had to not only meet in person a creative that designed the characters they grew up with, but to learn so much about the industry they want to join. Curtis gave an extremely entertaining talk that was also full of information on how to forge a career in the Creative Industries.”

For more information on opportunities at CCAD contact (01642) 288888 or visit