Illustrator Niamh Sharkey’s Monster Success
Growing up in a large family in north Dublin, children's author and illustrator Niamh Sharkey would while away her days reading The Beano comic, watching The Muppet Show and poring over classic kids' books like Where the Wild Things Are and Dr Seuss.
Once established as an illustrator in Ireland, Niamh got her first international break when a visiting British publisher came across her books in a shop in Dingle, County Kerry, which subsequently led to an offer of more work. At the time, Niamh was travelling in Tasmania, Australia, so she set about making the artwork in the unconventional surrounds of a wooden hut.
After creating the children’s picture book I’m a Happy Hugglewug in 2006, Niamh was approached by Disney to take her characters from the page to the screen, and to an international audience. Collaborating closely with top Dublin animation company Brown Bag Films, the book became the Disney Junior series Henry Hugglemonster, with Sharkey at the helm as creator and executive producer.
Focusing on the mischievous hijinks of 5-year-old Henry and his family of monsters, the show is set in Roarsville, a town quite unlike Sharkey's seaside home of Skerries. Now broadcast in 150 countries, the series is scripted, storyboarded and animated in Dublin.
As well as keeping busy with all things Hugglemonster, Sharkey has designed sets and costumes for theatre. She was also the Laureate na nÓg or Irish Laureate for Children's Literature from 2012 to 2014. During that time, she curated a touring exhibition of children’s picturebook art that toured around Europe to great acclaim.