Martin Handford is the creator and illustrator of Where's Waldo?. Handford was born in Hampstead, London, on September 27, 1956 and spent most of his childhood drawing. "My earliest influences," he says, "were cinema epics and playing with toy soldiers. I attempted to recapture the excitement in my drawings, which started out as crowds of crude stick figures."
As an adult Martin worked for three years in an insurance office in order to finance his degree at art college and continued to draw "what were always busy and militarily correct battle scenes". Following art college, Martin worked as a freelance illustrator specialising in drawing crowd scenes for numerous clients. The turning point came when Martin Handford was asked to create a book showcasing his singular talent, and the character Waldo was born to provide a link between each scene. "That’s who Waldo is - an afterthought," he says. "As it turns out, the fans were more interested in the character than in the crowd scenes."
As an artist Martin's Where's Waldo books have been immensely successful, selling more than 43 million copies worldwide in over 33 countries and 22 languages.
Each Waldo picture takes Martin up to eight weeks to draw. "As I work my way through a picture, I add Waldo when I come to what I feel is a good place to hide him," he explains. Martin describes his pictures as "full of both activity and entertainment. I have a love of situations which contain visual puns." His own favorite Waldo picture is 'A Tremendous Song and Dance' from Where's Waldo in Hollywood.
"I can’t tell you how pleased I am that Waldo has taken on a life of his own," says Handford. "I’d like to inspire children--to open their minds to explore subjects more--to just be aware of what’s going on around them. I’d like them to see wonder in places that might not have occurred to them."