Visual arts

Shropshire boy, 12, who was told to stop doodling at school given global book deal

A 12-year-old who was told to stop doodling at school has revealed how he has since illustrated a children’s book, became a ‘co-creator’ for Nike and even Kate Middleton and Prince William are fans of his artwork.

Joe Whale, from Shropshire, whose world changed after going viral online, appeared on This Morning today to discuss his rise to fame and promote his book Game of Scones (Bad Food 1), which is now available.

Written by Eric Luper and illustrated by the youngster, who is affectionately known as The Doodle Boy by his fans, the children’s book is the first of three with Scholastic – and Joe says it’s his ‘favourite’ project so far.

But his talent has meant a host of exciting experiences for the youngster – including flying out to California in January 2020 to doodle the backdrop for the set for NBC’s Little Big Shots, appearing on the show alongside presenter Melissa McCarthy.

Elsewhere, in December 2020 he was commissioned by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to mark their three-day tour by royal train by drawing the impressive rail vehicle.

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Joe Whale (pictured), from Shropshire, whose world changed after going viral online, appeared on This Morning today to discuss his rise to fame and promote his book Game of Scones (Bad Food 1), which is now available

Joe Whale (pictured), from Shropshire, whose world changed after going viral online, appeared on This Morning today to discuss his rise to fame and promote his book Game of Scones (Bad Food 1), which is now available

Written by Eric Luper and illustrated by the youngster, who is affectionately known as The Doodle Boy by his fans, the children's book (pictured) is the first of three with Scholastic - and Joe says it's his 'favourite' project so far

Written by Eric Luper and illustrated by the youngster, who is affectionately known as The Doodle Boy by his fans, the children’s book (pictured) is the first of three with Scholastic – and Joe says it’s his ‘favourite’ project so far

But his talent has meant a host of exciting experiences for the youngster - including in December 2020 when he was commissioned by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to mark their three-day tour by royal train by drawing the impressive rail vehicle (pictured)

But his talent has meant a host of exciting experiences for the youngster – including in December 2020 when he was commissioned by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to mark their three-day tour by royal train by drawing the impressive rail vehicle (pictured)

Then he was hired in January 2022 as a Nike ‘co-creator’, in a role that will see him encourage children to be more creative.

Joe was sent to an after-school art club by his parents after he kept being told off for drawing during his school lessons.

His impressed art teacher soon began posting his doodles on Instagram, where he attracted an army of fans around the world – especially after a picture of him doodling on the walls of Number Four restaurant in Shrewsbury also went viral.

Speaking to presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, Joe said: ‘Obviously the head (of the after-school art club) posted something of mine on Instagram and that’s where she saw something in my art and that’s where it all started really.’

His father Greg Whale added: ‘At school, we didn’t really see the issue as he’d finished all his work so we never thought there was a reason to stop him doodling once he’d finished so we were always going to encourage creativity, because that’s what we do with all our children.

Speaking to presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby (pictured right), Joe said: 'Obviously the head (of the after-school art club) posted something of mine on Instagram and that's where she saw something in my art and that's where it all started really.'

Speaking to presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby (pictured right), Joe said: ‘Obviously the head (of the after-school art club) posted something of mine on Instagram and that’s where she saw something in my art and that’s where it all started really.’

He was hired in January 2022 as a Nike 'co-creator', in a role that will see him encourage children to be more creative.  Pictured, some of Joe's illustrations

He was hired in January 2022 as a Nike ‘co-creator’, in a role that will see him encourage children to be more creative. Pictured, some of Joe’s illustrations

‘Then it went on Instagram and he did the wall at the restaurant in Shrewsbury and it went a bit mad, so you have to learn quickly how to deal with incoming enquiries.’

Talking about heading to America, Joe recalled: ‘I was invited to go on Little Big Shots in LA, and I got the honor to design the whole set.

‘So they gave me a brief on how big it was going to be and the theme was going to be America and I would do it digitally and they’d have a whole paint crew that would copy all of the stuff.’

He flew out to California in January 2020 to doodle the backdrop for the set for NBC's Little Big Shots, appearing on the show alongside presenter Melissa McCarthy.  Pictured, one of Joe's illustrations

He flew out to California in January 2020 to doodle the backdrop for the set for NBC’s Little Big Shots, appearing on the show alongside presenter Melissa McCarthy. Pictured, one of Joe’s illustrations

His father Greg Whale added: 'At school, we didn't really see the issue as he'd finished all his work so we never thought there was a reason to stop him doodling once he'd finished so we were always going to encourage creativity, because that's what we do with all our children.'  Pictured, Joe's drawings

His father Greg Whale added: ‘At school, we didn’t really see the issue as he’d finished all his work so we never thought there was a reason to stop him doodling once he’d finished so we were always going to encourage creativity, because that’s what we do with all our children.’ Pictured, Joe’s drawings

But he added: ‘I think the favorite thing that I’ve done is definitely designing a book series, illustrating a book series, it was really fun and it was one of the things I really wanted to do when I first started.

‘They would give me the names of the characters then I’d have to see what they would look like, and get used to drawing them and different scenes and all different characters.’

He continued: ‘In art there’s no right or wrong, it’s just perception, so if someone said to me I’ve drawn it wrong, I would know that’s how I wanted to depict it and they can say whatever they want but that’s how I wanted to show it.’

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