Children’s illustration agency The Organisation is to close after more than 30 years in the business due to the ill health of its owner and director.

Lorraine Owen, who has been battling a life-threatening illness, said the decision had been taken “with great sadness” to shut down permanently on 28th February.

The Organisation has built up a specialism in children’s illustrations and is highly respected by artists and clients. Scholastic art director Strawberrie Donnelly has described the agency as “publishing royalty” while Gareth Lucas, who has been on the books since 2008 and has worked with Usborne, Little Tiger Press and others has praised its agents for their “approachable and understanding” style.

Owen, who has a background in publishing as an art director, set up the agency in 1986, keen to work “on the other side of the desk”. Starting with 16 artists, The Organisation had 60 illustrators at its peak. It now represents 45 artists and employs three people alongside Owen.

She told The Bookseller one of her proudest moments was when artist Alison Jay was invited to exhibit some of her work by world-renowned Japanese animators Studio Ghibli. Other clients won numerous awards from the Association of Illustrators while Peek-A-Boo A-Z by Lucas (Little Tiger Press) won the Baby and Toddler prize in the 2016 Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Awards.

Owen said of the closure: “Our artists have been very sad but very supportive. Obviously it’s come as a huge blow to them as many have been with me for years and years. But I’ve had some lovely feedback from clients and colleagues who are also agents.”

The Organisation said in a statement: “We have been serving a huge range of clients for over the past 30 years and we are very proud of all we have accomplished during this time and we could not be more thankful to those who have believed in us and supported our business, both clients and artists. We have been lucky enough to work on some amazing projects and share in their success.

“The artists currently represented by The Organisation should be contacted via their own websites for further commissions.”