Sunday, 31 March 2013

Thoughts and Photos from Bologna Children's Book Fair 2013

I recently returned from the International Children's Book Fair in Bologna where I was exhibiting work with the Cambridge School of Art at their stand, which was superbly put together and run by students and staff on the course.

I first visited the fair in 2010 when still a student on the course and I remember being over-awed by the scale of the event. I didn't exactly make the most of my time there but this time I'd resolved to attack it a bit more and try to get more of myself out there. I wore a shirt and tie (anyone familiar with my usual dress-sense will know this is a big deal) and went around with my portfolio and chanced my luck at the various publisher stands, hoping to get a meeting. This worked to some degree; I was lucky to get a meeting with one publisher simply because at that precise moment they had been stood up by someone else and had a quick window in which to see my work. Some publishers claimed not to have anyone at the fair who could view and make decisions on a portfolio, but it seems different people were told different things - my friend who has a book out and an agent seemed to be able to get a meeting more often than not. I was armed with business cards and postcards though, and I always asked if I could leave one at the stands where I couldn't get a meeting, and more often than not this was fine with the publisher. Naturally, I always left a card at the stands where I could get a meeting, too.

For most part I was cold-calling the stands, having only been able to set up the one meeting before the trip. I turned up at that particular meeting - for one of the biggest children's publishers around - at the agreed time but there was no knowledge on their part that the meeting existed. After borrowing a friend's smartphone I was able to show them the email and luckily got to rearrange the meeting for the next day. I learnt that it certainly pays to be persistent (without becoming an annoyance), and to have a friend with a smartphone.

Overall it was a positive experience and while there may not seem to be much immediate reward among all the chaos, getting your work/name/face out there can never be a bad thing and is a good platform to build on. I'd recommend it to anyone thinking about going next year, though the trip may be made more worthwhile by arranging meeting yourself a few months before the fair (or instead having an agent to do it for you!).

I managed to take a few photos while over there. Not pictured: The incredible daily pizza lunches (worth the trip alone in my opinion...)

...that last one was the view from our apartment balcony on one of the better days weather-wise. There weren't many arguments over the sun-loungers.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

OSMO Front cover & Dummy Books

This is the front cover for OSMO and below it some printed dummy books that will be doing the rounds at the Children's Book Fair in Bologna.

My work will be exhibited on the Children's Book Illustration MA Course stand, of which this is their second year exhibiting at the fair after much success from their first outing in 2012.

Sunday, 3 March 2013


I'm finally ready to showcase the reason I've been so quiet these last few months (and the reason I haven't posted anything since mid-December). 

OSMO is a picturebook I've designed and illustrated and will be making the journey with me to the International Children's Book Fair in Bologna, Italy, at the end of this month. It's about a robot (OSMO) who does odd jobs around the universe. Expect out-of-this-world depictions of litter picking, vending machine restocking and lightbulb replacement as OSMO travels far and wide doing all those jobs the universe can't get round to.

I think this project was the most fun I've ever had in creating a picturebook and I'm really excited for people to see it at last. I'll add the cover and a couple of other bits and bobs in the coming days. Until then, here's four finished spreads from the book. It's come a long way since the sketchbook post from last December...