Mr Postmouse Goes on Holiday – book review

April 19th, 2017 by Special Projects

Illustrated and written by Marianne Dubuc

Published by Book Island ISBN 978-1-911496-04-5

Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster


This large hardback book is the sequel to Here Comes Mr Postmouse. A ballooning mouse family adorns the cover. It is clear an adventure is in progress. Things look promising. Dubuc has used the large format well, creating lively images that are carefully controlled to communicate part of her intended message; we travel to see new things and have new experiences. The Postmouse family is on a busman’s holiday of sorts, delivering parcels to friends and family as they travel. The illustrations are delightful, but it’s the text that needs more attention.


The story is simple enough, but the writing lacks sparkle and energy. The translation from Canadian French to English by Greet Pauwelijn could be the reason that the words don’t scan. There needs to be a rhythm within the writing as this aids reading aloud and is easier for children to memorise. The book is aimed at children aged 3 plus, however I would be surprised if it kept this age group engaged. The position of the text blocks blends in too much with the illustrations, gets lost and doesn’t encourage reading.


The Illustrations are entertainingly filled with quirky details that will delight the reader. Illustrations of plants, buildings and landscapes in cross-section work particularly well. There are some nice meta-references too: King Kong on the island, the dragon inside a volcano, the opera Diva on the Ship and the Jungle scene. The colour palette is limited showing large areas of sky, water and grass which really helps the composition of the pages. The visual style and technique bring to mind the work of Laurent de Brunhoff, creator of Babar the Elephant, and the busy energy with bizarre characters is reminiscent of the work of Richard Scarry.


Where this book falls short is in the relationship between text and image. A picture book works as pure image for young children with the text adding to their knowledge once they can read it for themselves, this giving greater context and shape to the narrative. Maurice Sendak, a master of visual storytelling combined text and image to add layers of understanding to his work. Author Dubuc could benefit from focusing on this aspect of her work.


You may also be interested in these book reviews:

Fox & Goldfish

Here Comes Mr Postmouse

Michael Foreman – Telling Tales

April 18th, 2017 by Special Projects

Chris Beetles Gallery, 8 & 10 Ryder Street, London, SW1Y 6QB

Until 22 April


The exhibition includes over 275 works spanning 50 years of achievement and focuses on Foreman’s work as an illustrator of fairy tales, myths and legends, and children’s classics, including collaborations with Brian Alderson, Angela Carter, Roald Dahl, Terry Jones and Michael Morpurgo.


Beautiful Glorious Chaos – James Dawe exhibition

April 12th, 2017 by Special Projects

The Book Club, 100-106 Leonard Street, London, EC2A 4RH

28 April – 25 June 2017


James’ jumping off point is his vibrant and multi-layered editorial illustrations he produced for WIRED magazine. Covering topics ranging from virtual reality to new media remixes, Dawe looks to further challenge his image making process and digital experimentation. Large edition prints of the WIRED artwork will be on display during the show as well as newly created pieces.

An in-demand commercial artist and illustrator, James works predominantly in mixed media collage, digital manipulation and 3D experimentation. His dramatic compositions cascade across the page throwing up unexpected, often abstract “glitchy” imagery reflective of his all-embracing energy.

After an Art foundation at Central Saint Martins, James went on to study Illustration at the University of Brighton, graduating in 2006. Experience working with some of London’s top creative agencies followed as Dawe’s unique style of work developed and gained recognition.

His client list includes Nike, The Natural History Museum, Creative Review, Varoom magazine, the British Fashion Council and WIRED.

Opportunity: Sky Arts Landscape Artist of The Year

April 10th, 2017 by Special Projects

This is a great opportunity for artists who work in classic media (digital work is not accepted) and feel up tot he challenge of painting in front of a TV camera.
Last year’s winner, A Richard Allen had already found glory with the AOI Awards (Images32) by winning A Gold Award for his Self-Initiated illustration work before winning the Landscape Artist of the Year Award in 2016:

This year’s Landscape Artist of the Year offers you the chance to win a £10,000 commission for a British institution’s permanent collection and £500 of art materials from Cass Art. Landscape Artist of The Year will film at stunning locations around the UK.

Enter here by 28 April.


Arrest All Mimics interviews Paul Shipper

April 10th, 2017 by Special Projects


AOI Member Paul Shipper’s film and TV artwork began with movie posters on a bedroom wall and inspiring trips to the video library in Manchester. His contemporary twist on a classic era of movie posters has earned him a following comprised of both cinema fans and industry icons alike.

He joins Ben Tallon to discuss the journey, from being wowed by the artwork from such timeless films as Star Wars and Indiana Jones as a boy to joining Simon Pegg for movie premieres.

Paul also discusses why digital is not a dirty word, his Carrie Fisher tribute illustration for Empire and upcoming Star Wars work.

Listen now and get your thoughts over on Twitter @arrestallmimics now!

Meet The Artist, David Hockney – book review

April 10th, 2017 by Special Projects

An Art Activity Book

Illustrated by Rose Blake

Tate Publishing 2017 ISBN 9781849764469

Review by Peter Allen


In this art activity book young readers are given a guided tour of Hockney’s art by another artist who makes pictures, Rose Blake, a big fan of Hockney. We are treated to a view of her favourite pieces that show us just what it is she loves most about Hockney’s work and is done in the way she knows best, through her own illustrations.

Making pictures about pictures is something Blake does very well, as can be seen in her prints about art in art galleries. Working with Hockney as the subject was pretty much her dream job and her familiarity with his work and understanding of its worth as art prove to be invaluable insights which make this book so much more than a run-of-the-mill activity book, to be chucked under the bed when done with. It would be fairer really to see it as two books in one, as the reader is presented with two distinct artistic visions talking together about things they share in common.


The first book is an attractive and inspiring activity book. Its open, uncluttered layout gives plenty of room for children to draw in, Blake stands to one side of the stage, it’s very much their moment to have a go. The design compliments perfectly the mood of Blake’s illustrations, refined, simple shapes, filled with flat, bright colours. Reminiscent of children’s book designs by Paul Rand or Fredun Shapur whose playful illustrations made great use of simple, paper-cut forms and bright, flat colours at a time when Pop Art was bringing Art and Commercial Art closer together. Blake’s page designs are further complimented by the choice of a widely spaced, sans serif font for the text. The simplicity of the overall design speaks loads about pleasure, wonderment, marvelling at, almost to the point of naivety.


Fittingly, the enjoyment to be had in making things is a constant feature of the book. With Hockney it’s like a boyish enthusiasm that bounds out of his paintings, iPad or coloured pencil drawings, watercolour sketches made on the top deck of a London bus. Blake naturally compliments his exuberance by reflecting the less obvious qualities of his work, the details, like hidden treasures with their colours and forms.

She’s most happy when sharing this source of pleasure that enriches her everyday life, like Samuel Palmer seeing Eden in the Kentish countryside. Blake is drawn to the painting, The Baptism of Christ by Pierra della Francesca that is reflected in the dressing table mirror in the painting of Hockney’s parents. In turn, it reminds us of Van Eyck’s painting, The Arnolfini Wedding, of another married couple in which a mirror reflects the room out of the viewer’s sight. If Hockney’s recent work could be described as tending towards the big, then Blake’s pictures could be described as miniatures; intense in their vision and brilliant in their design. The title page letterforms are distillations of Hockney’s pictures that sparkle with a jewel-like intensity.


The following double-page spreads that Blake makes d’après Hockney are brilliant and, in the same way that Hockney’s work was driven by a force found in other artist’s work, Blake is evidently inspired here. They show just how much the two share a particular way of seeing things and speaks about how much Blake owes to Hockney for inspiring her own creativity. In those few pages where she has the space to express herself freely she lays out the beginnings of such an account and excels at describing this second storyline, the book within a book. Blake now needs lots more pages to continue with illustrating this rich, personal narrative that should make a wonderful book of its own.


These are the Q & As that came before the review was written and which I think reveal some interesting points about the commissioning process both for Rose Blakes’s book here and in general:

How did the project start? Was Hockney something you’d talked about previously with the publisher or did it come completely out of the blue?

It came totally out of the blue. Tate have been doing the ‘Meet the Artist’ series for a while, and approached me over email to do the Hockney book. As it was pretty much my dream job, I said yes pretty quickly.

Why do you think they chose you in particular for this book? In what ways did the publisher feel your work was best suited to the project?

They needed to find someone who was very familiar with Hockney’s work as the timeline for the project was seriously tight. I think Holly Tonks (the publisher at Tate) was talking to Lizzy Stewart (another illustrator who is also a friend of mine) and she said I was a huge Hockney fan, so they approached me. I’ve always been obsessed with Hockney’s work and vision so I’m very thankful to Lizzy!

What was the brief like? Loose, very precise, how much did you get to contribute to the design of the book?

Basically the brief was to make an activity book based on Hockney’s work for children aged around 7+… we could have gone a few ways with it, but I wanted it to be true to Hockney’s spirit and vision.

After our first meeting I went and did a load of research, and then we had another meeting where I laid out all the research I’d done and we mapped out the different aspects of his work that we wanted to explore in the book. Then Holly wrote the rough text and I started working on the spreads pretty much straight away. I designed all the illustrative aspects of the page, and Jay Cover did the type.

How did you make your illustrations: techniques, process etc? Did you work differently to your usual practice(s) especially for this book?

I just sketched out a rough layout for all the pages and then drew the finals into Photoshop. I worked in the way that I usually work, only with an ever looming fear that Hockney was going to be seeing everything I made!

Was it difficult maintaining your own voice in the making of the illustrations? How did it feel to work alongside his pictures, how visible were your illustrations allowed to be in relation to Hockney’s?

No, I don’t think so. I actually think it came quite naturally. It was really fun to pull out little details from Hockney’s work and integrate them into my drawing. For instance, Stanley (Hockney’s dachshund) dressed up as a Punchinello from Parade. I think they were allowed to be pretty visual… it was strange, as I work on all the finals without the Hockney paintings dropped into the layout, so when I saw the final book printed I was happy they worked together!


Did you get to choose the artworks that you show in your illustrations or were you given a list of those to be included?

I was given a list of all the works that were going to be in the Tate Britain show, and we picked from there.

How much of an influence has Hockney been on your work, in what ways?

A huge one… I don’t even know where to start. The thing with Hockney is that he has produced SO much, and it is all incredible. There is so much to discover – while I was doing the book, I found all the preliminary sketches he had drawn for the Opera designs, and they are masterpieces in themselves. It’s like having a favourite band, and constantly finding new albums by them that are all totally different, but equally enjoyable.

He just has such a good attitude… no bullshit. Look at the world, enjoy what’s around you, be honest.

How did you go about creating the character Hockney, from photos, sketches you found or were you able to work from the model himself?

Ha ha, I wish I could say I flew to LA and spent a week soaking up his aura… but no I drew from photos in my freezing studio in Haggerston. I chose to draw him as a kind of 80’s Hockney… I was tempted to have him age through the book – so start as a student, and end now. But as the artworks aren’t picked chronologically, I think this would have been too confusing for the reader. All the clothes he wears in my drawings are his real outfits though.

Have you had any feedback from Hockney about your work on the book?

Yes! He sent me an email, a text message, and he wrote a really nice message in my copy of the book. He seemed to be really happy with it, I spoke to his brother and sister at the exhibition and they were like ‘Oh! You’re the girl that did the book!’

Other than Hockney which sources inspire, inform, help the way you create images?

I’m always on the look out for things happening on the street – just little visual moments. This morning I saw a kid trying to climb the railing protecting a tree that had just blossomed, so jotted it down for a future drawing. I write loads of notes in my phone, things people say, so my phone notes are full of things like ‘I heard sirens… but it wasn’t my ambulance’, ‘Bin with a round Bakewell tart with red cherry on the top’ and ‘NEW MOON IN WETHERSPOONS’ – total gibberish really, but little starting points.

I look at loads of paintings, try (and often fail) to go to lots of shows to see them in real life. I read lots, but am quite bad at watching films – it’s always my new years resolution. I’m always scrolling through Instagram too…


What book project would you love to work on most?

Well, the Hockney one was a total dream project, but I am actually about to start work on another dream book! I’m not allowed to talk about it yet, but it will be out early next year I think.

I’d love to do something with David Byrne… imagine a children’s book written by him!

David Hockney is on at Tate Britain until 29 May 2017

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

Where’s Warhol?

This Is Bacon

The Prize for Illustration 2017: Sounds of the City exhibition – 100 illustrations on display at London Transport Museum

April 5th, 2017 by Special Projects

Friday 19 May to 3 September 2017

Travel to London Transport Museum:
Address: Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E 7BB.
The nearest stations to London Transport Museum are:
Underground: Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Charing Cross, Embankment, Holborn
National Rail: Charing Cross and Waterloo
Boat: Embankment or Westminster pier
Bus: Strand or Aldwych

The Association of Illustrators (AOI) and London Transport Museum are delighted to announce the Prize for Illustration 2017 – Sounds of the City exhibition at the Covent Garden museum from Friday 19 May to Sunday 3 September.

The Prize for Illustration 2017: Sounds of the City, an exhibition of 100 illustrations, opens at London Transport Museum on Friday 19 May. Visitors will be able to enjoy a visual journey inspired by lyrics and language; hubbub and stillness; heritage and science; through to the wildlife and nightlife of our diverse and multi-layered cities.

The winning design will be announced in May and reproduced as a poster for display on London Underground.

The Prize for Illustration 2017: Sounds of the City is at the Exterion Media gallery, London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E 7BB. Tickets cost £17.50 (£15 concessions) and allow unlimited daytime entry to the Museum galleries and temporary exhibitions for a whole year. Advance online booking £16 (concessions £13.50)

For further information, please see:


Friday Late – Sounds of the City launch evening
19 May 2017; 18:45 – 22:00 (last admission 21:15)

The Museum’s special, adults only, Friday Late launch evening explores the lost worlds of urban sounds. Guests can find out how sound influences design in a fascinating interactive free-form painting workshop. Using big sweeping movements and non-restrictive painting techniques on large rolls of paper, people are encouraged to respond – through paint – to the music they hear around them. Party people can also join a curated mini tour of the exhibition. There’s a bar, in-house DJ Museum of Vinyl and a music themed quiz. 18s and over only.

Tickets to the Friday Late cost £15; Concessions £12.

Sounds of the City events

Workshop: Design your own Music Festival with Soundcheck
Thursday 8 June 2017; 18:30 – 21:30

London Transport Museum has joined forces with creative company Soundcheck, to present an immersive experience for aspiring festival and event organisers, music lovers and digital technology enthusiasts. Guests will get a taster of what it’s like to put together a music festival.
After creating a festival concept, participants will programme a main stage line up, curate the finest food and drinks, and plot guerrilla marketing tactics. Learning a range of creative new skills including event management, business strategy and marketing communications, they will be guided by a team of music industry experts with experience at some of the world’s greatest festivals.

Tickets to the workshop cost £15; Concessions £12.

Talk: Music and Memory – how to build a city
Tuesday 27 June 2017; 19:00 – 20:30

Join BBC broadcaster and author, Robert Elms, in conversation Dave Haslam, author of ‘Life after Dark’, as they explore the past, present and future of the sounds of our cities.

Celebrating how music has shaped our cities – from cherished music venues to vibrant street carnivals and songs inspired by place, they’ll be discussing what we owe to these songs and venues and the memories they have formed. The duo will analyse how our communities have been built and are bound up around music venues and night clubs. The conversation will also centre around the challenges that music faces in the future.

Talk tickets: Adults £12; Concessions £10

Mini Masterclass: Self Promotion
Tuesday 11 July 2017; 19:00 – 20:30

Awards – whether you win or not – are a vital part of everyone’s careers; from Hollywood to Holborn. As more and more creatives graduate each year, how can you set yourself apart and stay at the top of the commissioners lists? The Association of Illustrators talks to an illustrator, a commissioner and an agent about self-promotion – from the role of awards to using social media, developing your own website and other less mainstream approaches. There will be the opportunity for Q&As at the end.

Mini Masterclass tickets cost; Adults £12; Concessions £10
Tickets for the Sounds of the City exhibition, Friday Late and events can be booked in advance at
Illustration by Eliza Southwood, Bronze Winner, Prize for Illustration 2015

World Illustration Awards 2016 exhibition on tour in Ormskirk

April 5th, 2017 by Special Projects

Opening Times: Tuesday – Saturday 10.00 am – 16.30 pm
Closed Monday, Sunday & all Bank Holidays | Free Admission | Disabled Access
Chapel Gallery, St. Helens Road, Ormskirk, Lancashire, L39 4QR.
1 April – 6 May 2017

Chapel Gallery in Ormskirk are proud to host this prestigious exhibition which brings together exceptional images created by artists from across the globe.

From self-initiated experiments, to the covers that entice us to read a particular book, this exhibition demonstrates that innovation in illustration has the power to persuade, excite and engage us all.
The Reading Room: Back by popular demand! In partnership with Waterstones, Ormskirk.

Bring a book and swap it for another, take a seat and stay with us a while.

Visit to enjoy free, family friendly activities.

Visitor JR said after her visit:
“Yesterday we visited the Chapel Gallery in Ormskirk to find that your latest exhibition of the World Illustration Awards 2016 was on; we were delighted as we’d seen last year’s exhibition there too & very much enjoyed it.
I think this year’s work even surpassed last year’s high standard! It is so interesting to see work from a wide range of categories, & I particularly like some of the very detailed perspective drawing. Things that stand out in my memory: I loved finding the 10 hidden keys; we were fascinated by the skilful use of digital imaging to show plants being used in medicine; The New York Times “cartoon” of Death overwhelming the Syrian refugees was haunting; the tale of the little mice and the fat cat with the stripey tale … I could go on!”


picture curtesy of Chapel Gallery

AOI at Bologna Children’s Book Fair

March 31st, 2017 by Special Projects


AOI MD, Ren Renwick and Projects Manager Derek Brazell are travelling to Bologna Children’s Book Fair from Monday 3rd to Wednesday 5th April where they will be meeting with representatives from the other European illustrators groups, telling attending illustrators about the AOI and delivering talks with the Italian organisation, Autori Immagini.

If you are attending come along to say hello and check out the talks.

Monday 3 April

5pm AOI literary agent member, Penny Holroyde, will be giving portfolios reviews at Autori Immagini / European Illustrators Forum stand B88 – H26

Tuesday 4 April

11-12pm Pricing and the value of Illustration with Derek Brazell, AOI and Paolo Rui, Autori Immagini at the Autori Immagini / European Illustrators Forum stand at B88 – H26

This talk will focus on the specifics of pricing illustration, the value of an illustrator’s work and the impact of regular/irregular work has on an illustrator’s life.

Wednesday 5 April

10-11am Masterclass: 10 Principles for Fair Contracts – discussing creator initiatives to protect our rights and business interests, with Derek Brazell, AOI and Paolo Rui, Autori Immagini at The Illustrators Survival Corner – Pad. 26

12-1pm Masterclass: Illustration Selfie – promoting yourself online and protecting your images, with Derek Brazell, AOI and Paolo Rui, Autori Immagini at The Illustrators Survival Corner – Pad. 26

This talk will focus on the self promotion, basic principles of copyright protection including protecting one’s own works, metadata and some of the copyright registration methods available.


Inspector Brunswick: The Case of the Missing Eyebrow – book review

March 31st, 2017 by Special Projects

Written by Angela Keoghan and Chris Lam Sam Illustrated by Angela Keoghan

Published by Tate Publishing ISBN: 978-1-84976-444-5

Reviewed by Andy Robert Davies


This is a crime caper in the traditional sense; a charismatic inspector solves a seemingly impossible riddle, aided by his trusted friend and assistant. Inspector Brunswick (cat) and his assistant Nelson (dog), are enjoying a day of culture at an art museum, when they are presented with an irresistible case; the eyebrow from a famous painting has disappeared! By varying the amount of text on each page, Keoghan and Sam skillfully control the pace of the narrative.


The story owes much to Agatha Christie’s work and Inspector Brunswick does have something of Hercule Poirot and also Inspector Clouseau in his mannerisms. But to be fair to Brunswick, his dapper appearance and demeanour is closer to the Belgian detective. Keoghan uses an amalgamation of textures and selective line-work to create multilayered imagery that are full of entertaining details.


The inclusion of art deco letterforms and the choice of colour palette help this book achieve the desired look as it appears to be from the golden age of detective stories with a nod to Victorian era fashion. The book includes fold-out pages which allows Keoghan to explore layout and the different stages of the hunt.


Some of the compositions are challenging, but this can be a positive as it encourages the reader to search through the crowds of anthropomorphic art lovers and really engage with the story. A fox, crocodile, mouse and a mole are all dressed in their Sunday best whilst enjoying the paintings (which are mostly of people). There are little references to art history that perhaps adult readers will enjoy when reading this with a child. The crowd of animals (and paintings) grow more and more flustered as the search widens. The conclusion to this mystery is suitably surreal and introduces the themes of fame, recognition and the desire to share one’s artistry with others.

If you liked this book review you may be interested in these:

The Lion and the Bird

A Bed for Bear

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole