Varoom 31 – the Visionaries issue

November 27th, 2015 by Special Projects

V31_cover_550pxThis issue of Varoom is about celebrating the visionary work of illustrators, the image-making that shapes our relationship with the world, that inspires us to a more creative engagement with the world. Though we often think of the visionary as something, or someone a little bit ‘out there’, just by being given the status of visionary enables unorthodox ideas to be put on the table


In this issue Marion Deuchars speaks of the line that connects her with Quentin Blake, Ardizzone, Lear and Cruikshank all the way back to the use of text and images in the Illuminated Manuscripts.  Also featuring image-futurism in Architecture, the Epiphany as a powerfully affective journey of learning (with Marion Deuchars, David Hughes, Oliver Jeffers and Olimpia Zagnoli), how Illustrators are rising to the challenge to visualise and explore science in astonishingly imaginative ways, graphic novels and children’s books.


Jason Lamb created the detailed cover image as part of his Frackpool architectural project – part of the Arch-Vision article.

Varoom 31 is available here as a single issue or part of a subscription

World Illustration Awards 2016 Call for Entries

November 26th, 2015 by Special Projects


The World Illustration Awards are now open to illustrators in any country working in any medium or context.

Artwork must be entered as either a New Talent entry or a Professional entry, and can be entered in various Categories. More details here.

Call for Entry closes midnight Monday 08 February 2016

See the 2015 World Illustration Awards winners here.

London Illustration Fair 2015

November 25th, 2015 by Special Projects

4-6 December 2015

The Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank, London


The London Illustration Fair 2015 will showcase the work of 50 illustrators, selected by a judging panel made up of some of the UK’s leading figures in the illustration and graphic arts.

Alongside the artist-led stands, will be pop-up shops displaying prints and products from a selection of creative agencies, publishing houses, illustration collectives, print studios, crafty businesses and textile designers. Additional festivities include site specific installations, murals, ‘back to school’ classroom hosting artist-led talks and interactive drawing workshops, street food vendors, DJs and a festive bar.

Visionaries illustration conference

November 19th, 2015 by Special Projects

The AOI’s illustration research network, VaroomLab, held a successful conference with partner Birmingham City University over 5th and 6th November 2015. Titled Visionaries, this event explored the way visionary approaches are able to expand the way we perceive the world, and was made up of presentations of papers, a film on ‘visionary-ness’ in contemporary Illustrative practice, short Pecha Kucha (PK) presentations and lively panel discussions between speakers and the audience.


A keynote speaker presented on each day, with illustrator and AOI Patron, Paul Slater, talking about his approach to his surreal witty paintings, and his need to constantly create, “As soon as I stop doing commissions, I start painting”.


Paul Slater talking to Jo Berry

Paul Slater talking to Jo Berry

Matthew Richardson spoke on his project relating to dystopian novelist JG Ballard’s novel Concrete Island, with Gareth Proskourine-Barnett following on with a ‘love letter’ to the soon to be demolished Brutalist Central library in Birmingham. The next paper was preceded by PK presentations from Jo Berry, Jo Hassall, Christian Lloyd ranging from the Country & Western ‘nudie’ suit to illustrating with scientists.

Education came under scrutiny from Richard Mile when he challenged the way art schools (and education in general) operate in the current climate.


Visionaries progamme

Day two’s keynote speaker was Graham Elliot, who amused the audience with a high energy talk on his animation/video/film career and the importance of illustration to him manifesting in his drawn storyboards. Chloe Regan, and Alice Maloney followed with PK presentations on discovery through Drawing and what the new breed of illustrator is.

Graham Elliot talking

Graham Elliot talking

Andy Davies then presented his paper on The Illustrated Map as a mode of communicating Fact, Fiction and Feeling, showing examples of how illustrators have used the map in various forms. Andrew Kulman followed with an early history of the Association of Illustrators and its vision, commenting that “AOI provides so many things that help us as professionals”.

A final panel discussion, which extended well beyond its allotted time, rounded up the event, and lead to many positive comments on the whole conference.


Public Lending Right concerns

November 19th, 2015 by Special Projects

The Society of Authors has written to express its concerns about Public Lending Right (PLR) to Dominic Lake, Deputy Director of Arts, Libraries & Cultural Property, Department for Culture, Media and Sport. PLR is the right for authors and illustrators to receive a small sum each time a book is lent out from a library.

On 9 November it was proposed that the rate per loan for PLR be raised from 6.66 pence to 7.67 pence per loan. While this increase is welcomed SoA has several areas of concern which they urge the Government to address. They are arguing for:

Safeguarding and proper administration of PLR

Extension of PLR to all volunteer-run libraries

Remuneration of authors for all types of loans on all types of books

Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors (SoA) said: “We are sad to note the decrease in the estimate loans of books registered for PLR, caused, no doubt, by the cuts in library services and the exclusion of some volunteer-run libraries from the scheme. We urge the Government to include volunteer-run libraries within the PLR scheme so that true figures for library lending can be recorded and remunerated.”

She continued: “We understand that the government is considering plans to bring in PLR payments for remote e-lending. Libraries now remotely lend a significant number of e-books and it is only fair that authors should be remunerated for these. Publishers have been reluctant to ensure that authors receive a fair share of licensing revenues for remote lending.”

Full story from SoA here

Measuring Land and Sea by Oliver Jeffers

November 19th, 2015 by Special Projects

Measuring Land and Sea continues AOI Patron Oliver Jeffers’ investigation into the philosophical impasse at which art and science often find themselves. While one is by nature subjective and the other is defined by the pursuit of objectivity, both express two very human characteristics: feeling and reasoning.

Lazarides Rathbone Gallery, 11 Rathbone Place, London, W1T 1HR

Friday 20th November – Wednesday 23rd December 2015

Opening times Wednesday to Saturday 11am until 7am

0207 636 5443 Oliver Jeffers Website


Oliver Jeffers combines classic landscape and seascape painting with technical measurements. In Jeffers seascape paintings he has superimposed numbers that mark the depth of the ocean in fathoms, a now obsolete system for measuring depth. As his various depictions of ocean swell suggest, the surface of the sea is not flat but in constant motion, forever changing. Moreover, what lies beneath the surface is a notoriously uncharted frontier; these paintings speak to the futility of trying to measure—with potentially inadequate means—the immeasurable vastness of our universe.

Measuring Land and Sea

Through this juxtaposition, the artist presents the viewer with two modes of representation, one artistic and one scientific. Rather than increase our understanding, this combination makes things less clear by providing superfluous distraction whilst highlighting the boundaries of perceived knowledge. Thus, Jeffers points to two underlying obstacles of human cognition, the tendency to overthink and the inability to fully comprehend.

ojdippedpaintin copy

To coincide with his show, Jeffers will conduct a discussion on his Dipped Paintings project at London’s National Portrait Gallery. More information is available here

A Great Big Cuddle – book review

November 19th, 2015 by Special Projects

Poems for the very young

Written by Michael Rosen Illustrated by Chris Riddell

By Walker Books  ISBN 978-0763681166

Review by Laura Flynn


As a creative person myself, I absolutely love A Great Big Cuddle. Chris Riddell’s illustrations have a beautiful quality, making the little children depicted look so real (and as my young daughter says, “so cute”), but also giving the various creatures, monsters and animals such personality. The colours and finish give it an almost vintage look that we love.

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Being a book of poems, there is not just one story, but a whole world of characters, wonderfully joined together with lyrical words, that at times leave you a little tongue tied….. especially at bedtime!

My two year old daughter has already picked out her favourites and can remember the poems, nearly by heart. ‘Mr Hobson-Jobson says’ is one where she likes to sing the words out loud and she calls the little girl in a red spotty dress, “the ladybird girl”. The very funny large blue dog makes her laugh every time she sees it.

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‘Once’ always leaves her a bit puzzled, as the mum character is the tiniest of the furry monsters, and her three children Gom, Flom and Chom are all much bigger, and she is also fascinated by the fact they eat the Berrible.

I think this book will be a firm favourite for many years to come, and it’s made me want to pick up my paint brush again.

WAKU WAKU Exhibition by Charlotte Mei and Grace Helmer

November 19th, 2015 by Special Projects

Beach London, Cheshire St, E2 6EH

Until Sunday 29th November 2015


Fresh from being exhibited in Tokyo, the show features a series of dioramas painted by Grace, and decorated with Charlotte’s ceramic pieces.


There will be a series of new editions and products displayed by both artists to accompany the exhibition.

The Green Fingers of Monsieur Monet – Book Review

November 18th, 2015 by Special Projects

By Giancarlo Ascari and Pia Valeninis

Published by the Royal Academy of Arts ISBN 978-1910350348

Review by Laura Bilsby


The Green Fingers of Monsieur Monet aims to introduce children to the Impressionist, through playful illustrations and simple text. The  journey of his life as a painter is presented to us through visualisations of his home in Giverny, France. Uncomplicated text provides details of  his most prized masterpiece and greatest inspiration, his garden. Each spread is filled to the edges with vibrant illustrations reflecting Monet’s vast paintings of this space.

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The book provides brief overviews of some of the historical aspects which effected the life of Monet. First-facts about Impressionism and the First World War are explained in ways children can enjoy and understand. The significance of gardening runs as a theme throughout the book, from detailed instructional letters to his gardeners, to names of flowers and their seasons of bloom, emphasising nature’s impact on Monet’s paintings.


Although the book shares limited information about the involvement of his family and his life prior to Giverny, it does give us a glimpse of Monet’s home life; surrounded by bright Japanese art, prints and decorative objects that he collected as inspiration and his time spent contemplating changing light effects in his water garden.

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Giancarlo Ascari and Pia Valentinis interpret Monet’s work as a starting point, but focus on rich content, colour and use of light rather than an impressionistic style. Their modern take on Monet seems to disconnect us from the paintings by Monet himself, particularly because of the black outlines and overall style. It would have been nice to see some original artworks of Monet to provide children with realistic presentations of his work. However, the illustrations are full of detail and colour, and engaging content. Overall I think the book evokes a feeling of nostalgia and provides the reader with a feel for Monet’s passion and success.

You may also be interested in these reviews:

This Is Bacon

This is Gauguin

Illustratoren Organisation and an unfair competition

November 17th, 2015 by Special Projects

Germany’s Illustratoren Organisation landed a success in November after warning their members about an unfair competition by publisher G+J and Dawanda. The warning Facebook post became a big success. G+J immediately reacted and changed their contest rules.

In October 2015, Germany’s Illustratoren Organisation (IO) learned about about a competition with unfair rules. It was organised by Dawanda (the German version of Etsy) and Flow magazine (a popular European style and living magazine with a huge focus on illustrated images) by one of Germany’s big publisher Gruner + Jahr (G+J). The competition invited illustrators to send in wrapping paper samples, and as a prize the eight winners were to be published in Flow magazine. By uploading the images, all illustrators  taking part in the competition would grant non-exclusive but unlimited rights of use G+J – merely by uploading their images.

IO decided to send an online statement to their members advising against participation. The post became a big hit on IO’s facebook page, too. IO was then very happy to hear that G+J reacted immediately on IO’s post and changed their contest rules. This is a huge success, and IO also thanks G+J for their quick reaction.

From European Illustrators Forum

IO site (in German)