Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2018: Preparation – Part Two

September 20th, 2017 by Special Projects

Article, photo and illustrations by Jean Mackey Lebleu, Illustrator and AOI Member

Welcome back BCBF beginners to Part TWO of our suggested preparation guidelines! Let’s get to your to-do list…

Illustrators’ Exhibition Deadline – October 4th Back in May we told you to be on the lookout for information on how to enter the 2018 Illustrators’ Exhibition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, so you may have seen already that they announced the call for submissions on their Facebook post where you can follow the links, or follow these links for How to Take Part and the Rules of Entry 2018. The deadline is October 4th. That’s coming up quick! Also, BCBF wrote on their website that Each participant to the selection will be sent by email a code to purchase a reduced-price ticket to the 2018 Bologna Children’s Book Fair.’ If you need more clarification on any aspect of this process you can write to them in the Facebook post or email to [email protected]

BCBF Newsletter – Have you signed up yet? You can do it at the bottom of their website homepage, and keep following them on their social media for updates.

Your Passport and EHIC – Make sure your passport won’t expire on or before March 2018! If you are eligible for one, remember to bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) on the trip. EHICs are always FREE – if you don’t have one, click here for more information and apply now.

Airplane tickets – You really should buy them within the next two months to ensure you get the date and time you want; speaking for London, flights to Bologna in spring definitely become full because Bologna hosts conventions and conferences for several of industries.

Accommodation – Please be sure to book your accommodation before November if possible, especially if you want to stay somewhere close to the convention hall. By January all of the reasonably priced hotel rooms, B&Bs and Airbnbs will be taken; you will have to pay hundreds of euros (no kidding!) for a small room with a shared WC in the city centre, or be miles away from the convention hall. Remember to visit the Bologna tourism website for ideas and information. Keep in mind that although the fair is four days, the first three days will be the most helpful for you. On my fourth day, many exhibitors had left, there were no more portfolio reviews, the last talk ended near noon and the fair ended at 3pm.

Two opportunities to buy discount tickets: (1) In 2017, ‘Early Bird’ tickets went on sale about two months before the fair opened and availability ended about four weeks before the opening; and (2) they also offered last year an ‘Illustrator’s Discount’ on the daily rate, but you had to register, and there was a deadline for submitting your request (in 2017 it was mid-February). Once you registered, they emailed to you your own code and a special webpage link for this discount just a few weeks before the fair. To be extra sure that you will receive the code, write to [email protected] before November, (also check the website for any new instructions/email addresses).

Dummy books and published books By now you hopefully have sorted out your strategy and ‘unique selling propositions’ as we discussed in May, are halfway finished with your dummy book, and have chosen one or two of your published books that best represent you. Why only two? Because you will have less than five minutes to present yourself at the ‘Open Portfolio’ sessions that many publishers offer, so make every minute count by showing only your most successful work. And as we said in May, if you want to write as well as illustrate your own books but you haven’t been published yet then you absolutely must bring at least one dummy book to demonstrate your storytelling abilities.

Portfolio Examples of the work that best represents your strengths and interests, presented either in an A4 portfolio case, a bound book (which you can make online of course) or even on a tablet (a mini tablet probably won’t do justice to your work, so try to keep it larger). If you believe an A3 portfolio is best, that’s fine, but anything bigger is not expected.

Business cards, mini portfolio, other ‘leave behind’ Paper quality should be sturdy and present your work in the best way possible but it’s not necessary to spend a fortune.

Appointments You may be wondering if it is necessary to write or call publishers and agents in advance to secure an appointment with them at the fair. In many cases, this wasn’t necessary; in 2017, I met three agents and 12 publishers without having made any appointments in advance – it was all through the ‘Open Portfolio’ sessions that they advertised either at the fair or on their social media. But if you want to try to secure your own appointment with someone specific, be sure to contact them in autumn to find out if meeting is a possibility. As for agents, the ones on the exhibition floor will give you information on how to submit work, or may even look at your work, but the ones upstairs in the Literary Agents Centre this past year were not seeing illustrators or writers. Perhaps that may change in the future, but when I went to ask I saw that they were so busy, they had to eat lunch at their tables during their meetings, so just keep that in mind.

Remember to make a list of the publishers you want to prioritise at the fair. If you need ideas for publishers, click here to look at the list of exhibitors who were at the 2017 fair.

In January 2018 we will have Part Three, in which we will discuss how to make the most of the fair when you get there. Until then, happy drawing and don’t forget the 4th of October deadline!

WIA2017 exhibition at Somerset House

September 20th, 2017 by Special Projects

The World Illustration Awards 2017 were showcased at Somerset House from 31 July – 28 August 2017.

The overall and category winners were announced on Thursday 3 August at The World Illustration Awards 2017 Exhibition at Somerset House in London, marking the 41st year of the Association of Illustrators’ annual juried illustration awards.

Italian illustrator Marco Palena won the Overall New Talent Award with Librerie in Fiore 2016 (Bookshops in Blossom 2016). The project Bookshops in Blossom is an annual celebration of books and culture in Italy, coinciding with the arrival of spring. Marco’s illustration captures the sensation of being completely immersed in a book.

The judges said Marco’s work was a winner because it is “beautifully executed and has that magical quality to it … smart, witty and wonderfully crafted”.

Dutch artist Aart-Jan Venema won the Overall Professional Award with Green Man Festival. Commissioned by Bread Collective, his A3 sketches were developed in Photoshop and then used for the Green Man Festival website and printed materials.  The brief sought a series of illustrations which reflected the spirit of the festival and the inquisitive nature of the people attending the event.

Venema says “I went all out with objects and plants that may or may not exist. The client wanted me to use as few characters as possible, so I had to ‘characterise’ the objects and plants even more to ensure that the images were still interesting.”

The judges commented that Aart’s illustrations had “a more unusual style – while still showing great (hand-drawn) technical ability and detailing.…  I also feel the illustrations are the perfect mix of weird and wonderful and a great reflection of the festival itself”.

The Association of Illustrators’ Managing Director, Ren Renwick commented:

“It’s been an incredible year for the World Illustration Awards, with entries of an exceptional quality. There have been notable themes of a political and environmental nature. Art reflects life after all. The exhibition at Somerset House offers insight both into the judging process and the illustrators’ creative processes in making the works. This offers an engaging and inspiring exhibition both for those in the know, and those curious to learn more.”

The Awards are presented by the Association of Illustrators in partnership with the Directory of Illustration in California and Somerset House in central London.

The exhibition of highlighted works is open to the public at Somerset House’s Embankment Galleries until 28 August, selected from over 2,300 entries from 64 countries. Each of the eight categories, from Advertising and Design to Books and Editorial are, will be represented. The exhibitionis offers an accessible introduction to illustration in its many forms by demonstrating the importance of visual communication in everyday life. Original exhibited works on display will include animations, posters, packaging and children’s books by artists from the UK, USA, Italy, The Netherlands, South Korea, Hong Kong and Israel.

This year, The World Illustration Awards is teaming up with Walker Books, the world’s leading independent publisher of English language children’s books, to offer the Walker Books Family Programme. A series of free family workshops will take place throughout August in the exhibition space at Somerset House. These include workshops with debut author-illustrator Alice Tait, award-winning author-illustrator of the ‘Julius Zebra’ series Gary Northfield, upcoming artist and illustrator Elissa Elwick, and debut graffiti illustrator Sav Akyuz.

Overall Winners are:
Marco Palena – Overall New Talent Winner (Italy)

Aart-Jan Venema – Overall Professional Winner (Netherlands)

Category Winners are:

Marco Palena – Winner Advertising New Talent
Claudine O’Sullivan – Winner Advertising Professional

Inhye Moon – Winner Books New Talent sponsored by NoBrow
Nina Chakrabarti – Winner Books Professional sponsored by NoBrow

Bethan Woollvin – Winner Children’s Books New Talent sponsored by Walker Books
Lizzy Stewart – Winner Children’s Books Professional sponsored by Walker Books

Sam Ki – Winner Design New Talent sponsored by Affinity Designer
Aart-Jan Venema – Winner Design Professional sponsored by Affinity Designer

Marguerite Carnec – Winner Editorial New Talent
Tony Rodriguez – Winner Editorial Professional

Chen Winner – Winner Research New Talent
Tobatron – Winner Research Professional

Rosalba Cafforio – Winner Self-Initiated New Talent
Steven Choi – Winner Self-Initiated Professional

Jonny Glover – Winner Site Specific Professional


More information on the Awards website:

Jane Ray: A World of Colour and Light

September 14th, 2017 by Special Projects

The Elephants Garden and The Glass Maker’s Daughter 

20 September – 14 October

Illustration Cupboard London

Jane Ray is one of the finest graphic and decorative illustration artists working today – having studied design and textiles Jane has gone on to write and illustrate books with leading publishers the world over. Her distinctive style and compassionate approach to storytelling has firmly established her as a successful picture book artist with over 70 picture books to her name. Adept illustrating her own texts as well as the work of others, Jane is perhaps best known for her luminous and intricate illustrations of traditional tales and her sensitivity to culturally diverse ways of looking at the world.

Illustrationcupboard Gallery presents a full-colour exhibition of Jane Ray’s original artwork for two new books, The Elephant’s Garden (Boxer Books) and The Glassmaker’s Daughter (Frances Lincoln). From Venice to India, these two very different tales take us on magical journeys of colour, light, laughter and imagination. Using vibrant collage artwork with jewel-like colours, Jane Ray’s illustrations will appeal to anyone who loves stories, enchanting and captivating readers of all ages.

Gary Powell obituary

September 14th, 2017 by Special Projects

It is with sadness that we let you know that our longstanding AOI patron Gary Powell has died following his battle with cancer.

Gary Powell

Gary worked as a designer and illustrator since graduating from St Martins School of Art & Design in 1985. He was awarded numerous awards and nominations including a D&AD Silver Pencil, the Asian award for Illustration and the B&H First Prize Gold Pencil award for Illustration. His work was selected for the Royal Mail’s Millennium Stamp Collection alongside 48 top image makers of Great Britain alongside Peter Blake, George Hardie and David Hockney.

Gary had also worked at the University of Brighton since 1995, and was a much loved friend and colleague to both the Graphic Design and Illustration courses. A passionate educator, alongside his own research and professional practice as a designer, illustrator and printmaker.  Always immaculately attired, he’ll be remembered for his generosity, his zeal for life, and for always going the extra mile when it came to the well being of students and colleagues alike.

Together with being one of the UK’s influential educators, he wasn’t afraid to move beyond the individuality of an artistic career to bringing together professionals and students as volunteers to run creative workshops for CARIS Haringey charity’s Summer Playscheme for children.

He was a Patron with the AOI for many years, contributing in particular to the World Illustration Awards

He will be greatly missed.


With thanks to Roderick Mills

Whose Eyes Are These? – book review

September 14th, 2017 by Special Projects

By Virginia Gobert-Martin and Madeline Peirsman

Published by Tate Publishing ISBN 978-1-84976-506-0

Reviewed by Spencer Hill


Whose Eyes Are These? is described by the publishers as ‘an utterly unique and sumptuous introduction to animals around the world’. Originally published as Mais a qui sont ces jeux? (both the illustrator and the writer are from Paris), this is a quality product and measures a lap sized 330 by 250 millimetres with 64 full colour pages.

There are nine animals in the book, and the format is the same for each. We are shown a pair of eyes and are asked ‘Whose eyes are these?’ Next we get a double page spread with a poetic and humorous introduction on the left and an illustration of the animal on the right. Finally we get to spot the animal in its natural habitat in two full pages of colourful, contemporary pattern based backgrounds.

We get to meet a lemur, jellyfish, hedgehog, hummingbird, stag, fox, owl, praying mantis and a shrimp. Each has a name which raises a smile, as they are both incongruent and alliterative, and the tone for the wacky verse is set with the introduction to Lenny the Lemur or Humphrey the Hummingbird. At the end there is a brief glossary, which provides us with some facts about the animals featured in the book as an educational endnote.

In their own words Tate Publishing produce books for children that will ‘surprise and delight the next generation of art-lovers’, and Whose Eyes Are These? fits well within that brief. The writing is whimsical and silly with some learning thrown in for good measure, whilst the illustrations are bold designs with strong patterns and carefully considered colour schemes.

Each animal begins with a symmetrical design for the eyes, which is then incorporated into a detailed and patterned stylistic representation of the animal. This is then incorporated into a landscape which is also detailed and patterned and stylistic, and the reader must spot the hidden animal amongst the colourful patterns.

The writing and illustrations pair up well, and the result is a clever and effective book of animal verse and contemporary art. If children’s nurseries, playrooms and dens had coffee tables, then I imagine this book would be placed upon them at a suitably jaunty angle between story times.

You may also be interested in this review:

Natural World

The Curiositree: Natural World – book review

The Klaus Flugge Prize – The Journey receives 1st prize

September 14th, 2017 by Special Projects

The Klaus Flugge Prize for the most exciting and promising newcomer to children’s picture book illustration was awarded last night (Wednesday 13 September) and presented to Francesca Sanna for her book The Journey (Flying Eye Books), which tells the story of a mother and her two children fleeing war at home to find a new life in another country.

Francesca Sanna, who is Italian and now lives in Switzerland, was in London to receive the award from veteran publisher Klaus Flugge himself. Now 82, Flugge set up Andersen Press over 40 years ago, launching the careers of illustrators such as Tony RossEmma Chichester ClarkDavid McKeeChris Riddell and Axel Scheffler. In her introduction to the award, chair of the judges Julia Eccleshare said that children across the world have grown up reading books published by Andersen Press and described Flugge’s influence on picture book illustration as enormous.

Axel Scheffler, a fellow German, was one of the judges for the award and, in a speech in which he apologised for using the B word (Brexit), praised Klaus Flugge for the tolerance and internationalism that has marked Klaus Flugge out throughout his career.

Francesca Sanna said: ‘I was incredibly honoured to see The Journey shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge Prize, together with the other four stunning books. To learn that my book had been chosen as the winner was really overwhelming. I am so grateful to the jury for this prize, which will help me continue doing the work I love, focusing on topics I deeply care about.’

The award was held at Andersen Press on Vauxhall Bridge Road. Francesca Sanna received a cheque for £5,000.

Francesca Sanna and illustrator Emma Lewis, also shortlisted, will be speaking at an event at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road Thursday 14 September with judge Nicolette Jones.

The judges for the 2017 prize were Axel Scheffler, multi-million selling illustrator of The Gruffalo; Nicolette Jones, children’s books editor of the Sunday Times; Tamara Macfarlane, owner of Tales on Moon Lane children’s bookshop; and last year’s winner Nicholas John Frith. The panel was chaired by Julia Eccleshare, children’s books editor of the Guardian.

The Paper-Flower Tree – book review

September 11th, 2017 by Special Projects

A Tale from Thailand

by Jacqueline Ayer

Published by Enchanted Lion Books ISBN 9781592702244

Review by Derek Brazell


The rich yellow cover of The Paper-Flower Tree with its depictions of Thai children and palm fronds leads us into a story which is a refreshing change from many children’s books.

Unusually direct gazes at the reader from the characters on the opening spread introduce the story of Miss Moon, a girl from a countryside village whose inhabitants are depicted across the following pages making their living in the surrounding rice fields.


From the start, the pencil and pen line drawings are strikingly contemporary, and with the addition of flat colour layers, the images appeal to the modern eye with texture and detail that dispel any sense of nostalgia to a book first published in 1959.


One day Miss Moon, baby brother slung on hip, meets an old man on the road with an amazing paper flower tree structure carried over his shoulder. She’s very taken with his beautiful construction and wishes for her own. The man tells her that some of the flowers have a black bead ‘seed’ in them and that sometimes, if planted, the ‘seed’ grows in to a full paper flower tree. With that he presents her with the smallest flower as a gift.

Trusting this tale, Miss Moon carefully buries the paper flower’s bead and waits for it to grow, ignoring the disbelieving comments from those around her.


A year later, with no sign of the tree (yet), a ramshackle theatre arrives in the village with the same old man as part of the troupe. On hearing that her tree hasn’t grown, the old man reiterates “I only said it might grow’. But after a night of dancing from clowns and dancers depicted in traditional Thai clothing, Miss Moon awakes to a delightful surprise in the morning…


Author and illustrator Jacqueline Ayer, who was a Jamaican-American born in New York in the 1930’s, moved to Thailand in the 1950’s, and her gentle story encouraging one to trust in what you personally believe in feels authentically placed. Although there is a simplicity to the artwork, the sense of place is well conveyed through the placing of architectural details and clothing the characters are depicted wearing.


Ayer’s work has been rediscovered by the House of Illustration who are showing an important exhibition of her artwork on until 1 October 2017. The show features artwork from The Paper-Flower Tree and Nu Dang and his Kite, also re-issued in time for the exhibition.

You may also be interested in these book reviews

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Fox & Goldfish

Arrest All Mimics interviews Eye Magazine

September 8th, 2017 by Special Projects


Eye magazine is a torch bearer in the creative magazine field. In a thriving indie magazine scene, Ben Tallon joins editor John Walters and art director Simon Esterson as they release issue 94, with an astounding 8,000 unique cover designs.

How has such a feat been pulled off and what makes for a successful indie print magazine in the the digital era?

Eye is deservedly renowned for its visual swagger and two of the minds responsible talk about the history of the mag and where it’s headed.

Issue 94 is on sale now!

Listen to the episode here.

Get your thoughts and fav magazine thoughts over @arrestallmimics on Twitter

Hidden Museum: A Cabinet of Curiosities – book review

September 7th, 2017 by Special Projects

By Shaun Parr

Published by Cicada Books ISBN: 9781908714398

Review by Rachel Morris

Hidden Museum Cover_550

Hidden Museum: A Cabinet of Curiosities is a beautifully curated, intricately illustrated collection. The book itself is small enough to fit in a big pocket and has a dash of luxury in its silver foil details on the cover.

Hidden Museum image 2_550

Inside the cover, a surprise lurks. You get you own little cardboard magnifying glass-style red cellophane viewer. This is where the magic happens! Take a look through the viewer and the illustrations offer up the secrets you can’t see with the naked eye. Coupled with the concise paragraph of information on each facing page, with facts about the object, you feel like you’re on a private guided tour of a fascinatingly eccentric museum.

I caught up with Shaun Parr to talk about the book and his drawing process.

Shaun: When an idea came into form I would start with sketchbook pages (which in this case became the endpapers),


Cicada Illustrations Endpaper AOI_550

Endpaper illustrations

I may complete 1 or 2 before starting to create the content needed. Preliminary drawings are usually made in the sketchbook pages or become very detailed works that show the style of drawing to be used.



Megalodon Shark Tooth

R: Was this a very long project?

S: The project was completed over a 12-month period from start to completion. It was also my very first commission for a book, a very exciting prospect coming out of University and completed while in full-time employment.

R: How did you whittle down the list of things to include in your hidden museum? Do you have a favourite exhibit?

S: It was very difficult, I had numerous ideas that worked, but were repetitive. It made me consider very carefully about each of the 32 subjects to ensure that they were original, but with small hidden connections between them. For example there is the Magnolia plant which is predominantly pollinated by beetles, this links to the scarab beetles, while the scarab beetle also links to the Canopic Jar and its purpose in Egyptian mummification.

Those links between subjects grounds the book in a museum setting, like an index to a collection on display. It doesn’t appear they connect at first, but if you look closely you start to identify the connections.

I do love Liverpool’s World Museum; they have a large geology based collection that I viewed whilst at University. It was for a very exciting photography based project about geology formations that has always stood out for me. Myself and a room full of precious stones was a great experience – which not many people get to see or truly understand.

My personal collection is also a great inspiration to me. I was five when I started collecting and I’ve just started to run out of space, especially in recent months since I’ve started to collect again where I left off, with exciting new specimens becoming part of the collection. Some even feature in the book such as the geode and amber, which makes the book have that personal touch for me.

Hidden Museum Beetle wings revealed_550

R: I love the way the little magnifying glass style viewer really makes the person reading the book feel like they’re right inside the book. How did the idea for that element come about?

S: The idea was inspired by a book called ‘The Great Journey’ by Agathe Demois and Vincent Godeau, a children’s book where every year birds leaves their homes to gather in the jungle. The illustrations that follow the story use a magnifying glass to reveal hidden details underneath. Our concept was to reveal smaller and more intricate scientific subjects using the red-filmed magnifying glass.

R: On a similar note, how involved in the book design side of things did you get?

S: A considerable amount of the book design was developed from the illustration subjects, endpapers to cover content and even the initial wooden texture for the magnifying glass details. Cicada Books and their design team Studio April did an astonishing amount of work pulling the created content together to make the book. I can’t thank them enough.

Hidden Museum Beetle_550

R: What was your favourite bit about creating this book?

S: Definatley the illustrations, I find it therapeutic to draw a subject that enthralls and excites. There were a lot of subjects I’ve never drawn befor,e and you must also consider they were new territory for myself personally. It makes it one of my favourite parts of the project.

R: What was the biggest pain/challenge?

S: Aligning the corresponding illustrations together was a big challenge, even trying to draw them exactly the same size or in a designated shape is challenging. Often being millimetres misaligned, these parts were always corrected through editing.

Another challenge was that my illustrations are very condensed with technical detail and it often became hard to contain the visual hidden element of each illustrated subject. By using two illustration styles there is contrast in each subject that allows the viewer to see the hidden element of each illustration. However some subjects just couldn’t be represented in this way, as there would be no visual context to identify them. This challenge has created a book where illustrations change from being complex to simple with each use of the magnifying glass.

Hidden Museum crocs sidebyside_550

R: I love the end papers. They are brimming with energy. What are you working on at the moment? Will we be seeing any of the ideas on those end papers coming to life?

S: The end papers are from my sketchbook pages and are always the first part of the project, and often in recent years have become pieces in their own right. I am currently completing some commissioned work, which I’m looking to getting more of in the future. I would love to work with museums and organisations that specialise in wildlife and conservation, ancient history and Palaeontology (the study of fossils).


My sketchbook pages allow me to come back and revisit ideas when a project surfaces, I believe that there is a right time for an idea to be used as my illustration skills evolve. My sketchbooks are a personal way to store these ideas for a future time, sometimes becoming personal projects that allow these technical abilities to flourish.

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

The Animals Vegan Manifesto

Atlas of the Human Body

Varoom 36: the Rhythm issue

September 4th, 2017 by Special Projects

Cover by Jonathon Calugi

Rhythm is present in the way creatives work, our stance before the page or screen and the ebb and flow of a career as an illustrator. In this new issue AOI members discuss their thoughts on Career Rhythms and the tools and materials they use in Material Rhythms.


Interview with Jean-Philippe Delhomme

The wit and style of visual social commentator Jean-Philippe Delhomme is explored in a profile where he covers the demise of blogs, taking on photography and how Hockney liberated his use of colour.

Everything is Work in Progress_Jay Cover

Image by Jay Cover (featured in 'The Innovators')

Innovators across the fields of advertising, children’s books, street art and more are selected by our industry experts, including Luke Choice’s striking, swirling work for the Rugby World Cup and Anna Haifischm’s new graphic novel, The Artist.

Outstanding work from an international selection of Emerging Image Makers is showcased in this issue, from Norway to South Korea via the UK and Australia graduates also reveal their thoughts on what illustration means to them.

In The Commission, The Client, The Creative animator Stephen McNally, Iranian filmmaker Majid Adin and production company Blinkink reflect on the making of the new Rocket Man animation for Elton John’s classic song which draws on Adin’s experience as a refugee.


Image by Phoebe Halstead (featured in 'Rhythm Roundtable')

All this and an intriguing Rhythm Roundtable discussing how new technology is rapidly changing the rhythms of image-making, of collaboration, and how we manage the rhythm of everyday life.

Seunghan Choi_Nobody_Hongik Korea
Image by Seunghan Choi (featured in ‘Emerging Image Makers’)

Varoom 36 – feel the rhythm

Available in the AOI Shop!

Cover illustration by Jonathan Calugi