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Pictoplasma Festival 2017 – A Report

Friday, May 26th, 2017
Fruit fruit, by Peter Millard

BOOGODOBIEGODONGOGOGODINGODONGBO, by Peter Millard

by Marianna Madriz, Illustrator and AOI Membership Assistant

This spring, Berlin was the proud host of an eclectic and unique arrangement of characters: from creatures coming together and parading down into the sea, to monks assembling to chant and praise their god, to a girl suffering from growing hot dog hands… literally. Characters in all shapes, sizes, styles and mediums converged once more in Pictoplasma 2017 to become an intense explosion of inspiration

Babylon Theatre

From its inception as an online encyclopaedia of contemporary character design in 1999, Pictoplasma has now grown into a world-renowned hub dedicated to bring emerging and established international artists into the public eye through conferences, workshops, screenings, publications and exhibitions (and parties). Organisers Peter Thaler and Lars Denicke are some of the main masterminds responsible for inviting outstanding Illustrators, Animators and Game Designers from all over the globe year after year, and this edition was no exception: Miss Lotion (aka Louise Rosenkrands), Jack SachsPooya Abbasian, Nathan Jurevicius and Eran Hilleli graced the stage and also filled the city with their unique works as part of the festival’s traditional Character Walk.

One of the most outstanding (and spooky) exhibition spaces was AG Cemetery Museum, which included speakers Peter Millard (displayed above) and most notably Pooya Abbasian, who exhibited a collection varying ink drawings inspired on superstition which fitted perfectly in the burial site.

Talisman, by Pooya Abbasian,

Talisman, by Pooya Abbasian

The 13th edition this year was all about ‘Character Upload’, a great name as projects become ever more detached from their creators once released onto the worldwide web. Relevantly, Ton Mak reflected on her own experiences with her Flabjacks work being plagiarised, and Sean Charmatz and Kirsten Lepore shared on their reactions when their respective creations ‘The Secret World of Stuff” and “Hi Stranger” suddenly encountered global viral stardom. In both cases all creators highlighted how difficult it is to tackle something that is beyond your control (a theme which resonated with all creative attendees in the audience), but they also emphasised how you can protect yourself from the beginning and learn from these happenings.

Virtual Reality was also more present in this year’s festival, featuring exclusive opportunities for attendees to experience new projects by the speakers. Examples included the absurdist puzzle exploration game Pikuniku and “Little Earth” by children’s book Illustrator Chris HaugtonAs much as we were sucked in, wowed and/or frightened by the digital world though, we also found comfort and appeal in handmade forms. Haugton’s fair trade rugs, Nathalie Choux’s ceramic creatures and DXTR’s tapestries were certainly big highlights in this matter.

The 25th Hour, by DXTR

The 25th Hour, by DXTR

Of course, the festival was all about play too. Attendees had the chance to get involved in workshops where they could try bringing their characters to life via live drawing, story boarding and/or animation; and after all note-taking and creative exercises were done, there was plenty of opportunity to relax, drink and further socialise in any of the many gatherings and parties organised. A great highlight of these parties was a hilarious live performance by John Daker, a new musical project by speaker Sophie Koko Gate; and with no intention of sounding too provoking, you kind of needed to be there. Everyone had a good boogie.

John Daker gig, live at ACHUD

John Daker gig, live at ACUD

As previously mentioned in my 2015 report, Pictoplasma isn’t only a fantastic festival to discover new work, but also to meet new people from all over the world and to re-encounter old friends from previous years. Even a few AOI friends and members were there, between them Rob Barrett (from Yo Illo), John Bond, Jenni Saarenkyla and Massimo Fenati (who was the lucky winner of our Pictoplasma ticket giveaway).

I went to Pictoplasma prepared to learn from artists, watch fantastic animations, meet excellent creative people and have fun, and once again I was not disappointed. It was intense, but it was incredibly worth it! I would encourage everyone to get involved with Pictoplasma in one way of another. They are currently taking applications for their Pictoplasma Academies both in Mexico and Berlin, so if you are interested in Character Design take advantage of this opportunity and find out more.

It was incredible to be able to share this experience with everyone. Hopefully we’ll be able to repeat it next year!

Ton Mak

Flabjacks bean bag, by Ton Mak

For more information about Pictoplasma International Conference and Festival of Contemporary Character Design and Art, visit their website.

Pictoplasma 2015 Report
Pictoplasma NY 2016 by Yinfan Huang


Winners announced for Prize for Illustration 2017 – Sounds of the City

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

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We are delighted to announce the winners of the prestigious Prize for Illustration 2017 awards on 24 May 2017. The competition, which is open to illustrators and students of illustration throughout the world, is organized by the Association of Illustrators (AOI) and London Transport Museum.
Artists were invited to respond to the theme of Sounds of the City and capture sounds heard in our UK cities in a single illustration – from loud and frenetic urban noise to the more quiet and relaxing sounds of nature.
100 illustrations, which were shortlisted from over 2,000 entries by an independent panel of judges, will be on display at London Transport Museum until 3 September 2017. Visitors will be able to enjoy a breadth of interpretations of Sounds of the City including lyrics and language; hubbub and stillness; heritage and science; wildlife and nightlife; transport and sport. Each of the illustrations is accompanied by a short description about the inspiration behind their work.
The winning illustrations will be displayed on London Underground poster sites during the summer and each winner will a cash prize:
• Third Prize was Awarded to: Paul Garland, for Sound of the Underground (left)
• Second Prize was awarded to: Julia Allum,  for Surprise City Sounds (middle)
• First Prize was awarded to: Chiara Ghigliazza, for Solo (right)
Sam Mullins, Director of London Transport Museum, said: “We are delighted with the incredible variety of interpretations of the Sounds of the City brief which together make a lively and varied exhibition. The Prize for Illustration is important as it helps us to continue Transport for London’s legacy of art and design that dates back over 100 years. London Transport Museum’s collection of graphic art is one of the most important in the world and includes over 5,000 posters and artworks by famous artists including Man Ray, Paul Nash and Edward McKnight Kauffer.”
Ren Renwick, Managing Director of the AOI, said: “We received over 2,000 entries from across the world. I’m grateful to all the judges who had to select work which was generally of a very high standard.   The interest in the Prize for Illustration and the quality of work submitted, demonstrates the rude health of the illustration industry and this exhibition helps us reflect on the significance of Illustration and the relevance it has on our lives.”
The Prize for Illustration 2017: Sounds of the City is on display in the Exterion Media gallery at 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. Visitors can save money with advance online booking £16 (concessions £13.50) at www.ltmuseum.co.uk
http://www.theaoi.com/blog/?p=13211

We are delighted to announce the winners of the prestigious Prize for Illustration 2017 awards on 24 May 2017. The competition, which is open to illustrators and students of illustration throughout the world, is organized by the Association of Illustrators (AOI) and London Transport Museum.

Artists were invited to respond to the theme of Sounds of the City and capture sounds heard in our UK cities in a single illustration – from loud and frenetic urban noise to the more quiet and relaxing sounds of nature.

100 illustrations, which were shortlisted from over 2,000 entries by an independent panel of judges, will be on display at London Transport Museum until 3 September 2017. Visitors will be able to enjoy a breadth of interpretations of Sounds of the City including lyrics and language; hubbub and stillness; heritage and science; wildlife and nightlife; transport and sport. Each of the illustrations is accompanied by a short description about the inspiration behind their work.

The winning illustrations will be displayed on London Underground poster sites during the summer and each winner will a cash prize:

• Bronze Prize was awarded to: Paul Garland, for Sound of the Underground (right) Find out more about Sounds of the Underground here
• Silver Prize was awarded to: Julia Allum, for Surprise City Sounds (left) Find out more about Julia’s work.
• Gold Prize was awarded to: Chiara Ghigliazza, for Solo (below) Find out more about the Gold Winner here.

Sam Mullins, Director of London Transport Museum, said: “We are delighted with the incredible variety of interpretations of the Sounds of the City brief which together make a lively and varied exhibition. The Prize for Illustration is important as it helps us to continue Transport for London’s legacy of art and design that dates back over 100 years. London Transport Museum’s collection of graphic art is one of the most important in the world and includes over 5,000 posters and artworks by famous artists including Man Ray, Paul Nash and Edward McKnight Kauffer.”

Ren Renwick, Managing Director of the AOI, said: “We received over 2,000 entries from across the world. I’m grateful to all the judges who had to select work which was generally of a very high standard. The interest in the Prize for Illustration and the quality of work submitted, demonstrates the rude health of the illustration industry and this exhibition helps us reflect on the significance of Illustration and the relevance it has on our lives.”

The Prize for Illustration 2017: Sounds of the City is on display in the Exterion Media gallery at 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. Visitors can save money with advance online booking £16 (concessions £13.50) at www.ltmuseum.co.uk

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More on the exhibition events programme: http://www.theaoi.com/blog/?p=13211

Gold Winner: Prize for Illustration 2017 – Sounds of the City: Chiara Ghigliazza

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Artist: Chiara Ghigliazza for Illustration: Solo

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Prize: £2,000

Medium: Digital painting

Artist’s summary
You just need to turn the corner to move from chaos to silence and change familiar noises into unexpected melodies.

Judges’ rationale
The judges loved the idea that this could be virtually any city, and the calming nature of the illustration. They also loved the concept of playing the railings and how the eye is drawn all around the image.

Artist’s background
Chiara is a freelance illustrator based in Milan. After graduating in Printmaking Design at Brera Fine Art Academy, she undertook a Masters in Editorial Illustration. She usually works with periodical and communication agencies. Chiara loves using visual metaphors and playing with free association.

www.chiaraghigliazza.com

Bronze Winner: Prize for Illustration 2017 – Sounds of the City Paul Garland

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Artist: Paul Garland for Illustration: Sound of the Underground

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Prize: £750

Medium: Mixed / Digital

Artist’s summary
A homage to our city’s buskers and street performers.

Judges’ rationale
This image combines London’s iconic Tube roundel logo and line colours into a musical instrument symbolising two of the most famous characteristics of the city. It was credited for its strength in its simplicity.

Artist’s background
Paul lives and works in the Northern UK countryside. He describes his style as figurative in a very fresh, graphic and colourful way, whilst his conceptual work relies on bold imagery and metaphor to communicate. Paul is a strong believer that the simpler the concept, the more effective the solution becomes. Paul has gained many International Awards for his work with numerous clients over a 25 year career as an Illustrator.Prize: £750

www.paul-garland.com

Silver Winner: Prize for Illustration 2017 – Sounds of the City: Julia Allum

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Artist: Julia Allum for Illustration: Surprise City Sounds

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Prize: £1,000

Medium: Digital / Vector

Artist’s summary
Inspired by unexpected urban sounds. A parakeet’s squawk can often be heard in London above the usual hum of traffic. Simple shapes incorporating the Roundel logo illustrate these two contrasting sounds.

Judges’ rationale
The illustration immediately demands the viewer’s attention because of its graphic simplicity, elegance and subtlety.

Artist’s background
Julia Allum is a freelance illustrator based in Norfolk. She is influenced by her love of poster art from the first half of the 20th century. The bold shapes found in Art Deco design and the decorative flourishes of Art Nouveau inspire her colourful, eye catching illustrations. To date her work has been used in advertising, publishing and packaging both in the UK and abroad.

www. juliaallum.co.uk

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Julia Allum with her artwork.

photo courtesy of Sabine Reimer / AOI

Sam Scales: Boat Builder – exhibition

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Until 31 July 2017

TheGallery’s Off-Site Arts Programme, Westbeach, Pier Approach, Bournemouth

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Freelancer Illustrator, printmaker and photographer, Sam Scales graduated from Arts University Bournemouth with a BA (Hons) Illustration in 2016.

In his practice Sam works closely with local craft and tradesman, taking inspiration from visiting workshops and studios he documents these tradesmen’s craft. He tells the story of each individual and explores their journey and the passion that drives their work.

In this project Sam has worked in collaboration with Martine Loubser to focus on the theme of “The Tradesman”. His work explores the history behind the craft, documenting the tools used and conveying the story of the individual while also exploring the relationship between the illustrator and the tradesman.

The Essential Guide to Business for Artists & Designers – book review

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Second Edition

Written by Alison Branagan

Published by: Bloomsbury Academic ISBN: 978-1-4742-5055-9

Reviewed by Andy Robert Davies

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There are several good publications on the market that offer guidance in the production of a professional illustration portfolio. This book offers something different; it focuses on the craft of turning artwork into money and therefore a viable career. Fees, invoicing and tax are not, usually, the topics that creative individuals relish, but it is not only talent that is needed to maintain a career, it is a mix of artistic ability and a good knowledge of running a business that will often lead to success.

Branagan unravels the complexities of subjects such as taxation using several examples, which should hopefully help to give confidence to those who are yet to experience the joys of a self-assessment tax return. The text is written in a friendly and supportive manner that recent graduates will be accustomed to. Information is delivered in digestible sections, which allows this book to be used as a reference manual as well as an introduction to the potential ways of developing one’s business.

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The list of resources and further reading at the end of each chapter is extensive and the author has considered almost every eventuality within the day-to-day running of businesses of various sizes. Some readers (with a leaning towards Illustration) may prefer to see some more case studies of Illustrators, but it is worth remembering that this book is not exclusively for Illustrators, it aims to help Artists, Designers, Illustrators and those practising in many other different crafts. Given the multifaceted nature of contemporary Illustration practice, where the individual can be originator, maker and distributor, a broad knowledge of different business practices is essential.

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Both newly graduated and seasoned freelancer will benefit from reading this book. There are many examples of ‘common sense’ advice, such as how to interact with potential clients, but it is these little details that might be overlooked, and being politely reminded of the importance of one’s conduct, may make the difference between a commission and unemployment. As professional practice is now a key aspect of all good Illustration degree programmes, this book will continue to feature on many reading lists and when used alongside, The Illustrator’s Guide to Law and Business Practice, published by the AOI (mentioned in this book), the reader will be extremely well informed on how to succeed as an Illustrator.

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

Becoming a Successful Illustrator

Illustration: Meeting the Brief

Illustrator of the Year 2017 V&A Illustration Awards

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

A. Richard Allen is announced as winner of the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year prize at the 2017 V&A Illustration Awards

V&A Illustration Awards 2017 display

17th May – 20th August 2017, NAL Library Landing, Room 85

Admission Free

A. Richard Allen has been announced as the winner of the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year prize, and winner of the Best Editorial Illustration, for Trump Wave, a satirical homage to Katsushika Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa, in a ceremony hosted by V&A Director Tristram Hunt at the V&A Museum. Based in Bournemouth, Allen studied at Central Saint Martin’s College and practices as an illustrator and painter with clients including The Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian and The New Yorker. The judging panel praised his use of Hokusai in a contemporary context “to invoke echoes of the past to reinforce the reality that history matters”.

Editorial_A_Richard_Allen_Trump_Wave

Winners of the 4 categories of the 2017 V&A Illustration Awards:

1. Best Editorial Illustration and overall winner: A. Richard Allen for ‘Trump Wave’, in The Sunday Telegraph Money

2. Best Illustrated Book: JARVIS for Alan’s Big Scary Teeth (London: Walker Books, 2016)

3. Best Book Cover Design: Aino-Maija Metsola Virginia Woolf Series (London: Vintage Classics, 2016)

4. 2017 Student Illustrator of the Year: Beatriz Lostalé Seijo ‘The Odyssey’ (Anglia Ruskin University – Cambridge School of Art, MA Book Illustration)

Student Runner-Up: Tom Spooner ‘Towards an Infinite Place’ (Royal College of Art, Visual Communications)

The prize money for each of the four awards categories is £3,000, and the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year Prize is worth an additional £5,000. The student runner-up prize is worth £2000. All the winning artworks will be displayed on the landing outside the National Art Library from 17th May – 20th August 2017.

Speaking after the ceremony, V&A Director Tristram Hunt said: “The V&A’s Illustration Awards is rooted in the V&A’s founding purpose, to celebrate and promote the highest standards of creativity. This prize shines a light on our illustration industry and supports the emerging talent of tomorrow through the Student Illustrator of the year prize. The extraordinary response to our competition is testament to the buoyancy of the creative talent we have here in the UK, so I’m delighted that the V&A will display all the winning artworks in the Museum for everyone to enjoy.”

This year’s shortlist was drawn from over 800 submissions. The competition has been running since 1972. Previous winners of the Illustration Awards include Sir Quentin Blake, Ralph Steadman, Posy Simmonds, Sara Fanelli, and Yasmeen Ismail.

Supported by the Enid Linder Foundation and the Moira Gemmill Memorial Fund

AOI Discusses panel talk at Hartlepool Festival of Illustration

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

11.15-12-15pm 3 June

Hartlepool Art Gallery, Church St, Hartlepool TS24 7EQ

Free (ticketed) event

AOI are delighted to be taking part in the second Hartlepool Festival of Illustration this June in the seaside town of Hartlepool, home to Cleveland College of Art and Design.

Speakers

Sandra Dieckmann illustrator and artist, whose new picture book Leaf is published by Flying Eye Books 1 June

Ben Tallon illustrator, presenter of Arrest All Mimics podcast and author of Champagne and Wax Crayons

Derek Brazell AOI Projects manager/Varoom publisher, co-author of Becoming A Successful Illustrator – moderator

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Ben Tallon

Derek Brazell with Illustrators Ben Tallon and Sandra Dieckmann discusses the challenges around getting work from the right clients and your all important self promotion.

Drawing on real examples Derek will share the AOI experience of how to overcome these challenges in fun and exciting ways that push your career as well as sharing practical tips on social media, the commissioners journey and how to get work internationally before opening up a Q&A session.

Sandra Dieckmann

Sandra Dieckmann

Sandra Dieckmann is an artist, illustrator as well as a self proclaimed womanimal. She also potters as part of the Clay Collective in London, UK. Sandra enjoys observing the world, creating creatures and anything else that involves creative play. Her work mainly revolves around her love for nature and wildlife, drifting, dreams and all the things that touch her personally.

Ben Tallon is an illustrator, hand painted lettering specialist, author of Champagne And Wax Crayons and host of Arrest All Mimics, the original thinking and creative innovation podcast. He has developed a unique, organic, energetic brand of image making with many clients including Channel 4, The Guardian, World Wrestling Entertainment, Penguin Books, The Premier League and Unicef.

Jill & Lion – book review

Monday, May 15th, 2017

by Lesley Barnes

Tate Publishing ISBN 9781849764377

Review by Peter Allen

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Jill and Lion is the sequel to the very popular tale of Jill and Dragon, the first children’s book by the Glasgow-based designer Lesley Barnes. It’s a large, square book that continues Tate’s tradition of publishing picture books in the digital era by concentrating on good design and quality printing, paying careful attention to the physical aspects of their books. Following the print or digital debate of recent times that predicted the imminent death of the printed book it would appear to be the best approach to adopt, for the opposite has come true. Effective design, good content and a strong physical identity – paper, binding, printing – have been combined to optimum effect to create a buoyant, specialised market for quality magazines and books.

In this case, the large format of Jill and Lion enables the illustrations to be appreciated fully for the rich detail contained in the drawing and colouring. A smaller format would have caused the transparent overlays and fine line-work to blur and blend and look muddy.

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Jill and Lion includes some well thought out ideas, such as the centre gatefold spread that opens out into a metre-long frieze of a wacky train chase. And then there is the storyline that involves Jill becoming part of the story she is reading. Together with Dog, the pair help Lion to escape from the confines of his story where he is the unhappy star of a circus and to make a new start in a story of his own creation. This involves a lot of complicated twists and turns that start with us seeing Jill with her favourite story book from which tears are running.

We then find her inside the self same book with the Lion (and Dog), being chased out of it only to plunge once again into a new book to begin a second story far away from life in the circus in the first book. It sounds like a nightmare of a brief to follow, but unperturbed, and using an array of visual tricks and devices, Barnes succeeds with much skill and visual dexterity in interpreting the many serious turns in the plot into images. The pages that combine photo collage; the book seen from outside looking in, and drawing; the story busting out from its pages, have a coherence that speaks loads about the breadth of her vision and capacity to work with a wide range of different media.

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Barnes’ graphic treatment of the different spaces that the story occupies and the characters that inhabit them is richly decorative. In its forms and colours she reflects something of the quality found in printed books during times of economic depression such as the French Père Castor books from before the Second World War, or Puffin books from the 1940’s and 50’s printed in an England under rationing. The cost of printing was calculated on the number of print runs, a run for each colour, so savings could be made by restricting the colour palette used to create the illustrations. Barnes’ work captures the spirit of that age and appropriates its formal constraints, and whilst remaining very much the master of her art, she inserts herself into a tradition without falling into pastiche, the individuality of her voice is clearly visible across the wide range of her work, of which illustration forms a recent part.

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Her illustrations speak plainly of her interests as a designer, involving textile design and animation, all strongly influenced by mid-century design. She uses bold, geometric shapes and flat colours, like spot colours, to create patterns and subsequent forms that are both decorative and descriptive. The effect is like a display of Brocks fireworks, rockets, sparklers, Catherine-wheels, roman fountains, that sparkle, dazzle and explode.

Given the strength of Barnes’ designs it seems unnecessary to me to have used old, yellowing page edges to define the part of the story that takes place inside Jill’s favourite storybook. I find the combination of favourite and old as being somehow over-sentimental and contradictory in suggesting that good story books belong to a once golden age of children’s illustration. Whereas Barnes’ illustrations very much belong to the present, and express a wholly contemporary pleasure for shapes and patterns and colour equaling that found in vintage books. Maybe in the sequel to Jill and Lion, Jill will be there again on the opening page reading her favourite picture book, a future classic that hasn’t as yet been published but which, quite possibly, Lesley Barnes has already in mind..?!

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I asked Lesley a number of questions prior to writing this review.

How did Jill And Lion come about?

My first book ‘Jill and Dragon’ was published by Tate in 2015, and introduced the characters of Jill and Dog. Both myself and Tate thought that Jill and Dog weren’t quite finished with their adventures (Jill has a very large book…) Dog also wanted to get more into the action, so we thought we should let him have an escapade.

This book is described on the cover as being the sequel of sorts to Jill and Dragon. How much did the success of the first story define the content and form of this second book?

‘Jill and Dragon’ introduced the idea of ‘the book within a book’  (Jill jumps into her favourite book to rescue the Dragon in one of the stories) and that was something I wanted to develop with ‘Jill and Lion’. I was obsessed with reading when I was little and the idea of diving into a book and rollercoasting through the pages is something I can really understand! I wanted the experience of leaping inside Jill’s book to be much more visceral this time – the pages forming tunnels and landscapes that the characters have to navigate. I also wanted to get across the idea that you can take an active role in your own story, rather than always being told what to do – reading isn’t a passive experience! Dog also has a voice in this book – it was nice to develop his character as he was rather a silent and reluctant participant in ‘Jill and Dragon’.

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How much influence did Tate publishing have on your choice of story and the way it’s presented visually?

The Tate are great to work with, as unlike most other publishers, they are not so commercially focused and want to support the vision of artists and illustrators and enable them to have their ideas brought to life. My editors did help me out a lot with both ‘Jill and Dragon’ and ‘Jill and Lion’ though. It’s invaluable to have another pair of experienced eyes on the book!

Is there a period, artist, art form in particular that is important to the way you see and make things?

‘The eye has to travel’ (Diana Vreeland – legendary editor of American Vogue) I take inspiration from so many different sources and people. I think the answer to this question also relates to the answer below as I try to stay away from labels.

What do you think of the terms: retro, vintage, traditional? Do you consider them appropriate or relevant to your work and the way we look at, understand and appreciate it?

I don’t mind my work being referred to by any of those terms, but I think it’s good not to get too caught up with labels. I try to make things look the way that feels right – I’m pretty slow and draw and redraw things until it just ‘works’. I think it’s important not get too tied down to any one style or fashion – it would take all the enjoyment out of illustration for me if I was always asked to do the same things. I’ve been working on ideas for a very stylised pop-up book which involves a bit of fashion illustration, design history and paper engineering – and that has made me really excited about my own work again.

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I’ve known about your work since your museum of childhood poster won a World Illustration Award. What influences the way you construct your images, generally and in relation to Jill and Lion? see below

Your use of colour and geometrical shapes are very important elements of your images’ designs, did you explore other ways of relating to them in your artistic practise before developing their use in your narrative works?

It’s very interesting as I find shapes much easier to work with and interpret than lines. I definitely build pictures up using strong shapes first, before I add any details or patterns. When I look at something I see it as a series of shapes – I think it’s just how I understand the world. I didn’t study illustration or art so I’m sure the self-taught way I work would look very strange to most people!

How easy/difficult do you find it to write the stories you illustrate?

I’m definitely not a writer, but I do like to tell stories whether it be with pictures, words or both. Working on a picture book when you are both the writer and illustrator is a very unique experience, as the book is a ‘dance’ between the words and the pictures.

Do you have plans already for a next book project?

Yes! I have a couple of projects on the go. Both are very different to the Jill series though. I’m very excited to be working with ‘Design for Today’ on a concept publication all about Kings and Queens. I’m also working on another idea that involves quite a bit of jiggery pokery and clever engineering…

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Ideally, what project would you like to work on next?

I’d love to do more with textiles – I designed some lampshades and cushions last year which was really fun. I was thinking of creating an exhibition in a space filled with custom lampstands and lampshade designs that you could interact with – I think that would be a bit of a dream project.

How do you view book publishing at the moment, commercial and independent, does it support and/or encourage enough original or unusual projects to see the light of day?

I think it does. Children’s publishing has really exploded recently and I think publishers are also being much more experimental and accepting of different styles and stories. I think it’s really important to have supportive independent publishers (from magazines like OKIDO who gave me my first break and have always supported my work, to small publishers like Design for Today) I’m very lucky as I have the opportunity to work with both independent and more established publishing houses.

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

The Big Adventure of a Little Line

Hearts