Archive for December, 2015

News from PLR – Public Lending Rights

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Public Lending Right PLR is the right for authors/illustrators to receive payment for the loans of their books by public libraries. A Rate Per Loan of 7.67 pence is proposed for the payments to be made in February 2016. This represents an increase from last year’s Rate of 6.66 pence

PLR say: We are aware that the recent changes to how libraries are run including the setting up of community and volunteer libraries may have the potential to restrict the sample from which PLR can select. However, it should be noted that if a community-supported library forms part of a library authority’s statutory provision, it would still fall within the PLR scheme. Under the PLR legislation local community libraries set up by independent groups and managed outside the local authority public library service cannot be included in the PLR library ‘sample’. (Only public libraries operating as part of the statutory library service provided by local authorities under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act qualify for PLR.) As community libraries remain a minority this should not be a cause for concern at present. The ‘grossing up’ calculation of actual loans to give a national figure (taken from the library borrowing figures reported by CIPFA) should address any anomalies with the number of loans we would expect from each library authority. However, the PLR team will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the sample is not adversely affected.

The Chancellor announced the results of the government’s spending review on 25 November 2015. As part of this announcement the British Library was informed that PLR has received a ‘flat-cash’ settlement. Its funding will therefore remain at £6.6m up to 2019.

Jane Smith exhibition

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

Until end of February 2016

Tin Cafe, 1 Middleton Rd, London E8


Jane Smith will be showing new prints in this cafe.

Pipistrello – Andrzej Klimowski

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Pocko Gallery, 51a King Henry’s Walk, London N1 4NH

Until 31 December 2015


Pipistrello is a series of black & white lino-cut prints by Andrzej Klimowski.

Alongside a mysterious film that got lost through the years, Klimowski’s atmospheric and theatrical writing as well as his dark, ambiguous images revive a forgotten era of allure and eroticism.

Illustrator Magazine – A day in the life of 1981 – Archive

Monday, December 21st, 2015

We have recovered some interesting articles from another issue of Illustrators Magazine from the 1980’s Issue no. 35. The issue titled A day in the life of sincludes an article written by people professionally involved in illustration. The magazine editor asked a cross-section of people to outline a specific, or typical day in their working life.


Illustrator, Gordon Crabb, describes his ‘composite day’ suggesting that his piece would be rather short and misleading if he were to describe a specific working day, as his days as a freelancer are rarely only concerned with painting. Here are a few extracts from his written piece;

“The early part of the day is a good example. After the breakfast/reading period I do domestic chores, chopping wood or maybe go shopping. In effect, I’m creating the equivalent of what in a different lifestyle would be commuting. That passage of time between surfacing and starting work, my bedroom and studio, are after all, next door to each other, not a very great commuting distance. Work, sleep, work, claustrophobic to say the least. I can remember, with no great affection, sitting for ages in my car, motionless on Hammersmith Flyover, so my method of commuting is now, to say the least, one of the privileges of being freelance.”


“A typical day’s work may not be very hard, but to describe it, is. The process of producing a book jacket, or any other form of illustration, basically involves three stages for me. Preparing reference, a pencil rough, and painting the finished artwork… More than eighty percent of any job is straightforward painting, and to try and describe a typical day’s painting would be absurd. I don’t, after all, count brush strokes, and neither do I start in one corner and work my way down, in complete square inches, to the opposite one. If defining what happens during a day’s work is impossible, determining when the job will be finished seems like part of the same problem”


Mike Jarvis recalls a specific day in his life as a designer.

“Out of bed at 7.00am, dressed, endless cups of tea, three soggy weetabix dunked in freezing cold milk, and forced down a mouth that’s like a sewage farm. Then on to the train at 7.25am. Not a bad start, but no world records for speed, today. Must be a bit slow after last nights Peter Pan antics at Camden Town Roller Disco. I really must start acting my age. The ads in the Guardian are all re-designed on the way to Waterloo. This helps psych me up for a day of earth shaking creativity in which Shell Oil, or, at least, the Neasden Paper Cup Company, will phone in requesting a complete corporate identity job. This euphoria is soon to be shattered, however, when my artwork bag is left on the train complete with yesterdays sandwiches, and three paintings worth rather a lot of money”


Linda Garland, included in the Mike Jarvis article

“Upon returning to the studio I find that the lunch time ad has been shoved under the door. The corrections indicated on the overlay display a healthy disregard for my feelings about getting the copy right before going to repro rather than after. A phone call informing me that the client is on his way to pick up the corrected artwork and take it direct to the publication doesn’t give me enough time to get any copy re-set, so the literals are corrected by hand from a spare print out. What a fag this is! Still, cutting in 10 point Univers Light keeps the eye in, and, my client departs happy that his errors have been sorted out. Meanwhile, my fingers are crossed hoping that nothing falls off before the plates are made.”

Industry Insight: Lesley Barnes

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

We continue to offer weekly insights into creative work through our Industry Insights series. This gives members exclusive access to motivations, inspirations and work ethic of illustrators (both established and emerging), agents and commissioners.

It is time now to share publicly an interview we did a year ago with Illustrator Lesley Barnes, Winner of the AOI Illustration Professional Advertising Category 2013 (see our archive of winners here).

Playing Cards

Playing Cards

What was your key motivation in becoming an illustrator?

Creating for a living. It’s an enormous privilege to be able to do a job you love even if it can be an extremely rough ride sometimes.
What are the first three things that you will do when a commissioner approaches you for a project?

1. Clarify the brief – get as much information about exactly what the client wants and expects from you.

2. Negotiate a timescale and budget.

3. Research and sketches.

The best briefs for me are those where the client/Art Director has a clear vision of what they need, but also allows the illustrator a little freedom to flex their creativity!



What importance do you put on your own personal body of work and how does this influence your commissioned work?

I find that many of my commissions come about because of a ‘personal project’ I have previously worked on. One of my first ‘personal projects’ was illustrating a series of playing cards  and I still get emails about it today (I still have not quite finished it either….). Another self initiated project was a ‘catwalk concertina’ that I did for London Fashion Week. The buying team at the V&A saw it and asked me to produce something similar for their upcoming ‘Glamour of Italian Fashion’ exhibition (A dream project!). For me being an illustrator is not just a job, it’s also something that I love to do and I never want to lose that feeling – so my own work will always be of great importance to me.

V&A Italian Fashion

V&A Italian Fashion

When a company for a commission approaches you, what are the first three steps you take?

I’m very lucky as I have a great agent, Handsome Frank, who can negotiate things like rights, licensing, usage and general pricing issues. As an illustrator, I think it’s very difficult to know what your rights are, and what your time and skills are worth. It’s not something I can say that I’m generally comfortable dealing with myself. I’m also very lucky as I’m part of a very supportive group of illustrators known as The Mighty Pencil and they are a great source of knowledge and experience. The financial and legal side of illustration (it is a business after all!) can be one of the most daunting aspects of becoming a freelancer and that’s why having the AOI available to all is extremely important.

V&A Balloons

V&A Balloons

Talk us through your experience of entering the AOI Awards 2014 with your self-initiated piece ‘Thorns’.

To be honest the AOI Awards 2013 was the first competition that I have entered for many many years! I have always felt slightly uncomfortable about how something as subjective as illustration could be judged, but this year I had a few images that I really loved and I thought ‘why not?!’

‘Thorns’ was created as part of a series of three illustrations for ‘The Enchanted Forest‘ exhibition at Foyles Bookshop (curated by my talented friend Emma Block) celebrating 200 years of the Brothers Grimm Tales. I enjoyed doing these pieces so much and I think you can tell that just by looking at them.

Obviously ‘Thorns’ was not shortlisted so I have no idea what the judges thought of it…but I’m glad I entered it as I’m not normally confident enough in my own work to have it openly ‘judged’!



Who and what keeps you inspired?

I could give you a list of designers, artists, books, musicians, dogs and horses that inspire me but I honestly think you can find inspiration everywhere. Just keep your eyes open when you are out and about  – you’ll be surprised what you miss! Sometimes you can just go for a walk and see something inconsequential…. the colour on a door, the pattern on a drain… and it can spark something. It’s always good to have a notebook/sketchbook/iPhone handy so you don’t miss that moment. I can’t wait to move to London and just wander about!

To see more Industry Insights please log in to the members area or join the AOI today.

Illustrators Magazine – Seymour Chwast

Friday, December 11th, 2015

We have uncovered an interview which took place at Push Pin Studios during September 1979, Wendy Coates-Smith interviewed Seymour Chwast, founder of Push Pin Studios in 1954, together with Milton Glaser, Edward Sorel and Reynold Ruffins. ‘Push Pin Studios have always produced lively inventive work, but there remains in Chwast’s work a thread of wit which shows itself on many levels in one form or another’

An outstanding characteristic of Seymour Chwast’s work is his use of humour, the article presents a variety of works, a sleeve for a Stephan Grapelli record Uptown Dance, Illustrations for Push Pin Graphic, and Exhibition posters.


Here are some extracts from the interview:

Did the break with Milton Glaser cause you to reappraise the policy of the studio?

Seymour: “Milton left Push Pin because his interests were going in different directions. He was heavily involved with New York Magazine at that time for instance. The Collaboration, which was a long and happy one, lasted only as long as we both needed and were nurtured by the relationship. The parting was as natural as our graduating from art school.”

Push Pin Exhibition Poster

Push Pin Exhibition Poster

Are there certain kinds of problems which appeal to you?

Seymour: “Those that can be solved to satisfy me as well as the client. “Fine” artists create their own problems to solve. I found it too demanding when I had to do this. It may have to do with having too much freedom. Clients’ limitations, strangely enough, offer the beginning of an idea and when solved creatively it can be very satisfying”


A characteristic of your work is the use of humour, that your basic nature?

Seymour: “I liked dead pan humour, visual irony, incongruity, surrealism, and bite; I also like silliness. But I tend to stick to formal design principles. I don’t like “cartoons” because I’m not interested in telling a story in a situation. I don’t even call myself an illustrator. I’m a designer because the visual impression I try to create comes from an intuitive understanding of scale, tension, contrast – you know, all those things you learn in art school. When applied to humour these principles will govern the size of the man’s nose or how fat he is”

Posters for I Claudis and Rumpole Of The Bailey for Mobil Oil

Posters for I Claudis and Rumpole Of The Bailey for Mobil Oil

What advice would you give to a young illustrator starting now?

The last ten years all graphic design has homogenized. Illustrators should know about design, designers should know about illustration. They all seem to know about photography. Illustrators must learn to articulate so that they can explain and sell their work to their clients. Illustrators should be concerned about the reproduction of their work.

Varoom as a chair

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Varoom 30 was purchased by Ms Digby-Baker and used to collage a chair – great to see it being put to good use!

Varoom chair

Varoom 30 can be purchased as a back issue

Illustrators Magazine – The Humour Issue 1980 – Archive

Friday, December 11th, 2015

We’ve exposed another issue of Illustrators Magazine from 1980, Issue 34 – Humour Issue, as we’ve been discovering previous issues in the archive of the AOI membership publications.


The cover features an illustration of a women looking at a canvas over a mans shoulder above the quote “No, dear, that’s not funny”, the illustration is by Frank Reynolds from his book Humorous Drawing for the Press, the AOI explores humour as an element of illustration, focusing on various aspects of the subject through a selection of artists and designers. The Humour Issue features work from the 1970s, including the illustrations of Phil May and others which specialised in this area.

Mel Calman

Mel Calman

Five humorous illustrators were asked questions about humour, to which they responded in their own ways, but only to reach much of the same conclusions. The Humour in Illustration shares Q&A’s with Paul Sample, Mike Terry, Mel Calman, Joseph Wright and Arthur Robins. Mel Calham’s work became more refined to the point where a few lines and commentary were all that was necessary for him to visual the humour of a situation. The illustrations resemble the essence of reality, he is a cartoonist, who’s “drawing style has slowly become more relaxed and easy going, foil to the hit of the idea and the words, the words now in manuscript and part of the picture”.

Here are some extracts from the Humour in Illustration article:

Mike Terry is asked what his own comic inspiration is, he responses with “the unexpected, the surrealism that abounds, those things that border on bizarre” and states “the work evolves the humour, there are elements for exaggeration that are seized upon”

Mike Terry - Sunday Times Magazine

Mike Terry - Sunday Times Magazine

Illustrator/Humourist Joseph Wright recalls his first jobs came through Quentin Blake while still a student at the RCA, “they were a series of drawings for Punch on the subject of ‘College Dance’. Joseph is asked how his style emerge to which to replies “I don’t think I have evolved a final style, though people can usually identify my work even when I think I am doing something different. In the early days when I was doing the rounds of magazines and ad agencies an art director J. Walter Thompson opened a copy of D&DA at an Alan Cracknell and ask “could you do that style”


Joseph Wright

Arthur Robins is asked whether his own style or the ideas that are funny, to which he responds “I’d like to think it was the idea. I seem to work for a circle of friends who tend to give me a free hand. In the early days I was asked to do Alan Cracknells, Norman Rockwells, Rembrandts etc. – you know plagiarism is quite legitimate practice in the trade – almost an industry in itself”.

Arthur Robins, Tube Poster Melody Maker

Arthur Robins, Tube Poster Melody Maker

Robins shares an experience that suggests that humour does sell, “I went to Germany to do a job. The art director wore metal frame glasses and was very serious. He said unsmilingly “This must be the funniest drawing you have ever done.” I went back to  my hotel and did the drawing and took it to him. He asked me if it was funny, again totally unsmiling. I thought if I say “No” he is going to ask me to do it again, so I said “Yes, very funny” and he took the drawing and put it on one side without saying anything.”

Dismal Incantation– book review

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

by Herman Inclusus

Available from Herman Inculusus £9.99 Edition of 500

Review by Derek Brazell

“Buried behind neglected sunken gardens, lies the Decrepit Abbey. The abode of the very last disciple of an equally decrepit denomination, whoeth thirst for antediluvian knowledge lies unabated.”


With inspiration from Medieval illuminated manuscripts, Herman Inclusus (the artist name of Stuart Kolakovic) takes the richly detailed imagery generated for religious works of art and uses it to display the darker side of obsessive belief.

This tale of the last monk of a religious sect follows the haggard believer though a quest to collect ingredients for a spell which will resurrect the sect’s original leader. The search for the deliberately repulsive requirements for the spell, including the front teeth of a recently executed convict and the blood of seven crows, climax with the attaining of an ‘untainted virgin maid’ and her horrifying demise.


This compact publication is the antidote to festive trappings, with the gruesome story at odds with the beautifully composed pages. And although you won’t feel like singing carols after following this evil monk’s journey, you may celebrate the fact that illustrators such as Kolakovic are out there forging their own path and producing work which pushes at good taste so vigorously. As the Inclusus tagline says, ‘48 full-colour pages of Pestilence, Putridity and Perversions’.


You may also be interested in these book reviews:

Dear Rikard


Industry Insight: Handsome Frank

Monday, December 7th, 2015

We continue to offer weekly insights into creative work through our Industry Insights series. This gives members exclusive access to motivations, inspirations and work ethic of illustrators (both established and emerging), agents and commissioners.

We will be sharing publicly some of our interviews through the AOI Blog, and we are delighted to kick off these series with Jon Cockley, Illustration Agent from Handsome Frank Illustration Agency.

How do you source your illustrators?

They tend to come from all over. Most illustrators find us (we get around 3-5 submissions a day), but we’ve also found and approached illustrators who we’ve found online. We’ve also taken on one or two recommendations from our illustrators, which is always nice. There are a few other key places we like to spot illustration talent, but they’re top-secret.

Tom with the portfolios

Tom with the portfolios

How, initially, should illustrators approach your agency?

We have an online application process, which is our preferred method. While finding new talent is great, it can also be very time consuming. By asking prospective illustrators to email us (low-res) examples of their work, it helps make our job easier. Plus I’ve always stood by the mantra that, if your work can stand out as an attachment in an email, they’re doing something right.

Pop-up shop at The Frontroom (Cambridge)

Pop-up shop at The Frontroom (Cambridge)

How do you feel the agent and artist relationship works best?

Without wanting to sound cheesy, I think we have a pretty good ‘family’ feel to our agency. Perhaps this stems from the two founding partners being cousins (Frank being our grandfather)? We only ever sign people we’ve meet, as it’s important to build up a friendship right from the beginning. Some artists like to communicate via email, some prefer phone calls or Skype. It’s all about getting to know the artist and how best they work.

How do you feel the landscape of commissioning is changing?
Free pitching certainly seems more prominent, but that’s always been an issue. As an agency we have rules regarding this and never let a potential client take the piss.

PickMeUp 2012

PickMeUp 2012

When an illustrator approaches your agency, what are the first three steps you take?
Taking a look at their folio is the obvious first step. Before we sign anyone both Jon and myself have to be in agreement. Quite often we’ll have varying opinions on an artist, so it’s always interesting to hear Jon’s opinion. If we’re both in agreement we’ll arrange to meet the artist for a coffee. After that, if everyone’s still happy we’ll get the ball rolling and add them to our roster.

Our ‘family’ of illustrators – David Sparshott, Matt Saunders, Stuart Whitton and Stephen Cheetham

Our ‘family’ of illustrators – David Sparshott, Matt Saunders, Stuart Whitton and Stephen Cheetham

Working as an Agent, and being creative yourself, is a time consuming job. How do you keep your own creative work going?

Good question. Jon and I also have young kids, which further takes up our time. Outside of Handsome Frank I do a lot of travel photography and Jon DJ’s. Within HF, exhibitions are a great way of keeping creative – Pick Me Up 2013 was a huge amount of fun (and hard work) where we ran hands-on workshops with some of our artists.

To see more Industry Insights please log in to the members area or join the AOI today.