Archive for July, 2016

Outfoxed – book review

Friday, July 29th, 2016

By Claudia Boldt

Published by Tate Publishing ISBN – 978-1-84976-313-4

Reviewed by Simon Whittaker


Outfoxed introduces us to Harold, a young fox who yearns to be a detective and only ever eats cheese. One day Harold’s dad decides it’s time for him to get his head out of his detective stories, get outside and catch a chicken like a proper fox.

Harold’s eager to show his dad that he’s got what it takes, and he easily finds a coop full of chickens and catches one, but then on the return journey he strikes up a conversation with the chicken which leads to him having a mild existential crisis, and while he’s distracted the chicken vanishes. Dad’s not happy that the chicken’s gone missing, and so next day Harold plays detective to try and track it down. When he returns to the last place he saw the chicken he deduces it was stolen, and the chase is on to try and track down the thieves’ responsible, rescue the chicken, and save the day.


This is a beautifully made little book. It’s smaller than a standard picture book, printed on thick matte paper, and with no end-papers the story pages fill the whole book from front to back cover. The artwork is colourful and vibrant, with lots of textures and patterns giving it a hand-made collaged feel, though occasionally it can be a little overwhelming, and once or twice I had to go back to look for something I’d missed on the previous page. At one point I thought I’d missed a page by accident, but that wasn’t the case. The story had skipped from one scene to another without any further elaboration, which, together with the thickness of the paper, was a bit confusing.


The book’s aimed at around ages 5–7, which seems about right. I read it to my three children, who are ranged 3–7, and they all enjoyed the story without any questions. I would have liked to have seen Harold’s investigation expanded on in a bit more detail – one of my favourite bits was the questioning of potential suspects – and I can’t help but think that, at the end, Harold made a bit of a problem for himself in future.


You may also be interested in these book reviews:

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole

I Am Henry Finch


The BFG in Pictures – exhibition of original Quentin Blake illustrations

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

House of Illustration, 2 Granary Square, King’s Cross London N1C 4BH

Until 2 Oct 2016, 10:00am – 6:00pm

The exhibition, curated by AOI Patron Quentin Blake, contains 40 original artworks, including unpublished illustrations prepared for Roald Dahl’s classic story The BFG which have never been exhibited in public before.


The illustrations were included in first designs but were not used when the book was published for the first time in 1982. They provide a unique insight into the character development of one of the most iconic characters in children’s literature.

These unpublished illustrations are exhibited alongside the final illustrations for the book, providing a fascinating insight into the collaboration between author and illustrator, and a glimpse of a BFG that might have been …

What Do Grown-Ups Do All Day? – book review

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Illustrated and written by Virginie Morgand

Published by Wide Eyed Editions (An imprint of Quarto Publishing Group) ISBN 9781847808097

Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster


The cover shows a debossed oblong with the title and author’s name, and the blue field of the cover is populated by 25 plus figures all travelling from left to right, as if to suggest we are all going somewhere. Where? Work, that’s where.

There is no story, instead the focus is on a series of locations populated by working people and then the specific roles performed by these people in those locations. It gives us a sense of the wealth of activities that are possible in the world of grown ups. The Illustrations work as spreads showing the location first then followed by a spread highlighting the roles of the individuals who are featured in the previous location. The useful book structure allows the reader to dip in or go straight to locations of most interest. Contents pages and index help with this orientation. In a nod to Martin Hanford’s Where’s Wally/Waldo? there is the added game of can you spot the performer of each job. This is a great way to engage early readers.


The individuals featured in the book are diverse and the gender roles assigned are progressive. There are North American sensibilities in the use of language for job titles, which will be intentional for an international market.

The book is aimed at children aged five plus, but it should also appeal to older students due to its visual sophistication. There is a good balance of text to image ratio that allows the illustrations to breath in the space. Nice to see the text is set in Futura, my favourite sans serif typeface, perfect for reading aloud and legible for those who might struggle with reading. The prose doesn’t rhyme, which is a good thing, but it does have a rhythm that aids reading aloud and is easy for children to memorise with its tuneful pacing.


The illustrations are based on the screen-printing process, but are in fact constructed through digital means. The matt printing on uncoated paper adds to the handmade screen print feel, however in some cases the dark skinned characters facial expressions are hard to read. The colours are subtle with just enough primaries on show to reflect the intended audience for this book. The illustrations are indebted to the work of Miroslav Sasek from the covers of his famous This is… book series. Even though the images are more geometric and closer to textile designs the energy and boldness reminds me of the work in Katherina Manolessou’s book T-Veg.


Locations are well represented with a farm, construction site, gym, action jobs pages and the great outdoors (this works as two locations, on the left page the seaside and on the right page the mountains. Cutaways work well and add something to the concept allowing the reader to explore and find the action within the illustrations. Repeated viewing is rewarded as further details and mastery in the use of colour are revealed.


Author Virginie Morgand has used the large format well, creating busy energetic images that are carefully controlled to communicate her intended message. This is to show the vast array of careers that adults are engaged in and the appeal of this to the imagination of young minds. Some locations, the school, the shops, will be familiar to children, but this book opens up spaces that usually remain hidden, such as action packed jobs, the news room and the great outdoors. The simplicity of the figures combined with the accuracy of major elements are charming and appealing, as they are unambiguous. This makes the images very relatable and memorable. This book will delight parents and children alike. It has a collectible value and would work well as part of a larger series of fun but informative titles.

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

T-Veg: The Tale of a Carrot Crunching Dinosaur

Where’s Warhol?

Film 4 Summer Screen Prints

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

Venue: Somerset House, East Wing Galleries

Opening night 28th July. [email protected] for entry.

28th-17th of August 2016, 10.00–18.00 and additionally from 18.30–21.00 for Film4 Summer Screen ticket holders (4–17 August 2016).

Free admission.



Print Club London invites talented artists and illustrators to create alternative, screen-printed posters for the films shown at Film4 Summer Screen. Renowned for curating and dealing screen-printed artworks, as well as its workshops, Print Club London has hand-picked an assortment of artists and styles including Rose Blake, Cassandra Yap, Concepcion Studios and Lucille Clerc, to reflect the veritable variety of films featuring on the big screen.


Copycat Design – What to do if it happens to you

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Tuesday 19th July, 6.30 – 9.30pm
Venue: Hotel Elephant, 5 Spare Street, Elephant and Castle, London, SE17 3EP

crafty fox talks

This month’s Crafty Fox Talk will cover a tricky and regularly requested topic: IP protection. Illustrator and AOI Member Alice Tams (Birds in Hats) has had her fair share of experience with the subject and will recount her experiences with businesses small and big thus far, sharing the many lessons she has learnt along the way. Lawyer Gavin Llewellyn (Senior Associate with Stone King and ACIDPartner), who represented Alice against Sainsbury’s throughout 2015, will be on hand to explain the legal intricacies of creative IP, when to act and what you can do to try and prevent it happening to you.

Square Tams Comparison shot

The talk is tomorrow and there are still tickets available for £12 (+ booking). More information here.

Make It Grow – book review

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Bring nature to life by lifting the flaps

By Debbie Powell

Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books  ISBN: 978-1-84780-789-2

Review by Andy Robert Davies


The influence of textile design within Powell’s work is clear to see throughout this book, making it an appealing read for anyone with an interest in surface pattern design. Abstracted depictions of birds, butterflies, fish and various flora, populate each page and lifting the flaps reveals details that provide the reader with lots to see and discuss. Text and image work well, with the reader being encouraged to investigate each page.


This book is aimed at three-five year olds so when reading it with my two-year-old son, I thought he may struggle to interpret the stylised forms, but for the most part he had no trouble at all and was quickly pointing out the birds, apples, acorns, fish and the big blue butterfly (which was his favourite bit of the book).


Powell utilises a varied colour palette to convey the temperature of different environments and my son picked up on this, making the suitable ‘Brrrr!’ sound when looking at the cold mountaintop. This flap-book feels sturdy and should (hopefully) withstand the onslaught of a toddler/young reader and will help them to learn different colours, animals and plants whilst reading on their own or with a friend or adult.


You may be interested in these reviews:

Hoot Owl

The Messy Monster Book

NOT the RA Summer Exhibition

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Until 31 August 2016

Chris Beetles Ltd, 8 & 10 Ryder Street, St James’s, London SW1Y 6QB

Monday – Saturday, 10am – 5.30pm

To coincide with the Royal Academy’s annual Summer Exhibition, 27 of Britain’s cartoonists have rallied to provide a satirical take on the history of art. The show is a celebration of history’s masterpieces, and an antidote to the neon, taxidermy and bed linen of contemporary art’s more notorious movements.

COMPOSITION-2-1-C054Rupert Besley


Jonathan Cusick

You Must Bring a Hat – book review

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

By Simon Philip and Kate Hindley

Published by Simon and Schuster  ISBN 978-1-4711-1732-9

Reviewed by Spencer Hill


At 26cm square this book immediately makes a statement, and the beautiful artwork on the cover tells you that it is story time, and it is going to be an experience.  Publishers Simon and Schuster have placed this book in their ‘ages 2 and up’ category, so the story is quite straight forward. A boy is invited to a party, he can bring as many friends as he likes, but he absolutely must bring a hat. What follows is a crazy and humorous series of events as our main character attempts to meet this condition, and gain entry to the party.


The format is familiar; a main character must meet a growing list of conditions as they attempts to achieve their goal. By the conclusion of the book the boy is accompanied by a host of characters including a monkey in a hat with a borrowed monocle, Geoff the piano playing badger and a penguin with a suitcase full of cheese. It’s crazy and it is very funny and as we draw to a close there is a huge “Look behind you!” moment as we realise that the boy is trying to get into the wrong house. This, along with the amount of detail in the illustrations, suggests considerable repeat reading potential as the child memorises the list of characters and their lines, and then has the opportunity to shout “You’re at the wrong house!” at the main character and giggle a lot. Well, that’s how it was for me anyway.


The only glitch in my experience was when the author changes gear half way through the book. We seemed to skip the page where Geoff the badger demonstrates his piano playing, and with an absence of page numbers I found myself flicking back and forth a few times in confusion wondering what I had missed. From the second read this would no longer be an issue, and I wonder if it would only confuse the adult reader rather than the children, who (in my experience) can adapt much faster to this change of pace.


The story is beautifully and skilfully illustrated by Kate Hindley, whose other published works include Oliver and Patch and How To Wash A Woolly Mammoth. Kate’s loose, colourful and fresh style suits this story perfectly and the characters are captured superbly.  To further enhance the reading experience and provide lots of interest, Kate has packed most of the 32 pages with lots and lots of detail, often squeezing over a dozen characters into her colourful scenes in the foreground and background. I had a lot of fun spotting the extra touches which I suspect came from the imagination of the illustrator. The cover image too is a wonderful montage of characters, which, along with the scale of this book will ensure it has considerable bookshop shelf appeal. Who can resist a book which has a worm with a bow tie on the cover?

This is a clever and funny story which the publishers have matched with the perfect illustrator to create a memorable and giggle-inducing story time experience.

Kate Hindley has published over a dozen books and you can see more of her work here.

You Must Bring a Hat (along with I Don’t Know What to Call My Cat also published by Simon and Schuster) represents Simon Philip’s debut. You can learn more about him here.

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

I Am Henry Finch

T-Veg: The Tale of a Carrot Crunching Dinosaur

POST Design Festival

Monday, July 4th, 2016


POST is a brand new international design festival taking place in Copenhagen from 17-­20 August 2016. Bringing together local and international designers for talks, debates, workshops and social events, it will explore the working life of the visual communicator and the ethics of design.

Curated and delivered by an international group of independent designers and cultural producers, POST will bring together practising designers, illustrators, students and educators from all over Europe for four days of talks and debates, practical workshops and networking events.

Confirmed speakers and workshops leaders include: Studio Atlant (DK), Jacob Birch/Illegal Magazine (DK), Paul Davis (UK), Design Activism Research Hub (UK), David Foldvari (UK/HU), Forbundet Arkitekter og Designere (DK), Hugh Frost/Landfill Editions (UK/SE), Kate Gibb (UK), Louise Hold Sidenius/Officin (DK), Maren Karlson (DE), Eike König/Hort (DE), Bob Linney/Health Images (UK), Rob ‘Supermundane’ Lowe (UK), M&E Art & Design (IE/SE), Kaija Papu (FI), Michael Rytz (DK), Elias Stenalt Werner/KADK (DK), Simon Væth (DK) and Andreas Wellnitz (DE).

POST Design Festival takes place in Space10, Flæsketorvet 10, 1711 Copenhagen V.

Tickets for POST Design Festival are now on sale at

For more updates regarding the festival follow online on twitter, Instagram or facebook.