Archive for September, 2016

Varoom 34: Well, Well, Well

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

The health and wellbeing issue is out now – how are you feeling?


Self-confidence, the complexities of the human body, anxiety, relationships with pets and a monastic retreat: looking at health and wellbeing through personal experience and historical imagery, the Well, Well, Well issue of Varoom explores how illustrators visualise for their clients and deal with real world issues around the subject.


With a History of Looking at Health from the Wellcome Library, a profile of Illustrator Gemma Correll and her work, 10 Approaches to Health and Wellbeing featuring Moth Collective and Charlotte Day, a graphic novel by Deborah Levy and Andrzej Klimowski on memory and psychology, and a feature on Illustrators and how their pets impact their work – Varoom 34 lives up to it’s theme of Health and Wellbeing.

V34_gemma_correll_550Varoom is available here, and is a member benefit.

V34_history of health_550

The Quick Guide to Parenting – book review

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Written and Illustrated by Laura Quick

Published by Portico ISBN 978-1910232835

Reviewed by Rachel Morris


On the more sleep-deprived, difficult days; when your bag and pockets contain plastic effigies of various animals, some crushed food and a fistful of wet wipes (some of them ‘pre-loved’, all of them soggy) you may question where things went wrong. ‘The Quick Guide to Parenting’ reminds you that despite, maybe because of the apparent chaos, things are mostly going pretty well.

It isn’t a schmaltzy book though. Laura Quick balances the funny, dark and ‘overheard-in Waitrose’ moments with the heart-swelling, quiet and private parts (not THOSE private parts, although there are a couple of mentions made).


The book feels, in scale and the way it’s laid out, like a private, pocket-size sketchbook. It’s really intimate.

I asked Laura if it was an easy decision to let strangers see these slices of her life? The highs and the lows.

‘It took a while to learn to do it, but, actually I have always been up front about feeling shit or worried, or funny scenarios. I find sharing things with other people frees them up to share their experiences too. All my work, even the stuff about everyday life, or work, or my fashion illustration has an element of reality/normality to it. It’s that which attracts me most.’


How did you decide the order of the anecdotes and images?

‘We thought about doing chapters/ age related content / written content etc. and in the end went for a book that is completely hand drawn and hand written. There isn’t a typed word in the body of the book at all, and like you said, it flows like a sketchbook would. The stories were grouped together in a rough way, so double page spreads might represent rage, guilt, holidays, disappointment, health and fitness etc. So that it feels like a train of thought.’


And how long did the whole process take – from first coming up with the idea for the book, to holding the finished article in your hand?

‘I started drawing them a long time before the book deal was made, I’ve been drawing them since I was pregnant 9 years ago. It was on my blog, The Daily Think, which had been having some success and my mate suggested I do a book. It went from there.’


What’s next? Laura’s been drawing for some big names in Fashion. Paul Smith, Margaret Howell for AnOther magazine. Live drawing at the Saatchi Gallery and for Miller Harris. She’s teaching at Nottingham Tent University, planning an exhibition, and she’s just moved house. Hectic. Lots of fodder for a new book.


I love the sentiment at the start of The Quick Guide to Parenting… ‘you are not alone’ and the general aim to remove ‘perfect-parenting pressure’ because there’s no such thing as perfect.

Put it on the gift list for all the souls you know with kids in tow.

You may also be interested in this book review:

Dear Rikard

A Knavish Lad: Shakespeare’s Dream illustrated by Joanna Robson

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Venue: McNaughtan’s Bookshop and Gallery, 3a Haddington Place, Edinburgh, EH7 4AE

Open until 30th September 2016

Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is retold by Edinburgh-based artist Joanna Robson as a wordless narrative using a combination of old and new technologies: intaglio printmaking and laser cutting.  The result is a panoramic piece of book art that visually narrates the story and draws inspiration from the imagery of the text.


A Knavish Lad has been over two years in the making and was created to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.  It was made possible with the generous support from the Hope Scott Trust.

The Cheltenham Illustration Awards 2016

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

An exhibition of this year’s winners from The Cheltenham Illustration Awards, based on the theme ‘Tales of Nonsense’.

Venue: The Wilson, Cheltenham’s Art Gallery and Museum, Clarence Street, Cheltenham GL50 3JT

Open from the 22nd of September 2016 till the 15th January 2017, 6-8pm.

Free Entry.

CIA 2016 poster exhibition

The Awards are administered by the University of Gloucestershire and include work from up and coming students and established artists and illustrators.

Edward Ardizzone: A Retrospective

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

A major exhibition of the work of Edward Ardizzone, one of the 20th century’s most significant illustrators, the first major exhibition of his work in 40 years.

Venue: House of Illustration, 2 Granary Square, London N1C 4BH.

Opens 23rd of September, Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm. Closed Mondays. Admission (includes all three current exhibitions): £8.25 inc gift aid.


Celebrated for his unmistakeable and enduring illustrations, Edward Ardizzone remains one of the most admired British artists of the 20th century. His wide-ranging output includes the Little Tim books, drawings produced as an official war artist during the Second World War, poster design, ceramics and more.

Opening at House of Illustration in September, Ardizzone: A Retrospective is the first major exhibition of his work in 40 years

From his relatively unknown early commissions to rarely seen original illustrations, the exhibition will feature over 100 pieces from public and private collections. Highlights include a Little Tim manuscript, mural artwork for a P&O ocean liner, ceramic figurines and poster designs for Lyons, as well as sketchbooks and illustrated correspondence.

‘The supreme contemporary example of the genuine illustrator’ – Maurice Sendak on Edward Ardizzone, 1967.


Ardizzone: A Retrospective is co-curated by Alan Powers, author of the forthcoming publication of Edward Ardizzone: Artist and Illustrator, and House of Illustration’s Olivia Ahmad.

Published by Lund Humphries to coincide with the opening of the exhibition on 23 September, Edward Ardizzone: Artist and Illustrator is the first full, illustrated monograph on Ardizzone. Researched from archival sources, it provides an in-depth survey of his work as well as exploring his connections and influence in mid-20th-century British illustration.

Edward Ardizzone RA CBE (1900 – 79) was one of the 20th century’s most significant illustrators. He is best-known for his illustrated children’s books, in particular the ‘Little Tim’ series which he wrote and illustrated, starting in 1936 with Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain, and many of which are still in print today. In 1940 Ardizzone was appointed an official war artist – along with his contemporaries Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious – and embarked for France and Belgium with the British Expeditionary Force. He spent time in North Africa and Italy and was also present at the Normandy landings. He illustrated contemporaries such as Eleanor Farjeon and Robert Graves and classic authors from Cervantes and Bunyan to Dickens and Trollope. Ardizzone also did a range of magazine and advertising work for clients including Shell, Guinness, Radio Times, Moss Bros and Punch.


Not My Business – Olalekan Jeyifous

Friday, September 16th, 2016

9 – 30 September

50 Golborne gallery, 50 Golborne Road, London W10 5PR


Not My Business” – a solo exhibition by Nigerian-American artist and designer Olalekan Jeyifous.

“Not My Business” is named after a poem by Nigerian poet, dramatist, and literary critic, Niyi Osundare. Trained as an architect at Cornell University, USA, Jeyifous uses Architecture and Design as tropes to investigate Nigeria’s socio-cultural and political issues from the specific angle of his Diasporic position

Now updated for 2016 – the AOI Client Directories!

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

The perfect self promotion resource with email, phone number, postal address and websites, plus information on the type of work commissioned, these three directories are the affordable solution for illustrators wishing to expand their client base.


The Directories are available as individual purchases, or as a reduced fee set of three. AOI Members receive a discount on the price of the set and individual directories.
Go here to purchase

The Advertising Directory contains the contact details of 157 Advertisers and Design Agencies
The Editorial Directory contains the contact details of 143 Editorial Clients
The Publishing Directory contains the contact details of 159 Publishers

Here Comes Mr Postmouse – book review

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc

Published by Book Island ISBN 978-0-994128201

Review by Rachel Morris


SLOW DOWN! Really, slow down. That’s what Here Comes Mr Postmouse encourages.

You travel along with Mr Postmouse as he makes his deliveries but it’s the detail and humour tucked into each illustrated page that really gets you to linger. The star chart in Mr Bear’s house is, you guessed it, The Great Bear and his appropriately named Aunt Ursula are just a couple of the more highbrow jokes in only one section of the first spread.  The rabbit’s toilet is a simple and effective bit of comedy and Señor Snake who lives next door is a lovely link over 4 pages, again packed with detail and subplot in the cutaways and backgrounds.


I caught up with Illustrator/Author Marianne Dubuc, who lives and works in Montréal, Québec, to ask her a few questions about this, her most recent book.

This may be a bit of a ‘the-chicken-or-the-egg’ question, but how did Mr Postmouse arrive in your head? Did he grow from a drawing, or was he born out of the word element of the story?

The idea for Mr Postmouse came as a collaboration with my then editor at Casterman, Mélanie. She wanted to make a Richard Scarry kind of book, with animal houses with lots of details. We were looking for an idea that would link all the houses together, to have a small storyline that would take you through the book from start to finish. The postman idea came naturally to both of us, and a small animal such as a mouse was perfect. And then I drew him and… that was how Mr Postmouse was born!


Was it one of those projects that flowed from the initial idea to the final, printed book, or has it been a more fraught, long-winded process than that?

The actual idea flowed naturally. Once I have an idea for a book, writing the story and drawing the layout goes relatively fast. It is the technique that took more time to find. There was a misunderstanding between Mélanie and me, and I had not understood that she was looking for a different look to my usual style. There were a lot of back and forth email exchanges with her team, and we finally settled on Mr Postmouse’s look. I drew the whole book by hand, then digitally coloured the images. It took as long as hand drawing, was really painful to do, and I actually hated doing it (!). But once the book was done, and once I received it printed, I was really satisfied. So satisfied that I wanted to do a second Mr Postmouse!

I love the way you can see the pencil marks in elements of your drawing. Could you tell me a bit about how you start an image, a bit about your working process?

I always plan my books with small thumbnails. I draw the story from start to finish very quickly in small double-page rectangles, just as a storyboard. This allows me to feel the rhythm of the book, to make sure there is a diversity of images and that it all works together. Once the the whole book’s layout is planed, I can start the final roughs. I often make a real print size blank dummy of the book, and draw directly in it, with all the details and placing the text as well. Once these roughs are approved, I can start the final illustrations.  I usually use my roughs as a guide, placing them under my paper on the light table. This gives me a security to draw, but also leaves me space to improvise.


And as I said previously, contrary to all of my other books which are done by hand completely, Mr Postmouse was hand drawn, but digitally coloured. I wanted to keep the hand feeling in the images, so I did all of the textures by hand and changed the colours on the computer. I found a way to use the computer that would be satisfying to me, and I am now having fun with this style.

Here Comes Mr Postmouse is a gentle book that’s lovely to share, particularly with children who aren’t yet reading independently. With so much to talk about alongside the story in the detailed illustrations, the sparse text doesn’t make this is a ‘quick read’. It does mean it’s not daunting for someone who is learning to read though because the words are so well chosen and, on the whole, simple. It’s a beautiful book that’s full of surprises.

You may also be interested in these book reviews

Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats

Fox & Goldfish

AOI Annual General Meeting 2016

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Members were invited to the 2016 AOI Annual General Meeting on 8 September, and had the opportunity to meet AOI staff and Board and hear about the AOI’s plans for the upcoming year.


The AGM was held in the Coningsby Gallery in London, which meant attendees could see AOI member, Andrew Baker’s exhibition at the same time.


Above, AOI Chairman Andrew Coningsby with Illustrator Rod Hunt

Nicholas John Frith wins Klaus Flugge Prize

Friday, September 9th, 2016

Nicholas John Frith has won the inaugural Klaus Flugge Prize for the most exciting and promising newcomer to children’s picture book illustration. He won £5000 for his book Hector and Hummingbird (Alison Green Books), about a spectacled bear and his noisy best friend.


‘The shortlist featured six skilful and talented illustrators but Hector and Hummingbird is something very special’ said Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, judge for this new prize, ‘We were particularly impressed with the way Nicholas John Frith creates the characters of Hector and Hummingbird through his illustrations, and the relationship between them is completely convincing. It’s certainly a very stylish book to look at, but the characterisation won it for us. Children will love these two heroes, it’s a book with heart!’

The Klaus Flugge Prize honours publisher Klaus Flugge, a supremely influential figure in picture books, who this year celebrates the 40th anniversary of his publishing house Andersen Press. The Prize is funded by Klaus Flugge and run independently of Andersen Press

The shortlist:

Too Many Toys, Heidi Deedman, edited Maria Tunney (Walker Books)

Hector and the Hummingbird, Nicholas John Frith, edited by Alison Green (Scholastic)

The Girl with the Parrot on her Head, Daisy Hirst, edited by Lizzie Sitton (Walker Books)

Toby and the Ice Giants, Joe Lillington, edited by Harriet Birkenshaw (Flying Eye Books)

Lili, Wen Dee Tan, edited by Holly Millbank (Fat Fox)

Counting Lions, Stephen Walton, written and edited by Katie Cotton, (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)