Archive for April, 2017

It’s My Pond – book review

Friday, April 28th, 2017

By Claire Garralon

Published by Book Island ISBN 978-1-911496-02-1

Reviewed by Spencer Hill


It’s My Pond is the latest release from French author and illustrator Claire Garralon, and was originally published as C’est Ma Mare by French publishers editions MeMo. It has been translated into English by Sarah Ardizonne for Book Island, a Bristol based publishing house who specialise in translated picture books.

It’s My Pond is a picture book for young children, so as you would expect it isn’t going to take me too long to explain the plot. A yellow duck discovers a pond and declares it as theirs, but is forced to share when first a white duck, then many more coloured ducks all turn up and want in on the act. The pond gets subdivided more and more until eventually each duck only has a tiny space they can call their own.


When a black duck turns up near the end it proposes that rather than subdividing they all just share and enjoy the whole pond together, and we have our morality message. Sharing and equality of colours is a good thing, and everyone is happier for it. This is then surpassed by the popular saying ‘there is always a bigger fish’ when the whole cycle begins again with coloured hippopotamuses, and the ducks are forced to vacate.

This is a charming story with a simple but important message to children that sharing and equality are good concepts to be embraced and understood. The book is beautifully presented, and feels very substantial and durable in hardback format with good quality paper inside. This is one of those books that feels good to hold which enhances the experience for the reader. The artwork and the lettering are presented boldly, with flat, bright colours and very simple compositions presented on white backgrounds. It is very pleasing on the eye, and there is no confusing additional detail or shading to distract from the story.


The ducks have been painted with circles on their heads for some reason, which gives them the appearance of a fairground game. I am not certain why the illustrator chose to do this. Perhaps she was intending on licensing a ‘hook the duck’ game to accompany the book? The lettering must be mentioned too, as all of the writing within the book uses a stylish font which has a stencilled or stamped feel to it, but remaining very polished and crisp at the same time. On some pages, the lettering has been presented within the pond or the ducks themselves, which is a clever and effective way to lay out the page.

Beautiful to hold and beautiful to look at It’s My Pond is a wonderful and simple story with a positive message. Also, you can buy both the French and English versions and teach your child to speak French at the same time! What more incentive could you need to add this to your child’s library?


You may also be interested in these book reviews

The White Book

Black Cat, White Cat

Payback 2017 – deadline 1 May!

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Hey illustrators! Want to collect money due for photocopying of your work from books and magazines (or being shown on TV)?

Get with #Payback17 – it’s easy! Any queries to need to get to DACS, who run Payback, by Friday. See

Last year individual payments ranged from £25 to £4,215, so it’s definitely worth it.

Illustrator Jamie Smart says, ‘Services like DACS are essential. Personally I only use the Payback side of DACS, which is something every artist should get involved with.


Jamie photo by Brian Benson

Shortlist for 2017 V&A Illustration Awards

Thursday, April 27th, 2017 | #IllustrationAwards

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

V&A Illustration Awards 2017 display

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

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) has announced the shortlisted artists for the 2017 V&A Illustration Awards to celebrate the best of book, editorial and student illustrations published over the last year. From the inventive storytelling of Beatriz Lostalé Seijo’s The Odyssey to the humourous homage to Hokusai in A. Richard Allen’s Trump Wave, this years’ shortlist shows that illustration has never been more diverse, innovative and inter-disciplinary. All the winning artworks will be displayed at the V&A, on the landing outside the National Art Library from 17th May – 20th August 2017.

Book Illustration Benji Davis The Storm Whale in Winter (c) Benji Davis

Book Illustration Benji Davis The Storm Whale in Winter (c) Benji Davis

The winners of each of the four categories – best illustrated book, book cover design, editorial illustration and student illustrator – will be announced at the V&A Illustration Awards ceremony at the V&A on 16 May 2017, and will each receive £3,000 and a trophy. The overall winner will receive an additional £5,000 and will be honoured with the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year Prize, named in memory of the late Moira Gemmill, the V&A’s former Director of Design. 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.

Julius Bryant, Keeper of Word & Image, said: “Supporting contemporary artists, designers, and illustrators has always been at the heart of the V&A’s mission. That’s why the V&A Illustration Awards recognises both student and published work, to help aspiring illustrators break into the graphic arts and publishing industries. The first year after completing a course is often the most difficult in terms of building a career. The accolade of winning an award and sharing a platform with established artists can be crucial in this process.”

Editorial Gary Neil Brexit © Gary Neil

Editorial Gary Neil Brexit © Gary Neil

The judging panel for the published categories comprises Jane Scherbaum, former V&A Head of Design, Loyd Grossman, broadcaster, gastronome and art historian, and bestselling author Beryl Kingston. For the 2017 Student Illustrator of the Year Award, the judging panel is comprised of John O’Reilly, Editor of Varoom magazine and 2016 V&A Illustration Awards winner, Jason Brooks.

The 2017 Shortlist:

2017 Student Illustrator of the Year

Lucy Waldman (UCA Farnham; BA Illustration): Favela Life

Beatriz Lostalé Seijo (Anglia Ruskin, MA Book Illustration): The Odyssey Emily Evans (RCA; MA Visual Communication): Blood Antiquities Thomas Hedger (UAL CSM; BA Graphic Design) Petrol Stations

Tom Spooner (RCA, Visual Comms): Towards an Infinite Place

Book Illustration

Benji Davies for Storm Whale in Winter (London: Simon & Schuster, 2016) Anna+Elena Balbusso for Twelfth Night (London: The Folio Society, 2016) JARVIS for Alan’s Big Scary Teeth (London: Walker Books, 2016)

Book Cover Design

Joe Cardielo for Aubrey’s Brief Lives (London: The Folio Society, 2016) Aino-Maija Metsola ‘Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf Series’ (Vintage, 2016) Lizzy Stewart for There’s a Tiger in the Garden (Frances Lincoln, 2016)

Editorial Illustration

Gary Neill for ‘Brexit – What Next’, published in Health & Safety

A.Richard Allen for ‘Trump Wave’, published in The Sunday Telegraph Money Nick Lowndes for ‘Samuel Johnson’, published in The Economist

Student Thomas Hedger Petrol Station 1 © Thomas Hedger

Student Thomas Hedger Petrol Station 1 © Thomas Hedger

Mr Postmouse Goes on Holiday – book review

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Illustrated and written by Marianne Dubuc

Published by Book Island ISBN 978-1-911496-04-5

Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster


This large hardback book is the sequel to Here Comes Mr Postmouse. A ballooning mouse family adorns the cover. It is clear an adventure is in progress. Things look promising. Dubuc has used the large format well, creating lively images that are carefully controlled to communicate part of her intended message; we travel to see new things and have new experiences. The Postmouse family is on a busman’s holiday of sorts, delivering parcels to friends and family as they travel. The illustrations are delightful, but it’s the text that needs more attention.


The story is simple enough, but the writing lacks sparkle and energy. The translation from Canadian French to English by Greet Pauwelijn could be the reason that the words don’t scan. There needs to be a rhythm within the writing as this aids reading aloud and is easier for children to memorise. The book is aimed at children aged 3 plus, however I would be surprised if it kept this age group engaged. The position of the text blocks blends in too much with the illustrations, gets lost and doesn’t encourage reading.


The Illustrations are entertainingly filled with quirky details that will delight the reader. Illustrations of plants, buildings and landscapes in cross-section work particularly well. There are some nice meta-references too: King Kong on the island, the dragon inside a volcano, the opera Diva on the Ship and the Jungle scene. The colour palette is limited showing large areas of sky, water and grass which really helps the composition of the pages. The visual style and technique bring to mind the work of Laurent de Brunhoff, creator of Babar the Elephant, and the busy energy with bizarre characters is reminiscent of the work of Richard Scarry.


Where this book falls short is in the relationship between text and image. A picture book works as pure image for young children with the text adding to their knowledge once they can read it for themselves, this giving greater context and shape to the narrative. Maurice Sendak, a master of visual storytelling combined text and image to add layers of understanding to his work. Author Dubuc could benefit from focusing on this aspect of her work.


You may also be interested in these book reviews:

Fox & Goldfish

Here Comes Mr Postmouse

Michael Foreman – Telling Tales

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Chris Beetles Gallery, 8 & 10 Ryder Street, London, SW1Y 6QB

Until 22 April


The exhibition includes over 275 works spanning 50 years of achievement and focuses on Foreman’s work as an illustrator of fairy tales, myths and legends, and children’s classics, including collaborations with Brian Alderson, Angela Carter, Roald Dahl, Terry Jones and Michael Morpurgo.


Beautiful Glorious Chaos – James Dawe exhibition

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

The Book Club, 100-106 Leonard Street, London, EC2A 4RH

28 April – 25 June 2017


James’ jumping off point is his vibrant and multi-layered editorial illustrations he produced for WIRED magazine. Covering topics ranging from virtual reality to new media remixes, Dawe looks to further challenge his image making process and digital experimentation. Large edition prints of the WIRED artwork will be on display during the show as well as newly created pieces.

An in-demand commercial artist and illustrator, James works predominantly in mixed media collage, digital manipulation and 3D experimentation. His dramatic compositions cascade across the page throwing up unexpected, often abstract “glitchy” imagery reflective of his all-embracing energy.

After an Art foundation at Central Saint Martins, James went on to study Illustration at the University of Brighton, graduating in 2006. Experience working with some of London’s top creative agencies followed as Dawe’s unique style of work developed and gained recognition.

His client list includes Nike, The Natural History Museum, Creative Review, Varoom magazine, the British Fashion Council and WIRED.

Opportunity: Sky Arts Landscape Artist of The Year

Monday, April 10th, 2017

This is a great opportunity for artists who work in classic media (digital work is not accepted) and feel up tot he challenge of painting in front of a TV camera.
Last year’s winner, A Richard Allen had already found glory with the AOI Awards (Images32) by winning A Gold Award for his Self-Initiated illustration work before winning the Landscape Artist of the Year Award in 2016:

This year’s Landscape Artist of the Year offers you the chance to win a £10,000 commission for a British institution’s permanent collection and £500 of art materials from Cass Art. Landscape Artist of The Year will film at stunning locations around the UK.

Enter here by 28 April.


Arrest All Mimics interviews Paul Shipper

Monday, April 10th, 2017


AOI Member Paul Shipper’s film and TV artwork began with movie posters on a bedroom wall and inspiring trips to the video library in Manchester. His contemporary twist on a classic era of movie posters has earned him a following comprised of both cinema fans and industry icons alike.

He joins Ben Tallon to discuss the journey, from being wowed by the artwork from such timeless films as Star Wars and Indiana Jones as a boy to joining Simon Pegg for movie premieres.

Paul also discusses why digital is not a dirty word, his Carrie Fisher tribute illustration for Empire and upcoming Star Wars work.

Listen now and get your thoughts over on Twitter @arrestallmimics now!

Meet The Artist, David Hockney – book review

Monday, April 10th, 2017

An Art Activity Book

Illustrated by Rose Blake

Tate Publishing 2017 ISBN 9781849764469

Review by Peter Allen


In this art activity book young readers are given a guided tour of Hockney’s art by another artist who makes pictures, Rose Blake, a big fan of Hockney. We are treated to a view of her favourite pieces that show us just what it is she loves most about Hockney’s work and is done in the way she knows best, through her own illustrations.

Making pictures about pictures is something Blake does very well, as can be seen in her prints about art in art galleries. Working with Hockney as the subject was pretty much her dream job and her familiarity with his work and understanding of its worth as art prove to be invaluable insights which make this book so much more than a run-of-the-mill activity book, to be chucked under the bed when done with. It would be fairer really to see it as two books in one, as the reader is presented with two distinct artistic visions talking together about things they share in common.


The first book is an attractive and inspiring activity book. Its open, uncluttered layout gives plenty of room for children to draw in, Blake stands to one side of the stage, it’s very much their moment to have a go. The design compliments perfectly the mood of Blake’s illustrations, refined, simple shapes, filled with flat, bright colours. Reminiscent of children’s book designs by Paul Rand or Fredun Shapur whose playful illustrations made great use of simple, paper-cut forms and bright, flat colours at a time when Pop Art was bringing Art and Commercial Art closer together. Blake’s page designs are further complimented by the choice of a widely spaced, sans serif font for the text. The simplicity of the overall design speaks loads about pleasure, wonderment, marvelling at, almost to the point of naivety.


Fittingly, the enjoyment to be had in making things is a constant feature of the book. With Hockney it’s like a boyish enthusiasm that bounds out of his paintings, iPad or coloured pencil drawings, watercolour sketches made on the top deck of a London bus. Blake naturally compliments his exuberance by reflecting the less obvious qualities of his work, the details, like hidden treasures with their colours and forms.

She’s most happy when sharing this source of pleasure that enriches her everyday life, like Samuel Palmer seeing Eden in the Kentish countryside. Blake is drawn to the painting, The Baptism of Christ by Pierra della Francesca that is reflected in the dressing table mirror in the painting of Hockney’s parents. In turn, it reminds us of Van Eyck’s painting, The Arnolfini Wedding, of another married couple in which a mirror reflects the room out of the viewer’s sight. If Hockney’s recent work could be described as tending towards the big, then Blake’s pictures could be described as miniatures; intense in their vision and brilliant in their design. The title page letterforms are distillations of Hockney’s pictures that sparkle with a jewel-like intensity.


The following double-page spreads that Blake makes d’après Hockney are brilliant and, in the same way that Hockney’s work was driven by a force found in other artist’s work, Blake is evidently inspired here. They show just how much the two share a particular way of seeing things and speaks about how much Blake owes to Hockney for inspiring her own creativity. In those few pages where she has the space to express herself freely she lays out the beginnings of such an account and excels at describing this second storyline, the book within a book. Blake now needs lots more pages to continue with illustrating this rich, personal narrative that should make a wonderful book of its own.


These are the Q & As that came before the review was written and which I think reveal some interesting points about the commissioning process both for Rose Blakes’s book here and in general:

How did the project start? Was Hockney something you’d talked about previously with the publisher or did it come completely out of the blue?

It came totally out of the blue. Tate have been doing the ‘Meet the Artist’ series for a while, and approached me over email to do the Hockney book. As it was pretty much my dream job, I said yes pretty quickly.

Why do you think they chose you in particular for this book? In what ways did the publisher feel your work was best suited to the project?

They needed to find someone who was very familiar with Hockney’s work as the timeline for the project was seriously tight. I think Holly Tonks (the publisher at Tate) was talking to Lizzy Stewart (another illustrator who is also a friend of mine) and she said I was a huge Hockney fan, so they approached me. I’ve always been obsessed with Hockney’s work and vision so I’m very thankful to Lizzy!

What was the brief like? Loose, very precise, how much did you get to contribute to the design of the book?

Basically the brief was to make an activity book based on Hockney’s work for children aged around 7+… we could have gone a few ways with it, but I wanted it to be true to Hockney’s spirit and vision.

After our first meeting I went and did a load of research, and then we had another meeting where I laid out all the research I’d done and we mapped out the different aspects of his work that we wanted to explore in the book. Then Holly wrote the rough text and I started working on the spreads pretty much straight away. I designed all the illustrative aspects of the page, and Jay Cover did the type.

How did you make your illustrations: techniques, process etc? Did you work differently to your usual practice(s) especially for this book?

I just sketched out a rough layout for all the pages and then drew the finals into Photoshop. I worked in the way that I usually work, only with an ever looming fear that Hockney was going to be seeing everything I made!

Was it difficult maintaining your own voice in the making of the illustrations? How did it feel to work alongside his pictures, how visible were your illustrations allowed to be in relation to Hockney’s?

No, I don’t think so. I actually think it came quite naturally. It was really fun to pull out little details from Hockney’s work and integrate them into my drawing. For instance, Stanley (Hockney’s dachshund) dressed up as a Punchinello from Parade. I think they were allowed to be pretty visual… it was strange, as I work on all the finals without the Hockney paintings dropped into the layout, so when I saw the final book printed I was happy they worked together!


Did you get to choose the artworks that you show in your illustrations or were you given a list of those to be included?

I was given a list of all the works that were going to be in the Tate Britain show, and we picked from there.

How much of an influence has Hockney been on your work, in what ways?

A huge one… I don’t even know where to start. The thing with Hockney is that he has produced SO much, and it is all incredible. There is so much to discover – while I was doing the book, I found all the preliminary sketches he had drawn for the Opera designs, and they are masterpieces in themselves. It’s like having a favourite band, and constantly finding new albums by them that are all totally different, but equally enjoyable.

He just has such a good attitude… no bullshit. Look at the world, enjoy what’s around you, be honest.

How did you go about creating the character Hockney, from photos, sketches you found or were you able to work from the model himself?

Ha ha, I wish I could say I flew to LA and spent a week soaking up his aura… but no I drew from photos in my freezing studio in Haggerston. I chose to draw him as a kind of 80’s Hockney… I was tempted to have him age through the book – so start as a student, and end now. But as the artworks aren’t picked chronologically, I think this would have been too confusing for the reader. All the clothes he wears in my drawings are his real outfits though.

Have you had any feedback from Hockney about your work on the book?

Yes! He sent me an email, a text message, and he wrote a really nice message in my copy of the book. He seemed to be really happy with it, I spoke to his brother and sister at the exhibition and they were like ‘Oh! You’re the girl that did the book!’

Other than Hockney which sources inspire, inform, help the way you create images?

I’m always on the look out for things happening on the street – just little visual moments. This morning I saw a kid trying to climb the railing protecting a tree that had just blossomed, so jotted it down for a future drawing. I write loads of notes in my phone, things people say, so my phone notes are full of things like ‘I heard sirens… but it wasn’t my ambulance’, ‘Bin with a round Bakewell tart with red cherry on the top’ and ‘NEW MOON IN WETHERSPOONS’ – total gibberish really, but little starting points.

I look at loads of paintings, try (and often fail) to go to lots of shows to see them in real life. I read lots, but am quite bad at watching films – it’s always my new years resolution. I’m always scrolling through Instagram too…


What book project would you love to work on most?

Well, the Hockney one was a total dream project, but I am actually about to start work on another dream book! I’m not allowed to talk about it yet, but it will be out early next year I think.

I’d love to do something with David Byrne… imagine a children’s book written by him!

David Hockney is on at Tate Britain until 29 May 2017

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

Where’s Warhol?

This Is Bacon

The Prize for Illustration 2017: Sounds of the City exhibition – 100 illustrations on display at London Transport Museum

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Friday 19 May to 3 September 2017

Travel to London Transport Museum:
Address: Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E 7BB.
The nearest stations to London Transport Museum are:
Underground: Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Charing Cross, Embankment, Holborn
National Rail: Charing Cross and Waterloo
Boat: Embankment or Westminster pier
Bus: Strand or Aldwych

The Association of Illustrators (AOI) and London Transport Museum are delighted to announce the Prize for Illustration 2017 – Sounds of the City exhibition at the Covent Garden museum from Friday 19 May to Sunday 3 September.

The Prize for Illustration 2017: Sounds of the City, an exhibition of 100 illustrations, opens at London Transport Museum on Friday 19 May. Visitors will be able to enjoy a visual journey inspired by lyrics and language; hubbub and stillness; heritage and science; through to the wildlife and nightlife of our diverse and multi-layered cities.

The winning design will be announced in May and reproduced as a poster for display on London Underground.

The Prize for Illustration 2017: Sounds of the City is at the Exterion Media gallery, 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. Advance online booking £16 (concessions £13.50)

For further information, please see:


Friday Late – Sounds of the City launch evening
19 May 2017; 18:45 – 22:00 (last admission 21:15)

The Museum’s special, adults only, Friday Late launch evening explores the lost worlds of urban sounds. Guests can find out how sound influences design in a fascinating interactive free-form painting workshop. Using big sweeping movements and non-restrictive painting techniques on large rolls of paper, people are encouraged to respond – through paint – to the music they hear around them. Party people can also join a curated mini tour of the exhibition. There’s a bar, in-house DJ Museum of Vinyl and a music themed quiz. 18s and over only.

Tickets to the Friday Late cost £15; Concessions £12.

Sounds of the City events

Workshop: Design your own Music Festival with Soundcheck
Thursday 6 July 2
017; 18:30 – 21:30

London Transport Museum has joined forces with creative company Soundcheck, to present an immersive experience for aspiring festival and event organisers, music lovers and digital technology enthusiasts. Guests will get a taster of what it’s like to put together a music festival.
After creating a festival concept, participants will programme a main stage line up, curate the finest food and drinks, and plot guerrilla marketing tactics. Learning a range of creative new skills including event management, business strategy and marketing communications, they will be guided by a team of music industry experts with experience at some of the world’s greatest festivals.

Tickets to the workshop cost £15; Concessions £12.

Mini Masterclass: Self Promotion
Tuesday 11 July 2017; 19:00 – 20:30

Awards – whether you win or not – are a vital part of everyone’s careers; from Hollywood to Holborn. As more and more creatives graduate each year, how can you set yourself apart and stay at the top of the commissioners lists? The Association of Illustrators talks to an illustrator, a commissioner and an agent about self-promotion – from the role of awards to using social media, developing your own website and other less mainstream approaches. There will be the opportunity for Q&As at the end.

Mini Masterclass tickets cost; Adults £12; Concessions £10
Tickets for the Sounds of the City exhibition, Friday Late and events can be booked in advance at
Illustration by Eliza Southwood, Bronze Winner, Prize for Illustration 2015