Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Bologna Book Fair 2016

This year I decided to visit the Bologna Children's Book Fair. It's been three years since I last went as a final year student back in 2013. It was a hugely different experience this time round, I had more industry experience, more work in my portfolio, and an excellent Agent to go with.

I largely went for inspiration. I know it sounds like an expensive way to go about feeling inspired, but surrounding myself with all things kid-lit really gave me the kick up the backside I needed.

I found wandering the halls (the vast, vast halls), somewhat overwhelming. There are just so many Publishers. So many different disciplines. It really made me consider where I fit in the picture. Where does my work fit now? Where could I take my work in the future? Where do I want my work to go in the future? All of the questions, essentially.

On my last trip I bravely approached a large number of publishers and talked to as many people as possible. It was certainly a good way to get my work out there. This time around I felt much more reluctant approaching people. Perhaps I was more confident last time, more optimistic? I guess when it comes down to it, I was worried about messing up. This time I had more to lose. I worried I would come across unprofessional, unimaginative, pants at drawing. My approach has definitely changed over the last three years. Maybe working on your own can affect your psyche? Maybe I was still just overwhelmed by the ever-so-vast halls?

However, leaving the psychological analysis behind, it was really great to chat to everyone and especially nice to meet so many new people. I really appreciated the feedback and guidance on my work, especially my ideas, always useful, always noted! I took a couple of new book ideas with me. The first being an animal spotting book, complete with textured illustrations. Can you find elephant?

Yes, I thought you would.

The second being Penguin Party, a picture book in which penguins work out how to party like it's Christmas, after just a few small hiccups along the way...

I had the usual pre-bookfair mad rush preparing promo material, but I'm glad I had something to leave behind. I thought the penguins looked quite funny on teenie-tiny postcards. Anyway, here's a snap of the 'Illustrators wall'. By the time I arrived at the fair on Monday afternoon the whole wall had been filled with Illustrator's posters, postcards and business cards. My work had to live on the floor.

Visiting Bologna was also a thinly veiled excuse for a holiday. It was great to stay with my lovely Agent in the historical city centre, I mean check out the view from the balcony. Bellissimo!

I also managed a sneaky weekend by Lake Como. I struck a pose. 

So to round things up, I suppose what I want to say is thanks to everyone I met along the way, thanks for a great Bologna experience and thanks for the kid-lit kick up the back side!

P.S. I also saw this original Ralph Steadman Alice in Wonderland artwork. Nice.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Peter Pan

I re-read Peter Pan a little while ago and decided to draw a few things Neverland, just for fun. Anyway, this is what I came up with!

Saturday, 19 March 2016


A few lions to share!

Monday, 4 January 2016

2015, in a nutshell

It's been a long time since I last updated my blog. I don't tend to write much on here, but I've always enjoyed sharing my artwork and pictures nonetheless, so I'd like to explain why I've been on the quiet side. Back in January my Dad was admitted to hospital for major brain surgery to remove a Cavernoma. Thankfully the operation went well and he has spent the last year recovering in hospital. I guess I've kept my head down because there has been so much to deal with and so much to do. 12 months later Dad is still in hospital, but I'm very pleased to say he is well on the road to recovery.

(a few Dad snaps)

Maybe I've noticed it more this year because of family worries, but working as a Freelance Artist can be tough - even with a brilliant agent! There's a constant pressure to line up the next job, balance part time work, keep your finances in check and taxes paid. You could even add the occasional wobble into the mix. I have to admit that for a while I was questioning whether my work was even good enough? I fell into the trap of comparing myself to other illustrators, artists, even my friends! Which frankly has never done anyone any good.

What I really wanted to say in this blog post is just how much I appreciate my job. I really love it, and that is what sees me through the occasional crisis of confidence. It's amazing how drawing can be a hobby, therapy and an income. It feels good to be paid for doing something you love.

I've had the opportunity to work on some wonderful books throughout the year. I've been illustrating a short series of chapter books by Adam frost called Fox Investigates. Here are the first 3 books:

I was also lucky enough to illustrate a picture brilliant book called Elephant's Pyjamas by Michelle Robinson. It was a real pleasure to work on and I can't wait to see it in the wild.

I had an exciting end to 2015. In November I went on a last minute trip to Korea and Japan. I've wanted to see the autumn colours for a long while and the time felt right. I'm so glad I went. It reminded me just how big the world is and reawakened my spirit of adventure. It was like somebody pressed a reset button in my brain and I was back to my normal self.

I guess what I am working my up to is a huge thank you. Thanks to everyone who has helped me through this year. I don't want to be soppy, but your kindness has meant an awful lot.

Anyway to quote Chumbawamba, I get knocked down but I get up again.

Emily x

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