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.