Sunday, 5 March 2017

MA Children’s Book Illustration graduation show 2017

Since I had a chance to see both of the MA Children’s Book Illustration graduation shows, which took place in London last month and later at the Cambridge School of Art too, I thought it would be selfish of me not to share some photos of the things that caught my eye. By the way, this small selection is less than a half of the artists that exhibited this year.

The Cambridge exhibition at the lovely Ruskin gallery featured mostly the illustration prints and a few dummy book and sketchbook examples in glass cabinets. It was much smaller than the one in London, but was equally beautiful and inspiring. I was excited to look through the amazing artwork again and noticed a few I missed in the London show. We will certainly see some of these incredible talents in bookshops soon. Please enjoy!



Sally Walker, Greta Haaz, Anna Gordillo, Lucy Morris, Jacqueline Rayner

Jessica Meserve, Roxana de Rond and Tzu-Li Kuo
Laura Casella
Rachel Stubbs, Elina Ellis and Sylvia Liang
Tommy Fry and Lucy Dillamore
Mrinali Alvarez and Federica Muià
Aining Wen and Cho Ye Seul
Agata Pankowska, Phoebe Swan and Ivonne Vargas
Beth Waters
David Lambourne and Nien-Chen Yang
Duncan Annand
James Andrew Howard and Julia Maisen

I enjoyed the marvelous London exhibition together with a small group of my MA friends. This year the degree show expanded over two floors of the Candid Arts Trust gallery to accommodate the fabulous work of 75 graduates. The details of all the exhibitors can be found on the official MA Show website. The London exhibition had so many things on display it was challenging to see everything in one go, but it offered a unique chance to look through the original sketchbooks, read the wonderful dummy books, adore the handmade toys and also leave encouraging comments for the graduates. 

I noticed lots of beautiful nonfiction, such as the delicate nature-inspired printmaking by Josephine Birch, brilliant biography of a British mathematician Ada by Anna Doherty and the funny family encyclopaedia by Sawanee Draw, documenting various vintage objects and her mother's childhood. There were some outright hilarious and some very sad and dark stories as well as board books, toys and wordless books. I was pleasantly surprised by the wide range of genres, from comic adventures to social issues and some mind-blowing fantasy such as Tommy Fry's surreal graphic novel about aliens disguised as pigeons. The variety of children's book forms was equally inspiring, from the loose and playful screen-printed pages by Chie Hosaka and the novelty story-making book by Alina Kasparyants to Duncan Annand's conceptual and thought-provoking three-dimensional posters. The MA Children’s Book Illustration graduation show never ceases to amaze me!


Puck Koper
Lucy Dillamore
Chie Hosaka  
Anna Doherty
Sawanee Draw
Alina Kasparyants
Ivonne Vargas
Susannah Lovegrove
Josephine Birch
Rachel Stubbs (Sebastian Walker Prize winner)

Friday, 25 November 2016

ShoutWest! Festival 2016

I was very excited to participate in the ShoutWest! creative writing festival for children, which took place at Brunel University in West London on the 14th and 15th of November. It was organized by CWISL, a very inspiring and supportive group of children's writers and illustrators from South London. Ninety children from six different schools and seventeen writers/illustrators have been invited for two days of story writing, character drawing, interactive acting, enchanting storytelling and an exciting award ceremony.


Captivating storytelling with the one and only Margaret Bateson-Hill
A splendid drama plenary by the passionate author and performer Mo O'Hara
Fantastic author-illustrator Bridget Marzo sketched from life in Illustration plenary
Playful faces made out of circles and letters in Bridget's engaging drawing session

The children were mixed up and split into teams, named by four big cats. My friendly team was called Panthers and I met all the members for the first time at the festival. We started off with a lively idea generation session run by a successful fiction author Sara Grant. We witnessed how interesting ideas can spark from a peculiar looking object or an unexpected combination of character, setting, object and genre from the marvellous idea creation grid (pictured below), which was quickly filled in on the spot with the help of children.

Idea creation grid in Sara's workshop sparked many exciting stories

The story writing continued in 'Spot the Plot' workshop with Jamie Buxton talking us through the story structure and different types of characters such as the hero, sidekick/hero's friend and enemy. 'Mad, Moody and Murky' workshop with Cate Sampson encouraged the kids to add liveliness and richness to their text. It was fantastic to hear some thrilling beginnings and even full short stories at the end.

Illustration can be a very useful tool in story-making, especially when it comes to creating believable and rich characters, as was demonstrated by four Big Little Tales members in character passport workshops. I am very grateful to the wonderful Anne-Marie Perks, who invited me to run this activity alongside her, Loretta Schauer and Patrick Miller, who inspired children to draw portraits from observation without looking at the paper and helped in the creation of some truly unique characters.

I shared a few dummy books with my own stories, a sketchbook for 'Alice', print-outs of various character sketches and some finished illustrations for fiction to hopefully inspire and shed some light on the creative process of a writer and illustrator. A group of around thirty people saw me draw the Queen of Hearts and Cheshire Cat using simple shapes. I heard some invaluable feedback on my art directly from kids and their teachers. I really enjoyed being part of this intense story-making with children and being surrounded by their fascinating imagination. There were many lessons to take away from this exciting experience and loads of inspiration and positive feelings. You can see some of the beautiful artwork created by the little Panthers and Leopards below.

Some Panthers started drawing right away while others watched closely what I had to show 
Me dressed as a Panther with a rather neutral expression (compared to the flipchart faces)
Character sketching while playing with different designs (love that cat!)
These pretty girls look like sisters but have very different personalities
Two cool-looking men and a light bulb that can time travel
The evil robots by twin boys are ready to jump off the page and attack!

Super impressive character passports by the little Leopards in Loretta's workshop

Just look at those vibrant marks, colours and pattern!
I've seen many striped cats but this one is truly special
Some lovely children's books by the talented CWISL authors


Friday, 22 April 2016

Bologna Illustrators Exhibition 2016

Bologna Illustrators Exhibition this year was rich in art techniques, narratives and cultures. While the majority of selected work was from Europe and East Asia, there were several illustrators from Middle East and South America, including the Fundación SM International Award winner, Juan Palomino from Mexico.

I tried to select photos with more than one illustration from the same artist to show the stories that were taking place between the pieces and also within the intricate details in each of them. This is true for both fiction and non-fiction illustrations, which were equally fascinating and full of narrative. If you would like to see more photos, please see the links at the end of this post. Thanks!



Tahereh Zahmatkesh (Iran, fiction)
Philip Giordano (Italy, fiction)
Juan Palomino (Mexico, fiction) - the winner
Sol Undurraga (Chile, non-fiction)
Iratxe López de Munáin (Spain, fiction)
Iratxe López de Munáin (Spain, fiction)
Ling Hsing Huang (Taiwan, fiction)
Oskar Laurin (Sweden, fiction)
Veronica Ruffato (Italy, fiction)
Veronica Ruffato (Italy, fiction)
Raquel Fernández (Spain, fiction)
Joohee Yoon (USA, fiction)
Paul Toussaint (France, fiction)
Hongcheng Yu (China, non-fiction)
Luca Di Battista (Italy, fiction)
Annalisa Bollini (Italy, fiction)
Junko Ogoshi (Japan, fiction)
Miyama Maya (Japan, fiction)
Cynthia Alonso (Argentina, fiction)
Adriana Isabel Juárez Puglisi (Spain, fiction)
Tomo Miura (Japan, fiction)
Page Tsou (Taiwan, non-fiction)
Page Tsou (Taiwan, non-fiction)


My sister Margarita visited the fair together with me and took many more photos of the Illustrators Exhibition for her blog. They can be found in this post.

I am also a member of Big Little Tales group blog and shared my thoughts about Bologna Children's Book Fair 2016 in this short review