Last week my friend and fellow illustrator Sarah Edmonds and I traveled to Bologna, Italy to visit the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. It’s the place where once a year all the publishers of children’s books gather to sell and buy rights. But basically everybody involved in children’s books (and apps) is there: authors, illustrators, librarians, printers, distributors and agents. There are also talks – I went to a few on apps that were very interesting – and there are drinks and parties for networking.
I’ve never really done any illustrations for kids, but I’d love to get more work in that area. So as a complete newbie to the world of children’s book publishing, going to Bologna was a great opportunity to see what is out there, who publishes what (who’d possibly would suit my style), find out who to contact in the art department, have publishers have a look at your portfolio and have my promotional material seen by as many people in the industry as possible. Plus you get to visit Bologna, with its beautiful squares, sunny weather and amazing food! Win win.
The fair was massive. Vast halls were filled with stands by publishers from all over the world. There was also an exhibition with work from selected illustrators. I was pleasantly surprised by the wackiness of a lot of the work. Especially the Korean illustrators blew my mind!
^ a compilation of some of my crappy photographs of the illustrators exhibition. Clockwise starting top left: Maisie Shearring (UK), Adolfo Serra (Spain), Lee Ji Yeon (Korea), Myeong Ae Lee (Korea), Yoo Jun Jae (Korea), Narges Mohammedi (Iran).
The whole experience was definitely a positive one. I manage to gather lots of business cards of art directors, got great feedback on my portfolio, met other illustrators, caught up with old studio mates and had the honour and pleasure to hang out with the brilliant Welsh young people’s and children’s poet laureates Martin Daws (who wrote a lovely piece on his blog about his experience in Bologna) and Aneirin Karadog. I’ve come back a lot more confident about my work and the possibility of getting a foot in the door of the highly competitive world of children’s books.