Thursday, 20 May 2010

Illustrators, Illustrators and Illustrators

Last night librarians, booksellers and reviewers from every corner of the UK joined a panel of illustrators from around the world at Andersen Press to celebrate new talent in picture book illustration.

A panel, chaired by Michael Foreman and made up of John Fardell, Sarah Garson, Jo Hodgkinson and Mei Matusoka discussed the influences on their work prompting some thought provoking insights, lots of laughter, fascinating insights and some interesting questions from the floor!

The relative newcomers who made up the panel were probed by Michael about their influences, their background and their techniques among other things.

Jo recalled hiding behind her grandfather's sofa and staring at plates in old books Sarah fondly remembered her grandmother allowing her to play with precious watercolour paints, Mei recalled growing up in Japan with Manga and John recalled how sincerely he loved wet play times because it meant sitting inside and drawing.

Whilst not all of the panel had been given lessons in drawing they were all influenced by the work of some great artists and driven by a desire to be visual. It has not been an easy journey - John began by drawing signs for pubs, but it is one they are each pleased to have been on, one that has presented challenges but that at the same time has given them opportunities.

Their styles are very different but their aims are the same, to make sure that the story they want to tell can be found in the pictures and that they are able to draw children in. They all love to doodle and were quite content to sit discussing techniques as well as the best type of paper to use, whether illustration should be pen and ink or watercolour and more. A discussion of the size in which each author works was fantastic as we learnt that Mei starts off with thumbnails whilst John perfers to see the work as it will appear in the book.

The audience were enthralled and fascinated, a chance to chat to the illustrators and take home signed copies of their books was also a chance to have a good look at their excellent work.

An enjoyable, insightful and interesting evening was had by all. Thanks to Andersen Press and their illustrators and look out for reviews of the books to follow soon...

The books under discussion were Mei Matusoka's The Great Dog Bottom Swap, Jo Hodgkinson's The Talent Show, Sarah Garson's One, Two Cockatoo and John Fardell's Jeremiah Jellyfish Flies High!
More information on the evening, these authors and Andersen press can be found at


  1. Hi Louise,
    Enjoying my first quick read of your magazine and blog which I was put on to through your 'shameless self-promotion' on sln. I'd we very interested in contributing reviews to the magazine. Do you have an email address I could contact you at?
    Annalise Taylor

  2. What a wonderful event! I wish I could have met some of them. I'm just starting out as an illustrator and would have loved to have asked them questions.