Bologna Book Fair 2015

Ah... The Big Buzz:  The delight that is the Bologna Children's book fair:  The terrifying scale, the familiar faces, the happy reunions, the chance encounters, the enormous opportunity, and of course the ice cream!

It never seizes to make me feel alive and part of something wide and wonderful, a place of recharging creative batteries, reconnecting with friends and colleagues, reseting of goals.

This year I brought a new project, a silent book, to the fair. I was fortunate to get feedback from some of the best publishers in the world, who's view on any potential book is instant and comes from a deep understanding on the industry and a great love for their lists.  I know this is a digital age, but for me nothing can take the place of a face to face conversation about a project. Information is exchanged verbally and non verbally. The reactions upon page turning, the hesitations when something isn't clear, all those minor deep breaths and pauses feed into my understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in my work. I'm grateful for every opportunity.  After much feedback I believe that I have made a book conceptually well received but which needs a little more" baking". You get as many different opinions as people you show your book to.  But trends emerge nonetheless and I have a better map to get to wherever we're going together, this book and I.

One spread from my new book "umbrella"  turned it into fliers. 

The months of writing and illustrating and the 4 days of the fair couldn't be more different. The introspection and space needed to create something can give that something a very skewed look. But I'm fortunate to come from a very supportive community, where feedback is exchanged and work championed and celebrated in it's uniqueness. Our camaraderie is nurtured and shared from Cambridge School of Art(CSA), throughout the year on line and in real actual meetings. Some of us have made life long friendships in the course, and the fair offers the opportunity of spending quality time with the ones that come (Steve! Suzanne! Catalina!), while missing the ones that this year couldn't (Yes you there, I missed you!)

Even after we have graduated a long time ago, and our dummies are no longer at the stand, seeing the CSA new output of work is a source of great collective pride.   Seeing our tutors at the fair, Pam Smy and Martin Salisbury and Marta Altes, who are brilliant at connecting people together, always gives me great pleasure. As is meeting new people thorough them.  A highlight this year was meeting Dave Barrow a new graduate who will be published next year by Gecko Press and Fernando Perez Hernando who's book Conducir es fácil was shown to us on our first week at university. In the vast isles I also met author Vivian French and Nikky Gamble from Just Imagine. I'm looking forward to catching up soon!

Outside of the fair I had an awesome evening with Steve Antony, Linda Owen-Lloyd and Marcia Williams. And it was great to re connect with Sun from Some Books, whose work always opens my mind into something real and important and very different approach to bookmaking to anything else at the fair.  Meeting Peter H. Reynolds as we sat together on the plane back to London was an amazing end to another year of adventures in picture-book-making at the fair!

Here are some highlights of the exhibition.  As soon as I get hold of a copy of the catalogue I'll credit them:

Adolfo Serra

And my top favourite was this little detail:

I am delighted for Maisy Paradise Shearing form CSA who was selected as the overall winner of the illustration competition. She has done all of us so proud and I sure I'm looking forward to purchasing her book next year!

 I've returned all beans and enthusiasm for the load of work ahead. Let's see how much changes next year and what else stays the same. 

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