I was very fortunate to go to Bologna Children’s Book festival this year, in Bologna Italy. Although a little expensive it proved to be a worthwhile visit as we got to see what sort of illustrations are really making it big in the industry at the moment and what the current styles and techniques are like. I found it to be quite reassuring to see that there were many examples of similar techniques as mine, and also a wide range in the standard of work as well.

Since 1963 Bologna Children’s Book Fair opens each year to reveal the trends in the children’s multimedia and publishing industry. At this point it is considered the most important international event of it’s kind and it gathers more than 1000 exhibitors and a diverse program of events for the attendees – exhibitions, presentations, debates, seminars and meetings. The fair it’s closed to the public at large but opened for four days to publishers, writers, illustrators and designers, organizations, literary and art agents, distributors and journalists that report on the latest news in this field.

One country is selected each year as a Guest of Honor to exhibit it’s best books and illustrations and  this year was Lithuania’s turn to do it with a simply amazing display containing the illustrations and the published books containing them. Everything was enclosed in a large, thick and white wall with little doors that opened in a German Advent calendar style revealing a varied collection of amazing illustrations selected from 32 of the most famous Lithuanian illustrators of all time.
The Lithuanians  were the guest illustrators of Bologna this year and their work was truly amazing:-

Lithuanian illustration

the pictures were displayed as if they were in a huge advent calendar!

It was amazing to be able to see the original works so close up

Shaun Tan was awarded the ‘Astrid Lindgren’ prize, being awarded three quarter of a million pounds, on top of an oscar he has also been awarded. He is an author as well as an illustrator and a lot of his work is based on his experience of growing up in Australia as a mixed race child and feeling like he didn’t fit in. He says that the key to being successful is to focus on what really makes you you and to build on it – i think that is excellent advice as we so often go with the flow or are swayed by another’s opinion, and sometimes it takes a great deal of strength to be true to remain true to yourself!!

Here he is in interview:-

The amazing thing in him winning the prize was the people he was up against, illustrators such as my hero Quentin Blake and Eric Carle, and many more! The Bologna Ragazzi award was won by  French ‘Editions Milan’ for their book ‘Esope’s fables’ won the fiction category and the Koreans’House of the Mind’ won the non fiction category.

I also liked the work of the Romanian illustator Livia Coloji, whose use of colour and imagery was bold, simple, but really effective

Livia Coloji

i was  also very impressed with the Korean woodcuts for their amazing technique, and also work they were doing in developing textural books for the blind.All in all the whole exhibition was amazing, with way too much to blog about – i have all the information and contacts etc in my pdp file to refer to and dont really see the need to reproduce the file on here, but one of the things i saw that was amazing was walls and walls where illustrators had placed cards and leaflets exhibiting their work, and i have found out that if i ever go again, or know anyone that is, i shall definitely put some of my work and cards up as i have found out that publishers spend a long time scanning these walls for inspiration!! so why not hey??

The WALL!!!!!!

All in all it was a very worthwhile trip, and i returned exhausted but totally inspired, with lots of ideas, and loads of motivation, so it had to be worth it then didn’t it?