'In Conversation' Illustrator Masterclass Event

Despite the snow and ice that had disrupted travel earlier in the week and the presence of lots of London Christmas shoppers illustrator members and non-members came to hear Ben Norland, Art Director from Walker Books, and author illustrator Viviane Schwarz talk about their working relationship at the last Illustrator Masterclass Series in 2010 on 4 December at St George's in Bloomsbury.

Viviane speaking about her book, Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure. Both Ben and Viviane spoke about how an illustrator's ability to write greatly increased their odds of being published as there are degree courses turning out illustrator's every year but very few courses that teaches how to write picture books.

Viviane speaking to illustrators at the tea break.

Everyone surrounded the table during the feedback session given by Viviane and Ben on the book dummies brought in by attendees.

An example of Viviane's world building for her latest book. She made the sketch on the left based on a 'set' created by toys and other materials in her studio.

Ben and Viviane 'performed' Vivian's latest book written by Alexis Deacon, available for sale in July 2011. Ben and Viviane spoke about how a picture book needs to be read aloud and is a performance.

More from the book by Alexis and Viviane, A Place to Call Home. When asked if Viviane starts with her characters, she said that she begins with 'place' - 'builds the house' then populates it. She often makes 3D models of her characters like a sock puppet. She even shares her puppet making as you can download from her website patterns to make knitted cats from her book, There are Cats in This Book. Ben added that in his opinion there are three important elements to every picture book: Consistency of character, sense of context and place and a sense of humour.


  1. Thanks for posting Anne-Marie as I was sorry I had to miss it. What a fantastic Masterclass, it looks like a lot was learned from this!

  2. It looks like the event went very well, well done. Many thanks to Anne-Marie for organising the event, and to Amber Hsu for taking pictures!

  3. Yes thanks Anne-Marie - belatedly. I'm just catching up with December in January. Sorry our Paris event clashed as I'd like to have been there but this is next best! Ben is always great value.


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