I ventured to the London Book Fair as a lone illustrator on a first visit last month. I knew it was primarily a place for global rights negotiations in the publishing world, so what use could it be for an illustrator? I was curious to find out.
The Fair took up the whole of the Earls Court Exhibition Centre (such a handy London icon), so the sheer size was overwhelming to begin with. I kept walking around in circles before I got my bearings in the children's publishing section. When I tentatively offered a business postcard to someone at a promising-looking stand, I was told they had their own in-house illustrators. At the next stand they commented there were too many illustrators going around - they didn't want my card either! So maybe not a place to promote yourself as an illustrator.
|Polish Ibby Books of the year 2013|
I also got some useful feedback on my portfolio from Advocate Art Agency and attended a fascinating seminar with Mike Jolley (Templar Books), Tom Cole (illustrator/author) and Chris Wormell (illustrator/author).
So, was the visit any use to an illustrator? I was inspired by the books and came away with a better idea of what's being published this year, where publishers were placed in the market and which publishers would be best to approach with my illustration style.
Would I go again? Earl's Court Exhibition Centre is being redeveloped (big sigh!), so 2014 was the last year for LBF at this venue. Possibly.
Anna Violet is a freelance author-illustrator based in Manchester. Check her portfolio website here, and her blog here.