House of Illustration Illustrators' Fair: Notes from a Newbie

Heather Chapman gives us an inside look to the House of Illustration's inaugural Illustrators' Fair that took place Sunday 22nd June in London.

As many of you may have heard the House of Illustration have a new home and although it's not completely finished, they've wasted no time celebrating with numerous housewarming events‚ the inaugural Illustrators' Fair being one.

I was lucky enough to be allowed a stand at the fair as an emerging illustrator‚ alongside established illustrators and organisations like the Association of Illustrators and, naturally, our very own SCBWI stand with Anne-Marie Perks. You can imagine my excitement (and relief) when I discovered the SCBWI stand was just behind mine! We were the perfect SCBWI Illustrator tag team with double the postcards to hand out.

The atmosphere was buzzing from the early hours of the day. Each stand was given an arrival time of two hours before the 11am kick-off. The stands were built and ready for us upon arrival, with our backboards in place and table set out in front ready to be covered with goodies. Nestled beneath historic railway warehouses, we were sheltered from any rain but still had the sun shining through the partial glass roof. And was it shining.

Heather's fair stall - A shot of Heather's stand lucky enough to get the sun.

 There was a brilliant display of diversity amongst the stands with illustrators from every walk of genre, theme and background, children, (yay!), graphics, greeting card, fashion and character. I'm pleased to say our SCBWI presence was greeted with enthusiasm. Whilst I was putting on my best saleswoman charm to recruit, Anne-Marie Perks was running out of SCBWI BI postcards and needed to replenish from the ones on my stand more than a few times. In fact, the SCBWI stand was so busy with admirers that I couldn't even get a picture of it!

SCBWI stand image courtesy of Anne-Marie Perks

The fair ran from 11am till 6pm and was filled with not only an impressive display of over 100 illustrators but also a diverse range of workshops, talks and activities for children. More importantly, there were balloons (and balloons popping explosively on occasion)!

 Workshops on the go for children.

A reportage illustration showing the view from Heather's stand.
There was plenty of time to chat with fellow illustrators, network, make new friends and get advice on how to succeed at (aka survive) having a stand at a fair. Although my method of spreading everything across the table and using a toast rack for postcards wasn't too bad, I took notes from the experts around me:

1)    You gotta make it look good: mounts and frames help your prints stand out, and lovely little cotton bags with your characters on them are always a favourite.
2)    Make sure it's easy for people to look through your work: a print display rack is perfect for allowing anyone to flip through prints easily. A basket stuffed with greeting cards is not so easy to flip through.

Another reportage illustration show how not to pack greeting cards into a basket!

3)    Be ready to sell: as unnatural as it sounds for many of us modest members, try to encourage people to keep looking and never let them leave without a business card (or a positive experience of you!)
4)    Love your neighbour, they will watch your stall when you need the loo
5)    Have fun.

Don't forget to read Anne-Marie's brilliant write up of the day from the SCBWI stall on her blog at!

Happy illustrating.

Heather Chapman is an emerging illustrator and SCBWI member.
See her work at
Twitter: @HAC_illustrated


  1. That sounds great, Heather and lots of fun. I love playing shops too! I also love your reportage illustrations and the photo of your stall is fabulous.

  2. Thanks Jan! It was an amazing day. I was so excited at my first sale that I offered the buyer a chocolate... needless to say I need to work on my skills!

  3. Just catching up - great post thnks and can vouch for everything you say having been lucky enough to be there too - lovely sketches too!

  4. Thanks Bridget! It was a great day wasn't it?! Shame I didn't get to meet you but maybe at the next one :)


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