On Saturday 21st March I attended this inspiring Illustrator Masterclass, which had the aim of encouraging its audience to explore illustrating opportunities beyond the UK’s market.
The event was given by our very own SCBWI Advisor, Illustrator/Author, Bridget Marzo and her Art Director, Marianne Vilcoq from the French Publishers, Bayard Presse, with whom Bridget is often published.
There were two parts to the occasion. In the first section Bridget and Marianne gave some great advice and top tips about where to look for international publishing opportunities. After the break, during the second part of the day, we were then invited to show Marianne some samples of our work and she gave invaluable feedback to each of us in turn.
Bridget started with the stellar advice that broadening our horizons to look for work abroad would enable us to gain different ways to break in, with various opportunities to generate income. She suggested going to all types of international children’s book venues, such as the Bologna Book Fair and the Paris International Children’s Book Fair in Montreuil, as well as SCBWI’s own conferences in LA and New York.
Bayard’s stand is one of Bridget’s favourites at Bologna, which led to Marianne speaking about her company. I was intrigued to learn that Bayard is the biggest publisher of children’s books in France and that they publish an extensive range of both magazines and books for between 1-20 yrs old.
Marianne explained that her process of selecting illustrators often includes discovering them via the aforementioned book fairs, but she also uses Pinterest a great deal. Marianne described how she pays for commissioned work for magazines, and that this often leads to the stories getting re-commissioned again to be used either in book form, or in another of the International magazines they produce for the UK, the US and other countries. It was fascinating to learn that in these cases, the foreign editions aren’t a straight translation, so the illustrator and writer may often have to alter their work to fit the new format. Lots of different magazine publishing labels were mentioned:
• Bayard Jeunesse Publishing – This comprises of Bayard Presse, for the magazines, Bayard Editions for the books & Bayard Applications for the apps
• Milan Publishing – Again Milan publishes magazines and books and they are based in Toulouse
• Bayard Canada Books
• Owlkids Books
• High Five Magazine – Published in the USA
I found Bridget’s encouragement for us to use ♯tags and Google+ as platforms to self-publicise a great boost, she also mentioned looking to awards and grants as a way of getting further opportunities and support, such as: Art spot; the SCBWI Tomie de Paola award and the Don Freeman Grant. Marianne finished off the first half when she spoke of how important it was for her audience to see the work of different international illustrators as a way of learning from visual diversity, and she was very open to illustrators from many different countries approaching her. Her desire is to be able to see the life in characters; she loves to look at sketchbooks and character studies.
After the break, Marianne gave us an up close insight into her response to artwork by taking the time to talk about ours. This was slightly scary but incredibly useful and Marianne gave feedback that was both positive and constructive.
All in all this was a very inspirational and productive talk and I came away feeling very motivated and ready to put my new found knowledge to good use, as I’m sure did everyone else who attended.
Photographs by Anne-Marie Perks
Shana Nieberg-Suschitzky (aka Shanarama) creates stories and illustrations for both picture books and older children’s fiction. In 2012 she was a prizewinner in the Undiscovered Voices Competition for illustration. http://shanarama.co.uk