An Illustrator's view of the London Book Fair

This week, Anna Violet takes an illustrator's eye view of the 2014 London Book Fair

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.
Bonnier/Templar stand
I was impressed by the amazing range of new books on the stands, many of them in unpublished dummy book form. There were stands from Childs Play, Egmont, Top That, Walker Books, Bonnier (Templar & Orion), Usborne, Little Tiger Press, Andersen Press, Scholastic Books, Nosy Crow, Flying Books, Gecko Press, Tango Books, Ginger Books and many others. The Polish stand had some gorgeous-looking award-winning children's books (Ibby 2013). Later, I found many publishers were happy to give me a catalogue in return for my business card.

Polish Ibby Books of the year 2013

Usborne stand

Walker stand

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).

Tom Cole
Chris Wormell

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.


  1. Thank you Anna!
    I'm with you on the handing out of cards - I went last year to give out our W&P postcards - some people are certainly more welcoming than others.
    Great photos and I do like your vision of the sadly soon to be redeveloped Earls Court.

    1. Yes, I guess there's an element of luck, too, depending on who's on the stand at the time. One illustrator i spoke to got feedback on her portfolio at a couple of stands, too.

  2. A very brave thing to do, and an interesting article. But if you hadn't gone you wouldn't have found out the information.

  3. The seminars were the best bit. Well done for handing out Buisness Cards - it's intimidating.

    1. Yes, there was a good range of seminars on the programme.

  4. The one and only time I went to the LBF it was half empty because of the Icelandic volcano grounding all flights, so it was hardly an accurate impression. This is an inspiring write-up Anna, I must go again!

    1. What bad luck, John! My visit also tied in with the wonderful scbwi evening gathering at the scbwi illustrators showcase exhibition at Timberyard, Covent Garden.


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