Jun 1, 2016

Cook Me A Story

A few months ago I had the pleasure to work on this little great book called Cook Me A Story: a treasury of stories and recipes inspired by your favourite fairy tales, written by Bryan Kozlowski and published by Walter Foster Publishing.

As the title suggests, the book is "a treasury book where the most beloved fairy tales are retold with deliciously clever recipes for families to create and enjoy together."

I REALLY enjoyed making the illustrations for this book. 
Fairy tales and is the best combination ever!

Here some images for the internal pages. But the book has MANY more...
I will post some real life book pictures as soon as I get my copies. 
Stay tuned! 

May 17, 2016

It's out!

It's out!!!
As promised a while ago, Eve and Elly is finally available in bookstores in Australia. 
Woooooo! Very exciting!!

However, if you're not lucky enough to live amongst kangaroos, then you can always buy the book by clicking on this link.

To celebrate this special occasion, here some "behind the scenes" treats for you, picture books lovers. 

These are some of the preliminary sketches I've done for the main characters... a very early version of Eve and Elly, some of them quite different from the final one!
I always find sketches a lot more interesting than the polished, finished version. 

Some covers ideas 

Also, here a sneak peek of the storyboard as well! I love to see how rough however how similar the final spreads look to the finals!

Apr 14, 2016

Eve and Elly

Teasing Thursday! 

In a month time, Eve and Elly will be in Australian bookstores. 
A sweet story about the friendship between a girl and her stuffed animal. 
Written by Mike Dumbleton, published by Random House and illustrated by me.

Can't wait!! :)

Feb 22, 2016

My first school visit

Last October I went to Dubai for a family visit and I was invited to my sister's school to give a presentation about my work and creative process as an illustrator. 

This was my first school visit ever! I must admit I was super nervous at first, but in the end it turned out to be such a lovely experience. The kids were extremely nice and so keen to learn! 

Before going there, I prepared a speech and lots of materials to show to the class. 

I made sure the speech would be quite interactive, with constant questions to the kids (by the way, some kids are capable to give hilarious answers! :D ) and things to show them, like sketches, thumbnails, original drawings and some of the books I made. 

Mostly, I tried to give them an insight of my work process and all the different steps in order to make a children's books. 

At the end, with the help of a white board and coloured markers, I made the kids draw Lucy the raccoon, a character from one of my books. 

I hope they enjoyed it! I definitely did :) 

Here's some photos and a video where I talk about Lucy's character design 

My little sister drawing :)

Feb 4, 2016

Echidna Jim Desktop Wallpaper

It's still Echidna Jim publication week, so in order to celebrate I've decided to create a Echidna Jim desktop wallpaper to share with the world! 

Now you will be able to have little Echidna Jim cheering you up during your working day :) 

To download your copy of the desktop, please right click on the version you’d like and select "Save As". Easy peasy! 

2560 x 1440
1920 x 1080
1600 x 1000

Also, if you are interested in the making of Echidna Jim, please stay tuned. Soon a blog post about the behind the scenes... ;) 

Feb 1, 2016

New book! Echidna Jim went for a swim

Earlier last year I had the great pleasure of working for the second time with Scholastic Australia. Awww, what an amazing publisher! The books they make are just superb. 

This time I worked on a very fun title called Echidna Jim Went For A Swim, written by Phil Cummings

The story is about a prickly Echidna and his friends on their way to the seaside. 
I've found a nice review on the Australian website Reading Time that explains very well the essence of the story: 

"This is a story about cooperation, problem solving and accommodating those who are different to us. Echidna Jim is spikey – physically and in his lack of social awareness. By the expression on his charmingly characterised face the reader guesses that he doesn’t know how to act and feels out of place. When he pushes through a crowd he hurts his pals and when he jumps into the sea he accidentally bursts their buoyancy aids."

Here some a few preview spreads from the book. 

The book is coming out in Australian bookshops today, 1st February 2016!
But if you don't live anywhere near there, you can always get it online herehere or here
Get a copy and let me know how you like it :)

Jan 29, 2016

Happy New Year!

Almost a month late, I know... but I thought better late than never :)

I made this image as a promo card to send to clients for the new year. 
I've printed it on a A5 400 g/m silk finish paper. Beauty! 

For printing postcards, I like to use these guys now. Not the cheapest, but I find the quality of their stuff to be incredibly good. I definitely recommend them if you live in UK. 

Anyway, hopefully clients liked it :) 

Apr 7, 2015

After Bologna Children's Book Fair 2015

As announced previously, I've been to Bologna Children's Book Fair this year. 
It was my second time there and I'm glad to say the whole experience was much better than expected, even better than last year. 
Maybe it helped that the weather was absolutely lovely ;)

This year I spent only two days at the fair but I feel like I was able to make the most out of them. 
It helped the fact the fair wasn't as busy as last year, and because of this everybody was a bit more relaxed and with a bit more time on their hand to spend to review illustrator portfolios. 
Claire and I right before going in. Excited faces!

Also, this year I was able to focus my energies a bit better. Instead of running around like a crazy person, I decided to focus only on the publishers I knew I had a good match with. 
This saved me a lot of time and lot of rejections. 

I think one of the reasons why this year went much more smoothly, it's because I was able to follow some of the tips I wrote down last year (here the blog posts from last year, if you fancy reading them).
So now I feel like I can give even more tips!
Here some useful things I learnt/I did this time around:

-Going with someone makes everything easier! 
I was very lucky to be able to share this year experience with Claire Shorrock
She is one of my studio mates and other than being very lovely, she also has a similar style to mine. Both very useful things when choosing a fair buddy! 
I noticed how much easier and less stressful was to approach the publishers when you're with someone else. 
So I would definitely recommend hitting the fair with a fair buddy, both for moral and physical support (someone that holds your bag while you're in the toilet will make your life much easier). 

Claire putting her poster on the wall

-Bring as much promotional material as you can
On the first day, I failed on this... I almost run out of all my promo material in just a couple of hours. I can't tell how frustrated I was with myself, I should have brought more!! In the end, I was able to manage but for the rest of the day I had to bit quite selective. So be generous and bring as much promotional material as your shoulders can bare! 
My cards on the wall

-Bring your own lunch or buy lunch first thing in the morning
You don't want to waste 45 minutes of your time queuing for a sandwich. Especially at lunch times, snack bars are always incredibly busy so my recommendation is to bring your own food. Another option would be to hit the bars way before 12pm and buy the food you're going to eat later in the day. 

Lunch break!

-Get organised: pockets, rucksack and comfortable shoes are a given
Everybody is different in the way they like to get organised to spend the days at the fair.
I had a small A4 portfolio which was easy to keep in my hands all the time.
Also, I was using a small tote bag where I was keeping my promo material, water and my notebook. This way I didn't have to open my rucksack all the time. 

-Bring any published sample you might have
Showing my portfolio with my best work was great but I think publishers get more excited when they can see an actual published book. 
I brought along four of my published books... Very heavy to carry around all day on my back but I think it was worth it!
Making friends while queueing for a meeting

-Be ready to talk comfortably and confidently about your own work. 
It's always a bit awkward and nerve-wracking when a publisher is browsing your portfolio during a meeting. I figured I would look way more professional and confident if, instead of just standing there without saying a word, I could talk a bit about me and about what they were looking at. 
I would suggest to give a couple of info about where you live, what you've worked on in the past and how you create the work. 
That should give an interesting insight that complements what is in your portfolio. 

Pizza with some lovely Italian illustrator friends

-Always ask for the art director/publisher contact details. 
This is absolutely ESSENTIAL and, in my opinion, even more important than leaving your promo material to the publishers. This way, you will be able to follow up with an email to remember them about your meeting. 

-Find accommodation in the centre of town
Unfortunately the fair is a bit far out the city centre, so if you get accommodation close to it, it might get a bit tricky in case you want to explore the city in the evenings of go out for dinner with other illustrators. 
Usually everybody meet in the centre, so my suggestion is to get accommodation somewhere near there and get the bus to the fair in the morning (bus 35 from the train station goes directly there). 
In particular, I would suggest to get accommodation somewhere close to "via indipendenza", a pretty big shopping street that connects the train station to the main square.

-Submit your work to the illustration exhibition and get in for free!
If you do this, they will send you a free pass to the fair. Highly recommended! 
Keep an eye on the BCBF website or, even better, subscribe to their newsletter. Deadline for this is usually around October. 

Me and Anna Clothier, author of Humphrey Bookworm (coming out later this year)

-Try to meet with people you have already worked with
Before the fair, I contacted some of the people I worked with in previous projects and ask them if they were going to attend the event (as they say... even better than finding new clients, it's to be able to keep the ones you already have). 
I think it makes such a big difference to shake hands and finally meet someone in person, instead of being just a name in an email address. I feel this is an essential step in creating a solid business relationship with someone, even if you've already been working with them for a while. 
Especially, it's good to prove them I'm not a crazy artist, but a reliable person they can keep trusting ;) 

Me and Kristine (publisher at Magination Press) holding Lucy In The City, book coming out later this year

Overall, I feel very satisfy with the whole experience. The only thing I wish I did, it's to bring a dummy book with my own story in it. My friend Claire did and it was great to see how many incredibly useful tips the publishers were giving her about her story. 
This is something I will definitely try to do next year!

Mar 9, 2015

Getting ready for Bologna Book Fair 2015

It's that time of the year again, when illustrators from all over the world are getting excited about the upcoming Bologna Children's Book Fair

This year is going to be the second time I'm attending the event.  
Hopefully it's gonna be a bit easier than last year, since this time I should know what to expect.

For example, this year I didn't bother at all to book appointments with the publishers before the fair
Last year I sent at least 50 emails trying to book appointments. Out of those, I managed to schedule only 3, and 2 of them completely forgot about the meeting. 
You can imagine how frustrated I was with that. 

Unfortunately, this time I'll be able to attend only for a couple of days. 
It might be a bit risky, since last year I didn't get much done on the first day due to the fact every single publisher was too busy to pay attention to me. But hopefully I'm going to have enough time anyway to meet them and give away my samples. Basically, I will have to be fearless and incredibly determined. Fingers crossed! 

Here below are some photos of the promotional material I'm going to bring along with me this year. 
I have to say last year I did a good job planning my promo material, so this year I'll basically stick to the same plan. 

Same as last time, I've got a neat portfolio printed with Blurb
I like Blurb products because they're extremely customisable and always beautiful.

My portfolio this year is 25 x 20 cm, 24 pages, with a hardcover ImageWrap (last year I went for the dust jacket and I didn't like the easy tendency for the paper jacket to tear in my bag) and ProLine Pearl Photo Glossy (a bit more fancy looking than the uncoated one I had last year, but still with a lovely matte finish).
As always, I'm very happy with Blurb products.

Also, I've printed about 35 mini portfolio that I will leave behind to as many publishers and editors I can. 
I'm convinced that leaving behind a small portfolio packed with all your best work is much better that just leave a single card. 

Same as last year, I printed these with Pixartprinting. I must say, even if I tried to follow instructions for image preparation accurately, the colour reproduction is not the best, but in the whole I reckon it's a fairly good product for the price you pay. Hopefully publishers will be too smitten from my illustrations to pay attention to colours ;)

Lastly, I also made a little cardboard box that I'm planning to fill in with postcards and attach to the Illustrator Wall. 
I didn't get much at all for my Illustrator Wall last year and I'm quite positive I won't get much from it this year either... 
But since it's such an institution and awesome idea, well, why not...!

For more tips on how to prepare for the fair, my follow up impressions please have a look at my last year posts. 

PS= Sorry for the bad quality photos, but my camera is broken and my phone's camera is not very good, so working on that...

Feb 13, 2015

Coming soon!

I've been quite busy working on different projects in the last few months. 
A couple of those are two books coming out later this year. 

I can't really show much at this point but I can definitely show the covers.

The first project is a lovely story called Lucy in the city, written by Julie Dillemuth and soon to be published by Magination Press in May 2015.

I'm really excited about Lucy, she's a very cute raccoon who gets lost in the city and needs to find her way back home.

It's a story that aims to teach spatial thinking to kids, so expect maps, streets and building, directions and some peanut butter too ;)

The second book is called The Big Sad Wolf & The Mean Little Pigs as told by Humphrey Bookwork (yes, quite a long title!). 

The story is a very humorous take on The Three Little Pigs, told by the wolf's perspective. Also, this time the little pigs are going to take a little bit of revenge on the poor wolf! 

The story's narrator is Humphrey, a cute little bookworm that likes to eat books and tell stories to his best friend Max. 

Written by Anna Clothier, the book will be published later this year by North Parade Publishing. So stay tuned for that!

Jan 2, 2015

If An Elephant...

Happy New Year!! 

This is my first post of 2015 and in my resolutions list there's definitely something about posting on this blog more often. 

To start off the year in style, I want to share this great news: I'm currently working on the follow up book of Armadillo (do you remember it? Here's the link to it) called If An Elephant Went To School

I'm very excited and flattered to be able to work again with Scarletta Press and Ellen Fisher. 

Can't wait to see this other little gem coming to light!! Stay tuned... :D