I think apologies are in order for a spectacular ‘FAIL!’ to publish a post last week, even though we were indisputably back from t’ north – and my little sister’s wonderful, wintry wedding – in ample (abundant, even) time. However, in the interests of sparing you any further tedious grovelling, I have been busy adding the final dabs of watercolour paint (albeit overlooked by an unnervingly inquisitive roofer, through my studio window…) to these chaps, and chap-esses, by way of a diversion:
Somewhat irritatingly, these are (in my view) rather better than the selection coaxed into ‘submission’ shape and dispatched to Bologna last November – an inkling borne out, at least to some degree, by my non-selection for the Illustrators Exhibition (as announced last week via a decidedly unceremonious [and grammatically confusing…] ‘official electronic communication’ from the Fair). The glowering cloud of despond that promptly descended upon digesting this revelation was almost as swiftly dismissed with the possibly-sunnier-than-warranted, but nonetheless happy, thought that out of a roiling sea of nearly 3,000 international entries, a mere 72 (or was it 76…) illustrators had been plucked by the adjudicating panel (of experts, naturellement) for display at the four-day event. Pretty steep odds against, so I’m letting myself off the hook, if you’ll allow me to wring a few more droplets out of the metaphor, and considering instead how I might transfix the publishing world with a portfolio of such dazzling charm, appeal and technical brilliance that I shall be wading through drifts of contracts like so many autumn leaves (it’s important to dream…).
To this end, my wondrous spouse has beneficently kitted me out with a couple of shiny new portfolios (of portable proportions for one as diminutive – and with such weedy arms – as myself), and the promise of a suitable satchel-type affair in which to carry said portfolios, together with miscellaneous drawing materials, schedule, business cards, map(s), Italian phrasebook, and lunch – possibly also a v. discreet hip-flask, depending on how the first day goes… I have also been furnished (or should that be upholstered…?) with a suit, in which I will doubtless feel excruciatingly awkward and stuffy, but which I very much hope will convey a (convincing – crucial, this) sense of professionalism, if not the sartorial elegance and panache I occasionally fantasise about. In preparing for the Fair, though, I have stumbled across – nay, stubbed my toe against – a few infuriating obstacles: although I can now access the Bologna website as an attendee (my FREE illustrator’s pass was attached to the supercilious official electronic communication – hurrah! It wasn’t all an elaborate ruse!), I have so far made nil progress in securing an appointment with a benevolent, or indeed any, publisher/agent. It seems I must whittle my search down to a named individual in each case, necessitating rather more hours of publisher/illustrators’ agent website-foraging than I had reckoned with. (And no strategically-drifting volcanic ash cloud for assistance, as delivered me from the appointment-making ordeal at last year’s London Book Fair – it was while reps drummed idly on their meeting desks, whiling away the hours between one cancelled international visitor and the next, that I shamelessly opportunistically seized my opportunity and pounced, portfolio at the end of one increasingly tired arm, book samples on t’ other.) An equally pressing concern, though, is the dearth of black and white material I have to display: the very lovely Italian illustrator I met at London last year was extolling the virtues of a two-pronged portfolio attack, comprising one exclusively b&w folder and at least one colour one. This all seemed v. sensible and advisable, obvious, even – a publisher (of a certain type – not always obvious which at the initial stages, unforutnately…), as I’ve been told on numerous occasions, delights to see versatility and a degree of range in a prospective illustrator partner – and I resolved that very day to similarly divide my own material for future presentations. Quite why I left it until this, slightly panic-sharpened juncture to effect such a sensible plan is, frankly, baffling, but it has encouraged me to draft out a few pencil-only scenes and to practise my least-favourite component of illustration: backgrounds:
Needs a bit of finessing (some of the shading’s a bit ropey, and the table – among other things – could do with some enhanced definition), but a reasonable start, I think. Just a shame I hadn’t identified this cavernous hole in my Bologna portfolio a little sooner…
And on that note, back to el drawing board!