Fair frenzy…

Betwixt gathering my scattered wits and associated bits of paper (several of them quite important, nay, indispensible: flight e-ticket, passport [OK, several bits of snazzily-filigreed and micro-chip-enriched paper sandwiched between faux-leather binding], Book Fair e-ticket…), I thought I ought to dash off a little something by way of explanation for my recent, acute, blogging-deficit.

There was the small and, intermittently distressing, matter of the lurch into my thirties on 19 March – which entailed, amongst myriad other indulgent diversions and treats, an away trip to the sunny, coastal town/city (I didn’t spot a cathedral and, I’ll readily admit, failed to adequately scrutinize the tourism literature for affirmation either way) of Southampton – followed by an assortment of frenzied portfolio-bolstering activities and predictably last-minute travel-associated arrangements (who’d have thought one might need appropriate currency to exchange for food/travel/other sundry items in ‘abroad’…?). The last couple of days have, though, been almost exclusively devoted to the shearing of vast swathes of surplus paper and card from around printed reifications of my original pieces. Not, in and of itself, a particularly arduous or mentally rigorous challenge, you might contend, but with a combination of image tweaking (Photoshop prettifying of some of those troublesome splodges and graphite smears that seem to appear, as if by magic [or some other infinitely more malign force], in only the whitest regions of my drawings…), shrinking/enlargement, and the parameters of first an A5 and then an A4 – for slightly different purposes, although there is some duplication/cross-over – to bludgeon the assembled pieces into, I found myself with the merest fraction of the spare time I had projected would be available to me for other preparatory pursuits (long bath, printing up of assorted peripheral self-promoting items, idle wine-quaffing, etc.). I did, however, end up with a veritable slag-heap of ready-made greetings card caption blanks – a most satisfying byproduct of the whole tedious process:

Although a time-consuming and frequently frustrating endeavour, preparation for display (in the A4 portfolio most especially) being chiefly an exercise in both the aesthetics of ‘balance’ and the primary-school art of effective shape-tesselation, I am moderately pleased with the end result – and delighted with my luxurious, new (birthday present!) Pampa presentation books, which lend at least an appearance of sophistication and professionalism, however superficial that may actually prove… Looking the part, though, is half-way towards convincing yourself, quite apart from anyone else, that you are – in the now lamentably-immortal words of the L’Oreal ad machine – ‘worth it’. To that end, I have also equipped myself (OK, been equipped) with an uncharacteristically smart new suit, official-but-approachable-looking satchel (of proportions ample enough to accommodate multiple portfolios, drawing paraphernalia and all the usual requisite handbag detritus), wheelie suitcase and new complement of business cards – which, mercifully, arrived well in advance of the projected Tuesday 29 March deadline, when they would have been precisely no use to me. Happily, my delightfully helpful Italian contact, Monica, emailed earlier in the week to advise that there is an opportunity for illustrators to display business cards and promotional material at the entrance to the Fair – presumably this is to augment one’s own self-promoting efforts, as opposed to offering a cop-out in absentia option, given the magnitude of the Fair and near impossibility of managing to pass on details to everyone you would wish to in person. The ‘wailing wall’, as it has apparently been christened, is papered with contact sheets and business cards, representing a great (and, hopefully, effective) means of increasing one’s ‘exposure’ at one of the points of highest visitor and exhibitor traffic. To this end, I spent almost a day fashioning an emphatically low-tech business card dispenser – and triumphantly brandished the paper box-net before my tech-teacher husband in an entirely unnecessary display of my ‘working’: I’m quite pleased with the result, although I foolishly neglected to consider how I would transport the thing in its made-up state (should’ve flat-packed it for transit-in-suitcase purposes), so have resorted to packing the box aperture with business cards in an attempt to retain its box-shape during the journey:

And (one of) the new business cards, with blog site addition (better than scrawling it on in biro, I thought…)

A point of mild irritation, but undoubtedly my own fault (if I’m being sporting and choosing not to blame moo.com for having so altered its uploader business card system that it’s pretty well impossible to gauge letter-spacing when adding type to the reverse…), but the email address isn’t correctly aligned with the following web and blog sites – I only had 50 printed this time, however, so although the absolutely least economical option available, easily rectifiable and larger-scale disaster (whereby I am forced to squirmingly hand out up to 200 less-than-perfect business cards when asked for my contact details) averted.

I’m sure I’ll be unable to resist some last minute shuffling and reshuffling of my portfolios once I land – hopefully sans miscellaneous dramatic event(s) – at the appointed Bologna B&B and find I have a whole afternoon, evening and night yawning ahead of me entirely on my lonesome to fritter away, but I thought I’d include evidence of my Fair kit as is, i.e. in pristine condition and prior to any battle-scarring it may sustain en route or during the fray:

So, skating over the gnawing terror of my uncertain progress from Charles De Gaulle airport, Paris to B&B ayHOME, Via Savenella, Bologna, and thence to the Fair itself (by means of transportation and route as yet undetermined…), I am really rather excited about my impending leap into the creative maelstrom of Bologna Book Fair 2011. Although there are thousands of exhibitors, I’m anticipating that the Illustrators Cafe, with its rich, selection box (the non-coffee creme-, non-tooth-shattering toffee-, minimal fruit-creme-endowed variety, for the purposes of this analogy) schedule of events, interviews and seminars, will provide as many (if not more) hours of loitering accommodation as the B&B. The programme of events is quite literally bristling with exciting appointments, and boasts an impressive roll call of prize-winning illustrators ‘in conversation’ – of which I’ll be most interested to encounter the Bologna Ragazzi Award winners in the flesh (this being regarded as, arguably, the most prestigious illustration prize). Scanning over the schedule for the penultimate day (Wednesday), I suspect I may fill my capacious satchel with sustaining snacks and rock up at the crack of dawn (or thereabouts), prepared to spend every waking minute thereafter in rapt admiration of the formidable talent assembled – Wednesday afternoon also sees the prize giving ceremony for this year’s Illustrators Exhibition (for which I was, notably, not selected… *whimper*), so a great opportunity to glimpse the future direction of illustrative trends in the international field.

I have mentioned my Italian illustrator friend, Monica, in passing (above), and possibly also in previous posts, but as she has been so wonderfully generous and helpful in finding v. reasonably-priced accommodation (navigating me away from the acquisitive clamour of every other overnight establishment in the city) for me during the Fair and offering to hold my proverbial hand (as translator) through potential interviews with Italian editors – not to mention being generally very welcoming and reassuring – I ought to do her the service of a more formal introduction: please check out her website at www.lupulinfabula.com . Miraculously, I also picked up a post on the illustrators’ blog region of the SCBWI community, which asked whether anyone was attending Bologna this year (2011 being an alternate, non-attending year for the more formal/organized SCBWI contingent, typically…) – to which I pinged back an excited (with possibly the merest edge of desperation) yelp of a ‘Yes!’. Consequently, I have the pleasure of meeting another London-ish based illustrator, Jane Heinrichs, in person, which I’m sure will represent a fantastic opportunity to discuss work, methodology, and what we each make of the Fair and the creative breezes wafting through it! I’m sure she wouldn’t mind my plugging her website (and blog) here, too: www.janeheinrichs.com

Well, I think it’s about time for another super-strength coffee – here’s to another three hours of not falling asleep! (And yes, I remembered to check with the taxi driver that he will also be operating on British summertime at 03:15 [or, rather, 02:15] tomorrow morning…)

Assuming my on-board GPS has re-calibrated since my near-death motorway slip-road ‘experience’ on a push bike a few weeks ago, I hope to speak to you again around this time next week! Have an awesome rest-of-weekend!

AP x


About illustratedbyamanda

Illustrator and time-fritterer extraordinaire
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