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21st August 2019

Neal Layton – Look! I Wrote a Book!

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We are BIG book worms at Arena HQ and what could be better than a book about a book? Written by New York Times best-selling author Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by our very own Neal Layton, ‘Look! I Wrote a Book'(and you can too!) is a handy and hilarious step-by-step guide to writing your own best-seller, written from the point of view of a child.

The feisty budding author at the heart of this book leads readers through the entire process of creating a book from planting the seed of an idea, to writing a story which isn’t utterly snooze worthy to getting people to buy the book (note to publishers tips include: be nice, give them cookies, and if all else fails, tie them to a chair!) hugely entertaining and equally informative this window into the life cycle of a book will prompt readers to think about aspects of the process they might never had thought of before.

Neal uses collage elements in his illustration which really added a touch of Monty Python magic to the spreads in this particular book, from boggling brains to swathes of colourful crayons, Neal’s whimsical characterful illustrations bring this outrageously silly story to life making it a read that is sure to have young readers–and writers!–howling with laughter from start to finish..

Here are some of our favourite spreads from the book, we hope you enjoy them as much as we have.

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Look! I Wrote a Book (and you can too!) is published by Schwartz and Wade in the US but you can buy a copy HERE 

You can view Neal’s online portfolio HERE, we also recommend his awesome Instagram and Twitter feeds.

14th August 2019

John Howe Song of Ice and Fire Calendar 2020

John Howe’s beautiful new illustrations for George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire 2020 Calendar will be revealed at the World Science Fiction Convention held in Dublin in August.

George R.R. Martin will be attending the convention himself and will be launching the stunning calendar, which was published on 1st August and is available to buy now.

Penguin Random House in New York who commissioned the artworks said…

 

“The magical creatures of A Game of Thrones and beyond come to life in a 2020 calendar inspired by George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, featuring illustrations by acclaimed artist John Howe.

Fantastic beasts are not solely the purview of Newt Scamander. Such creatures also abound in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels—one of the most successful and beloved fantasy series ever written. And who better to bring these creatures to life than acclaimed artist John Howe, who has built a huge reputation for his stunning work on Middle-earth. Here are sphinxes and krakens, sea dragons and ice spiders—a thrilling panoply of creatures both real and legendary . . . and some a bit of both. With twelve stunning full-color paintings, plus a bonus fold-out poster, this annual calendar—now in its tenth year!—is a “timely” addition to a franchise that has continued to grow with each passing year.”

Direwolves

Ice-Spiders

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George R. R. Martin Song of Ice and Fire Calendar 2020 Direwolves

Direwolves

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George R. R. Martin Song of Ice and Fire Calendar 2020 Three Eyed Crow

Three Eyed Crow

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George R. R. Martin Song of Ice and Fire Calendar 2020 Kraken

Kraken

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You can find out more about John Howe by looking at his extensive website and reading his very interesting chronicles. John exhibits his artwork throughout the world most recently in China and is most well known for his work on Peter Jackson’s two movie trilogies, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit when he worked alongside Alan Lee as the conceptual artist for all six films.

7th August 2019

AY, CARAMBA! Adventure Duck 2 is Here!

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Our favourite duck with the supersonic quack is back in Adventure Duck VS The Armadillo Army. With Ziggy his zebra sidekick, Adventure Duck returns in a tasty new mission set in Mexico with amazing illustrations by Aleksei Bitskoff. Their nemesis, Power Pug is trying to take over the world (again) by seizing control of the global chocolate market.

Luis the Llama who has super-soft wool, a flair for fashion and a talent for projectile spitting, helps the superhero amigos as they set out to foil Power Pug’s nefarious plans to dig up the rainforest and build a massive chocolate factory. But an army of armadillos, led by super-sized Armando the Commando, stands in their way… Can they  find a chink in the giant armadillo’s armour and save the rainforest from destruction?

Aleksei’s illustrations just explode off the pages in this quacking tale written by Steve Cole, published this month by Orchard.

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Adventure Duck vs The Armadillo Army is the second in the series – if you want to see more check out the first book, Adventure Duck vs Power Pug.

View Aleksie’s online portfolio HERE or follow him on Instagram and Twitter

31st July 2019

Black Mirror conceptual design

In 2011 a ground breaking new series hit our screens from Netflix, originally conceived by journalist and screenwriter Charlie Brooker. Black Mirror is inspired by the Twilight Zone, a series of suspenseful, satirical stand-alone dramas that explore modern day techno-paranoia. 
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Cleverly tapping in to the collective unease about the modern world the latest season features a Vox Lux-lite fantasy episode entitled Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too’ featuring a pop star named Ashley O played by Miley Cyrus.
The main character, teenager Rachel develops an obsessive bond with an AI doll called Ashley Too but that uneasy relationship is far less sinister than Ashley O’s aunt/manager who is manipulating the pop star and poisons her over a change of creative direction, Ashley O falls into a coma. The AI doll ends up on the shelf until six months later when it’s reactivated by a news report and begins to malfunction. Rachel and her sister Jack log into the doll’s software and accidentally unblock a ‘limiter’, revealing Ashley O’s true personality and a full digital copy of her mind. The doll, along with the two sisters, end up saving Ashley O’s life in a dramatic climax.
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Arena Illustrator and printmaker Graham Carter was commissioned by the production team to create concept art and a character design for Ashleys digital alter ego, Ashley Too. With limited facial expressions there were numerous challenges which lead to many adaptations along the creative process. Eventually the doll ended up with pink hair, a rotating waist, illuminated eyes and moving arms. During the episode the eyes were used to provoke feelings of empathy, suspicion and fear simply by changing from big bright happy eyes to sinister red lights glowing in a dimly lit room. 
Here are a selection of Graham’s numerous adaptations of the character with various body shapes, hairstyles facial features and limbs, we think the striking finished product really hits the right note. 
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You can view Grahams online portfolio HERE or follow him on Instagram and Twitter
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15th July 2019

Blast off with The Summer Reading Challenge Space Chase

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3….2….1…get ready to blast off into outer space with the 20th Anniversary Summer Reading Challenge, featuring illustrations by Arena Illustrator Adam Stower and inspired by the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

The Summer Reading Challenge originally conceived by Anne Sarrag MBE annually encourages over three quarters of a million childrenin the UK between the ages of 4 and 11 to sign up to this inspiring reading challenge. Worldwide the challenge goes into 20 countries and is most popular in India. Readers are invited to visit their local libraries over the school holidays and read 2, 4 or 6 books of their choice. Each child signing up to this years campaign will receive a collectors booklet in which they can record the details of each of the books they read, as they finish a book they are awarded a special sticker to complete a space scene… but beware some of these stickers are mighty stinky!

So help The Rocket family track down all those books the sneaky mischievous aliens have pinched and see where the adventure takes you. (psssst you can download some great activity sheets HERE Perfect for the summer holidays!)

 

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This years Space Chase themed campaign has been beautifully branded by Adam Stower who’s delightful family The Rockets adorn Summer Reading Challenge promotional material across the country. From activity sheets, posters, colour-in specs and collectors cards to smelly stickers, children will not fail to be utterly absorbed by this years fun-filled space adventure. Adam created 50 unique illustrations for this inspiring campaign from kooky aliens and grannies on space bikes to rockets, planets everything in between.

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Anne Sarrag steps down from her role at the Reading Agency this year so it is an even greater privilege to have Adam Stower representing Arena Illustration on this significant anniversary of a truly invaluable initiative, long may the Summer Reading Challenge continue to go from strength to strength. Sign up to the Summer Reading Challenge and find out more HERE!

Adam is the third Arena illustrator to be associated with such a campaign alongside Steve May and Jonny Duddle.

We have also put together a fantastic Vlog featuring interviews with Adam from his seaside studio so check it out by visiting this link HERE.

View Adam’s online portfolio HERE or follow him on Instagram and Twitter.