As we hurtle into the final countdown to Christmas we thought we would celebrate the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod, which translates roughly to “Christmas book flood” in English. We can’t think of a better tradition than giving a loved one a book and what better picture book pick than Santa Selfie by Peter Bently and Anna Chernyshova published by Macmillan Children’s Books,
Santa is taking a break from Christmas and going on holiday instead. But it’s not easy to relax when you’re one of the most famous people in the world. From Paris and Sydney to the Great Wall of China, people recognise Santa wherever he goes. And all they want is to take photographs with him, whether he’s in the gym, having a swim or even eating his lunch. It might not be as fun on holiday as Santa thought . . .
Santa Selfie is a jolly picture book packed with humour and cheeky little festive friends perfect for sharing on a cosy evening by the christmas tree.
Grab a copy HERE!
To embrace the festive spirit Anna has created a handy step-by-step guide so that you and your little ones can learn to draw Santa just as he appears in Santa Selfie. So sharpen those pencils, pour a hot chocolate and get creative. We would love to see your creation so please tweet us @arenatweet or post on Instagram tagging us arenaillustration
Wishing you all a very merry festive season from all of us at Arena Illustration.
This week has been jam packed with exciting projects for Neal Layton, on Wednesday we joined Neal at The British Academy in London for the Drawing the Future prize giving ceremony. Drawing the Future is an initiative set up in association with Education and Employers with over 13,000 school children entering this year with a drawing of the job they wanted to do when they grow up. The winners of the awards got to meet a Zookeeper, an Architect, A Sportswoman, a Car Designer, an Artist and even a Pantomime Performer.
Neal Layton was honoured to be asked to join the judging panel and spent time mentoring one of the lucky winners Teni who wants to be an author and has been writing stories in notebooks since she was six years old.
Primary Futures connects primary schools with inspirational, diverse volunteers from a range of careers, who come into school to talk to children about their jobs and show how what they are learning at school can lead to an interesting, exciting future. Their in-school activities feed children’s curiosity, break down gender stereotypes and opens their eyes to future possibilities.
Getting the chance to meet a wide range of people doing different jobs is particularly important for those children from disadvantaged backgrounds who have few successful role models, either at home or in their local communities. Primary Futures helps children understand how achieving at school can lead to a satisfying, fulfilling career, in whatever they desire.
Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds MP said:
“Drawing the Future is a brilliant initiative which is helping young children begin to think about what they want to do in the future, and realise they can do anything if they put their mind to it.
As a dad I want my children to think they can do any job they put their mind to, and as Education Secretary, I want to make sure we widen young people’s horizons so they are aware of the incredible opportunities that are out there.
Primary Futures connects primary schools around the country for free to people from a wide range of jobs and different backgrounds via a secure online database – from apprentices to CEOs, archaeologists to zoologists.
Here are some wonderful photos from this inspiring evening. Photos © Chris Ratcliffe
Last week Neal joined a host of illustrative stars at the Institut Français to launch the South Kensington Lit Festival as part of the Drawing Europe Together book project, a unique collection of illustrations portraying the European community . . . with or without Britain. (Read our news post HERE )
Are we still ‘United in Diversity’? Forty-five artists from across Europe share their powerful illustrations of the European Union’s shared past and our unsure future. From Brexit bees to wall-jumping bulls.
This is a passionate and heartfelt exploration of Europe and what it means to many of the people who live and work within its borders. The book brings together forty-five renowned illustrators who, through their drawings and accompanying words, share their vision of Europe in this beautiful and timely collection, with a foreword by the British Book Awards Illustrator of the Year 2018, Axel Scheffler.
Inspired by the Drawing (for) Europe exhibition which took place at the Institut Français in London in 2018, Drawing Europe Together showcases the original artwork from the exhibition as well as never-before-seen illustrations from additional leading artists. With contributions from many of the world’s best book illustrators including Quentin Blake Judith Kerr and Chris Riddell.
You can buy a copy HERE
Listen to Neal talk about his influences and feelings making this image…
That’s not all…
HEY! Look, The Sun newspaper gave Emily Brown and Father Christmas a fantastic 5 Star review! You can grab a copy for your little ones HERE
In March 2017 Better, Discover Children’s Story Centre, and Royal Borough of Greenwich were awarded the Arts Council England Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund to deliver a project titled Story Book Play. This project includes the present purpose-built space at the Eltham Centre in which children can play imaginatively with a literary theme, as well as a series of interactive story events for 0-8 year olds and their parents and carers at Eltham Library.
Discover approached Graham Carter to partner in developing the concept and visuals of The Enchanted Story Garden.
The Enchanted Story Garden
The concept was created by Discover, The Enchanted Story Garden was inspired by the work of local author E. Nesbit including The Railway Children, The Enchanted Castle, Five Children and It, and the Story of The Treasure Seekers. There are four main interactive story spaces in the Garden to explore: The Magic Carpet, Village, Enchanted Castle and Secret Forest. Find the Gardener, Ladybird and Wizard in the Garden. How many animals can you spot along the way? Have an ice cream in the village, walk along the crocodile bridge, make up a story for the stage. Use this space to read, explore, and create stories!
Graham Carter is one of the most intricate and exciting printmakers in the UK. He has been working at the forefront of the printmaking industry for over 15 years. He has also worked with Animation Studio TickTockRobot working on commercial animation projects.
His work is influenced largely by nature, and the secrets of the animal kingdom, however he is equally drawn to the man-made, clunky technology of yesteryear. You may find the occasional clockwork or steam-powered gadget lurking in the bowels of his images if you look close enough – he likes to think this is what makes the animals tick!).
Graham’s first book Alphamals – based on his animal prints – has been shortlisted on The North Somerset Children’s book award for Poetry Books and his very first picture book, Otto Blotter Bird Spotter is being published by Andersen Press in 2019. Several scenes and text from Otto are featured around The Enchanted Story Garden.
Discover is the UK’s first Story Centre based in Stratford, East London for children aged 0-11 and their families. Discover aims to engage with children in the local community and establish a love of language, literature and stories in this new project at the Eltham Centre.
Discover has previously won a Museums and Heritage Award for Excellence and was shortlisted for a new International Children’s Museum award. Time Out voted Discover one of London’s top five family days out, most-loved local Culture spot in Stratford in 2018, and named their bookshop as one of the top five children’s bookshops in London.
Graham’s designs were transformed from flat plans into a three dimensional play space by Meticulous Ltd.
Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. They support activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Specifically, the Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund aims to help libraries build a fairer society and deliver opportunities for disadvantaged communities across the country.
Better is dedicated to making community services and spaces better for everyone. As a charitable social enterprise, Better work for the benefit of everyone: the public, the communities they work in, the environment, their staff and partners. Better are proud to be the current holders of the UK Business Award for Social Enterprise.
David Hitch studied BA at Central Saint Martins, followed by a postgraduate Communication Design Diploma in illustration. He continues to live and work in London, and enjoys spending a few months of the year in Greece. He has just been awarded a Certificate of Attainment in Modern Greek.
David’s illustrations are created through a combination of hand drawn and digital elements and he uses a variety of different textures to add depth. In the late 1990’s David created over forty cover illustrations for Penguin’s complete backlist of the P.G. Wodehouse series. He is also well known for his illustrative maps and has developed a successful children’s style.
Recent projects include, the early reading books, Mouse’s Big Surprise for Tony Potter Publishing and The Ugly Egg an for Macmillan Children’s books, and editorial pieces for Candis Magazine including, The Summer Quiz and How People Tick.
Clients include: Candis Magazine, Caterpillar Books, Early Years Magazine, Marks & Spencer, Now Magazine, Penguin Books, Peaceable Kingdom Press (US), Reader’s Digest, Sainsbury’s Magazine, The Economist.
A Guest Post Written by Alex T. Smith
I had the idea for this book a very very long time ago and was delighted when Macmillian asked me whether I would like to create a Christmas book. It could be anything I liked. I whipped this idea out and they liked it. I wrote a synopsis and drew this as a taster…
Thankfully my gang at Macmillan liked my idea and let me write the whole story and worked with me to make sure it was in tip top. Then I could start illustrating. Books start with conversations. I work with my art director, collaborator and designer Alison Still.
Alison and I talk about what this book is about and what sort of book it is and how we want it to look and feel. Feel is very important. Designers and illustrators help readers climb into the story and immerse themselves in it.
I think being an illustrator is like doing nearly every job on a film set. You are the director, costume and set designer, location scout, lighting person, special effects supervisor and editor. First you are the casting director. So I had to find Winston…
I knew who Winston was and what he looked like in my head but it’s important to be able to communicate that in an image and make sure your design for a character works throughout the whole book. Winston has quite an adventure so there’s a lot for him to do. Here he is…
Whilst I am doing this, QUEEN OF DESIGN Alison Still gets the text and decides where everything will go. How Winston Delivered Christmas is a complicated book but Alison is magic and even at this early stage it looked Very Snazzy. We have more conversations about it then I start…
The first thing to do when illustrating a book is to read through it (even if you’ve written it yourself) and sort bits to illustrate. I do this in an armchair because armchairs are good for reading in. Then I make tiny MOUSE-SIZED thumbnails like this:
After that Alison sends me the page layouts and I print them off and start drawing on top of them, roughing things out. I do this for every image then go to final art work.
1. Rough on layout
2. Pencil work
3. Digitally coloured up final artwork
I draw everything by hand using pencils and graphite powder, erasers and sometimes paint and often my fingers too. I colour digitally because I’m very indecisive and quite clumsy with paint (I used to work in collage but I’d whistle and blow everything off my desk.
1. Very messy rough
2. Another messy rough but I tell myself it is tidier because I like telling myself lies
3. Pencil artwork
4. Final colour (Alison very cleverly digitally then put the real cover in place on the book here because again- she’s magic)
Book covers are very often the trickiest part of illustrating a book. They have to be very eye-catching, but also slightly mysterious to make you want to read the book. And oh boy can they take some time to get right.
1. My original idea for the cover which Alison and I worked on to make SNAZZIER
2. We tried a lot of different colour ideas but settled on this. I then refined the imagery.
3. The pencil artwork in bits (tell you more later on)
4. THE FINAL COVER
Why is the cover art in bits? So that it’s easier for changes to be made if co-edition publishers need a bit more space for their title. Also, the final cover SPARKLES because a designer works hard deciding where to add jazzy bits like FOIL AND GLITTER.
Here are some more photos of my original pencil drawings because I really enjoyed drawing that big fluffy cat. WHO IS SHE?!? AND WILL SHE EAT WINSTON?! I’m not going to tell you.
So… If an illustrator is sometimes the editor of a film (if you pretend a book is a film) then sometimes you have to cut things you like. Here’s a picture I cut because we need to focus on the characters more than the setting and we didn’t quite have room for this picture.
Sometimes an illustrator is a Cinematographer and has to decide how best to frame an image. This is originally how we were going to meet Winston on a pile of rubbish, hungry but smelling nice food… but I felt this wasn’t quite right…
Why? Because I felt we needed to zoom in a bit. Really see the pile of garbage and junk he’s sitting on to make him seem small but also allow us to really focus in on him.
2. Pencil art
3. Final colour art
An illustrator is also the costume designer. How Winston Delivered Christmas is set in the mid 1930’s so for this opening scene I had to research 30’s fashion. I love costume design so this was H E A V E N.
A note about that last image. Getting the opening image right was hard. I think people assume illustrators just draw and everything is right immediately. OH BOY IS THAT NOT THE CASE FOR ME. That first spread went through SO many changes…
1. Some of the original ideas.
2. Then I doodled the top image and felt this worked better so re drew the bottom image
3 very messy rough to expand the image 4 slightly tidier more detailed rough before going to pencil stage.
Some images colour up very quickly. Some images take a long time. This image of the dolls house took me SEVEN ENTIRE AND VERY LONG DAYS TO DRAW AND COLOUR but this dolls house is Very Important Indeed.
So that was some BEHIND THE SCENES bits about How Winston Delivered Christmas. I can’t express how important the role of a book designer is. I drew the pictures, but all the tiny touches – the decorative elements, the font choice, the spacing – all that was my designer/collaborator Alison.
What designers do is take something nice and polish and shine it and add magic and sparkle and make it the best it can be and I’m very very lucky to work with Alison on my books.
That is the end of my PowerPoint presentation. Thank you for listening. I will be accepting questions and/or chocolate chip cookies. How Winston Delivered Christmas is out to buy in bookshops and borrow from libraries NOW!
Join Alex T Smith at Tales on Moon Lane for a special book signing on the 8th December from 11:30-12:30
If you cannot make it to the event but would like a personalised copy, please get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0207 274 5759.
You can see Alex explaining how to make some of his Christmas crafts on the Macmillan site here…