Tuesday, 30 May 2017

PP NYC Megatrip: Week Two!

The second week of my NYC trip has gone by in a whirlwind. Whilst the weather took a turn for the worse, I have been shooting around Manhattan from publisher to publisher, doing 4 meetings a day. I might be feeling a little tired but I’m still exhilarated!

We had such a fantastic reception to the wonderful book proposals from our author/illustrators, and all the gorgeous artwork from our talented artists, at London Book Fair and Bologna, so I was keen to see how all of our New York based publishers would respond to the work. I haven’t been disappointed! It’s been such a pleasure to once again see editors and designers alike get excited by the wonderful array of talent that we represent at Plum Pudding. I’m delighted to say that we already have new projects in the pipeline and I have had many requests to see more of both book proposals and individual artist folios. 

One of the most popular picture book proposals has been the wonderful Stinky, a hilarious story about a naughty little street kitten who eventually learns to share, by author/illustrator Rebecca Gerlings. Our most popular middle grade concept has been the gorgeously illustrated Shaggy Dog Tales, by author/illustrator Kate Pankhurst. It’s clear that publishers are extremely keen to find more characters with series potential, whatever the age range, and both of these concepts are bursting with fleshed out characters brimming with personality and longevity. Even more this year, I am finding that for picture books and middle grade, presenting a book proposal/concept is being very well received, although there is still a high demand for illustrators to be able to deliver artwork for texts that clients already have from other authors.

Whilst the majority of our meetings with publishers are all about pitching the book proposals we have worked on with our author/illustrators and illustrators, and showcasing all of their fantastic illustration work, it’s also always a pleasure to see the finished products from projects we are already working on with them too! In fact, for me, it’s one of the highlights of the trip! Chloe and I visited Sterling Books on my second week, with whom Plum Pudding has a fantastic and long established working relationship, and it was a joy to see Brendan Kearney’s artwork for author Josh Funk’s Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, framed in their reception. Josh and Brendan’s partnership is proving to be highly successfully for Sterling, with Brendan about to start work on Josh’s hilarious third book in the series!

I’ve had compliments on how talented our artists are and what a fantastic array of illustrators we represent at every meeting, and the follow up email rom Sara Corbett at Penguin Random House sums it up!

Hi Hannah,

Thank you so much for coming in and delighting Renee and I with all your dazzling artists as always!! I really love working with you on Emma’s book and I hope we can find more projects together in the near future!

Thank you again!

As well as seeing all of our artist fantastic work at the publishers I visited, I was also able to find the time to pop to Barnes and Noble, where it was a joy to see so many published books illustrated by Plum Pudding artists!

Captain Pug - written by Laura James and illustrated by Eglantine Ceulemans

Bertie Wings It - written by Leslie Gorin and illustrated by Brendan Kearney

I'll Never Let You Go - written by Smriti Prasadam-Halls, illustrated by Alison Brown

This week I will be attending Book Expo America, as well as visiting more clients at their Manhattan offices - it’s going to be a busy week but I’m excited and raring to go!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

5 Minutes With... Louise Wright

Today we're very excited to be catching up with one of our newest PP artists, Louise Wright! From her journey into illustration, to her love of long walks and her favourite illustrators, let's get to know a little more about Louise...

Where do you live/work?

I live in a cute little Market town called Leek in Staffordshire which I love, we have the countryside a 10 minute drive away and a small town center super close by with plenty of places for tea and cake - so the best of both worlds. I work from my studio at home with my 2 dogs for company.

What do you like about working there?

Having my own space is really important to me and it’s so easy when you work from home. I love how easy it is to get to work and start. In the morning after we’ve walked the dogs, I can make a cup of tea and come up to the studio and start work quietly, usually with Radio 6 on in the background. All my own artwork choices are up on the wall and I have a big blue bookcase filled with art books and picture books. It’s a space for me to me in and that allows me to settle into my work easily.

 What do you love most about being an illustrator?

I get to make art every day, and that is my job! Honestly it’s been my dream job for so long and I love that I’m able to do it full time. I also really love when products/books get made with my artwork on, it’s still a little surreal to see to be honest but it makes me feel really proud.

 How do you work – what are your techniques?

I always start off on loose sheets of cheap printer paper. I have sketchbooks of course and sometimes I’ll use those, but mostly to help free myself up I grab a stack of paper out of the printer and begin there. After I’ve created an idea I’m happy with, I’ll usually scan it into the PC and use my Cintiq to paint it in Photoshop. I really love trying to create texture and so I use some homemade brushes and lots of brushes by Kyle T Webster to help me get the feel right. I also use some scanned in textures and patterns sometimes too.

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?

I love love love drawing nature! Animals, plants, foliage and a bit of woodland are my top favourites  but I also really enjoy the process of drawing things I haven’t drawn before. It makes you look at things in a new way and I really thrive from this.

 What or who are you most inspired by?

Being outdoors really inspires me, I find if I’m struggling with a project or getting ideas together, then a good walk in the countryside tends to help give me the space to breathe and think things over from a distance. I’m loving seeing all the birds out there at the moment.

Do you have a favourite illustrator?

I have so many! To name a few…Isabelle Arsenault, Oliver Jeffers, Phillia Rice, Emma Yarlett…I could go on and on!

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?

As you know, I really like getting out on some walks with the dogs. I love reading and I’ve recently taken up weaving as a hobby too which is so much fun, both of the latter can be accompanied easily by tea and cake too ;)

How did you get into illustration?

I went to Birmingham University to study animation, and I realized it wasn’t quite right for me and so I switched onto the illustration course there which was brilliant and I loved it. Sadly coming out of university was a bit of a shock, as I really wasn’t prepared for the ‘real world’ and after rejections left right and center, I switched up my focus a little to be able to keep myself working.

I started my own greetings card company!

This kept me creating and gave me the positive feedback I needed to carry on. My cards were stocked in shops around the country, including Paperchase. From there I have gone back into my illustration work and built my client portfolio up. A little bit of a roundabout way but I have learnt a lot from doing it this way!

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?

1) Draw every day. Doesn’t matter what really just try and keep the practice up.

2) You will never feel ‘ready’ just show your work at the stage it as at and keep showing it.
3) Be kind. To others and especially yourself. Us artists tend to beat ourselves up a lot, be proud of what you’ve created.

Oh and also -- YOGA -- wherever/whenever you can, even if it’s just some stretches. My back and my wrists always thank me for it.

What were your favourite books when you were younger?

The Bramley Hedge books.

Goosebumps (I had so many of these, including a collections edition with glowing red eyes!!) Beatrix Potter – I had a huge book filled with all of her stories. Well, I still have it.
Roald Dahl always.

Honestly this list could go on and on!

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 

The last adult book I read was ‘Grief is the thing with feathers’ which was so beautiful and unusual. A look at grief and bereavement and almost poetry in it’s form. The last childrens book I read was a picture book called ‘The Journey’ by Fancesca Sanna, which was a beautifully illustrated look at a refugee family trying to find a new home. I think a must own for anyone with children and without.

What are your aspirations for the rest of 2017?

I’m hoping to be able to keep pushing myself and my work with client projects, fit in some camping and fun personal work too. I’m anticipating a busy end to the year so I just have to make sure I keep my work/life balance well too.

What’s your ultimate dream?

I’d really like to write and illustrate my own picture book, and maybe some fiction too!

Hopefully you've enjoyed this insight into Louise's life as a children's illustrator! We're really excited to have her with us at PP, and can't wait to start working on some brilliant new projects! You can see more of Louise's work in her PP folio here, and browse her own website here!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

PP NYC Megatrip 2017 - Week One

It’s that time of year again and I am in the buzzing Big Apple for three weeks of meetings with all of our Manhattan based publishers! This year Book Expo America is at the end of my trip, where I’m meeting all of the publishers we work with from around the rest of the United States as well! This is my favourite city in the world and it’s thrilling to be back again!

The first week has flown by in a blur of busy client meetings and I am delighted with the fantastic reaction from both regular and new publishers to the wonderful work from all of our talented illustrators as well as the book proposals we have to pitch that we have worked on with our author/illustrators!

Just a few of the clients I have met this week include Bloomsbury US who are have just published their 4th book illustrated by our wonderful Alison Brown - I had the pleasure of seeing some of the new formats of board book they have produced from the picture books. It was wonderful to hear how well received Alison’s books have been, coming in the top of children’s book on the NY Times Children’s Books Bestseller list; Harpercollins where it was a joy to hear how thrilled the design team are working with our lovely Catalina Echeverri and how impressed they were with her work ethic, as well as to meet a lot of the editors and designers we work with but haven’t met with in person before; and Macmillan where the number of artist samples requested and the compliments I received on how talented our artists were vast! 

Chloe flew out to join me for a few days on Friday and we visited Blueprint on Sunday afternoon where we met with some extraordinarily talented artists working in surface pattern design. It was a joy to see such talent and a real eye opener into the world of surface pattern design. Today Chlo has started her week at Surtex and I have started mine visiting Silvergate, an animation company we have been working with for a few years! I got to see the character designs and some of the panels from the 40 episode, animated, first series they are making based on the Fairytale Hairdresser books by Abie Longstaff and illustrated by our very talented Lauren Beard. I can’t share them with you yet as the series doesn’t air in the USA until later this summer! Its been a great start to the week!

The week ahead is jam packed with meetings, with 4 or 5 around Manhattan in a day and I am so excited about them all. This year, our ability to send clients all of the fantastic material they were interested in in the meetings extremely quickly has been fantastic, with the wonderful team back home in the office ensuring that all artwork samples and book proposals I have requested for clients are sent to them on the same day as my meeting, if not first thing the following morning. Take a very sneaky peak at some of the treats american editors and designers have seen this week.

More to come soon!

Monday, 22 May 2017

5 Minutes with... Joanne Partis

Today we're very excited to be catching up with one of our newest PP artists, Joanne Partis! From how she creates her gorgeous mixed media images, to her advice for aspiring illustrators, let's get to know a little more about Jo...

Where do you live/work?

I work from home, which is a 1930’s house in a little village in West Sussex. It’s a bit of a renovation project, but my husband and I fell in love with it, and the lovely big garden which is perfect for our three children and now also home to our three chickens, Jemima, Betty and Tilly. It’s a lovely part of the world and we all enjoy exploring the countryside with a picnic.

What do you like about working there?

It never really feels like a chore to be sat at my desk with a cup of coffee, music on, cat on my lap (or on my artwork) working on something I love doing. Any job that you can do in your slippers can’t be too bad!

 What do you love most about being an illustrator?

I love getting a new brief, particularly if it’s for an idea that’s quite different from the kind of stories that I usually write. I also really like a challenge. Some of the novelty books with lift-the-flaps and pop-ups can be more complicated but they’re something I really enjoy working on.

 How do you work – what are your techniques?

I’ve always used a very mixed media. I generally use acrylics but add elements of collage, print and coloured pencil to try and recreate the idea I have in my head. At the moment I’ve been playing around with watercolours; I love how easily you can work into your pictures with coloured pencils. I do use a little Photoshop but mainly for tweaking and tidying my finished artwork.

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?

Big, bold jungle scenes with lovely bright colours and maybe a Tiger or two?

 What or who are you most inspired by?

I think Judith Kerr is fantastic. Not just for her life story, which is amazing in itself, but I really love her beautifully observed stories. There’s a real honest simplicity to them which makes them so appealing.

Do you have a favourite illustrator?

There are so many great illustrators at the moment. I love Oliver Jeffers’ work and our copies of his books are very well worn! Benji Davis’ illustrations are beautiful and I also really like Rebecca Cobb’s work.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?

With three children spare time is quite rare! I love cooking, which is quite fortunate as I spend a lot of time doing it! Luckily my three are quite adventurous with food so we have fun picking out new recipes to cook together. Sushi is one of our favorites. I’m also a big movie fan and love sci fi and superheroes. I also have a bit of a secret love of  zombie films…

 How did you get into illustration?

I’ve always loved all areas of art so found it hard to decide what to do after A levels. I really loved working on printed textiles but my work seemed most suited to illustration which I decided to study for my degree. In my final year I entered the Macmillan Children’s book competition, which was when everything really fell into place and I’ve never looked back!

What is your top tip for aspiring illustrators?

There are some fantastic and very successful illustrators at the moment. It can be very tempting to try and emulate what other people are doing but I think it’s really important to have your own recognisable style.

What were your favourite books when you were younger?

I loved ‘The Large and Growly Bear,’ illustrated by John P Miller, which I now read to my children along with some beautifully illustrated fairy tale collections and of course, ‘The Tiger who came to Tea’ and ‘Mog’ by Judith Kerr. The first books that I remember being totally engrossed in were some children’s editions of Bram Stocker’s ‘Dracula’ and Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’.

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 

I read all the time. My favourite thing is a hot bath, a glass of white wine and a good book! I do quite like a good post-apocalyptic thriller!! I’ve recently read ‘The End of the World Running Club’ by Adrian J Walker which was great and my eldest son and I have both been working our way through ‘The Hunger Games’ trillogy and have now moved on to ‘The Maze Runner’ series which we’re both loving. I’ve also recently finished ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ by Elisabeth Fremantle which I loved so much we had to have a day out to Hampton Court Palace to see where it all took place.

What are your aspirations for the rest of 2017?

I’ve never had an agent before so I’m really excited about signing with Plum Pudding and hoping for some exciting new projects! I’ve got a few of my own ideas on the go at the moment that I’m planning to work up into picture books too. One is inspired by my little girl so it would be wonderful to see that published one day.

What’s your ultimate dream?

To carry on with what I’m doing, only from a little villa next to the beach in Greece! That would be nice!

We really hope you've enjoyed getting to know Jo, and learning a little more about her life as a children's illustrator! We're over the moon to have Jo with us at PP, and you can see more of her work on our site here!

Friday, 19 May 2017

We have some very EXCITING news!!

We're over the moon to be able to tell you about our new venture into licensing! 

Based on a love for textiles and surface design, Plum Licensing aims to work closely with each artist to showcase fresh and innovative designs inspired by the ever changing trends. Focusing exclusively on work that is tailored towards the greetings cards, stationary, apparel and interiors markets, we proudly represent illustrators from all over the world and work with an exciting array of clients globally - from paper based products right through to fabrics for soft furnishing! 

We're so excited to share our amazing artist's work, so please do take a look here!

Friday, 5 May 2017

5 Minutes with... Melissa Shultz-Jones

In today's instalment of the '5 Minutes with..' series of interviews, we're catching up with Melissa Shultz-Jones from her home in Alabama! From her many favourite illustrators, to her love of exploring and her tips for aspiring illustrators, lets get to know a little more about Melissa...

Where do you live/work and what do you like about working there?

I work out of my little home studio in Birmingham, Alabama. The studio is actually the foyer of our 120+ year old house, in an old district of Birmingham that was originally a railroad town. It's in the city though, so you get this great mix of busy city life but with lots of plants and trees. I love the mix of automobiles and trains, buildings and buses with gardens, birds, parks, and critters; that old and new harmonizing together so beautifully. On any warm weekend night, I can hear live music from one of the breweries. It's just a festive, vivid area.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?

I'm smiling as I answer this question. Illustrating answers the wish of my little 6 year old self. I've loved stories and art and children's books, just always. And I love that illustration- especially illustrating for children's literature- bring children and adults together. A smartly done children's book will slow us big kids down enough to really connect with the story, creating a shared experience with that little bundle of energy sitting on our laps. That's a really important thing to do in this fast-paced life!

How do you work- what are your techniques?

I work traditionally, with transparent watercolor and gouache, and touches of soft pastel. Then I pop the whites in photoshop. I work a little bigger than the print size, so all those messy rough bits show.

What is your favorite thing to draw and why?

I know this sounds like I'm skirting your question, but my favorite thing is always my current project- but also what I'm dreaming of in the background. There's so many wonderful things to communicate visually, it's so hard to only pick one!

What or who are you most inspired by?

Children, especially my children as they continually inspire me. They are so creative and vivacious. Also music, and stories. They are really both one in the same though, right?! Folk art from all over the world. Museum visits. The great outdoors.

Do you have a favorite illustrator?

If I run them all into one word, like a hyphenated last name, maybe it looks like I have one favorite illustrator? 


What do you like to do in your spare time when you're not illustrating?

My kids and I love exploring together. We hike and go to art festivals, music festivals, historic areas. I love going to concerts with my husband. We all like exploring the city and surrounding areas. Oh! And I love reading aloud to the kids, even to the 15 year old!

How did I get into illustration?

From about middle school through my university years, I turned what I could into a picture book! It made history essays and later anatomy lessons way more fun. I studied fine art all throughout childhood, and on into college. I loved making books, and thought it was too easy for a career. I believed career stuff should be more toilsome. Sometime after my children were born, I realized how funny that notion was and jumped right into kid lit.

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?

Get your stuff out there. Not just online, but in real life. Find people you trust to give you honest feedback. Second tip is to make sure what you are doing is giving you good vibes. If you're too anxious over it, maybe try a new medium for a bit (that's a two for one tip!). The third tip is to remember not to give up. No matter how frustrated you are, the only thing that stands between you and your dream of  illustrating is time, but it won't happen if you don't persist. I hope this helps someone out there. 

What were your favorite books when you were younger?

The Grey lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang. Strega Nona, by Tomie Depaola, Thumbelina: A Living Story Book (#17) with Crown Publishers Inc, Tiki Tiki Tembo by Arlene Mosle come immediately to mind.

What was the Last book you read? What did you think? 

I just finished “Turning the Mind into an Ally” by Sakyong Mipham. It's simple, and profound, and has proven a great daily assistant to me towards becoming more mindful.

What are my aspirations for 2017?

I'm working on a personal picture book project, which I would like to see finished, and hopefully published. I'd like to have at least one picture book completed before this quick little year is at an end.

My ultimate dream?

I would have to say to be a tiny little woodland sprite that lives in a mushroom house.

We really hope you enjoyed getting to know a little more about Melissa, and her life as a children's illustrator! For more of Melissa's work, you can visit her PP folio page here!