The Frankfurt Book Fair 2016

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We found out a little while ago that HAI member, children’s artist Rachelle Meyer, was going to the 2016 Frankfurt Book Fair and we asked her if she’d be kind enough to report back to us after the event. We felt it would be a good opportunity for Rachelle to share her experience via the staff blog. – Darren Di Lieto


I went to the Frankfurt Buchmesse with few expectations and lots of curiosity. I’ve been to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair many times and what I kept hearing was that in comparison, the Frankfurt Book Fair is huge and overwhelming. I had three days, a few appointments, an iPhone, and a sketchbook. I made a point of exploring beyond the English-language and European halls where I already had appointments to find unfamiliar faces and new experiences.

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I can’t say for sure if my observations are the typical visitor experience or simply what I’m drawn to based on my personal preferences. My feeling about the trends in publishing is that there are more books now which are personal, political and hand-crafted. There was an entire stand devoted to the independent voices of INDIECON, with zines available for purchase on site. I bought this lovely comic by Tine Fetz. The side-stapled comic had crop lines still visible on many pages, which I found quite charming and added to its indy credentials.

Nils Oskamp’s excellent process sketches for his graphic novel, Drei Steine, drew me into the booth for the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. It was refreshing and empowering to speak to people who ardently want to make a difference in the world.

I loved the textural richness of the crafted books. Take, for example XY Printing Group‘s folded accordion style book which was illustrated entirely with paper cuts. It’s a gorgeous retelling by Anne Montbarbon of the traditional Three Little Pigs story. The hand-printed pages at Tara Books smelled so delicious from the inks they used. In addition the Flanders and the Netherlands (99 Flemish and Dutch authors and artists from every genre) were the guests of honor this year and in the guest pavilion, you could snag a beautiful limited-edition Parade magazine. Another nice detail was the Happy Hour, hosted by the Netherlands and Flanders, which featured typical Dutch/Flemish treats like mini-beers and tiny bowls of french fries with mayo.

To prepare for the book fair, I reached out to my publishing contacts and printed up a new batch of cards for distribution. Once there, I had a meeting that led to a new assignment and I also received an email from a publisher I had worked with before. The publisher had received my promotional postcard at just the right time to offer me a new project, showing in my opinion that my advertising was paying off. As a working illustrator, the fair was not just inspiring, but also rewarding from a financial and professional standpoint.

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Being in Frankfurt allowed me to touch base with a number of professional groups. I’m the International Illustrator Coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and they hosted a very informative and motivating workshop called “Supercharge Your Submissions with agent Hannah Sheppard” on the Saturday morning during the fair. I also got to catch up with some nice people from the SCBWI local chapter.

Chatting with people from the IO (German Illustratoren Organisation) left me feeling energized and hopeful about our direction and place in the industry. They’ve been around for ten years and have grown exponentially in this relatively short time. With these sort of positive communities and support bases, we have a greater chance of setting better terms for illustrators and making the industry we work in, work for us.

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I don’t know if I’ll go every year, but it was a very rewarding trip and I’ll definitely go again. – Rachelle Meyer (professional illustrator)


If you attended this year, say hello, share your experiences or leave a comment in the section below, as we’d love to hear from you. For information about Frankfurt Buchmesse 2017, please visit buchmesse.de

Post-Showcase 100 normality

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So, it’s been a couple of weeks now since we were in London with the Little Chimp Society for the Showcase 100 exhibition. The dust has finally settled and we’re pretty much back to normal here now (or as normal as things ever get!) 🙂 We had a fab week and a really good night on the Thursday for the private view – it was wonderful to meet everyone and we’d like to thank you all again for coming. It was very busy and we certainly had a great time – we hope you did too!

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The Framer’s Gallery were wonderful yet again (the LCS held the last Mail Me Art show there) and it’s definitely our favourite venue in town for this kind of thing. It’s easy to get to, everyone there is so helpful and the space itself is perfect for arty events of all sizes.

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A number of the 100 prints were sold on the night, but the rest are now for sale in the LCS shop at £40, unframed. They are very high quality archival prints and there’s a wide range of subjects and styles, so there’s sure to be something to tickle your fancy. Can’t decide which one you want? Then why not buy the SC100 book and be able to peruse them all at your leisure? There are still some books available to buy here.

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We hope to make Showcase a two-yearly event, with the LCS continuing to run the project for HAI members. Being able to offer opportunities like this to our members is really important to us. It adds an extra dimension to our community and provides the chance to meet-up with people and celebrate the wonderful illustrations that they create.

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Finally, a special thank you is in order to the lovely Eleanor, who travelled down from the Midlands for some gallery experience and did a sterling job taking photos on the Thursday night!

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You’re invited to the Showcase 100 Private View!

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There’s only three days left until the Showcase 100 exhibition at the Framer’s Gallery in London. There’s still lots to do, but it’s always exciting being part of a show like this. Showcase 100, in case you don’t know, has been run for our members by the Little Chimp Society (LCS) and consists of 100 illustrations that have been selected for the show and book by our panel of judges. All of the illustrations have been framed as high-quality, archival prints and will be for sale at the show. There’s a wide range of artwork created by an equally wide variety of illustrators, so there should be something for everyone.

The accompanying Showcase 100 publication, featuring all 100 final illustrations along with lots of sketches and notes about the artwork, will also be available to buy at the exhibition as well as online from the LCS shop.

The show runs from 7th – 11th April and the ‘private’ view is on Thursday 9th April, 6 – 8pm. Everyone is welcome to come along on Thursday evening to join us for an evening of excellent artwork, free drinks and general natter. The gallery is located in the heart of Fitzrovia and is easy to get to, with Goodge Street and Tottenham Court Road tube stations only a few minutes walk away.

Thursday 9th April 6pm – 8pm
The Framer’s Gallery
36 Windmill Street
London, W1T 2JT

If you’re on Facebook, there’s an event page for it with the latest updates too… https://www.facebook.com/events/710733742303427/

ICON8 – Part 2: Business Cards & Art Shows

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Following on from Pat Higgins first blog post about his trip to ICON8 this is part 2. – Darren Di Lieto

To read part 1 visit: https://www.hireanillustrator.com/i/blog/874/icon8/


Friday morning I woke up at 7:55. Somehow I managed to make it to the continental breakfast at the Portland Art museum by 8:00. After a cup of coffee and a bagel I was able to pull myself together and start interacting and socializing with my conference peers. On a side note, trading stories, business cards and promo materials with like-minded creators from around the world was one of my favorite parts of ICON. I can’t imagine any other profession where business cards are fun to get and are literally a work of art. During these moments of the conference, I couldn’t help but thinking of it as a total inverse of the business card scene in American Psycho.

After breakfast the herd headed upstairs to the Main Stage where we were greeted by the conference emcees, Vanessa Davis and Mimi Pond. These two were great. They told us about the sold out workshops, “Complaining About Having an Illustration Assignment” and “Complaining About Not Having an Illustration Assignment” as well as the elusive “Lunch on Your Own” presentation, which they never did find. Vanessa and Mimi continued to entertain as they introduced the presentations throughout the day. “What the Fuck Are Infographics?” (presented by New York Times graphics editors, Jennifer Daniel and Alicia DeSantis) taught us that “infographics are a style and a marketing ploy” to get people to click on a link and that it’s really better described as visual journalism due to the research involved. The Clayton Brothers talked about their collaborative efforts and Jan Pinkava showed us all some of the ways that illustration is moving forward with technology with Google Spotlight Stories such as “Windy Day” and “Buggy Night”. Sam Arthur told us the impressive story of Nobrow, a publishing company from the UK. They are printing some of the most interesting and amazing things and working with some of the most talented illustrators out there (plus their books smell great). One of the most informative speakers of the day was Linda Joy Kattwinkel, who had two different presentations about legal issues, “Protecting Your Work in the Age of the Internet” and “Work Made for Hire and Copyright Termination Rights”. The day concluded with Craig Bartlett’s, “An Animator’s Charmed Past Life”. He told us about working on “Rugrats” as well as the creation of his animated series, “Hey Arnold” and how it was inspired by his childhood in Seattle and Portland.

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Immediately following the lectures was a happy hour in the downstairs area of the art museum. Both the crowd and the line for the bar were insane, but it was nice to get a couple drinks after such a full day. Once happy hour was over, there was a double decker bus waiting to take us to the Land Gallery, where the ICON 8 Work and Play group art show was held. This was an amazing show featuring art from 70 ICON attendees (including myself). The only downside to this event was the heat. Not sure if it was the weather or just the amount of people in and out of the gallery, but it was almost unbearable. If you want to check out the work from the show go to buyolympia.com. Those time limited prints are available from that site from July 22, 2014 until August 24, 2014.

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While at the gallery show, I met up with my brother and some other friends. Once again it was party time. We headed to a bar across the street from the Land Gallery for a few drinks. By the time we realized what time it was, the double decker shuttle bus had made it’s last trip back to the hotel. The six of us decided that the party must go on, so we walked outside to figure out where our next stop would be and how we would get there. We got a few steps away from the bar and my friend Kevin pointed behind me. Some woman was standing next to a motorcycle that had fallen on the ground. “That’s my roommate’s bike!”, she screamed at us. I explained to her that one of us would have noticed if we knocked over a motorcycle. As I was helping her pick up the bike, a big angry guy comes out of the bar and starts screaming, “What the FUCK?! That’s my roomate’s motorcycle! That’s a custom paintjob!”. As soon as he said that, one of our group says, “How many roommates does this guy have?”. As soon as I heard that I started laughing. The next guy to come out the door did not think it was very funny, as he started yelling at us along with the rest of his friends,”Whoa… who fucked up my bike? Do you know how much I paid for this paint job?”. No sooner did he say that than another smartass comment comes from our group, “This guy paid all of that money for a custom paint job but he skimped on the kickstand? HA!”. At this point I was multi-tasking: Trying my hardest not to laugh while at the same time working to convince these people that we didn’t knock over the bike. Before I knew it, the three room mates were arguing about what happened and whose fault it was. We took this as a cue to leave. We ended up hanging out at some punk rock bar, which reminded me of home. We were a little late for the show that was going on so we just hung out and had some beers. Eventually it was time to end the late night and head back to the hotel.

Image credits Pat Higgins, to see more of his work visit: illo.cc/25631

ICON8 – Part 1: The Beginning

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This year we sent Pat Higgins to ICON8 and he was kind enough to write about his experience. Pat heralds from Bear on the east coast, so although it’s not as far a trip as coming from the UK would be, it’s still a hell of a trek going from east to west (Portland) in the USA. – Darren Di Lieto


It’s taken me a couple of weeks to recover from the incredible adventure that was ICON 8. It was an amazing few days (July 9-12) in Portland, OR, filled with informative and inspiring presentations and workshops, meeting like-minded creative professionals and of course, lots of partying. ICON board president Ellen Weinstein pretty much summed it up for me when she said, “It’s a helluva time to be an illustrator.” ICON was a helluva time.

ICON is an illustration conference that is held in a different city every two years. Wednesday and Thursday (July 9th and 10th) included workshops, educator paper presentations and an educator’s symposium which were held at the PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art). On Thursday, I attended the “Adobe Creative Cloud: New Tools for Illustrators” lecture, led by Rufus Deuchler. This was quite informative, as I am a few versions behind on my Adobe products and have yet to switch over to the Creative Cloud. After the lecture I was able to catch a few of the educator presentations for the remainder of the day. They were all great, but the ones that stuck out to me were Robert Meganck’s presentation, “Mapping Color” (for some reason I’m a huge nerd for color and color theory) and Wendy MacNaughton’s Illustrated Journalism presentation. Later on that day I headed back to the Portland Art Museum for the opening ceremony which is too crazy to explain… Here’s a link to a video (http://vimeo.com/100758202). After that, ICON President Ellen Weinstein took the stage and spoke about the illustration industry being a beast that is changing and adapting rather than dying off and going extinct. VIVA LA EVOLUTION! After Ellen’s open speech, the crowd was treated to the keynote speech by Paula Scher. She had a valuable presentation about her years in the industry and showed us what the surreal staircase of creativity looks like.

After the opening ceremonies, the hundreds of attending illustrators, students, art directors, and other assorted oddballs headed down to the first floor of the Portland Art Museum for the ICON 8 Roadshow. The roadshow was an event where attending artists and sponsors had tables set up to promote and sell the work that they do. Being around so much great work made it really hard not to spend all of my money scooping up everything that I saw. After much deliberation I ended up with some prints, comics, post cards, business cards and a stomach full of whiskey. Following the roadshow, I ended up starting a late night by grabbing some pizza and beer with my brother and a few Portland friends at a place called Sizzle Pie. It’s a pretty cool place… All of their pizzas have names like “Police and Thieves”, “D-Beat”, “It’s Always Sunny in Portland” and “Raising Arizona”. After dinner, we split into two groups: the ones that were worried about getting up early and the ones that didn’t want the party to end. Guess which group I was in.

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Later that night/morning as my brother and I were walking back to the hotel, we were greeted by a gentleman named Montez who was asking for money. My brother said that he would give the guy a couple bucks, but he wanted an interesting story about Portland in return. Montez explained, “So this guy was ridin’ on a skateboard real fast like. And ran into THIS stop sign right here… BOOMCRACK!”. Pretty lame story, but after that we wandered into a secret figure drawing workshop at a local establishment called Mary’s. It was different than any other figure drawing class I’ve ever attended… First off, it was 2am. Secondly, Khrystaal (the instructor) kept collecting the workshop fee in the form of one dollar bills throughout the night. Weird stuff. I did manage to learn how to draw shoes with clear heels and glitter though!

Stay tuned for Part Two, which will be coming later this week.

Image credits Pat Higgins, to see more of his work visit: illo.cc/25631

UPDATE: Part 2 – hireanillustrator.com/i/blog/882/icon8-part-2

All quiet on the home front?

We’ve not had a chance to really update the staff blog recently, what with a two week break in Canada and everything full steam ahead here! The weekly mail packs are packed and we are doing some ongoing major upgrades to the website, with a bit of optimization to our business structure. We’ve also been making new contacts and exploring new avenues all in order to promote the talented members of hai. I’ve got 3 essays on promotion planned that I’m hoping to post on this blog in the near future, also as mentioned I’m making some major improvements, speed and usability-wise to the hai website. It’s all very exciting and I can’t wait for the hard work to be finished so I can start testing and releasing stuff to the public!

Currently I’m looking for an illustrator to do a bit of work on behalf of hire an illustrator and another site. I have a few illustrators in mind and a couple I’m definitely going to ask, but directions for the projects have not been decided yet. So if you would like me to consider your portfolio along with the ones I’m already looking at please send me an email or leave a comment below.

Talking to SCAD, Coffee & Biscuits

Recently I had the pleasure of talking to a few of Violet Lemay’s students at SCAD about their portfolios and illustration in general. It was via video conferencing, which was a shame as I would have loved to have been there in person. Maybe next time!

I think they were probably surprised I wasn’t wearing a suit, but at least I had had a shave. This wasn’t the first time I had talked to students at SCAD. I did the same thing a couple years ago, but this time round I was a lot happier with the advice I gave. Maybe it has to do with being older or in the business for longer.

I’ve lectured a couple times in person in the past at different Universities, which can be quite scary as it’s often in a large lecture hall and more people turn up than you expect to. I do prefer to talk in smaller groups as you can generally turn it into a conversation instead of a lecture and people get to ask the questions they want answers to.

Well anyway… I enjoyed talking to the students at SCAD and it was great to see some many promising portfolios, which reminds me that I still owe them a couple reviews. I also got some great feedback from Violet about the talk, so much so that Violet and the students posted me and Jane a mug illustrated by Violet (see the pics above and below). It was a complete surprise when it arrived and it really made our day as it’s totally unique and was such a nice thought. A big thank you to Violet and all the students for taking the time to listen to me and for such an appropriate gift (we get through far too much coffee and this mug makes it taste even better)!

Time permitting I’m always happy to talk to students… Especially when we get a free mug!

A visit to 78 Derngate

Last week we decided we ought to take a few hours off work to do something cultural, so we went to Northampton. Northampton, I hear you say, surely London would have more to offer? Ah, but you see Northampton has a few little gems tucked away and it was one of these that we wanted to visit.

78 Derngate is entirely unique in England, being the only house outside of Scotland to have been designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

At first glance, it’s a fairly normal-looking early 1800s terrace house, distinguished mainly by its period front door. However, the property has been beautifully restored to how it was in 1916/17, after it’s owner, W. J. Bassett-Lowke, local architect Alexander Ellis Anderson and Mackintosh had got to work on it. Walking around the house is like stepping back in time and there are unmistakably Mackintosh elements throughout. The most dramatic designs typical of his work can be seen in the hall lounge and the guest room, although while these two rooms are stunning it might have been a bit hard on the eyes to have lived with the decor! The attention to detail of the restoration work is impressive and comparing the house as it is now with photos of it that were taken in 1916-18 shows just what a brilliant job has been done.

We were also really pleased to catch the current exhibition on show in the museum’s gallery, The Wacky World of Andy Hazell and his Tin Cities. Andy is an artist/sculptor/automatist (among other things) and this collection of his smaller-scale metal works was great fun.

If you’re ever in the Northampton area and have an interest in Art Deco design, Mackintosh, architecture or social history, 78 Derngate is worth a visit. We had a guided tour which took about an hour and there is a lovely cafe and small shop, as well as the gallery and the house itself. You can find out more at www.78derngate.org.uk.

Salford University Visit…

Last week I was invited by Robert Shadbolt to visit Salford University, Manchester to check out some of the student’s portfolios and to give a general talk about what I do and the business of illustration. I saw some really great work, and it made a change that the students I spoke to seemed to be focused on producing a great portfolio that they would be proud to show to a potential client.

Above is the work of Ryan Robinson, one of the students I got to talk to.

I’ve done a number of one-on-one consultation and talks, online and in person in the past and how it normally goes is… I’ll introduce myself or be introduced and then I’ll talk for a bit about what I do for a living and the projects I run. This includes web design and programming, Hire an illustrator!, the Little Chimp Society, Mail Me Art, and Gimur Hosting, along with a number of other projects that are in development!

After the introduction I go straight into a Q and A. I’ve found this is a more engaging way to talk about a number of different subjects, without boring the pants off the audience, which is very easy to do. The first subject to normally come up is pricing artwork – I try to be as honest as I can on the topic, listing all of the variables that come into play when pricing a job. I also mention as many real life examples as I can think of and list a few recommended books. Working out how much to charge isn’t a simple task, but it does help to talk about it. Next there’s talk about promotion and marketing, followed by networking and building solid professional relationships with clients. I don’t really touch on copyright and law, as that’s not my field, so the focus is on the business side of things.

This is a video I found on YouTube while using Google to find a map of the area, before I made the journey.

I spent most of the day at Salford Uni and in Manchester, and it was very enjoyable. So if you’re reading this Robert, thank you for inviting me.

On one last note – Gemma Correll will be making the trip, quite possibly with Norman Pickles (her Pug), to Salford in the next few weeks to do a talk about life as an illustrator. It’s a shame the lecture is only open to students as that would be an interesting one to see.

OFFSET 2010

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We spent a great weekend in Dublin at the beginning of October for the OFFSET conference, organised by Richard Seabrooke, Bren Byrne and Peter O’Dwyer, who did the most amazing job. We attended on the Saturday as Darren was on the panel for the ‘Getting Noticed and Staying Busy’ discussion in the afternoon, having spent Friday exploring some of the city and meeting up with Darren’s relatives.

The Main Stage was host to a number of inspirational speakers over the three days, including Steven Heller, the Wooster Collective, Nate Williams, Mark Farrow, Daniel Eatock, Studio AKA and David Carson. Unfortunately we had an early flight back home on Sunday morning, so missed out on some cool talks and discussions on the Sunday, including one by Gary Baseman. Gary was, however, to be seen around and about on Saturday, accompanied by Toby.

After listening to Nate Williams and Steve Heller on Saturday morning,  we were treated to a showing of the Spike Jonze film, ‘I’m Here’, during lunch. In the afternoon, we sat in on the group discussion about street art, ‘The Printed Street’. Then Darren, Nate, Eddie Gardner (Tequila Ireland) and Steve Simpson (award-winning illustrator) were in the Second Room for the panel discussion ‘Getting noticed and staying busy!’, moderated by Padhraig Nolan (AKA Scalder).

I have to mention that the venue for the conference was a very impressive new building, the Grand Canal Theatre, the final addition to the regenerated area of Grand Canal Square situated on the canal docks. It was an excellent choice for OFFSET, very spacious and with decent bars!

A big thank you to Bren and co. for the invitation and (assuming there will be another OFFSET in 2011?) we would highly recommend a you keep a look out for the next OFFSET and book your tickets to see and hear some of the big names in art, design and illustration today!