Friday, 30 June 2017

5 Minutes with... Angela Navarra

Today we're very excited to be catching up with one of our newest PP (and Plum Licensing!) artists Angela Navarra, from her home in New Jersey! We discuss her top three tips for aspiring illustrators, as well as sources of inspiration and her journey into illustration, so let's get to know a little more about Angela...

Where do you live/work?

I live and work in Weehawken, New Jersey. It’s a suburb of New York City. There are a lot of awesome restaurants, shops, and parks I can visit by foot. I can also easily hop on a bus and get to midtown Manhattan in 10 minutes (without traffic of course!).

What do you like about working there?

I enjoy having a home studio since I have access to tons of coffee and snacks and showering is optional :D I’ve created a world for myself that inspires and motivates me via the books and art that surround me. Also, my cats, Olly and Lola, along with my son, Maddox, all provide a fun soundtrack to my day!

What do you love most about being an illustrator?

It makes me really happy to create pieces based how I perceive them. I enjoy exaggerating certain things I find beautiful and fascinating about my subject matter. Maybe that seemingly black color is more of a deep purple, that letter “R” I illustrate could fill a whole page, or maybe creating an octopus that has 12 arms instead of 8 because who wouldn’t want an extra 4 arms?!

How do you work – what are your techniques?

I start off researching - Looking through old books and magazines. Even though I’ve had my books for years, I still see something new every time! Every project offers an opportunity to look through a different lens. Next, I sketch away on loose paper to work out my composition and to explore. Whatever sketch is chosen by the client, I then scan and turn it into vector art. Finally, I create textures with acrylic paint, pastel, and fabric scraps to overlay onto my illustration.

What is your favourite thing to draw and why? 

I love drawing anything involving sea life. The ocean is so fascinating to me and it’s fun to imagine what else can be in this world that covers 70% of our planet. It dictates so much in our lives and yet 95% of this world has been unseen by human eyes. It’s so mystical! PLUS, my family and I would spend a lot of our summers on the beach when I was a kid. It was a time that my family was the happiest.

What or who are you most inspired by? 

I love the old greats like Saul Bass, Ivan Chermayeff, Milton Glaser, Massin, and Paul Rand. They were a part of a time that illustration and design were one and I love seeing such amazing composition and illustration created by one artist. Also, lettering ladies such as Jessica Hische and Louise Fili make my heart pitter-patter. 

I also love old found objects. Every country I visit, I drag back little knick-knacks to litter my home with. It helps me remember how inspired I was when I visit a new country and experience their culture. OH and mid-century modern hotels! The details and signage that adorn these places - I just can’t get enough of it all!

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

I’m always up for an adventure but my faves are travelling, singing in cars, falling asleep when the tv is on, making vegan snacks and beauty products, visiting haunted houses, trying exotic foods, yoga, collecting knick-knacks, and spending time at home with my awesome husband, Dominic, our magical son, Maddox, and our two frisky cats, Olly and Lola.

 How did you get into illustration? 

I actually have a BFA in design but I always found myself illustrating typography and imagery to fulfill the compositions I envisioned. I remember a few of my interviews early on in my career when art directors would ask me the same question: “Are you an illustrator or a designer?” At first I would say designer since I have a degree in design but then after giving it some thought I would respond, “Why do I have to be one or the other? I’m both!” Then after replying that way so many times, I would be asked to illustrate things on the projects I was designing for. That turned into commissions solely for illustration work!

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?

1. Share your work no matter what stage! This is something I have to tell myself constantly since I always want things to be “perfect.” We have so many avenues to share, and it’s great to see what people react to.

2. Allow yourself time to play! I’ve created a lot of ugly things and those ugly things helped me create the things I am the most proud of.

3. Get out there and look at anything, everything, and talk to anyone! I do this daily and you’d be surprised at what inspires my work. There is beauty everywhere and in everyone if you’re open to it, and I always try to be.

What were your favourite books when you were younger? 

I was a sucker for bright and flashy book covers (probably since I am a 1980s baby!). Wow, not so surprised I am a designer/illustrator, right? Books with unicorns, mermaids, and even licensed properties, such as “Jem and the Holograms” -  I was all over them like a wet t-shirt. However, when I got over the pure eye candy, I loved anything with a mystery involved such as “Road to Nowhere” by Christopher Pike. I read many of his books growing up and I also loved the classics like “Frankenstein”, “Of Mice and Men”, and “Gulliver’s Travels”.

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

Honestly, in the past 15 months all I have read are books about babies and pregnancy! Oh, and “Kick Litter”! A book on toilet training your cat! So, technically, the last book I finished reading is “The Happy Sleeper.” This book helped me sleep train my now 5.5 month old. Human sleep is a fascinating subject and it really went into depth on infant sleep cycles, when babies start sleeping through the night, and techniques on how to sleep train. It has been a god send! We are all sleeping a bit more thanks to Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright!

What are your aspirations for the rest of the year? 

To balance my work and family life. My career and family are super important to me and I hope to juggle things better and better! To also dedicate more time to my stationery company, Doo Daa Studio.

What’s your ultimate dream? 

To sell everything I own and move into a tiny house or boat and live everywhere and anywhere. To explore and create in a new setting weekly and allow myself to be inspired by my surroundings.

We really hope you enjoyed learning a little more about Angela! You can see more of her work on her PP folio page here and can view her licensing work on her Plum Licensing page here!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

We're Looking for a Trainee Agent!

Plum Pudding Illustration Agency has a vacancy for a bright and dynamic Trainee Agent. As well as being a diligent administrator, potential candidates should be keen to work closely with the illustrators represented by the agency and the clients we work with in securing a smooth and steady work flow.

Job Role:
- Expected to manage projects and artist deadlines
- Liase between publishers and illustrators and author/illustrators
- Meet with editors and designers to showcase and pitch artists works - travel required to London, other UK cities and occasionally abroad
- Work with artists to develop their work

Skills required:
- Proficient with Macs/email software/Microsoft office
- Organised/excellent time management
- Good communication skills
- Photoshop and InDesign skills preferable but not essential 
- Background or interest in children’s illustration and publishing is preferable but not essential

Salary: competitive

If you're interested in joining us here at PP, please email your CV and cover letter to: 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Erica Jane Waters' Miss Bunsen to be published by Albert Whitman!

We're over the moon to be able to share the news that Albert Whitman has bought Miss Bunsen's School for Brilliant Girls, by PP author/illustrator Erica Jane Waters! Congratulations Erica!! The series follows three friends who attend a unique school full of extraordinary young female inventors, engineers and scientists. This bright and fun chapter book series promises to deliver inspiration for girls everywhere, and is full of bonkers inventions, tough competitions with rival schools, and one very smelly cat! Here are a few of Erica's characters...

We'll be sure to let you know when Miss Bunsen will be published!! 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Alison Brown to Illustrate Bedtime Story Competition Winner!

We're delighted to be able to announce that Alison Brown will be illustrating the winning entry of  this year's Bedtime Story Competition, run by The Book People! Children aged 5-11 can enter the competition, the theme of which is friendship, and the winner will have their book published by Little Tiger Press and illustrated by Ali! Judges will include celebrity parents as well as publishing experts. You can sign up for an email notification from The Book People to stay in the loop with the competition here - happy writing!! 

Ali will also be running a workshop at this year's Bradford Literature Festival! Tickets are available here for a morning of reading Mighty Mo and drawing all the animals from the Golden Dodo Zoo!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Valeria Valenza Wins The Italian Andersen Award!

We're so excited to congratulate PP artist Valeria Valenza on winning the Italian Andersen Award, for her illustration of 'I Tre Porcellini D'India' (Three Little Guinea Pigs)! The prize is awarded for a title that delivers quality stories with perfectly matched illustrations to read together, while at the same time being suitable for early readers to read alone. Here are some of Valeria's gorgeous illustrations from the book:

You can see more of Valeria's work on her PP folio page here!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Kate Pankhurst & Alison Brown at Bloomsbury's Illustrator Evening

On Tuesday, Kate Pankhurst and Alison Brown attended Bloomsbury's Illustrator Evening, alongside fellow illustrators Tom Percival, Emily Sutton, Sophy Henn and Chris Naylor-Ballesteros. Amongst others, they met people from indie bookshops, libraries, the press, as well as all the lovely Bloomsbury folk that they don’t usually get to meet face-to-face! You can read more about the event in The Bookseller here!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

PP goes Behind the Book with Ana Gomez

This week, we've been catching up with PP illustrator Ana Gomez to talk all about her most recent picture book Bow-Wow-Meow, written by Blanca Lacasa and published by Nubeocho! Bow-Wow-Meow is a charming story about love, acceptance and being yourself, which gently introduces gender identity issues to young readers. 

Fabio is a beagle who struggles with an identity issue. He doesn't play fetch, he doesn't bark and he won't wag his tail, in fact, he doesn't seem to enjoy being a dog at all! His owner Max soon discovers that Fabio disappears every night, and one evening decides to follow him. To his surprise, he finds Fabio playing with a group of street cats, joining in climbing trees, sharpening his claws and even chasing mice! It seems Fabio is much happier living life as a cat! This comedic look at gender identity issues is easily accessible and understandable for young readers, and we love Ana's illustrations throughout! 

We asked Ana how she goes about creating her wonderful illustrations: 

"Firstly, I do the sketches with pencil on paper. To draw the sketches I go to a cafeteria in the morning, there is a relaxing atmosphere, so I like to think and draw there. I then scan the sketches and I make the illustrations completely digitally. I used to work with an Intuos tablet, but recently I have bought a digital screen."

Ana has been kind enough to share some of her sketches, to give you an insight into how the illustrations progress from this early stage to final full-colour artwork, ready for the book!

To read more about Ana's life as a children's illustrator, you can read our full interview with her here!

Ana's initial sketches for the layout of the page

Final artwork as seen in the book

Bow-Wow-Meow is available in the UK, Spain and Italy, and you can get the English version here. You can see more of Ana's work on her PP folio here!

Friday, 9 June 2017

Shining review for new PP illustrator Melissa Shultz-Jones!

'Have You Seen My Egg?' is the tale of a cockerel desperate to nurture an egg of his own. With gorgeous illustrations by Melissa Shultz-Jones, and written by Andrew Fairfield, the book has attracted a fantastic Kirkus review, which you can read here! Here is some of the wonderful artwork from the book...

'Have You Seen My Egg?' is published by 4kidz Publishing and is available here now!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

PP NYC Megatrip: Week Three, All the Highlights from BEA 2017!

With 3 days of client office meetings and two days of client meetings at Book Expo, week three shot by like lightning and has certainly been the most exciting of the trip! 

BEA is always an exciting and lucrative trip for Plum Pudding, and this year the Javits Centre was buzzing as always, with tons of authors, illustrators, agents, exhibitors and book lovers alike coming in their droves. I had a spectacular time as always - shooting from meeting to meeting, catching up with all the wonderful editors and art directors we work with, looking out for the latest trends and spotting so many illustrated titles from Plum Pudding artists on publishers’ stands!

Armed with our gorgeous plum-coloured portfolios of artwork, and spectacular book proposals to pitch, it was a pleasure as always to show off all of the best work from our talented illustrators and author/illustrators. As usual, publishers great and small, trade and commercial were hugely impressed, receiving them all with delight and enthusiasm, and I’m utterly delighted to say that we made some cracking book deals at the fair! I’m so excited to be able to wish our super talented author/illustrators Jo Rooks and Erica Jane Waters a HUGE congratulations! 

I’m delighted to say that Albert Whitman will be working with Erica Jane Waters on her fantastic girls’ middle-grade fiction series, Miss Bunsen’s School for Brilliant Girls, starting with a fantastic initial 3 book deal! Well done Erica! Here’s a sneaky peak of a few of the characters!

It’s also a great pleasure to be able to announce that Jo Rooks, one of our most recent signings, will be working with Magination Press on two picture books that she has author/illustrated in a two book deal! Check out this sneak peak of some early cover concepts.

I’m still waiting for feedback on several of the wonderful picture book and middle grade concepts that were so widely requested, but it’s clear to me more than ever that there is a huge value to our talented illustrators and author/illustrators working with our fantastic Plum Pudding agents on concept pitches for us to share with clients - so do keep sending us your ideas guys!

And it wasn’t just the incredible author/illustrated pitches that were so well received - so many of our artists’ work was greatly admired, with a huge array of requests from publishers to see more! Check out some of the art that editors and art directors were most impressed with at the fair.

Paula Bowles Click here for more!

Rebecca Gerlings Click for more!

Ashley King Click for more!

Brendan Kearney Click for more!

Marisa Morea Click for more!

Shahar Kober Click for more!

As always, I had the joy of spotting Plum Pudding art everywhere! Check out some of the wonderful artwork beaming from from their stands!

Sleeping Bear Press:
Hu Wan & the Sleeping Dragon - illus. by Jordi Solano
Grandma Loves You & When the Wind Blew - illus. by Petra Brown

Quarto Kids:
The Know-Nonsense Guide to Grammar/Money/Measurements - illus. by Brendan Kearney

As well as meeting with top industry professionals, BEA, Bologna, London and Frankfurt are always a fantastic opportunity to look out for current industry trends. At the fairs of 2017 so far, I have been keenly aware of a rise in concepts about diversity and acceptance, and I’m delighted that the desire for strong female characters is still strong! It’s a pleasure too, to see that more interactive novelty books are being made again, which only adds to the feeling that children’s books are, again, on the rise! Another trend that I’m still personally enjoying is the rise of more trade non-fiction and character lead non-fiction, and it's also clear that, in picture books, the desire for strong characters with series potential and more graphic art styles is more obvious than ever.

So once again BEA was lucrative, enjoyable and inspiring in equal measures. It’s clear that top industry professionals view Plum Pudding as a creative hub for incredible artwork and inspiring book proposals! It’s such a joy for all of us at Plum Pudding to see our influence in the children’s book industry grow as we continue to develop both current relationships with top editors and art directors and to forge new relationships too! Until Frankfurt!

Han x