Category: Edu-create

Happy World Book Day!

The 3rd of March is World Book Day and this year it’s celebrating its 25 year anniversary with the theme “You are a reader”. World Book Day is a day recognised in over 100 countries across the world and is a charity sponsored by National Book Tokens which aims to promote reading for pleasure, offering every child and young person the opportunity to have a book of their own.

In 2021, 54 thousand books were donated to children by publishers, to support World Book Day with their mission.

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This year, I was honoured to have been invited to St Luke’s Church of England Primary School in West Norwood to read and discuss the themes of my debut children’s book, My World – Mackilli and Seeva’s Switcheroo! I had the pleasure of sharing my book with Years 2, 3 and 4 and loved the feedback and ideas I received from the children (or ‘learners’ as they are known in this school).

Morning assembly at St Luke’s

The day started with a fantastic assembly where I was introduced to the whole school. It was great to see such diverse faces in both the teaching staff and the pupils as my book touches on themes of differences and people being unique and special in their own way.

Entertainer, MC Grammar

MC Grammar kicked off the day with an energetic song about books and story-telling, followed by Nadia Shireen, who went on to read a short story from her book Welcome to Grimwood. It was encouraging to see these more established creatives present their work and really geared me up to hold my workshops later on.

Author & Illustrator, Nadia Shireen

The children’s (and teacher’s) costumes were fantastic! They were asked to dress up as characters from books they’ve read already or planned to read. I saw a few Rockets (from Look Up!), an Oompa Loompa (from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory) as well as children dressed up as Rosa Parks and Cruella Deville.

My World Workshops

After assembly, I made my way through through the school, starting with Year 2. I began by introducing myself as a children’s book illustrator and author and asked the children what they knew about these professions. I was very impressed by the answers and how enthusiastic they were about drawing, writing and creativity in general.

Before I started reading the book, I asked the learners what they thought the book was about. They observed the cover and the title and Year 3 in particular were very accurate in their response, stating that it could be a story about two aliens who switch places. This was very reassuring as the illustrator/writer!

During the reading, I asked them if they would prefer to live in the colourful and busy world of Stiplop (where Seeva lives) or the quiet and relaxing world of Mimpal (where Mackilli lives). The majority of the learners said they preferred the bright colours and activity of Stiplop but appreciated the need for some time out and peace and quiet in Mimpal.

A teachable moment

Part way through the story, I asked the class what they thought of these unique looking alien characters.

A few of the learners said that they didn’t like Seeva’s grey afro and that it looked weird. Here, we paused and reflected on how it might be hurtful to comment negatively about the way somebody looks.

We looked around the room and discussed how we all have different hair, skin, heights and personalities and that was OK and something to be celebrated!

By the end of the discussion, we were all in agreement that we should respect and appreciate people’s differences. It was lovely progress!

It was important for me to explain that differences are part of what makes them who they are and they should be proud of these things. We all look different and have different skills and abilities but we can still be friends and inspire each other, just like Mackilli and Seeva do in the story.

Thank you!

It was great to see how excited the children were about reading, the fantastic costumes and how much value imagination and creative expression has in their lives!

The fact that the school’s vision is that “every child is a unique gift from God” fits so well with the themes of individuality and loving ones differences found in my book, which made it even more of a rewarding experience for me.

The day was also filmed by World Book Day, which was quite nerve-wracking but I’m so glad I was able to be part of this day. Reading and writing has always been something that’s interested me and has lead me to writing blogs like this as well as poetry and children’s books, so I hope that my visit has inspired the children of St. Luke’s to have a go at writing their own stories in the future.

I’d like to thank Ms Francis (Deputy Headteacher) and Miss Madden (Early Years teacher) in particular, for having me and I look forward to seeing the children’s love for literacy grow!


Future workshops

My time at St Luke’s felt so rewarding and positive, that I would love to continue holding similar workshops in pop ups, schools and community groups.

If you would like me to host a session(s) at your establishment (or virtually), please do get in touch. The workshop (30 mins to 1 hour) would include the following, adjusted for the ages of the children:

  • Reading through parts of My World – Mackilli and Seeva’s Switcheroo!
  • Discussing themes of difference and acceptance
  • Understanding literacy techniques
  • Drawing aliens and giving them a personality (character development)
  • Writing a short poem about the alien the child draws
  • Q&A
  • Opportunity for parents and guardians to purchase a copy of My World and any accompanying merchandise
  • Free signed copy of My World for your organisation, if applicable.

If you’d like to know of any open events I hold in the future, please do sign up to my newsletter here.

Understanding your designer

As Chris Tucker said in Rush Hour… “Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth?” I hope so but as creatives with technical minds, designers are sometimes guilty of throwing in ‘jargon’ (or buzzwords) when we speak to our clients. We don’t mean it – honest – but these words help us gain clarity from a brief and will also help make sure the designs are fit for purpose.

In this blog, I will be breaking down some of the ‘buzzwords’ that often come up when I’m speaking to clients. It should help you understand us better and you can even impress us by throwing in a few words yourself! Feel free to bookmark this page and use it as a ‘glossary of terms’ to refer back to at a later date.

20 design & illustration buzzwords

Knowing these words will help you to communicate your design requirements accurately, resulting in a quicker turnaround and better fulfilled brief. They may also help you understand why we make certain design decisions… so really, it’s a win for both of us!

Animation
A moving drawing or computer generated image. Animation is a method in which figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. An animation if typically created by an animator.

Body copy
Copy‘ is another word for the text used in a document or book. ‘Body copy’ therefore refers to the main chunk of text in said document, so everything other than headings, titles or captions.
Your designer might say: “What font would you like your body copy to be in?

Brand Identity
The visible elements of a brand. This included the colour palette, fonts, shapes and logo design. Each element helps consumers identify your brand and distinguish from others. Have a look at the brand identities I have developed for clients here.

Carousel
In the context of social media, carousels are posts that have multiple images that viewers can swipe through. These are great for conveying multiple ideas or sharing large chunks of information without over-crowding a single image.

Case
Most people know about upper- and lowercases, but there is also sentence case and title case. Sentence case refers to lines of text starting with a capital letter (a grammatically correct sentence) and ending with a full-stop. Title case refers to a formal way of writing a title where each word starts with a capital letter (a part from joining words) for example, The Magical City of Mumbai.

Colour code
The ink or light colour combination required to produce a specific colour. In print, every colour is made up of a certain percentage of 4 primary ink colours known as CMYK: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (black). In web, every colour is made up of 3 light colours known as RGB: Red, Green and Blue (For web, the code may also be called Hex). Knowing the code of your desired colour will ensure consistency across your brand.
Your designer might ask: “What is the colour code for your brand’s dark blue?”

Contrast
How much colours look different from each other. High colour contrasts work best for legibility of text, for example, black text on a white background.
Your designer might say: “Those colours won’t work because there isn’t enough contrast”

Crop marks
Lines in the corners of your page to show the printer where to trim the paper. Also known as trim marks, they are usually required by commercial/professional printers and will not show on the final printed document.
Your designer might ask: “Does your printer require crop marks?”

EPS
A very high quality vector file. An EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) file is considered the best format for high resolution printing of illustrations or logos. It can be resized from a postage stamp size to a billboard size and would not lose quality!

Flat illustration
A minimalistic approach to illustration. “Flat” design focusses on simplicity and tends to feature plenty of open space, crisp edges and bright colours. See more examples of my flat illustrations here.

Flat plan
A diagram used to plan where the illustrations, images or text will go in a multi-page document like a magazine or book. It is useful when working out the page count and how your content will flow across the pages.

Illustration
A static drawing or computer generated image. A visual interpretation of a story, concept or process usually integrated into printed media such as flyers, magazines, books and teaching materials. An illustration is typically created by an illustrator like me!

Open/design files
Files that can be manipulated/edited using professional design programmes such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. Having these precious files will allow you to take your designer’s creation and give it to someone else to change, essentially compromising their original work, so they will often come at an additional cost.
Your designer might ask: “Would you like to purchase the open files?”

Resolution
The quality of an image. Resolution is measured in either dpi (dots per inch – for print) or ppi (pixels per inch – for web design). The higher the resolution, the better the quality. Screens typically require a minimum of 72ppi, whereas print requires at least 300dpi, which is why it’s so important to tell your designer what the image or design is to be used for.

Reverse
A white or light coloured illustration or logo designed to be placed on black or dark backgrounds. It would usually be the same as the original, coloured version, but edited in a way that will stand out if having a dark background is unavoidable.
Your designer might ask: “Would you like your logo in reverse as well?”

Stock
Another name for paper. There are many types of paper and card to choose from, so it’s important to choose one fit for purpose. You need to consider its colour, thickness/weight (gsm), finish (silk, matte etc), lamination and more! Your designer and/or printer should be able to advise you on this for different purposes.

Typography
The study or production of different fonts. It can also refer to the manipulation of existing fonts or putting complimentary fonts together in a design.

Self-publishing
When an author writes, produces and sells their own book without the use of a publishing house. This route is typically good if you are a new author, want full control over its distribution and design and/or plan on producing small quantities initially (under 2000 copies).

Orphans
Leaving one word one its own on the last line of a paragraph in printed documents. As designers we try our best to avoid these as it’s seen as bad practice and doesn’t look great.
Your designer might say: “I’ve pushed that word down to the next line to avoid having any orphans.”

White space
Space around an image or group of text on a page (not necessarily white). This is needed to stop the page looking to busy and helps readers digest the information easily.
Your designer might say: “I’ve left some white space to avoid over-crowding”


Helpful?

I hope this glossary of terms helps you on your way to creating a killer brief, engaging in slick communication with you designer and impressing friends and family with your new lingo! Of course, if you have any questions or would like to work together on a self-published illustrated book with interesting typography and plenty of white space but no orphans… just get in touch!

What does a book illustrator ACTUALLY do?

So, here we are in 2021 (sorry for the late start with the blogging – it’s been a crazy year already)! We’ve made it through lockdown and finally things are slowly going back to normal. Shops are opening up, businesses are resuming normal practice and you may be feeling inspired to start a new project like selling your art, learning to swim or… publishing a children’s book (wink wink)!

In this blog, I’ll be talking to budding authors who have finished writing and are now in search of an illustrator to make their stories come to life! It can be a daunting stage of the process as it’s where a lot of time (and money) is spent, so I want to give you a little breakdown of what book illustrators like me DO and DON’T DO. These points should help you prepare for this exciting commissioning stage and make the right decisions for you and your book.


What illustrators DO…

Illustrators are a creative bunch! We take care of the look and feel of your book by using our skills to develop scenes, characters, page layout and more, to attract your audience as they browse the bookshelves. We bring the story to life and ultimately tell your story visually. Click through the slide to find out more…

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What illustrators DON’T DO…

There are some tasks that aren’t for your illustrator, but should rather be completed or initiated by your publisher (if you have one), your proof-reader/editor or yourself. Click through to find out how to delegate certain tasks and what you shouldn’t expect your illustrator to do for you…

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Of course, all freelance illustrators have their own ways of working but these slides contain common practices amongst many. I pride myself in being as transparent and helpful as possible to all of my clients, so if you have any further queries about what I do and don’t do as an illustrator, please get in touch. I work with new authors, as well as experiences ones, on books targeted at early-readers all the way up to early teens.

If you require a book cover for adult/older readers, please take a look at my illustration page to see if my more complex illustration style suits your vision.