Sammy Goes Flying - available April 2011
A few years back (2006 or maybe 2007, can't quite remember) I took the "how to get your Children's book published" course at Central Saint Martins. The previous year I had graduated from Central Saint Martin's with a degree in Fine Art but soon realised that if I wanted to actually earn a living with what I love to do, I had to re-think my art practice. I put my thinking cap on and booked myself in on the course. I don't expect you to remember the drawings I brought with me on the course but just in case: I had a storyboard about a little boy who catches a cold and sneezes out a big green monster. I haven't had any success so far with that story. However I have had an illustration commission which I can partly owe to some advice you gave during the course.
My first book to be published is Sammy goes flying by Author Odette Elliott. It is about a little boy who dreams of flying. His older siblings are going on a school trip to an aeroplane museum. But Sammy is too small to go. Then Grandma plans a magical day out just for Sammy. It is published by Tamarind and features a little boy of mixed heritage. During the course you had mentioned that many publishers now seek illustrators who can depict children with diverse ethnic background. I have travelled alot and most of my friends children who are also my models are black or mixed race so naturally my portfolio contains such drawings.
Even though I had sent Tamarind samples of my work by post on several of my marketing campaigns, that was not what got me noticed. In 2009 I met a girl called Clarissa at a mutual friend's party and it turned out she was working at the time at Random House. She forwarded my details to Verna Wilkins the founder of Tamarind who are now part of Random House group. They liked my portfolio, namely some sketches I had done during a stay in Dakar, Senegal. They then asked me to illustrate the new edition of Odette Elliott's Sammy goes flying, which had been published initially in 1992 by Puffin books. So now, five years after the course at CSM, my first book is out!
May I take this opportunity to once again thank you for the very useful course. I think I mentioned it at the time, but I will mention it again. I feel I learned more during those 10 sessions than I did during the three years at University studying for a degree. You also introduced me to various Illustrators that I (I am ashamed to say) wasn't aware of. These include: Lisbeth Zwerger and Edward Gorey. The different books (including your magpie and Look!) you presented have been of great inspiration. I am also now a big fan of light-boxes and the use of Dr martin inks.