In September last year we launched our first ever Short Story Competition to support new and emerging short form writers. We put out an open call for writers to send us their response to the chosen theme of ‘The Censor’. We were overwhelmed by the response from all over the world and impressed by the high quality of writing. We have had the pleasure to read so many short stories that are diverse, ingenious and surprising. And after a long reading process we are excited to announce the 25 shortlisted stories that have made it through to our final judging round.
In alphabetical order by title, the 25 shortlisted stories are:
Aiden Shaw’s Penis – Ali Said
Ask Me No Questions – Joe Martin
Baldilocks – Shikhandin
Borders – Simon Birks
Ebb and Flow – Kazia Polak
Fortress – Catherine Rudolph
Inspiration – Sloane Leong
Just to You – Jane Copland
Obituary of an Outcast – Kendall Klym
Oxbridge Environmental Dictionary – Gabriel Hemery
Penguin: A Flightless Migratory Bird – Selma Carvalho
Redact – Michael Harris Cohen
Reflections – Mubanga Kalimamukwento
Refracted – Stephanie Wilderspin
The Closed Door – Alice Haworth-Booth
The Colour of the Sun – Penelope Atkinson
The door of a public bathroom stall is a pigeon with a thousand letters bound to itsfeet – Mohsen Emaamverdi
The General and the Birds – Fernando A. Torres
The Many Different Lives of Denola – Oluwatimilehin (Timi) Odueso
The Song Bird – Nathan Alling Long
The Very Best is Available to Me – Deborah Green
Three Acts from a Woman’s Life – Mitra Madadi
Vestiges – Kiki Gonglewski
Words – Rae Theodore
Wrestling with Plato – Edward Barnfield
To help us select our final 12 stories and the overall winner from these, we are delighted to welcome the expertise of two external judges to our judging panel:
Amyra Leon is a New York City-based author, playwright, musician and activist. Her work fuses music and poetry focusing on social inequalities and communal healing. She has three literary works due to be published in 2020.
Coco Khan is a London-based journalist for the Guardian, writing on arts media and popular culture often through a political lens. She is a contributing writer to two short story anthologies, The Good Immigrant and It’s Not About the Burqa.
The 25 shortlisted stories will be narrowed down to the final 12 to be published in a beautiful anthology next year. An overall winner will be selected and they will receive £2000 prize money. We will make the final announcement on Tuesday May 26th.
Hello, dear reader, we’re very excited to share some news with you..! We are thrilled to announce that DreamWorks Animation have optioned the motion picture rights to the Brownstone’s Mythical Collection series by Joe Todd-Stanton! We can’t tell you any more than this for now but rest assured that we will share all further details as soon as we can!
Brownstone’s Mythical Collection follows the stories of the Brownstone family and their adventures through ancient mythologies. Two books have been published in the series so far. In Arthur and the Golden Rope(2016), unlikely hero Arthur journeys to the land of the Vikings where he meets Norse gods and monsters. In Marcy and the Riddle of the Sphinx(2017), an anxious Marcy travels to ancient Egypt to save her adventurer father and overcome her deepest fears. The next book in the series will be based on Chinese mythology, and is publishing in Autumn 2019.
Winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2018 forThe Secret of Black Rock, Joe Todd-Stanton said upon hearing the news: “Knowing this studio, which was such a huge and positive part of my childhood, have even read my book is mind-blowing. The fact they are interested in possibly adapting it is on another level. I’m really excited to see what happens. “
Sam Arthur, publisher and C.E.O. of Flying Eye Books commented “DreamWorks have a knack for picking up on great content – Joe Todd-Stanton’s star is rising!”
Infographics meet architecture in Adam Allsuch Boardman’s unique illustrations, which feature detailed line work with diagrammatic accuracy. Demonstrated in his latest book, An Illustrated History of Filmmaking, Adam leads us through the history of one of his favourite subjects. We caught up with Adam to find out more about his creative process as well as discussing his distinctive visual language.
Q. Where was your first port of call for your research?
To begin with, I amassed a healthy stack of books from the library. Whilst reading, I would take notes and begin drawing my own cryptic diagrams for later reference. I found that the much older books tended to contain quite charming illustrations, which I would scan and study. I also watched a whole bunch of documentaries and DVD extras, and listened to podcasts. Absorbing different types of information helped manifest a much clearer idea of the book within my headspace.
Had I the time to spare, there were a lot of focussed catalogues of information I would have liked to take to the extreme. For example, I began drawing a lot of cinema ticket booths. I really enjoyed how a simplistic and functional cupboard-like room had been reinterpreted in such diverse ways over the last century of cinema architecture. It’s honestly something that’s deserving of its own book!
Q. Your work is quite diagrammatic. What were your main influences as this style progressed?
When I first started out with illustration, I worked frequently with museums and on educational projects. This led me to interpret imagery in what I find is the most literal sense. I like to show the space of things in an easily understood way. The use of clear line has interested me since childhood, having learned to read with the assistance of Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin. I also have a deep fondness for the clarity of illustration present in school exam papers and revision materials.
I find that clarifying an object into a more impartial isometric perspective is very satisfying. The process of repeatedly and obsessively studying an object can be a lot of fun; often the rarer objects can send one down a bizarre rabbit hole of books and websites, just so one can find a better angle of reference… or indeed to go visit a museum solely to see a particular artefact.
Q. If you had the choice to dedicate several pages of this book to just one individual in filmmaking, who would it be and why?
It was incredibly hard not to babble on at length about each filmmaker, and there are so many fantastic lives both in front and behind the lens. I find folk like Jehanne D’Alcy really interesting – as one of the first full-time film actresses, she must have had a really unique experience of the industry, especially during its fledgling years.
Q. Are there any directors or cinematographers whose artistic direction has influenced your own work?
It’s often difficult to put an aesthetic down to one particular person – it’s a team effort after all! But Kazuo Miyagawa and John Alcott are some particular chaps that I find really grand. Many shots in 2001: A Space Odyssey continually amaze me. I am also astounded by the imagery of How the West Was Won. The unique camera trickery that made Cinerama work means that every single frame of information is divided into thirds, which creates a very unique visual language. By most accounts it was a nightmare of a system for everyone involved, but it looked fab.
One of the more trivial details of the book was the need to include furniture and fashion tied to the context of its time period. This included heaps of tangential research that I really enjoyed. In particular I loved looking at 1970s shirts.
Otherwise, the more grand and detailed isometric scenes such as the Vaudeville and orchestral recording were images that I spent a large chunk of time and concentration on. I found it most enjoyable to truly inhabit an imaginary space and flesh it out with believable detail based on various photographic and illustrative references.
Q. If you could do an Illustrated History of anything else, what would you choose and why?
In the intro to An Illustrated History of Filmmaking, I outlined that I deliberately left out animation, as to include it as a tacked-on chapter would have been an absolute disservice to its important role in entertainment. So, I would love to celebrate the history of animation with its own book following much of the same structure, highlighting some of the key folk, events and technology that made it all possible.
Otherwise I have a long list of subjects that I desperately want to conjure into the format of a book. Ufology for one – it would be particularly fun to draw and write about!
The charming and colourful picture book The Diver is out now! Veronica Carratello is an illustrator and comic book artist who has worked with a number of clients including Netflix, Circle Dei Lettori, and has been a part of several exhibitions throughout Italy. We had a chat with Veronica and here she shares more about herself and her story…
1. Your book brings out essential topics that children and also adults deal with throughout their lives such as the self-confidence to believe in and achieve their own dreams. How did you come up with the idea of this beautiful story?
The idea came to me by chance. I could not sleep and I started thinking about how coins are flipped into fountains to make wishes, and I asked myself, what if the coin had a dream of its own? And then I started to develop the story.
At the beginning, Emma was a minor character. But after developing the story with the editor’s advice she became a main character alongside the coin, and the story shows their two lives happening side-by-side. Emma represents commitment to achieving a dream, and the coin represents strength of character. Both of them have moments of concern, as it usually happens in life.
2. Italy is well-known for its Trevi Fountain coin toss tradition and all the popular beliefs about it. Did you draw your inspiration from it to shape the personality of your main character?
Yes, I draw my inspiration from it and I’m fascinated by popular beliefs. If you toss a coin into Trevi Fountain, which I did, it means that you’ll return to Rome one day. But there is also a legend that if you flip a penny into a fountain and make a wish, it will come true.
I have to confess that before sending you the proposal of my book The Diver, I flipped a coin into a fountain too… and my wish came true!
3. Did you put yourself into your characters?
Like my characters, I believe in dreams, and my favourite quote is “If you can dream it, you can do it!” by Walt Disney. I like it because you can convince yourself that nothing is impossible, like the coin’s dream of being a diver, but I think that to achieve our goals, we also need to work hard and be determined, like Emma.
4. If you could have done something different as a child to achieve a dream as an adult, what would you do?
I would probably be a musician. I’ve always had a passion for music: a few years ago I wrote songs and played guitar in a band, I think it’s a nice way to tell a story too.
5. What is the main thing you want readers to learn from your book?
The main thing I want my readers to learn is that it doesn’t matter how small you are or how big your dream is, if you work hard and you really want it, your dream will come true!
Join us at Hay Festival of Literature and art for a day of workshops and events based aroundNobrow 10: Studio Dream magazine. In Association with ELCAF, we’re bringing four of the Nobrow 10 magazine illustrators to the festival and taking over The Cube for a day of workshops and activities and to discuss about their work, inspiration and more!
On Sunday 27th May, join us on the festival site for any (or all!) of these sessions:
Who: Katie Harnett
When: 11:30 am
Where: The Cube
The author’s picture-book Ivy and the Lonely Raincloud is a heart-warming tale about finding friendship in unexpected places. Enjoy the story and help our magical paper-flower garden grow by making your very own raincloud friend.
Discover the amazing creatures that live under the sea in a workshop with the illustrator based on his picture-book, a surreal, modern folktale about an adventurous little girl who must protect a peaceful living creature. Children can create sea creatures as part of a large-scale mural, then take them home.
A hands-on, family, drawing and mark making workshop where children can create their dream school, library and bedroom based on the Nobrow magazine illustrator’s work. Would you include a ball pool, a cinema, or a slide…or all of these and more? It’s entirely up to you!
Studio Dreams Panel (Katie Harnett, Joe Todd-Stanton, Jim Stoten, Ben Newman)
When: 5:30 pm
Join the Nobrow magazine illustrators as they discuss their work and how the environment in which we work affects what we make. The Nobrow tenth anniversary magazine celebrates 70 different illustrators’ vision of their ideal workspaces, if the sky was the limit.
Nobrow is delighted to announce the launch party of the latest edition of our Nobrow magazine, Nobrow 10!
(Available in Hardback and Paperback)
It’s already been 10 years since we started this amazing adventure! To celebrate it we are curating an extra special edition of the Nobrow magazine. This special edition features 70 artists responding to our curious theme of “Studio Dreams”.
In 2010, we commissioned Jan Van der Veken to illustrate our dream studio and his illustration provided the perfect starting point for this 10th edition. World-renowned creators turn their hand to creating their dream studio spaces in this unique, international showcase containing over 100 pages of illustration.
Join us to celebrate the launch of this special 10th anniversary edition of the Nobrow Magazine, on Friday 27th from 7 to 9pm at Gosh! Comics.
To mark the launch of Out of Nothing, Daniel Locke & David Blandy’s impressive millennia-spanning graphic novel, we have teamed up with THECUBE to put on an exhibition of original artwork and prints, and a series of events.
About the book:
Spanning millennia, Locke and Blandy’s ambitious graphic novel explores humanity’s inherent ‘dreaming mind’ and its impact on our world.
Surreal sequences take us from Gutenberg’s printing press to Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, via Picasso, Einstein, DJ Kool Herc and more. Locke and Blandy show how our basic instinct to observe, record, and connect has formed the basis for all human invention and progress.
Available here and in all great (UK) bookshop. US & Canada February 2018.
THECUBE is a coworking space in Shoreditch, East London. A home to freelancers and small businesses with an interest in science, technology and design. The coworking space has been designed to provide our members with a calm, welcoming, and friendly place to work. To achieve this they have used natural materials, plants, natural light, high ceilings, and changing art pieces.
THECUBE has several member-led collectives and organises events around three core disciplines – science, technology, and design – to further skill sets with peers, enabling them to grow new talents and learn from equally as talented minds who offer something new.
Nobrow / Flying Eye Books are proud to announce our partnership with Pop Up and Transbook to bring you an exciting new practice-sharing conference for children’s literature and education professionals featuring over 30 hands-on workshops, demonstrations, collaborations and converstations… Pop Up Lab
10th November 2017 | Peterborough UK
Invigorate your teaching practice or literature programming by exploring imaginative approaches to engaging young readers and writers through visual storytelling.
Pop Up Lab is cross-sector space in which to explore and experiment, share practice and learn new things. A keynote conversation will kickstart the day, and attendees will be able to choose up to two 75-minute sessions from a programme of hands-on workshops, demonstrations and conversations with 10 organisations and individuals. Many sessions are artist-led. Throughout the day facilitated discussions will help evolve a ‘manifesto’ to advance the cause of visual storytelling in schools and curriculums.
Lab 2017 involves organisations in the Transbook project. Transbook is a European initiative to promote the digital transition and internationalisation of the children’s publishing industry. Transbook is co- nanced by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union and operated by seven European partners from the children’s publishing industry.
A full programme schedule is available www.pop-up.org.uk/lab2017 and attendees will be asked to choose sessions in advance. Tickets available: here
Sessions by: Art Basics for Children (Belgium) / Centre for Literacy in Primary Education / Government Art Collection / Lisa Tilesi / Literature Wales / Metal Culture / Nobrow & MiniLab / Positive Negatives / Stephen Spender Trust / Tantagora (Spain) / Tiny Owl plus illustrators and comics artists from Estonia, Lithuania, France, England, Wales and Ireland Pop Up Lab is presented in association with Nobrow & Transbook and supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation
Join us at The Institute of Light for a very special evening with illustrator Ricardo Cavolo, celebrating the launch of his brand new book, 101 Movies to Watch Before You Die. Taking the form of a diary, the book is a love story told in 101 episodes. Accompanying his vibrant, distinctive illustrations with thoughtful descriptions of each movie, Ricardo takes us on a personal journey through the films that have shaped his life and the lives of his generation.
We’ve teamed up with our London Fields neighbours, The Institute of Light, for this book launch and exclusive film screening. We invited Ricardo to personally select one movie from his top 101 for the occasion… and he chose Tod Browning’s brilliant 1932 film Freaks, calling it a “milestone in his life and career”.
Ricardo Cavolo on Freaks (1932):
“I’m more interested in showing how different people love and laugh than in the revenges they exact. And that’s what Tod Browning shows us. His great clan of people have all been unceremoniously rejected from society, but are taken in by the travelling circus family. In the safety of their new home, they forget all about the so-called ‘normal people’ who ridicule them and they become one big happy family. They’re magical.”
Fresh off the plane from Spain, Ricardo will be introducing the film with a short talk about himself, the book, and why Freaks means so much to him. Ricardo will be signing books after the screening, and you’ll also pick up a free set of temporary tattoos of Ricardo’s illustrations with every purchase of the book.
Born in his father’s painting studio, Ricardo Cavolo has grown up surrounded by art and is now one of the most influential and successful illustrators to come out of Spain. His influences range from outsider art to medieval paintings and tribal art. Cavolo’s work has been exhibited in solo shows across Spain, as well in Montreal, Miami, Basel and London. His distinctive and recognisable work can be seen on everything from José Cuervo tequila bottles to Alexander McQueen scarves and Kaytranada album artwork to murals all around the world. He is also the author / illustrator of 101 Artists to Listen to Before You Die, published by Nobrow in 2015.
Join us at Libreria Bookshop to celebrate the launch of Moonhead and the Music Machine. A subtle blend between Wayne’s World and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Andrew Rae’s graphic novel is an imaginative and visually poetic take on the high school coming-of-age tale.
We will be selling ice cold beers. Life is a peach when you have a moon for a head…
Joe Todd-Stanton joins us to celebrate the release of his new book, The Secret of Black Rock. Featuring strong female characters, epic adventure and a friendly island(!) this beautiful story is a must for children and adults alike. Come and enjoy a story reading, sea creatures fact sheets and tropical fish collage as part of our Children’s Easter Festival. This event is free however please email to guarantee your spot. Ideal for ages 4-9.
Spring has sprung with The Little Gardener! Author and illustrator Emily Hughes joins us to celebrate the changing seasons and the release of her beautiful new book. As well as a story reading we will be decorating our own plant pots and planting our own sunflower in this fun and educational activity session, part of our Children’s Easter Festival. Perfect for ages 3-7.
Join author and illustrator Jim Stoten to celebrate Mr Tweed’s Busy Day. This search-and-find adventure story is packed with riddles that we need you to help us solve. Tasks will be placed around the children’s section and will include both paper and 3D searches – with Easter themed prizes! This is event forms part of our Children’s Easter Festival. This event is free however please email to guarantee your spot. Perfect for ages 5-9.
Who: Pippa Goodhart
When: Tuesday 11th April, 13:00 -14:00
Where: Waterstones Piccadilly
Rabbits, bunnies, hoppity hops, call them what you like but we LOVE bunnies! This Easter join author Pippa Goodhart for a range of rabbity stories, songs and games to celebrate her new book My Very Own Space as part of our Children’s Easter Festival. This event is free however please email to guarantee your space. Perfect for ages up to 6.
Join us at Libreria for an interstellar drawing workshop with illustrator Tom Clohosy Cole. Based upon his beautiful leporello ‘Space Race’, participants will be invited to draw planets, rockets and all else that might be found amongst the stars, creating their very own concertina book to take home. Suitable for ages 5+
Help illustrator Owen Davey transform the Events Room into an underwater seascape inspired by his book, Smart about Sharks. Learn about different types of marine creatures and create your own using a range of materials.
Foyles x ELCAF is a new collaboration which sees the UK’s largest independent bookshop teaming up with the East London Comic & Arts Festival to celebrate some of the best creative talent in the UK. This year, we open our doors in Chelmsford, London, Birmingham and Bristol to host a series of workshops, talks and one-to-one meetings with illustrators, comic artists and experts in the field. Curated by ELCAF, this eclectic programme aims to celebrate the dynamic work of artists that are making waves in the UK’s independent comic, narrative art and illustration scene. This is the first in the series and is a children’s event focussing on the art of drawing big.
Artist and illustrator, Katie Harnett will be leading a hands-on workshop for budding artists. Katie specialises in children’s books and has worked on both picture books and book covers. Join in the fun of creating a large scale collaborative drawing and learn all about how to ‘draw big’. This event is suitable for children aged 5-10 years.
Cliff, Reynard and Simon are back… in Garbage Night! In this hotly anticipated follow-up to Jen Lee‘s 17×23 comic Vacancy, the unlikely gang find themselves struggling to survive across a post-apocalyptic wasteland, forcing them to question the nature of friendship and freedom…
The trio spend their days looting the desolate supermarket and waiting for the return of the hallowed ‘garbage night’. But rumour has it, there’s a nearby town where humans still live. The trio join up with Barnaby, a mysterious stranger, and set off into the unknown…
Dog, German Shepherd
Raised in a loving and stable home. Passed his Good Canine Citizenship test with flying colors. With a tendency to be overly optimistic, he’ll choose to not hear others’ concerns. Always happy to help, although he can be unaware of his own needs.
* prone to bloat
* excels at fetch
North American Raccoon
Having paid close attention to her mother’s teachings she’s become extremely skilled at breaking and entering.Cautious of strangers, but not afraid. Holds others up to high standards, because she believes in her friends but this can make her a bit controlling.
* orphaned at a young age
* if it’s scary, yell at it
Afraid of being incapable, he prefers to coast through life events. Will buckle under pressure when presented with a challenge and tends to not think things through. Extremely inward in a group, but hates to be alone. Got booted out of his herd, he doesn’t want to talk about it.
* loves the feeling of grass on his cheeks
* if it’s scary, run
Athletic and well composed. Is aloof with strangers, but once he makes a friend he’s fiercly loyal and expects the same in exchange.Confident in his talents, he openly shares them in helping others- but grows resentments when the response is silence.
* Field Champion title in Lure Coursing
* gets cold easily
Get Garbage Night here or from your local bookshop now!
To mark the release of Safe & Sound, we asked Loris Lora to share, and talk us through, some of the beautiful images she hand-painted for the book.
“Here’s a work in progress of the cover. This is actually the second version and i’m glad that we reworked it as it ended up having much more of the animals in which made it much more active.”
‘This was the first illustration I worked on for the book. I wanted to create an underwater scene that is largely influenced by vintage children’s book illustrations and created a transparent effect using gouache paint. I loved working on the mother crocodile and the way her body curved in the illustration.”
“I think these two next to one another in the spread work really well. I really like the balance between a spot illustration and a full page illustration. Painting fur on the wolves and anteaters was fun to work on. I love being able to “drybrush” fur.”
“With the monkeys I wanted them to have an active composition. I like that I was able to paint them as they swing through the page surrounded by different hues of green.”
“The bears are probably one of my favorites in Safe & Sound. But I may be bias as my nickname growing up by parents was “Osito” which means Little Bear in spanish. I was really happy with the composition on this one and loved painting the sleeping cubs.”
“A big challenge on these the baby blue birds was making them look fun and cute. I knew I wanted to have a group of them and loved the ideas of using different kinds of blue. My favourite is the one peeking out.”
“I’m really happy with the the composition worked out. I thought it would be different to have the mother lions back towards the viewer and have her baby cub peeking through.”
“Loved working on the rhinos. This was a great opportunity for me to work on textures on both the rhinos and abstract grasslands, which later influenced the endpages for the book.”
“Knowing this would be one of the last animals listed in the book. I wanted to create an image that had a big impact on the spread. Painting a BIG baby blue whale was so much fun. And having part of the mother in the background to show scale was a nice addition.”
A huge thank you to Loris Lora for sharing these pictures and insight into her incredible process. You can now order finished copies of Safe & Sound, containing all these beautiful images and so many more here and from all the very best (UK) bookshops!
When I saw the cover of Nightlights for the first time in the Nobrow catalogue, I knew that I had been hooked. There was something about the style and colour of that cover that brought images of Miyazaki’s worlds to mind as well as a touch of Sendak’s Outside Over There and Henson’s Labyrinth: a taste of the mythical and magical daubed with a sense of weighted reality. When I managed to get hold of a copy and found that it was all of these and yet, equally, none of them – a story set within the imagination of a vibrantly creative individual – I was swept in from the first few frames and taken on a wonderful journey which I still regularly return to. My review can be found here.
Thanks to the people at NoBrow and Lorena herself, I was able to ask the creator a few questions that I had about Nightlights and the creative process that went into its making:
1.Can you tell me a little about yourself and the path you took that brought you into illustration and creating Nightlights?
I’ve always been interested in writing and drawing my own stories but the idea of becoming an author was too intimidating. I was waiting for a big, epic story to come out of nowhere in my head and it took me a while to understand that it doesn’t work that way. I started then with “small” ideas, taking notes from my everyday life, writing about the music I like, about the people I met; it wasn’t only a good exercise but also it gave me an opportunity to communicate with others and share experiences.
When I wrote the first draft for Nightlights I was living in a small town in Arkansas. Being in a place so different from Bogotá gave me enough distance to see things in perspective, to appreciate my personal story in a different light. I was educated in a catholic school for girls and it was something I dreaded to talk about, but at some point I realized that the whole experience was an important part of my identity. I thought a lot about the stories we used to tell each other -particularly during our elementary years- and they were amazing. Unknowingly, we mixed the doctrine we learned from the nuns with elements of our own imagination, pop culture and the social context we lived in. With all that in mind I started to work in the plot of Nightlights.
2. One of the things that immediately grabbed my attention when reading Nightlights was where you positioned me as a reader. Sometimes I was high up, looking down and other times I was at ground level. Using some of the pictures from your book as examples, could you tell me a little about how you go about choosing the reader’s positioning and what your intention is in some scenes?
I think it depends on what aspect of the characters I want to present to the reader and the action that’s taking place. I draw many scenes viewed from above because I like to give and idea of how Sandy interacts with the place she’s in. For example, when Morphie and Sandy are playing in the supply room, I wanted to create a dynamic image, without a rigid sequence to follow, in which both girls are using didactic objects as toys, moving freely in an otherwise regulated space. Also, when Morphie leads Sandy to the forest I wanted to show how Sandy is engulfed by the surroundings which symbolizes Morphie’s power. When I want to show more subtle aspects of the story I like to draw details, like Sandy’s hands which represents her feelings and reactions.
3. Sandy’s story really struck a chord with me with and how much we encourage children to follow their dreams and interests. How much of your own story is she telling?
Sandy was created as a silent character in a short story I wrote before Nightlights. She actually resembles me during that age, with the ponytails and the oversized skirt. I also used to imagine that there were little bright dots in the darkness of my room at night, that I could catch them and give them any shape I wanted. For a long time I didn’t have close friends at school and I was found being by myself during recess.
In a way, Sandy has allowed me to acknowledge and appreciate the little girl I once was, with her flaws and complexities. It wasn’t until I started this project that I could see how the decisions I made being so little draw the path I would follow ever since. I have drawn since I can remember; I made the decision of being an artist when I was a kid. I like to think that determination is still in me, so as it is in Sandy.
4. ‘Breathtaking’ is probably a good word to describe some of your panels. How you go from the start of creating a page to the end, sharing a little about your method and materials?
Thank you! I start doodling and writing notes, trying to “catch” and give shape to the idea I have in mind. Then I take all that mess and put it in a layout, working the flow of the story until I’m happy with the plot. Finally I start to clean the images and work in the dialogues.
5. There are too many scenes for me choose from which I enjoy. Which picture is your favourite and how long did it take to put together?
One of my favorite scenes is the one in the supply room, when Sandy and Morphie play together. It was very important for me to write it because I could define their relationship through that scene.
6. Can you give us a little sneak peak of your work-space and how a typical working day looks for you? (I know you’re extremely versatile and work in other mediums besides illustration – please do share)
This year has been kind of weird because I had so much to do, but I usually try to keep a routine. A typical day for me means to get up at 8 am, feed my cats, water the plants, and check the online papers and the mail before getting to work. I like to take time and draw my sketches on paper before taking them to coloring in Photoshop. I dedicate two days a week to write. When it comes to exhibitions I like to paint with watercolors and acrylics, lately I’ve been also working with Ink and bleach. I make time to knit and sew, I haven’t been able to do it lately but i love to do plush toys. Now that I have a little more of time I’m planning also to retake my guitar lessons and my swimming practice.
7. All readers will carry on interpretation of what or who Morphie is but can I ask what Morphie means to you?
Morphie is a part of Sandy, that’s why she mirrors her in some panels and that’s why she won’t die or disappear.In a certain way Morphie represents the traps and insecurities you have to deal with when something you love to do becomes your job. I think it is a concern for many artists to lose their authenticity while dealing with the pressure of staying relevant and produce great things all the time to the pleasure and benefit of others.
Morphie is also that part of me that tells me to stop trying, that inner critic that we all have but sometimes grows so much that it consumes all your energy and makes you feel worthless.
8. Finally, can you tell us of any future projects?
I hope so! :) I’m writing a second book, so I’m again feeling this mix of happiness and fear again, I’m really excited about it. I’m also planning to paint more, to create a new line of plush toys, to work in some animation projects too.
Thank you Matt for the insightful questions and Lorena for the inspiring answers! Order a copy of Nightlights right here or get hold it from your local bookshop.
We have collaborated with Libreria’s risograph artist Jess Fogarty to produce a unique collection of limited edition prints in celebration of our relaunch of this masterwork of graphic invention. These will be exclusively available from Libreria on the night, until they run out! And Robert will be on hand to sign copies of Map of Days (as well as The New Ghost and The Land of Nod).
Robert Hunter’s vivid illustrations tell a dreamlike tale of ancient love, creating a surreal graphic novel unlike any other. Intrigued by its endless tick-tocking, Richard steps into the world behind his grandfather’s clock and discovers the Face of the Earth, trapped there by an eternal longing.
Moved to pity, Richard winds back the clock, changing time forever…
“With its strange symbols, alien landscapes and rich hues that speak of dreams and mystery, Map of Days bewitches’- The Guardian