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Here's my watercolour version of today's #PortraitChallenge. It's a portrait by Peter Paul Rubens and I discovered it first on the @medievalpoc account on Twitter. You can find out more about it on the Museum of Fine Arts Boston website.



And the pencil lines, before I coloured them in. Check out the other drawings over at @StudioTeaBreak, they're fab! :)

#portraitchallenge: virginia woolf

Here's my drawing for today's @StudioTeaBreak #PortraitChallenge! I took a bit of liberty with her nose; I didn't want it to look like an exact copy of the photo.

Virginia Woolf

Wasn't happy with that one and did a second one; had a bit more fun with it.



Here's the original, a platinum print photo by George Charles Beresford from 1902, at the National Portrait Gallery. See other people's drawings over here on Twitter!

Something very exciting happened today... I went to the Scholastic UK offices and got to meet Alan MacDonald, the writer of our upcoming picture book, The Prince of Pants!! (You might recognise Alan as the writer of the Dirty Bertie books with David Roberts.)



Lately I've gotten used to working on books with people I already know, but Alan's text was so good, and had so much space for me to put fun stuff into it with the pictures, that I jumped on it. But I kept being like, WHEN ARE WE GOING TO MEET??! HUH? HUH?? So FINALLY. (And he's ace.) Also fabulous are the team we worked with on the book! Here's our editor (who's from Finland!), Pauliina Malinen, and I worked on the pictures and layout with awesome designer Strawberrie Donnelly (on the right).



Strawberrie took a big risk with this book because she tried out a brand-new kind of ink, and we had no idea how it would turn out. On the first test print run, everyone's skin came out bright orange, like Donald Trump, and we were so nervous that it wouldn't work on the second batch... but it did! The colours look awesome and... oh my goodness, are they BRIGHT! I hope you get to see what I mean, you could almost get a suntan if you looked at the interiors of this book for too long. And the glow-in-the-dark pants at the end really glow!

Here are a couple development paintings I did right at the beginning of the project, to try to figure out how Prince Pip would work. You might recognise the fat pony from the #PictureMeanBusiness campaign. I've been slightly obsessed with fat ponies lately. (Credit to Philip Reeve, who actually painted the first fat Pegasus picture.)



And here are our publicity team who helped us make some videos, Lucy Richardson and Olivia Horrox. I did a couple drawing tutorials (which I hope I can show you later), and we even filmed ourselves singing our new PANTS song. I was super-nervous, I'd only practiced it the night before, and I didn't know if I'd be able to play it without fluffing it every few strums on the ukulele. But I was super-proud that we did it in one take, even if I broke out in a massive post-traumatic stress sweat afterward, like all the menopauses at once, ha ha.



The Prince of Pants comes out in October, and we can't wait to show it to you!


I was chuffed to get a call from journalist Tom Tivnan, that The Bookseller had put me up for their Rising Stars gallery, for my work on the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign. It's nice to be recognised, but even better, it's great to see The Bookseller championing a campaign that was initially critical of them. They took the criticism in a thoughtful, professional way, made changes to the way they credited illustrators, and they're now real champions of the cause. Thank you, Tom, Fiona Noble, Philip Jones, Charlotte Eyre, Sarah Shaffi, Natasha Onwuemezi, Kiera O'Brien, FutureBook's Porter Anderson and everyone who have been working hard to credit illustrators and encouraging other people to do so, too. We're definitely making progress and seeing more illustrator names on front book covers and illustrators mentions in the media (including in The Bookseller).

While I don't think it's really a one-person campaign - it takes lots of people to make a difference - The Bookseller are leading the way and I'm very grateful to them for that. Article by Tom Tivnan ('cos #JournalismMeanBusiness):



I've highlighted the bits I think are the most important, and I can only do this campaigning because of the support I've had from my co-author Philip Reeve, Liz Cross and our publisher OUP, my agent Jodie Hodges, Joy Court of the Carnegie-Greenaway committee, the Society of Authors (Nicola Solomon, Niall Slater, Jo McCrum), Andre Breedt and the data team at Nielsen, Kellie Barnfield and Helen Graham at Little Brown for their help with data, Kate Wilson for starting up the Illustrator Salons, and all the writers, illustrators, bloggers, reviewers, booksellers and people in publishing who have been looking out to see illustrators credited properly and professionally.

A lot of illustrators are still frightened of looking like 'trouble' to speak out, but from what they say to me in private, I know your help will be hugely appreciated. Working as a freelance illustrator is a scary job, especially if you don't have a working partner or family who can look after you when your pay is uneven. I've been lucky that my partner works and it's given me some more freedom to trying to make the profession a bit more accessible to single people and people from poorer backgrounds. #PicturesMeanBusiness won't solve all the problems facing illustrators, but we need to fix the industry one step at a time: if illustrators don't have to lose brand-name recognition and the resulting loss of business because the industry, media and society at large are crediting them properly, we can focus our energies elsewhere, trying to make a living and making better books. And publishers will win in so many ways, including better searchability for their books in metadata, being able to grow their illustrators as brands that people want to search out and buy, and by gaining illustrator loyalty.

You can read more in this article by Tom Tivnan and Tom Holman, and find out about the other Rising Stars here. And, of course, find out about Pictures Mean Business at PicturesMeanBusiness.com. Do spread the word about the campaign!