We heard a lot about apps and digital formats for books, but I spoke about the more basic, affordable side of the digital world, mostly blogging and fun ways to tackle it. My talk wasn't until 3:30, so I had a good while to get nervous, and I thought I babbled a bit, but everyone seemed very enthusiastic afterward, so, whew, relief. (You can read people's comments over on the Twitter #kidsconf11 hashtag here.
My favourite talk was by a German publisher named Ralph Mollers, who broke every rule I know about public speaking but somehow, maybe just by being very German, managed to have us all weeping with laughter. My main conclusions I took from the day were 1,) that quality of storytelling is more important than any digital format - whatever you do and however much money you spend, you have to have a good story for it to work; 2.) for the future of digital stories, we need to have high-quality images or people are going to turn away from it all, and 3.) most British publishers can't afford all this whizzy app and virtual world building stuff anyway, and even the well-financed Americans who are doing it haven't made any money on it yet, but; 4.) we can't afford to ignore new digital advances either.
So after drinks, I got on the train to Brighton and went to the Grand Central Pub, just near the station. I missed the kitchen being open but still had a fine plate of chips for dinner. And I gave another talk to the Brighton Illustrators Group, about blogging! Then we had a panel discussion, which included (from the left): moderator Jo Moore, Joseph Wilkins, Tom Sanderson, Ross Breadmore from Nixon McInnes and Carl Rush from Crush Design. (You can see a couple more pics on Fred Pipes' Flickr page.)
We talked quite a lot about Twitter, and if you're interested in Brighton illustrators, I've picked up a bunch of new people to follow from the #bigillustrators hashtag, which was rolling on the screen above us while we talked. Fortunately people in the audience only discovered toward the end of the talk that they could poke fun at the speakers by tweeting things and having them appear in huge letters, uncensored, in the screen behind us, ha ha...
Here's Ross giving his talk, and our fab techie guy Peter Mac with organiser Penny Dann. Thanks for your hard work!
Small world! Here are two illustrators will close links to my work: Guy Parker-Rees has illustrated for Giles Andreae (who wrote Morris the Mankiest Monster, which I illustrated); you may know Guy's book with Giles, Giraffes Can't Dance. And Lesley White is a new writer-illustrator working on a picture book with David Fickling Books. Since David only publishes about two picture books a year, that makes her, like, my DFB sister or something. Cool.
In my presentation, I mentioned a few projects I've done, including Monsterville, Draw-Yourself-as-a-Teenager (full list of all 500 people who did it here), Hourly Comics Day (official website here), my Airship Comics Jam with David O'Connell, my China travel comic on the DFB blog, my downloadable activity sheets, and doing landscape drawings with Philip Reeve and creating a travel comic and video. So it was rather fitting that I got to meet two of Philip's earliest friends (Philip's originally from Brighton), Justin Hill (about whom Philip blogged very recently) and Jo Moore, his flatmate from art school days (who also has a mention on his blog).
And Jo proved to be a most excellent friend-of-a-friend, and put me up for the night! And then took me out for breakfast on the beach! Here we are, drawing at The Meeting Place Cafe on Brighton seafront.
And here's what we drew!
The weather couldn't have been finer, as noted in today's discarded train paper:
Here's the old ruin of Brighton Pier, sizzling in the sun.
You might recognise that building just over my shoulder as Embassy Court, which appeared in the Dave McKean-Neil Gaiman film MirrorMask. It's been fixed up a lot since the filming.
The other fun part of the morning was getting to see Jo's studio!
Here's Jo's portfolio on the Brighton Illustrators Group website, and you might recognise her Usborne Sticker Dolly Dressing books. (My favourite is the Around the World one, with all its amazing ornate ethnic outfits.) Interestingly, at The Bookseller conference, they were saying that these kinds of sticker books are selling tops in children's books right now. I can imagine why, I loved them as a kid. Here are some paper dolls I drew when I was a teenager and thought I wanted to be a fashion designer, or maybe a window designer, or the person who drew the pictures on sewing pattern envelopes.
I love seeing where people work. Jo has loads of cool stuff stashed everywhere and I took some snaps. (We briefly popped in to see Nick Sharratt and John, and noticed they had the same mobile hanging in their stairwell.)
I hope the event organiser Penny Dann doesn't mind me showing work from her college days, but Jo had this beautiful little book she made for her degree project. So lovely!
Thanks so much to all The Bookseller people and Brighton Illustrators Group people who made these events all happen! And to Jo, who hopefully has gone from being a friend-of-a-friend to an actual friend.
Okay, one more video from MirrorMask, just because it's so wonderfully creepy.