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On Thursday, a bunch of illustrators and I had the honour of opening the South Ken Kids Festival at the Institut Français in central London.

Photo tweeted by Jonathan Rogers @jejr100

So much of what the French Institute is about is cross-cultural exchange and education, so they thought our Drawing Europe Together book would be a perfect start. Here are three of the 45 artists represented in the book: Bridget Marzo, Marta Altes and Tor Freeman.

And drawing together was what we all did! To be honest, it's not easy getting that many illustrators and pens and hands under a visualiser all at once, and not easy to get very professional looking drawings!

Photo by Heather Kilgour

But it was fun chaos, more like a game than a high-pressure drawing demonstration. Here you can spot illustrators Axel Scheffler, Tor Freeman, Bridget Marzo, Okido magazine's Alex Barrow, junior illustrator Wilfred, me, Penny Dale and Marta Altes.

Photo tweeted by the Institut Français @ifru_london

If you're wondering about the junior illustrator, he was sitting in the second row and making wonderful pictures, and we got him up on stage to work with us. Here's another drawing I did with him, where I drew the bottom half and he drew the top half.

I love it when drawing is a grownup thing but kids get to be part of it and draw alongside us. So many adults see drawing as something people stop doing when they get to a certain age, and that sentiment rubs off on children; if adults see drawing as childish, children will see it as childish, too, and it loses its attraction. Much better that they see adults drawing and, if they're lucky, something they get to take part in.

Photo tweeted by Tom Price @pricetom

There were a few other projects that Lucie Campos and translator Sarah Ardizzone bigged up on the night. Here's a wonderful project with young Baltic illustrators, where they were teamed up with professional illustrators and their work printed up into an accordian-fold booklet. This beautiful one's by Estonian artist Anna Eespere, being mentored by Greenaway-medal-winning illustrator William Grill.

Dylan Calder from organiser Pop-Up Festival came up on stage to talk a bit about it and you can find out more on their website.

Here's a group of BA graphic designers from Central Saint Martins art college who also did live drawing on stage. It was great practice, many of them hadn't even done live stage drawing before, and it takes some getting used to! Big thanks to Lucie Campos, Zélie Malaret, Camille Ondet, Sarah Ardizzone, Alyx Price from Macmillan and everyone from the French Institute and beyond who made the evening possible!



Sarah McIntyre

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February 2024


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