Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Publishing houses

Hello my dearest blog readers! How the dickens are you? Isn't 'blog readers' is a dull term? Personally, I quite like 'bloggles', or 'bloggins,' or perhaps (if you were all kindly prepared to don leg-warmers), 'bloggets'...?

Anyway, I hope you're all well and dandy. Things have been barmy, naturally; but a little more so than usual. To give you some indication, I'd say, crazier than a soup sandwich, but not quite as mad as a bag of cats.

I've been working on several illustration jobs at once and have been attempting to fairly price up another couple. I've met up with the Surrey Illustrators (a very fine bunch of people) and I've been down to London to blether at the feet of Harry Potters' people in Bloomsbury.

Incidentally, I know I've spoken about the different 'feels' of each publishing house, but have I mentioned the eccentricity of publishing buildings?

If you lined all the publishing offices up next to eachother you'd have the kind of skyline of which Tim Burton could only dream. What's really great is they're all so unexpected. I always find myself picturing an interview beforehand to try and steady my nerves, but I NEVER get the situation right. I'm half thinking, I might have to envisage a bouncy castle or an icecream van in my mental walk-through next time... just to cover my bases. Publishing houses are all fantastic. They range from shiny, high rises with gated security stations and receptionists, stern and highly armed (with biro's and name badges, naturally), to eccentric tumbledown houses, to Templar's magically warren-y offices (which I'm sure they're short-leasing from a large family of badgers). At the end of Publishing Road, I'm sure there'd be an old, and very esteemed art director that lived in a shoe.

One publisher has wall to wall windowed lifts, so if you're romantic you feel like you're flying, and if you're like me, you feel like you've farted with enough gusto to launch. I'd also note that when visiting said publisher, due to a strategically placed Starbucks below, when travelling higher than second floor, short skirts are to be avoided at all costs. And picking ones' nose is an out and out no-no.

The Bloomsbury offices have THE smallest lift you've ever seen. I'm not joking, it's about a metre and half wide, by a metre deep.... and there's three of us in there.... and we're all the same height. Now, the height thing can be seen one of two ways. With tall people, I tend to be at armpit (or worse still) crotch height. For anyone that's never had the pleasure; introducing yourself when you're eye-to-crotch is something from which it's kind of hard to recover. With people the same size as me, and particularly in a interview type environment, the eye-to-eye thing is always slightly unnerving; you over-analyse your movements until you develop an erratic twitch. On top of that, it's before the interview, so I'm attempting to make small talk AND impress at the same time. On top of THAT, our faces (all three of them) are mere inches apart... I feel like I'm in the Bohemian Rhapsody video. Quick, I think... and twitch, and twitch and think; drop some enlightened phrase on publishing current affairs. Talk apps, talk distribution channels, talk anything but... 'I LIKE HARRY POTTER!' Dear God, when you belt out this inanity, you can only hope you didn't top it off by spitting in anyone's eye or stomping on anyone's foot. And unfortunately, we've still got another three floors to ride...all staring (in extreme close-up) and in palpable silence at my reddening, twitching face.

Thank goodness publishers are a nice breed of human. Whether I'm trying to exit out of the 'entrance' door at Orion, bashing head-long, like a trapped wilderbeast, into the glass doors at Hodder, or babbling incoherantly in Bloomsbury's lift, all of them have been decent enough not to mention it. All I can say is, if they can be this nonchalant at my behaviour though, it does make me think; what on EARTH do the rest of you illustrators get up to????

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Pre-order George and Ghost with its' swanky new cover here (or at any other good book store)! It's now sold to South Korea too- hooray!

As I have nothing I'm able to show for the mo, I'm sticking up some cool links.

Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity -


Emily Gravett drawing Cave Baby -


Alice for the Ipad


Axel Sheffler


Chris Riddell