MA Children’s Book Illustration Exhibition at Cambridge School of Art
This exhibition is particularly noteworthy as the illustrations on display at Cambridge School of Art are created with a focus on children’s book illustration, making the pieces incredibly professional and expertly executed. In addition to the visually stunning artwork, there are several key takeaways to be gained from attending this exhibition.
- Exhibition Format
Each student is allocated approximately 1-2 square metres of exhibition space to showcase their multiple children’s books. Students typically exhibit three to five books which demonstrate their strengths in creating children’s literature. Alongside these books, the exhibition features derivative artwork, project sketches, daily sketchbooks, single original drawings, free postcards, and personal business cards. Visitors can expect to see both flat and three-dimensional works displayed on partitions and tables. The booths are very well-designed, creating a striking and immersive viewing experience.
- Children’s Books
The majority of the children’s book illustrations on display were presented in the form of sample books, meaning that half of the pages inside were pre-prepared in colour, while the other half contained black and white line drawings. We asked one of the authors about this approach, and they explained that it allows them to submit their work to clients before it’s fully completed, provided the content is adequately expressed and the final visual effect is evident. This also allows for suggestions and adjustments to the unfinished work.
Most individual illustrators displayed two types of sketchbooks: project sketchbooks and life sketchbooks. Some chose to combine these two types of sketchbooks into one volume. Project sketchbooks contain a record of the script for the illustrated book, storyboards, subplots, compositions, experimentation with different styles and colours, and more. Viewers can see the development of each piece of artwork. Life sketchbooks, on the other hand, contain realistic observations and quick notes on the environment and people, and often serve as a foundation for formal projects. This part of the exhibition was particularly striking as visitors can see how illustrators develop their personal illustrative style through experimentation and practice.
- Folders of Original Drawings
In front of each booth, there is a shelf displaying A3 folders containing the illustrator’s single original drawings. These range from single illustrations for children’s books to individual creations outside of any projects, providing visitors with a chance to appreciate the materials used and the layering of the images.
- On-Site Interaction with Illustrators
The exhibition also provides a unique opportunity to meet the illustrators in person and engage in conversation. During one such interaction, we asked an illustrator about their process for finding inspiration for their children’s books. They explained that Professor Martin Salisbury advised them to start by reflecting on their own childhood and memories, and learn to empathize with their audience through images. As a result, they began by creating stories that were relevant to them, using their own experiences as a starting point.
Some of the works on display can be viewed on Cambridge School of Art’s Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/csacbi/
Thank you for visiting the exhibition.