Publishing frenzy greets MA Children's Book Illustration graduates

Published: 19 April 2014 at 11:20

Staff and students at the Bologna Book Fair stand

Project work sparks industry interest at graduation exhibition and Bologna Book Fair

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64 of the 150 students enrolled on Cambridge School of Art's renowned programme concluded their studies with the annual graduation exhibition in early February at the Candid Arts Trust in London's Islington. Just a few weeks later, many were also represented at the course's stand at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, alongside a number of graduates from the previous year. The London exhibition took place at a new, larger venue due to the considerable increase in student numbers in recent years.

The tenth anniversary graduation show attracted a huge turnout of publishers and prior to Bologna, had already led to multiple publishing deals with such leading companies as Hodder Children's Books, Harper Collins US, Flying Eye (Nobrow), Nosy Crow, Orchard Books and many others. Contracts signed for advances against royalties included one of $50,000 and another of £20,000.

The Bologna stand was fully booked for publisher visits for the entire four days of the fair. Organised by Senior Lecturer Pam Smy and supported by a team of volunteer students, the presence at the fair for the third year led to a further surge in contract negations, this time on a more international basis. It tops an exceptional year for the course in which three of the six picturebooks on the shortlist for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize are by graduates of the course: Courtney Dicmas, Elys Dolan and Gemma Merino.

The final shortlist of six for the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal has also been released and includes graduate Birgitta Sif's Oliver (Walker Books).

At this year's fair, Professor Martin Salisbury (Director of CCBS and Course Leader for the MA Children's Book Illustration) acted as Chair of the international jury for the Bologna Ragazzi Awards, presented to the best children's picturebooks published in the preceding year. Over 1100 submitted books were viewed over two days.