Wednesday 25 November 2015

CWISL ShoutWest! storymaking festival for school children 2015

Margaret Bateson-Hill's compilation of photos from the ShoutWest! Festival 2015.

ShoutWest! was my second storymaking festival since joining CWISL earlier this year (the first was ShoutSouth!) held at Brunel University in West London with local schools taking part.

The children, illustrators and writers were divided up into three groups: Leopard, Tiger and Panther. I was with the Leopards along with writers Sara Grant, Cate Sampson and Jamie Buxton plus around 30 school children and their teachers.

For Margaret Bateson-Hill's storytelling, Mo O'Hara's drama and Bridget Marzo's illustration workshops the Panthers, Tigers and Leopards all got together.

Other workshops were done within individual groups: The Spark (getting story ideas), Character Passport, Spot the Plot and Mad, Murky & Moody.

The Character Passport session was my first chance to lead a CWISL workshop. I love talking about creating and developing characters so this was ideal for me. I spoke about the importance of characters, how the look of a character can tell us a lot about them including their backstory, how the choice of character can affect the story and drive it along. Then we worked on a character profile as a group and after that the children worked on profiles for characters in their stories. Some wonderful, and highly imaginative, work was done by the children - some of it will be available to view on CWISL's website for under 16s

CWISL are already talking about the next ShoutWest! Festival to be held again at Brunel University in November 2016. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday 20 November 2015

Illustration talk/workshop for Level 2 students at Lesoco College

Students working on their responses to the creative brief I gave them.
Earlier this week I went to Lewisham and Southwark College (Lesoco) in south London to talk to Level 2 students about my experiences as an illustrator and I also set them a creative brief task to create a character.

As arranged with their lecturer, Mary Campbell, I had two hours to talk. I decided to give an overview of:

  • My education.
  • My background in graphic design and animation.
  • The many and varied clients and projects I have been involved with. (I had quite a large portfolio with me!)
  • How I work with clients.
  • Sources of illustration work.
  • How to look for work.
  • Publicizing your work.
  • Useful education and training for self employed illustrators.
  • Support groups and networks for illustrators.

That was a lot of talking and unfortunately I didn't realise I was starting to run over time until shortly before I had to finish. The students only had 20 minuttes or so to draw their responses to the character based creative brief I had given them. They were amazing, they all produced something and many of them managed to create interesting characters that would be viable.

The students are looking for work experience placements in illustration, design or related businesses, studios or agencies in London. If you can help please contact art and design lecturer Mary Campbell at the college or send a message to me and I'll pass it on.

Saturday 17 October 2015

Character sketches for a story by Rachel Braverman - 100,000 Jumpers

Becca and Oscar rough character sketch by Amanda Lillywhite
Rachel has asked me to create chapter header illustrations for her story for 8-11 year olds. It's about a 10 year old girl called Becca who has just been placed for adoption and is finding it difficult to settle in and trust her new family. Mummy Mo is Becca's adoptive mother, Fallon is her new big sister and Oscar the cat is her new best friend.

At the moment I'm just getting to know the characters by sketching them, my next step will be to start working on ideas for the book illustrations.
Fallon and Mummy Mo character sketches by Amanda Lillywhite

Friday 16 October 2015

BIG CATS! Comic making workshop at TOMS community outpost in London

As part of TOMS community outpost's big cat initiative I will be running a big cat comic making workshop for children of all ages 3-5pm on October 25 at 5-7 Foubert's Place, London W1F 7PY. All materials are supplied and no booking is required – just turn up and make comics!

Find out about the partnership between TOMS and National Geographic to raise awareness of the decline of big cats in the wild at or on the National Geographic website.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Half term workshop at CYW for 9-13 year olds: Make your own comic!

On October 27 I'll be leading 3 hour workshop for 9-13 year olds that goes through the basics of the comic making process: how to develop a character, a synopsis, a script and then make a comic. I'll be taking along some character examples and story starters to help get the participants going and I'll give them some illustrator tips to help with their drawings. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with!

"Make your own comic" is part of a series of half term workshops organized by Chelsea Young Writers, book a place for your child here. The venue for my workshop is St John's Church in Notting Hill W11 it starts at 1.30pm and finishes at 4.30pm. All materials will be provided. It'll be great fun!
Workshop description: 
Would you like to make comics but don’t know where to start? Have you ever tried to make a comic and then got stuck after the first few panels? Are you curious about how comics are made? Whether you are already an avid fan of comics or have just started to become interested this will be an exciting workshop for you. 
Illustrator, writer and comics maker Amanda Lillywhite will take you through the steps of creating a strong storyline. You’ll learn the basics of developing a main character, a synopsis and a script then you’ll make your own comic.
The skills you’ll learn in this workshop are suitable for any genre of comic and can be adapted for other forms of illustrated writing. 
It’s fun to make comics, come along and join in!

Character work for "Rosie" by Amanda Lillywhite

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Duck and Bear: a webcomic about an illustrator and a writer

Duck and Bear originally appeared in SCBWI's online newsletter Words and Pictures. I'm grateful for the support and input I received from the editors at the time - John Shelley and Jan Carr.

The webcomic had been hosted on a website I was running that has now been shut down. I've found a new home for it and put it back online at Authorville.

Bear is a picture book illustrator and Duck is a middle grade fiction writer. This is the story of their creative process and journey to publication.

Sunday 4 October 2015

10m long collaborative comic at Carnegie Library for Fun Palaces (in pictures)

One of the first contributors to the comic.

Mishi Morath wrote a poem.
A local horse riding centre got a mention.
Illustrator Katy Hudson added a duck.
The US army dinosaur squad turned up.
Things started to get very busy in the library, but some took time out to contemplate the comic.
Mark Panton added the views of our dog.
Good to see families drawing together.
Toddlers were very keen to have a go.
After they reached the end of the roll, I had to flip a section over to create more drawing space.
There were lots of activities elsewhere in the library. Co-creator of Fun Palaces and writer, Stella Duffy, kicked off the kickboxing.

You can find out more about Fun Palaces at Carnegie Library is in London SE24.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Collaborative Comic "Our Environment" at Carnegie Library

Collaborative Comic for Fun Palace at Carnegie Library on October 3, 2015.

On October 3, 2015 I'll be rolling out 10 metres of paper at Carnegie Library in London SE24 and anyone of any age can come along between 10am to 4pm to draw or write on it to make a comic on the subject of "our environment". The comic will be photographed as it progresses and put online so if you can't be there you'll be able to see what's happening on @AJLillywhite @CarnegieLib or @LamLibsFP

The comic is part of a Fun Palace event and there will be other activities at Carnegie Library on the same day including:
Lambeth Fire Brigade with Fire engine – 2pm
Home Cooking SE24 @homecookingse24 – doing pasta making demos – Time tbc
Bloom Yoga – Hourly sun salutes – 12-4
BlueSkyCreate @BlueSkyCreates – Craft workshops – details tbc
Amanda Duncan @Scribeasy sessions –
Kickboxing instructor – Yvette Bee – Demos – Time tbc
Comedian Chris – Details tbc
A Lambeth memories washing line
More activities are being added all the time for an up to date list go to this website.

Fun Palaces are a means to get communities making art and exploring science together in an open space, co-director Stella Duffy explains the idea behind the campaign in her blog.

If you come along and draw or write on this roll of paper don't forget to sign your name under the header!

Friday 4 September 2015

Comics Club for 9-12 year olds at Carnegie Library, South London

On Saturdays between 10am-11am, from October 10 to 21 November 2015 (excluding 7 November), I'll be running a series of six free Comics Club workshops in Carnegie Library for 9-12 year olds.

Comics Club at Carnegie Library SE24. Poster and workshops by Amanda Lillywhite.
I call the workshops a "club" because the participants will have the opportunity to read and talk about comics as well as make them. Each week I'll bring in a variety of graphic novels, zines and comics from my own collection suitable for their age group and they'll have access to the library's collection as well.

I'll also show them comics I've created and a graphic novel for kids that I'm working on. I'll take them through the process of making comics: how to create characters and stories, script, edit and make artwork. We'll also do some guided drawing and I'll give them some tips I've learnt during my years as an illustrator.

At each workshop they'll develop their own ideas for characters and storylines that will be brought together in a comic strip or a zine.

Wondering what to do while your child is in the workshops? Carnegie Library is a beautiful building with a great collection of books, free wifi, study space and a wildlife garden. Bloom Yoga is running drop in yoga sessions in the other meeting room in the library at the same time as Comics Club, they cost £10, mats are available and there is no need to book.

Comics Club is free but there is a limit of 10 participants. Please get in touch if you have a 9-12 year old interested in taking part in the workshops and I'll reserve a place for them. My contact details are on the poster above, you can also use my contact form or social media links.  If the dates or age group don't suit get in touch with me anyway if you'd like to be put on a mailing list to be kept updated about future workshops.

Thursday 3 September 2015

About children's educational publishing and a charming illustration agent

Illustration for Folens' Key Words Dictionary. ©Amanda Lillywhite

Some time ago, back when I had only recently abandoned the relative safety of full-time graphic design for the uncertainties of freelance illustration, I was lucky enough to be taken under the wing of an agent - the wonderful Mike Graham-Cameron.

I'm not sure how we first met but I think it may have been through my work in a direct marketing agency - perhaps I art directed one of his illustrators for a project and then contacted him later when I had become a freelance illustrator myself? I can't remember now, and sadly, Mike died a few years ago so I am unable to ask him.

When Mike decided that his agency would represent me the doors to the world of children's educational publishing banged open and what sometimes seemed like a tsunami of marked-up page printouts for homework sheets and textbooks started tumbling through my letterbox.

At the request of the publishers my illustrations were done at what would be their final printed size. Sometimes I would have the luxury of a quarter of a page or maybe even a whole page of space to fill with my drawings. But generally the illustrations were tiny. I might, for instance, have to fit six characters – dressed in specific outfits such as fireman, ballerina and so on – into an area the size of a couple of postage stamps laid end to end.

The deadlines for the books I worked on were always tight, there was never enough time for pencil roughs to be exchanged with the designer. I just had to plunge in and hope I'd interpreted the brief correctly. I still remember a job that arrived one Friday afternoon. As I shuffled through the pile of instructions, adding up the number of drawings required (from memory, in the region of fifty), my eyes were blurring with nervous tears at the thought of the deadline looming within a few weeks. A phone call with Mike soon sorted me out, his sympathetic confidence bucked me up and when I delivered the drawings on time the editors were appreciative of my efforts. I think I still have the thank you letter from the publishing house tucked away somewhere in my studio. 

Once I had adjusted to the process and gained confidence I thoroughly enjoyed illustrating educational books. Some of the instructions for drawings were occasionally, shall we say, a bit eccentric and I had great fun with it all.

During the time that Mike Graham-Cameron was my agent I produced illustrations for educational books published by Folens, Stanley Thornes and Heinemann. He was always available at the end of the phone for a chat or a confidence boost and he seemed to make sure that I had enough work to produce an income I could live on. Never anything less than completely charming, he was a wonderful support to a new freelance illustrator holed up in a flat at the top of an old house in Cambridge.

Black and white line illustration ©Amanda Lillywhite

Thursday 18 June 2015

Ten things I learned from taking part in a story making festival for school children

You may have seen my recent post about CWISL's ShoutSouth! 2015 - a festival run by me and a whole lot of other illustrators and writers for 100 children from 10 schools in London. It was my first story making festival experience and this is what I came away with (in no particular order):

1. Kids love learning about making stories and also come with some knowledge of their own - for instance many already knew about the "story mountain" plotting concept.

2. Given half a chance their teachers and their families also love to be involved in making stories. We had a great turn out for the adult writing workshop and for the drawing workshop for younger siblings.

3. I learnt a lot by listening in on workshops from other writers and illustrators. I loved hearing about their books and their work processes. What I heard has given me much to think about.

4. There's nothing like working with a bunch of other adults for a few days to make new friends and reinforce existing friendships.

5. Don't open a bottle of fizzy water during a workshop, especially if it has been shaken up in your bag on the walk to the venue - unless you want to add a bit of comedy to proceedings.

6. Rush hour commuters can get quite grumpy at illustrators carrying large cork board based visual aids on buses. Trains have more space and so you are less likely to whack anyone in the shins with it.

7. It is very easy to get lost on a university campus, especially if you hold your map the wrong way up.

8. Never use drawing pins to attach a background to your cork board based visual aid - they have an unfortunate habit of falling out.

9. Kids love being able to handle visual aids, I was delighted by the way they understood the story mountain and made it their own. I will do this kind of thing again. (Also I love making stuff and don't need much encouragement.)

10. Kids are highly motivated when it comes to making stories and are tremendously creative. It is a joy watch them working and even better to hear or see the results afterwards.

CWISL's next story making festival is ShoutWest! it will be held in Brunel University on 5th and 6th November 2015.

If your primary or secondary school is interested in taking part in future ShoutSouth! or ShoutWest! festivals contact CWISL via the website to find out more.

Saturday 13 June 2015

ShoutSouth! 2015 - a story making festival for primary and secondary school children

Illustrators involved in ShoutSouth! Festival 2015 clockwise from top left: Loretta Schauer, me, Deborah Allwright, Gillian McClure, Sally Kindberg and Bridget Marzo
I joined Children's Writers and Illustrators South London (CWISL) a few months ago so this was the first year I've been involved in their ShoutSouth! festival. One hundred children from ten primary and secondary schools took part. I was delighted by the quality of work I saw over the three days they were with us at London South Bank University

The kids were split into four groups with writers and illustrators assigned to running workshops for them and helping them create their own stories. I was with the Lions along with authors Beverley Birch, Sally Kindberg, Cate Sampson, Karen Owen, Alex Wheatle and Deborah Allwright. Other illustrators and writers worked with the Panther, Tiger and Leopard teams. You can get an idea of how many of us were involved by looking at my photo of the display on the Pea Green Boat Books table and there is information about us all on the CWISL website.

Today was the final day of the festival. As it was a Saturday, parents of the children and their siblings were invited and got involved in their own workshops. Sam Osman ran a writing workshop for adults (some teachers also took part in this) and Loretta Schauer had the younger siblings drawing with her. Meanwhile the Lions, Panthers, Tigers and Leopards finished their stories, then some of them read them out to us all – they were amazingly creative. The festival closed with a story from Margaret Bateson-Hill, cake and certificates.

It was lovely to see the kids so motivated and excited by creating stories, I look forward to the next festival. If you think your London primary or secondary school might like to be involved in a future ShoutSouth! please contact CWISL via the website for details.

A big thank you to Derwent for supplying each child with their own selection of pencils.

Thanks also to the kids, their families, their teachers and their schools for making ShoutSouth! such a wonderful experience: 

Granton Primary
English Martyrs Primary
St Mary's Primary
Lilian Baylis Technology School
Bolingbroke Academy
Sacred Heart Primary
Christ Church Primary
London Nautical School
Jessops Primary
Isleworth and Syon School

Part of the story mountain visual aid I made for Cate Sampson's Spot the Plot workshop.

Karen Owen got the Lion group off to a good start.

Sally Kindberg talked about characters with the group.

Bridget Marzo got all the kids drawing faces.

Cate Sampson explained the story mountain to the kids plus Beverley Birch, Alex Wheatle and Karen Owen.

One of the kids came up with a new story for Jack and Jill.

Beverley Birch got the kids excited about using their senses to add interest to a story.

They all worked amazingly hard on their stories throughout the three day festival.

Loretta Schauer got younger siblings of the story makers interested in drawing.

The pencils provided by Derwent were put to good use by all the kids.

A display of books by the authors taking part in the festival.

Margaret Bateson-Hill had the kids enthralled by one of her stories.

Mo O'Hara gave out certificates to all the storymakers.

A cake was sponsored by Pea Green Boat Books.

Well done Lions you did some great work during ShoutSouth! it was a privilege to be part of your group.

If you'd like to read about the experiences of other ShoutSouth! writers and illustrators go to blog posts by Patricia ElliotKaren Owen and Bridget Marzo. Artwork from the event will be posted on ShoutAbout (a CWISL website that any writer or artist under 16 can contribute to).

CWISL is now preparing for ShoutWest! – a similar festival to ShoutSouth! to be held at Brunel University in west London on 5th and 6th November 2015. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

ShoutSouth festival 2015 - a celebration of story-making for kids in south London

A big pile of art supplies from Derwent for
the kids taking part in ShoutSouth 2015.
(This was taken in Bridget Marzo's studio,
you can see her new book
Tiz and Ott's Big Draw up on the shelf.)
For the next three days I'll be one of the illustrators and writers who will be running workshops for 100 kids from 10 south London schools to help them develop their story making skills. This is the ShoutSouth Festival and it will be held at London South Bank University.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the kids come up with. We're very excited that Derwent Pencils have donated art materials so there should be some great drawings. Workshops will include The Spark (getting your initial idea), Character Passport, Spot the Plot and Mad, Murky & Moody.

As if that wasn't enough there will be cake sponsored by the festival bookseller Pea Green Boat Books! 

The illustrators and writers involved in ShoutSouth are all published and all members of CWISL. Click on the links to find out more about us.

Monday 8 June 2015

Authors for Nepal - Ebay auction

In April and May 2015 two major earthquakes struck Nepal, more than 8,700 people died and many homes were lost. Shortly after the first earthquake author Julia Williams set up the Authors for Nepal auction on Ebay to raise money for a charity already established in the region, First Steps Himalaya. 281 illustrators, writers, agents, editors and others offered items that included critiques, book dedications, artwork, character naming and much more. At the close of the auction more than £14,000 had been raised.

My contribution was to offer to create a comic for my winning bidder based on a subject chosen by them. After several days of wondering whether I'd have to draw cars (not my strong point) I was delighted to find out that I would be making a comic for author Anna Bell. She wanted a story based around her son and her dog – an adventure set in the countryside near their home. Anna also told me that her son loves blueberries and her dog loves carrots. This was a dream brief for me and I loved working on this comic. Below is the story I came up with for her:

Nepal continues to struggle in the aftermath of the earthquakes. A statement from First Steps Nepal's website:
This is a catastrophe for Nepal that will take years to recover from.  First Steps Himalaya is dedicated to helping rebuild communities, not only our schools and early childhood centres, but the lives of the precious children we support.
You can donate to the charity via their website

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Illustrated Character Sheets

I've been putting together some character sheets based on a couple of my stories. In case you haven't come across them before character sheets are a collection of illustrations of one character in different poses - a way of showing others that you can be consistent. They are great fun to do and I'm finding that it is a way of getting to know my characters a little better.

An art editor recommended that rough sketches be included on the sheets. To be honest this is something I wouldn't have thought of doing but now that they are on there I feel that they add depth. I put blobs of pure colour on for reference but I'm not sure that this is important for others so might take them off. Perhaps they are a little distracting.

More character sheets to come soon.

The main character in my graphic novel for 7-9 year olds.

The main character in one of my picture book stories.