Roisín Swales nominated for The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.

Manchester School of Art alumni Rosín Swales, recognition for her first picture book ‘Big Hid’ Nobrow Press.

Illustration with Animation alumni 2016 Roisín Swales has been nominated for the highly prestigious CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.

The picture book ‘Big Hid’ was developed in Rosín’s third year on the course became the centre of her final degree show and New Designers where Roisín was spotted by Sam Arthur from Nobrow publishing. The Kate Greenaway Medal will proceeds in stages from nomination to long list to short list with the final winner announced in June 2018. Nomination in itself assures a wider global audience for the book and the opportunity to raise Rosín’s profile in the industry alongside some of the leading illustrators working in this field today.
Previous winners of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal include William Grill, Chris Riddell, Levi Pinfold, Raymond Briggs, Shirley Hughes and Quentin Blake.
Long list announced in the New Year.

Interview with Roisín in Creative Review 2017

Carnegie Greenaway Awards

Rosin Swales  Previous post profiling this publication.


‘Pongwiffy’ series of children’s books to be illustrated by recent graduate Katy Riddell.

Graduate success story in children’s publishing.

Another alumni success story to relay – this time from illustrator Katy Riddell.

Katy graduated from the BA(Hons) Illustration with Animation course in 2015 and recently came into Manchester School of Art for some help with scanning some originals. We can’t show you any of this work yet as they are still waiting to be published, however we can give you some background on a great start to a career as a book illustrator.

Katy has been commissioned to provide new illustrations for the Pongwiffy series of hugely popular children’s books written by author Kaye Umansky. Originally published nearly thirty years ago, they are now being reissued in this edition by Simon and Schuster Children’s Books. The first two books came out in a dual binding late August 2017, with another two out by the end of the year and more for 2018.

We will ask Katy to share some of the work with us in due course.

More details here on The Bookseller website

Katy Riddell Instagram 

Simon and Schuster Children’s Books 2017



Alumni David Howe Illustrates ‘Kes’ A Kestrel for a Knave for the Folio Society

A graduate success story with the Folio Society.

David Howe graduated in 2015 from the BA (Hons) Illustration with Animation programme at Manchester School of Art and as part of his end of year show took part in the New Designers Graduate Showcase in London. Whilst exhibiting at the event he was picked out by art directors from The Folio Society as an illustrator they might be interested in working with when the right project came along…

Later that summer David received a call from the team at Folio and was commissioned to provide a series of illustrations for a reissue of Barry Hines classic text ‘A Kestrel For A Knave’ better known to many perhaps as ‘Kes’ following the release in 1969 of the film adaptation by Ken Loach.

The resulting rather subtle and beautifully designed book was published in May 2017 and is only available direct from The Folio Society:   The Folio Society: A Kestrel For A Knave 

End paper design by David Howe for A Kestrel For a Knave The Folio Society
David Howe: A Kestrel For A Knave, The Folio Society 2017

We interviewed David to find out more about how this process worked:

David Howe – timeline to publication:

In the July of 2015 I was exhibiting at New Designers in London on the course stand and after the first day received a business card left by the Folio Society. The contact was made by one of the art directors who asked me to get in touch.

After arriving back to Liverpool, I followed this up by sending a package with a hand written note and a few A4 prints of my work down to The Folio Society in London addressed to the art director. The next day I received an email from saying they were  delighted that I got in touch and how much they liked the ‘Berlin’ drawing that I had on display on the New Designers stand. Folio also gave me initial details about the commission they had in mind and that they were going to present my work at a forthcoming planning meeting, to confirm whether I would be the best candidate for the work and subsequently receive the commission.

The Folio Society - A Kestrel For A Knave Inside Illustration by David Howe
David Howe: A Kestrel For A Knave, The Folio Society 2017

Three weeks passed and I received an email saying ‘Good News, we have a commission for you!’ The book was ‘A Kestrel for a Knave’ and they wanted twelve drawings (eleven black and white text integrated illustrations and one colour image for the title page), in addition I was asked to create a binding design, and several motifs for the inside of the book. I accepted the commission and they sent me a copy of the text to read as reference.

After accepting the commission, we met in London for a more detailed design briefing so that I could get a better idea of the kind of  projects they commission at The Folio Society and more importantly to get a better idea of what they were expecting from me as the illustrator. We talked in detail about the potential illustrations and how they could integrate effectively with the text. We discussed the binding design details and the idea of the translucent outer dust jacket that would come with the final publication, and which my artwork would be printed on to. We also discussed deadlines, roughs and contracts at the same meeting.

David Howe: A Kestrel For A Knave, The Folio Society 2017

After returning from London, I first started by working on the roughs for the binding. I presented five ideas in total, all of which had a full wrap around drawing design for the cloth back and some smaller drawings on the paper jacket. During this time I was also working on the texts and thumbnails for the illustrations. I was sending in images and receiving feedback on which ones were suitable until after a number of weeks I was left with the agreed 12 drawings they wanted me to produce and the agreed binding design.

Work began on the binding first and it was a huge challenge to try and get the tightness that the ‘Berlin’ drawing had. I made a series of fully rendered attempts to get this drawing correct and when It finally came together and I had the OK it was a huge relief. During this time I had been drawing constantly, beyond anything I had experienced before, producing two – three illustrations each day. Some inevitably taking longer than others but I kept that momentum going until I had all of them completed.

The final drawings were presented alongside the original roughs so that I could demonstrate how the ideas had evolved. When all the work was signed off I hand delivered the drawings to London (I confess two weeks longer than the original deadline!) and showed them to the design team at Folio – I am pleased to say they were all really happy with the results. They were then sent to production to be scanned and over coming weeks turned into the final book itself.

Thank you David – a great insight into the commissioning process.

David Howe. Website   Instagram

The book was published in May 2017.  Folio Society: A Kestrel For A Knave

Digital Arts Magazine feature A recent article on The Folio Society featuring David’s work alongside some other Folio commissioned illustrators

All images Courtesy of The Folio Society.



Picture Hooks Conference May 20th 2017 at Manchester School of Art.

In May 2017 Manchester School of Art will play host to the first Picture Hooks event to take place outside Scotland. Picture Hooks was originally set up to encourage and develop talent in emerging Scottish illustrators and the scheme is funded by Creative Scotland.

As part of the day we are delighted to welcome back one of our own former students Amy Veried who will be returning to talk in her capacity as a junior artists agent for Handsome Frank, London.
The Picture Hooks team offer a wealth of professional insight and experience to new and aspiring illustrators. They are all established names in their respective fields as authors, educators, illustrators and literary agents, based in and around Edinburgh and with excellent links to the professional publishing industry across the UK and beyond.

Profiles of the team can be read here.

Picture Hooks works across two kinds of delivery – the first being a mentoring scheme that offers five successful applicants per year the opportunity to be mentored and developed under the wing of professional illustrators for a period of twelve months – culminating in an exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery.

You can see pictures of the 2015/16 show here

The second strand of activity is a bi-annual conference – which in 2017 will be hosted by Manchester School of Art – details below:

Picture Hooks presents its annual conference for illustrators, now in its fourth year, with the Association of Illustrators and Manchester School of Art.

This is a great opportunity for emerging illustrators and graduates to get an insider’s view into the picture book industry and other commercial opportunities, with illuminating talks from leading publishing experts and agents.
We are joined this year by Tessa Strickland, the co-founder of Barefoot Books, and Tiffany Leeson, the Creative Director of Egmont Publishing.

Illustrator Robert Hunter will be joined by Zoe Aubugeau-Williams of Nobrow Press to talk about Robert’s hugely successful career in print and moving image. Rob will focus on the vital relationship between agent, illustrator and publisher, as well as the importance of promotion. This discursive session will allow for questions from the floor and is an ideal moment to get practical tips along side inspiration!


The AOI will present a special edition of the hugely popular series AOI Discusses: Making More Money with Amy Veried (agent at Handsome Frank) plus illustrators Matthew the Horseand Sonny Ross. They will share their experiences and offer practical tips around contracts, negotiation and the awkwardness of pricing your work, with lots of time for Q&A.

Further speakers to be confirmed!

You can book a ticket on the following link: Picture Hooks 2017

We look forward to seeing you at the event.


Roisin Swales, ‘Big Hid’ and Flying Eye Books.

Roisin Swales graduated from Illustration with Animation in 2016 with a portfolio of work that clearly identified picture books as a career direction she was interested in following. There had already been early indications of Roisin’s potential when as a second year she was recognised with inclusion in The International Lemniscaat Worldwide Picture Book Illustration Exhibition at The Hive in Worcester. (image below)

Roisin Swales 2.jpgFollowing a successful end of year show in Manchester and a shortlisting for the 2016 Macmillan Prize. (see below). In July 2016 the IWA course took a selectionRoisin Swales.jpg

Roisin Swales.jpg

of the the final year student show down to the New Designers graduate showcase in London…..this was a success for the course overall but in particular Roisin’s work received a great deal of attention form publishers and agents.

You can read what happened next in this interview with Roisin in Creative Review April 2017:

Further research:

The Macmillan Prize

The International Centre for the Picture Book in Society

New Designers



Alumni: Amy Veried – Junior Agent at Handsome Frank.

Amy Veried graduated in the summer of 2014 from BA (Hons) Illustration with Animation at Manchester School of Art. We caught up with Amy in her latest role as a newly appointed Junior Agent at leading artists agents Handsome Frank.


Amy has responded to a series of questions from Senior Lecturer Ian Whadcock that asked  her to reflect on her path from graduation to employment. Amy has passed on some valuable advice on what she wished she had done more of at university, where the moments of key advice came from and how she has achieved her ambition so quickly.

Amy Veried: Brief timeline since finishing Uni/ Background

In the last year of Uni, I knew that I didn’t want to be a freelance illustrator, (something I never would of known without doing the course,) but I wanted to be around illustration and help people achieve great work, I had a bit of a light bulb moment after a talk by Fig Taylor (AOI) and knew I wanted to be an agent, so much so I immediately called my mum and told her I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I used my days off when I wasn’t working to make huge lists of agencies mostly in London, as that’s where I wanted to be. I had a brief moment where I did a Sotheby’s summer course in Art History, where I spent a month sofa surfing around London thanks to friends who let me stay. After that I spent my days in coffee shops emailing and ringing everyone, until I was offered some work experience. I went down to London and a week turned into two, which turned into a 3 month paid internship, which turned into a job.

I learnt a lot about children’s illustration, something I never swayed towards at all at Uni, which I now have a massive appreciation and understanding of that I didn’t have before, but this was mostly in the publishing industry, and I knew there was something more.

Strangely, my dream was to work for Handsome Frank, an agency that I personally thought had the best illustrators, who had a handle on contemporary illustration, and had a nice approach and interesting voice. One day I was looking on Twitter, which I never do, and I saw a tweet advertising the position of Junior Agent. Anyway, a couple of meetings and a few beers later, I got the job and am now in a team of great people who deal with illustration across so many sectors, it’s a very exciting and interesting place to be!

What would I most like to pass on

Don’t get disheartened but be savvy.  There’s lots of illustration out there and it can sometimes feel overwhelming. It does on this end too, and there simply isn’t enough time to respond to every submission, but if you’re looking for an agent, do your research and find one that you think is appropriate to you, look up who works there and tailor it to them. (I.e.- Dear Sir/Madam’s not a good start!)

If you’re going it alone, brush up on some contract law and jargon for when you receive contracts, otherwise you could be handing people a lot more than you bargained for, worst case scenario you could give someone all your rights, so the image you created isn’t even yours any more and you can’t even show or tell anyone you made it.

When negotiating a job if you don’t have an agent, set out exactly what you’re going to deliver, where it’s going to be and for how long, and the fee. If they change their mind or ask you to do extra work, then that’s more work which requires another fee. As a rule I would say know your worth and don’t work for free. Also state that you always retain your copyright.

What did I do wrong

Underestimate the need and absolutely necessity to understand and to be competent with computer software. If you wish to be a freelance illustrator, although there are exceptions to the rule, you really need to know how to at least use Photoshop and some Indesign. Something I’ve learnt despite going to all the workshops, at the time it didn’t seem for me, as I thought I liked prints and handmade work more, but with the type of illustration I mostly deal with now it’s not commercially viable. If you need to change a colour or move something around if the client wishes, you need to be able to do that quickly without redrawing the whole image.

What I wish I had done at uni

I wish I had gone to every single workshop and every talk with a guest speaker to glean all the information I could and to meet interesting people. Also use all the facilities, you think printing is expensive, it’s no compared with the real world..

What really makes the difference.

Finishing work to a professional standard. Sometimes you can see student work straight away because it just doesn’t seem quite completed and have that polished edge. This is something that obviously comes with time and practice as you refine your skill, but it can be easy to be glanced over if you don’t have this.

Having an audience for your work. Art School is a time to experiment, but by the end of third year you should know or have an idea of where you want your work to be and the kind of people you want to commission you. Wherever you go, does your portfolio and website reflect this?

Being proactive. Go to exhibition openings/ creative nights/ art fairs/ talks/ workshops. Meet people, make connections, build up a rapport with like-minded people in your area. It’s good to be on someone’s radar when they quickly need to hire an illustrator.