Frankfurt 2013: illustrator and agent experiences

Illustrator Stephan Lomp

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The first thing that I learned about the book fair is that being late is not the end of the world. And that comes from a German who is, like the cliché, obsessed with punctuality. On Wednesday the 9th, I got up at 5 o’clock in the morning to get a train from Düsseldorf to Frankfurt, as my first meeting was at 9am with Rachel Williams from Templar. Luckily the train was still empty and I got a seat! The ICE Train drives very fast – nearly 300 km/h – so there is not much time to read a book or sleep some more. I arrived at the fair entry at 8am, which I thought would give me plenty of time to roam around, but unfortunately I couldn’t enter until 9am. Once the doors opened I rushed to Templar, extremely excited to start the day!

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Rachel is a very kind person and did not curse at me. She showed me the dummy book of the sample work I had done for them (top secret for now). It’s a very nice novelty book that will hopefully be great fun for kids … and not too stressful for parents. My next meeting was with Frederic Lavabre from Sabarcanne and Stephane Husar from ABC Melody. They were both lovely people and we had great ideas and projects to chat about.

After showing off my portfolio, all of my appointments for the day were done, which meant I could look around the fair in a relaxed state. Browsing through various picture books, I found “Ana Ana”, a tale of a little girl and her plush toy friends who go on a very chaotic journey around the house. It made me wish that I understood some French, and this may be the last good reason for me to finally learn!

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My next publisher, Nosy Crow, just like the nice agents from Bright, invited me to come to London so they could get to know me. However, until that time, Nosy Crow invited me to a dinner at the fair. I was very curious getting to know the people with whom I had only previously emailed. Yet, because of a traffic jam, I was late by 40 minutes. When I arrived, I discovered that everybody else was late too. Lucky me!

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To my astonishment the man sitting next to me at dinner was Axel Scheffler. It was very interesting talking to him about his work, England, children’s books and a lot more. The dinner was great and when I finally got home at 2 o’clock I was dead tired. When I woke up the next day, it felt like two days had lapsed.

Day two, I was stuck in traffic, yet again, and I arrived an hour late to my meeting with Emma Dods and Melissa Fairley from Egmont. Vicki secured two contracts for new non-fiction books, and I was very curious what Egmont was all about. Both ladies were a pleasure to talk with, and we had a long conversation about my books, future plans and new book concepts.

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Following lunch, I met Lucie from Bright at the German Arena stand. I stood at a corner looking for her without knowing how she looked, and I guess she did the same a few meters on the other side. We stood like this for 20 minutes until I saw the little “Bright” logo on her folder. It was exciting to finally meet someone from Bright, and have the chance to become better acquainted in person.

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As part of the Illustrators Organisation, I organised a “Sketch Battle” at the stage in the comic centre. There were six illustrators, myself included, and we were split in two teams (with-glasses vs without-glasses). The other illustrators who participated were Maria Karipidou, Tobias Dahmen, Sebastian Lörscher, Till Lassmann and Leo Leowald. We fought In various disciplines, such as: on each team one person drew himself, then swapped with the other team and add something that sets him or her in a dangerous situation, such as adding falling a 10T weight over the head, to the self-portrait. Then places are swapped again and the first illustrator can rescue him or herself from that threat. The audience chose the winner and the one to be rescued by their load roar of applause.

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After this the six of us had an hour autograph signing, where we were drawing, again and again, the same illustrations and talking to very sweet people.

Luckily, I arrived on time for my last meeting with Bright, both Lucie and Suzie, right before their plane left to London. We had a quick catch up and I agreed to come to this year’s Christmas party! I’m looking forward meeting all the other people at Bright, as well as the many other illustrators and authors that they represent.

My last day at the Frankfurt Book Fair was far more relaxed. I had two great meetings with Milan and Loewe, and another “Sketch Battle” in front of 30 kids for an event organised by the Lions Club. As the doors of the fair closed, I caught my train back home, which arrived just in time.

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Agent Lucie Luddington

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Frankfurt is not just beer, books and buy-outs – it is an opportunity to explore the world of global publishing and meet many inspiring people!

My fourth time at Frankfurt was certainly my most memorable one! It clarified why I love being a Publishing Agent, and also reminded me to never under estimate the power of an artist, in this case Stephan Lomp.

Having seen Stephan’s work, but having not yet met him, I was intrigued by what the creator of such dynamic and playful illustrations would be like in person, and I was not disappointed! He was an adorably humble German man with a great sense of humour.

As if awesome artists weren’t enough, I then I had the most magical, in every sense of the word, meeting with Sam Taplin from Usborne. He rounded off a very productive art-work chat with a magic trick, which I already want to see again! It just goes to show everyone in publishing as talents beyond their book expertise!

With the likes of Stephan and Sam it’s possible to see why Frankfurt has been the busiest and the buzziest ever. The book fair never fails to impress me and I love the fact that amongst the children’s publishing stands you are also reminded of the adult book world that also fills the halls!

It is not the Bologna Book Fair, but the diversity and opportunity to meet new customers, laugh with existing ones and open up BRIGHT avenues is second to none! Frankfurt 2014 here we come!