The Botanical Collection - from sketchbook to rubber stamp

We're often asked where we get our inspiration, so here's a little insight into our new Botanical Collection which originated in the greenhouses of Kew Gardens. I spent a fabulous day there back in July gathering ideas about shapes and form.

Here I am looking slightly gormless (but really I'm just deep in concentration).

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As you can see from my sketchbook pages I recordered a lot of colour. This is partly to the benefit of my other illustration projects, but also, the act of looking that is necessary for a long colour drawing really imprints the shapes I'm looking at on my memory. Once I was back in the studio I barely need to look back at my sketchbooks to get ideas for making personalised rubber stamp designs....

... although the sketches do crop up when it came to taking photographs of the sample stamps.

You can see the whole Botanical Collection and order your own personalised stamps by clicking here.

Jenny has been doing a drawing a day since 1st September 2014. You can see them all at www.instagram.com/jennybloomfield/ or follow @jennybloomfield

Help! My child loves dinosaurs! - Some of the Best Dinosaur Picture Books

My 3 year old son loves dinosaurs - REALLY loves them. It was his obsession that inspired our new Personalised Dinosaur Ex Libris stamp.

It is rare bedtime that he will let us read him any story that doesn't feature a dino in some guise. For that reason that I have been searching high and low for some great picture books about dinosaurs - not really for his sake, but because reading the same one over and over again was driving us mad. I'm sharing them here as an act of mercy for any other families who are similarly afflicted.

The Wonderful Egg by Dahlov Ipcar
(Flying Eye)

A sumptuous book from a picture book master. Flying Eye have lovingly recreated this edition by labouriously recreating the original colour separations used to print back in the 1960s, and this attention to detail really pays off in the print quality and colours. These details will please the design-savvy parent and the simple story, introducing all kinds of dinosaurs big and small will delight little ones. The 'science' might be a bit dated and pedants may protest, but I think it's a lovely way to introduce the concept of evolution.

If the Dinosaurs Came Back by Bernard Most (Houghton Mifflin)

A great hit with my son, this book imagines how dinosaurs would help us in the modern world if they came back. A refreshing change from the usual emphasis on roaring and scaring people, and pleasingly whimsical in places.

Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs by Byron Barton (HarperFestival)

Perfect for little ones with bright naive artwork, this introduces different dinosaur characteristics with text that is easy and quick to read at bedtime. My son loves the 'white poos' at the beginning (a triceratops laying eggs).

Gnash, Gnaw, Dinosaur by Tony Mitton & Lynne Chapman (Kingfisher)

A book of dino poems with a real WOW factor when it comes to the fold out pages, creating BIG dinosaurs, generating lots of 'Ooooh's. This one seems to be out of print, but is definitely worth seeking out.

 

   

Pop-Up Dinosaur abc by Robert Crowther (Candlewick Press)

I have fond memories of Crowther's animal abc book from my childhood so was thrilled to find this dinosaur version. The pop-ups and design are simple but effective, and the abc format means you're introduced to some less common dinosaurs.

Dino (a pet unlike any other) by Diego Vaisberg (Templar Publishing)

Print-enthusiast parents will definitely want to get their hands on Dino, with it's spectacular Risograph artwork. (Speaking as a picturebook geek this has one of my favourite page-turns ever).  The story about the problem of having a pet dinosaur is sure to please young ones too.  From googling I can see that this title started out as a risographed zine and am glad to say the energy has transferred to conventional book - LOVE IT!
(For those who don't know, a Risograph is like a cross between a photocopy and a screen print).

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What the Dinosaurs did Last Night by Refe & Susan Tuma (Little, Brown Young Readers, US)

From skimming (the excessively long and self indulgent introduction) this book was born out of two parents messing around with toy dinosaurs so that every morning their children discovered new mischief around their home. The photos are very amusing, as are the captions (which young children won't get at all, but good for the grown ups). We tend to just look at the pictures and talk about them.
Whenever this one is chosen I briefly flirt with having a go at doing this myself with our toy dinosaurs... then realise how much time and effort that would take and revert to sitting on the sofa in a post-bedtime exhausted haze.

Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs by Robert Sabuda & Matthew Reinhart

I include this one with the caveat that it is not for small children - unless under very strict supervision. But I had to include it because it is the most spectacular pop-up book you can imagine, with multiple pop-ups per spread (35 in total) and packed with information. It's now out of print, unsurprising as I have no idea how such a piece of complex paper engineering was ever made for under £25. You can get functioning second hand copies for about £35 and I think this still represents excellent value.

 

 

 

 

 

NEW! BESPOKE MONOGRAM STAMPS

We get a lot of requests for something like our Bespoke Bookplates  (or Bespoke Wedding Stamps), but smaller. And so we're really pleased with our new Bespoke Monogram Stamps which, just like their bigger counterparts, are designed from scratch for each recipient, incorporating a range of imagery that reflects a person's (or couple's) life and interests.

The sample above (JHB) was done by Jenny for herself. It incorporates and Autumnal tree (favourite season and generally a big fan of trees); a fox (born in Leicester); an owl (lives in Leeds); two owlets (two children) and a pencil (illustrator!). 

Measuring about 4x5cm these stamps are incredibly versatile. They make a thoughtful and useful gift and can be used to mark ownership of books or papers; make your own stationery, create seals for envelopes; or to accessorise your wedding day.

When you place an order for a stamp the order form has several prompts including places, animals, trees and flowers, profession(s), hobbies and interests. We won't necessarily include everything, but if anything is essential you can indicate when you order. Natural imagery works particularly well with these stamps.

Below is a sample we did for Nic & Will.
Listeners to BBC Radio 4's The Archers will know that they live in rural Borsetshire (countryside) where Will is a gamekeeper (pheasants); they got married at new year (winter wedding) and have a daughter called Poppy (!). I've also included 'cake' because Ambridge is a place of the WI, Fetes and the Flower and Produce show.

Stamps are £52.50 each and come gift boxed with a black ink pad. An explanatory card is also included. Allow 2-3 weeks for dispatch, although we try and process them as fast as possible.

Case Study: Vickie & Rob's Wedding - 'building a life together'

Vickie & Rob approached us last year to design their wedding invitiation. They weren't really sure what they wanted at first, but knew they wanted an invite with a black line drawing, a style that they both liked.

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After talking for a while on the phone, the idea of 'building a life together' emerged as important, and, taking on board Vickie's passion for baking, I came up with a tiered wedding cake design, which incorporated important places (the church they were to get married in, their reception venue, and Edinburgh where they have set up home); Peonies - a favourite flower; Vickie's beautiful engagement ring; barrels to signify Rob's love of whiskey and craft ale;  trees to represent Kew Gardens; all topped off with a pair of 'matroyska' dolls, to represent that they met studying Central and Eastern European History.

The invite was letterpress printed on Gmund Cotton 300gsm with a lovely deep impression. They used  bright fuschia envelopes and we digitally printed a bright RSVP card too.

In addition we had the pleasure of designing lots of extras for their big day, taking elements from the original invitation. This included an eight-page Order of Service,  Menus (which doubled as place names), a table plan, and, my favourite item, a 'guest book' poster with room for the guests to add their names/messages on pink stickers.

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If you'd like to commission something for your wedding, whether just a simple rubber stamp, or a whole set of stuff for your big day, contact us by email on orders@bloomfieldandrolfe.com.

 

Jenny's Picture Book Review: 'Black & White' by Dahlov Ipcar

I recently discovered Dahlov Ipcar's books, when Flying Eye Press republished a selection of them, including 'Black & White'. Dating from 1963 the artwork has a real retro charm, and the story, about a black and a white dog who live next to each other in friendship was apparently inspired by the civil rights movement. Most of all though, this is a great book to read and share with kids with plenty to look at and learn.

The story centres on the dogs' adventures, and their dreams, introducing a miriad of black and white animals along the way as they venture into the dark jungle and the bright Arctic.

While Ipcar's style is bold and decorative and very appealing to children, the animals are accurately portrayed. The illustrations are very printerly with a limited colour pallette, and were made using a 4-colour process, which the staff at Flying Eye had to painstakingly recreate as the originals were lost. This might sound like boring technical information but the difference from modern digital full colour printing is obvious and intrinsic to this beautiful book.

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Importantly, this book is great to read aloud to young children, with a pleasing rhyme scheme. In addition to all the animals to point out, there are spreads covered in butterflies, birds and fish which my daughter always likes to count, and we always have to pick our favourite.

I love the final page and it's pleasing closing lines, perfect for the moments before sleep:

'And each told the other his dream
Of the arctic storm and the jungle stream
And of all the animals black and white,
White as snow, black as night'

I must also mention the endpapers which are just GORGEOUS.

Amazingly, Ipcar, at the age of 98, is still working from her house in Maine. If you'd like to find out more this article from 2014 provides a good potrait.

Visit Flying Eye here. They currently publish four Ipcar titles - and lot of other highly desirable picture books.

DIY Wedding Projects using new Calligraphy Stamps

We love our new Calligraphy Collection which includes everything you need for a wedding – Address Stamp, Wedding stamp, Initials and even a Hashtag stamp to keep all your guests on the same social media page.

Each design starts with traditional dip-pen and ink, before being turned into a rubber stamp – we don't use fonts, everything is handwritten to order!

While we think the flowing script looks fabulous on it's own, the text can also form the basis of some creative contemporary DIY projects. Here are some of our favourite ideas:

NEON NEON

Weddings don't have to mean pastels and florals. Channel your inner raver and go day-glo with flourenscent paper, inks, envelopes and labels.

WATERCOLOUR WHIMSY

You don't have to be Picasso. Some simple floral shapes laid down underneath your text add real pop to cards (just make sure the paint is dry before you stamp). This is a great way of quickly making a set of invites which are all unique.

SPLATTER!

This is easy-peasy and we think really effective. Use spray paint, or alternatively we discovered 'Blo-Pens' which are meant as a child's toy but do the job cheaply and fume-free.

CHALKBOARD

Don't restrict yourself to white paper. Here we mimicked a chalkboard by stamping with white VersaMagic chalk ink on Colorplan Racing Green card.

(We added some WOW with a simple watercolour wash on the envelope – just spodge on wait to dry for some beautifully random results.)

RAID THE STATIONERY CUPBOARD

Think outside the box a bit and don't restrict yourself to 'wedding' supplies. The geometric grid of bog standard graph paper looks fab with calligraphic flourishes; or bring utilitarian office labels into the limelight.

AND FINALLY.... 

It doesn't have to be serious, or grown up – crack open the googly eyes and have fun!

 

 

World Book Day 2016 - New Ex Libris stamps inspired by Great Literature

World Book Day - on Thursday 3rd March this year - celebrates the joy and value of books and reading. You couldn't really get more Bloomfield & Rolfe than that! So, to celebrate we've come up with some smashing new Ex Libris designs, inspired by great literature...

Clockwise from top left: 'Whale' stamp (inspired by Moby Dick); 'Train' stamp (The Railway Children); 'The Owl & The Pussycat' (the nonsense rhyme by Edward Lear); 'Wuthering Heights' stamp (Wuthering Heights).

All stamps are priced at £25 and can be personalised with a name of your choice. Perfect for stamping ownership on your own favourite books. 

You can read about World Book Day and events and activities here

Wondering where the lovely background images come from in the photos above? 

Every child in the UK get's a £1 book token this Thursday. Any of these books would be a great addition to their library.

Clockwise from top left: 'A River' by Marc Martin; 'Oi! Get off our train' by John Burningham; 'We're going on a Bear Hunt' by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury; 'The Storm Whale' by Benji Davies.

Jenny's Picture Book Review: 'The Paper Dolls' by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb

I'll admit that I wasn't at all sure about this one from the behemoth that is Julia Donaldson, but it's really grown on me and my four year old daughter loves it.

It's also one of those great books that can inspire an activity on a rainy winter afternoon, so would recommend it as one to take out of the library.

 

 

 

The little girl makes paper dolls and has some great adventures with them. Rebecca Cobb's illustrations deftly transform the everyday items in her home to rich imaginative landscapes – where the tiger slipper becomes a real tiger and the crocodile oven glove tries to crunch the paper characters. Her innocent use of line perfectly matches the story of a little girl's creativity.

There is a great refrain throughout which my daughter always joins in with – 'You can't catch us, oh no no no! We're holding hands and we won't let go...'

Then comes a boy with a pair of scissors, and you expect the dolls to escape again, but they don't. This is where I wasn't sure at first – it seemed very harsh, brutal even.

The paper dolls then fly into the little girls memory. I thought this was a bit twee - but actually, it's quite a good lesson about loss, and about the power of memory, and without sounding too deep 'the impermanence of things'.

The story ends with the little girl growing into a mother herself, and making paper dolls with her own daughter. And so the dolls live on.

I'm not sure how this would play with a boy, but it's a great jumping off point for creativity for mum and daughter. We made these dolls on rainy day last year and, although battered, they're still proudly on her bedroom wall (despite her baby brother doing his best to destroy them like in the book!).


Case Study: BLING! Deco inspired wedding suite with a B&R twist.

Robi and Daniel came to us with a gold foiled Art Deco design they'd seen elsewhere on the web. They liked it, but also liked the idea of creating something personal to them. Working with the Art Deco theme, the distictive square shape of Robi's engagement ring, and peacocks we got down to work designing their hand-drawn invite.

When they asked us to include their beloved 'baby', Juanita, it caused us to pause, but we think, with the addition of a smart bow tie, she fits in rather well with the design and their request for black tie attire.

The couple wanted some 'bling' on their invitations and by foil blocking the design on heavyweight 700gsm Colorplan Imperial Blue card, we think the results are rather spectacular!

To complement the invitiation we designed and digitally printed RSVPs and cards with additional information, and made an initials and 'Juanita' stamp for personalising envelopes and all those other wedding extras.

As the wedding day drew closer, we helped to provide finishing touches for their wedding reception with menus and hand-made table numbers.

The table numbers had hand-applied gold leaf on the front, and movie quotations on the back and look rather stunning en masse - ripe to be framed after the big day.

If you're interested in commissioning Bloomfield & Rolfe to create your wedding stationery, or for any other occasion, just get in touch at orders@bloomfieldandrolfe.com and we'll be happy to help.

Case Study: Cats and Street Food

A sneaky peek of a recent wedding commission.

Mary and Paul's shared interests were pinned down to street food, festivals and their cats! Their wedding would be informal with no 'girlie stuff'. So we came up with a vintage food van - and I'm glad to say Mary didn't veto the hanging baskets! Archie and Stella take pride of place and the 'GMW' on the number plate is an in joke  for their friends.

The main invite was letterpress printed in dark grey, with the pink/yellow/blue fairy lights applied by hand to create a pop of colour. We used Artoz 1001 lined envelopes from Bureau Direct.

In addition we created an RSVP card and an additional information card (both digitally printed, a personalised address stamp, and also a stamp featuring the van, to be used to personalise place names and other details on their big day.

If you'd like to commission us to create something for your big day - girlie or not - we'd love to help. Email us at orders@bloomfieldandrolfe.com

An Ex Libris Rubber Stamp for everyone - Celebrity Special!

Did you know we now have 40 different designs in our Ex Libris book stamp range? Well, in a moment of idle silliness we thought we'd match up some well know figures with their perfect Ex Libris design. (It's possible I was watching Saturday night TV at the time... as you'll see).

And don't forget, if you can't find what you're looking for, we'll happily design something specific for you - just get in touch  at orders@bloomfieldandrolfe.com.

If you'd like to order any of the designs just click on the image and it will take you to our online shop.

First up, it's queen of Strictly Come Dancing - Darcey Bussell. Wasn't a MASSIVE feat of creativity to match her up with our 'Ballet' Ex Libris stamp, but sometimes the most obvious presents are the best! This design is based on Degas' ballet dancers and is perfect for the tiniest dancer or a prima ballerina.

Moving on through the Saturday night schedules here's The Doctor. With all his love of gadgetry the Robot Ex Libris stamp ticks all the boxes. We think this little fellow shows the Doctor's friendly side. 

Now, it's Sunday night and we're looking for someone with a touch of traditional sophistication and Victorian leanings, to pair with our Filigree Ex Libris stamp.... hmmm....... Lady Grantham of Downton Abbey of course. Surely even she wouldnt' turn her nose up at this?

Ok, my 3 year old had taken over the telly. That's OK though, because this we think this Fairytale Castle Ex Libris stamp would be perfect for Princess Anna of Arendell. (I'm asserting my authority by chosing Anna over Elsa as she's clearly the best).

Right, back to the real world! We couldn't help noticing the resemblence between Jeremy Corbyn and Mr Fox. This is easy peasy!

Keeping it intellectual, we thought this straight-down-the-line, says-it-how-it-is Library Ex Libris would play well with the BEARD. 

How will you use yours? Get creative with a Personalised Christmas Jumper!

Having your own personalised stamp means making things unique and having lots of fun in the process.

We love making our own cards and decorations and the months leading up to Christmas are, of course, the peak season for  DIY card making creativity.

This year we’ve been having fun already with our new ‘Christmas Jumper’ design...“So much potential..!” as Bloomfield put it.

Order yours, which can be personalised with names of up to 25 characters, and start your Christmas crafting early...

Design your own Christmas Jumper Christmas cards - get the kids involved with colour pencils and paints...see who can create the craziest jumper!

One size fits all...try drawing a cartoon of the kids wearing the jumper. Don’t be daunted, keep it simple! People love the personal touch, even stick men are acceptable...

Bloomfield and Rolfe Christmas Jumper stamp

Use the stamp to make tags and decorations...think about witty ways to use the stamp. Do show us how you got on via twitter and instagram!  #BRxmasfun

A spotlight on Bespoke Bookplates

Our bespoke bookplates are designed by hand, especially for the recipient, incorporating details about their life - the ultimate personalised rubber stamp. They make a thoughtful and very special gift.

I thought I'd share some of the designs I've done over the years to show what is possible. Every design is unique so these are only examples but should give a good flavour.

For the first example I've included the information the customer gave me - he ordered it for himself with some accrued birthday money and was thrilled with the result.

I am a person that is not easily impressed but I was utterly overwhelmed and delighted by the bookplate I ordered. I am undergoing some long-term studies, so am frequently purchasing new books, and am proud to stamp the Ex Libris design into every volume. The quality of the design is first class and beyond what I imagined when I placed the order.
— David Beedon (Notts) - October 2015
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We don't offer a proofing service but if you want something specific to be included just say - providing us with pictures of pets or special places can help make the design even more personal.

We usually say to allow 3 weeks from ordering for a bookplate to be dispatched. If you need one quicker just drop us an email and we'll help wherever possible.
Before a bookplate is sent it is checked, test prints made and then carefully gift-boxed ready for the recipient. If you're ordering for someone else, we'll always include a test print with explantatory notes outside of the gift box so you can see what you're giving (and one inside too!).

 

If you have any queries at all about Bespoke Bookplates, just email jenny@bloomfieldandrolfe.com and I'll get back to you ASAP.

 

7 things to do with our new Tiles Label Stamp

We love our new Azulejo* inspired designs and so thought we'd share a few ways to use the personalised 'Tiles Label Stamp' (£25 - can be customised with any message of your choice - we've focused on the kitchen, but you don't have to!).

The rubber stamp is obviously great for labelling precious hand-created gifts, but we think you can bring a bit of joy into the everyday by using it for things more ordinary as well.

We also have a matching 'Magnetic Menu Pad' (£4.50), perfect for planning meals and cutting down on food waste. Looks pretty good on the fridge too! 

*Azulejos are the beautiful tiles found in Lisbon - we were inspired by a Bloomfield & Rolfe trip there earlier in 2015.

1. Label your Jams and Chutneys

2. Show Off - you made it, tell the world!

3. Go Pro at bake-sales

4. Pimp your packed lunch

5. Organise your Fridge-Freezer

6. Get Festive

7. Leave a note!


7 great Alphabet books

To celebrate our new kids alphabet (available as Ex Libris book stamps or Birth Announcement stamps), I thought I'd share some of my favourite alphabet books.

I tried to get the list down to 5, but each of these has something special, so in the end there are 7...

 

1. Alphabet by Alison Jay
Large board book – Templar Publishing

Not only in this ABC packed with Alison Jay’s unique crackled illustrations, but it’s stuffed to the rafters with detail. On the surface ‘F is for Frog’, but the image reveals fish and flowers and a fence and a fishing rod and two kinds of fly and, if you look really closely, a fork. There are also references to images and characters on other pages and taken together the alphabet is a loose story (or journey). You and your child will get a lot out of this – highly recommended.

Jane Foster’s ABC
Board book – Templar Publishing

In terms of simple, eye-catching design that babies will love, you can’t beat Jane Foster’s alphabet. A satisfying object in itself. (And then you can buy the mugs and tea towels and everything else!)

Dahlov Ipcar’s Wild Animal Alphabet
Board book – Islandport Press 

I’ve recently discovered Ipcar’s books and am slightly besotted with her illustrations. I am usually a bit wary of alphabet books that just piece together images from the author’s existing work (lazy!), but I’ve made an exception in this case because the images are so appealing, and because she’s made a good effort at creating some interesting rhyming text that is good to read out loud. 

Lucy & Tom’s a.b.c. by Shirley Hughes
Puffin books (out of print)

I know I’m always harping on about Shirley Hughes books, but it’s only because they are so good. This one is out of print, but copies are available cheaply. (I notice some of the other Lucy and Tom titles have been reissued, so fingers crossed.)

What makes this alphabet book stand out is that it does what Hughes does so well, by relating back to real life. The book is full of little stories and vignettes from Lucy and Tom’s very normal life – exactly how children really learn their alphabet, by looking at the things around them. There is loads to look at and engage with for young children. This is a current favourite of my 3.5 year old and always results in lengthy conversations.

Quentin Blake’s ABC
Red Fox Picture Books

Quentin Blake’s alphabet is as anarchic, entertaining and poignant as his other work. The quality of the text and illustrations means I couldn’t miss it off.

Eating the Alphabet
Board Book - HMH Books for Young Readers (USA)

This one is from the USA and so despite the inevitable Aubergine/Eggplant problem I think it’s a great idea, executed well. Lovely bright illustrations and as it’s all fruit and vegetables, a subject that would make Jamie Oliver very happy indeed.

Beautiful Birds by J. Roussen & E. Walker
Flying Eye books   

This book showcases publisher Flying Eye’s production values to nth degree – it’s stunning! – Rich colours and amazing neon. No mention of an alphabet on the cover, but it’s a true ABC of avian delights inside. The text rhymes and so is great to read to little ones, but this book is so gorgeous, I doubt you’ll want to let them get their grubby little paws on it. This is an alphabet book for all ages, but mainly for you. Get and it and treasure it.

Out and about: Children's Book Illustration Summer School at Anglia Ruskin

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a week long Children's Book Illustration summer school in Cambridge. A week away all by myself to be nothing but creative! 

The aim of the week wasn't to perfect illustration technique, but to create a dummy picture book that we presented to tutors and peers at the final crit (the ultimate 'storytime').  This would be a starting point for us to go away and create a finished book. 

It was an international affair with fellow students travelling from as far as Japan and Brazil just for the course (made my trip down the A1 seem a bit tame).

The week was a whirlwind as we were guided at speed through the process of creating a character, storyboarding and creating final roughs of our own story. This is something that would usually take months and was intensely challenging at times. Tutition was via one-to-one tutorials and created confidence-shattering lows when (inextricable) problems were exposed, and yippee-inducing highs as I found visual and narrative solutions and things fell into place.  The pace of progress was at times breathtaking and all 58 of us who attended came away with a very different story to the one we arrived with, and a totally new understanding of what makes a picturebook work.

Storyboarding and character developement - all at no-time-to-stop-and-procrastinate speed

Storyboarding and character developement - all at no-time-to-stop-and-procrastinate speed

The course was run by Pam Smy of Anglia Ruskin, who was ably assisted by Marta Altes (Author/illustrator of 'The King Cat', 'No!', 'My New Home' and 'My Grandpa'), Birgitta Sif ('Oliver' and 'Frances Dean'), Ness Wood (book designer who has worked with the greats) plus Dave Barrow and Natalie Eldred who are current MA students.  Their feedback was always insightful (and often cut deep!) and usually contradictory, leaving us, ultimately, to choose our own path. 

In addition to studio time, we were treated to lectures on different aspects of picture book production by the tutors and also a guest speech by Chris Haughton ('Oh No! George', 'A Bit Lost' and 'Shh! We Have a Plan').  

Chris Haughton delivering a lecture about his work

Chris Haughton delivering a lecture about his work

Some (!) of the books I brought home with me as souvenirs and inspiration.

Some (!) of the books I brought home with me as souvenirs and inspiration.

Did I see much of Cambridge? Nope - barely left the campus! 

All in all the week was intellectually exhausting, but incredibly rewarding. The range of stories (from the silly to incredibly profound) was fascinating and the inspiration from fellow students can't be underestimated. 

And I shall never look at a 'simple' picture book in the same way again!

(Wondering what my book was about? Ha ha, watch this space! One of the things we learned was not to give away our stories on social media ;))