Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Look East

One of the lovely and unexpected things that has happened since I signed with an agent a couple of years ago has been the amount of work I've had from overseas publishers. Since then I've worked mostly with American clients, as well as Korean and Australian, and I don't know why they should turn to a UK agent nor wish to source UK illustrators but I'm very happy that they do. So if there's one thing that Britain does appear to be quite good at, it's in the provision of artists!

Today I'm particularly happy as I've just had confirmation of a book deal with a publisher from somewhere I know absolutely nothing about: Slovenia. It's great news in itself and will keep me busy until Spring next year, but the thought of working for Slovenians has really excited me too. Perhaps it's no surprise then that it's piqued my curiosity and I've spent a little time this week reading up about the place and the people.

Slovenia, like so much of Europe it seems, places great importance on the arts and even has a Cultural Holiday named after one of its poets, Prešeren Day. It's home to several hugely talented illustrators.  I love these exquisitely atmospheric paintings by Marlenka Stupica...



and the darker, intricate and quite haunting work by Arlenka Sottler



as well as the simplistic, humorous images by one of the country's most popular children's book illustrators, Lila Prap:



Slovenia is also the land which gave us the band Laibach.


I guess Laibach must be the country's most well-known musical offering, so I delved a bit deeper and found something else, a rapper called N'toko (real name Miha Blažič). This isn't my normal cup of tea at all but I found it oddly quite charming at the same time and I've posted it here for the video as much as anything else - for the Slovenian street scenes and characters.


Plus, if you like spuds, as I do, Slovenia has something special. There is an annual Festival of Roasted Potatoes, organised by the wonderfully named Society For The Recognition Of Roasted Potatoes As A Distinct Dish.  How good is that?

21 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your latest commission C - fantastic news and so well deserved! The attached Slovenian illustrations are all as interesting as they are distinct. I particularly like the work of Arlenka Sottler.
    As for the snappily monikered SFTRORPAADD - count me in! Roasted spuds, I love 'em! You're practically an honorary Slovenian now, so can we start a UK arm of the organisation?

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    1. Thank you! Fingers crossed now it all just goes ok (but not when I'm painting...)
      I like your idea about the SFTRORPAAD. That's two members of the UK arm confirmed anyway.

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  2. I feel you need to wangle a fact finding mission to check out those roasted tottties first hand

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    1. Nice idea - sadly the only fact finding missions I've been on have been virtual. They don't taste the same!

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  3. Before I changed it predictive text came up with roasted Torries!

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  4. I'll certainly add my congratulations on the commission - great news! Looking at those illustrations reminds me of how eastern Europe often manages to add a nice dark edge to children's art/literature. Did you ever see those old Tales From Europe telly programmes back in the 70's? Perhaps you were to young. Anyway, they really touched a nerve, in a very good way - seemed to understand that fairy tales and folk tales are *supposed* to be frightening; a fact lost on modern interpretations. Shame to rap was in English.

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    1. oops 'to' = 'the' in last sentence. Drunk again.

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    2. Thank you. Yes, that's so true about European, especially Eastern European, illustration. Also Scandinavian children's books are not afraid to touch on the darker side of life (Hans Christian Andersen for a start, of course). Lately it's all got a bit too soft here and even traditional fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood have been re-written with the Wolf apologising at the end and so forth. It's ridiculous! Indeed, they are *supposed* to be frightening and I believe we need to learn about those more difficult emotions (like fear, grief, malice) at a young age yet in a safe way - what better way than via a fantastical story? But I know you know that...
      Oh, yes, I *loved* Tales From Europe. The Singing Ringing Tree?!

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  5. Congrats on the commission! I love the work of the top two illustrators, nice to know you will be in good company :)

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    1. Thanks Yve, they're great, aren't they?

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  6. You are an international super-star!

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    1. But you are...we know you have at least one dedicated fan here in Dixie and it's a fact that your work can be found in our swankiest book shops...now Australia, Slovakia...you're just gonna have to learn to deal with it.

      You must have some sense of it 'cause that new picture is pretty super starish.

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    2. Well I'm very grateful for a dedicated fan in Dixie, that'll do for me!
      Hehe, the new pic is just me coming to terms that I now have to wear glasses all the time... the world is just a blur without them :-(.

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  7. And as an admirer of your blog could I just say well done and congratulations? I quite liked the Rap video, by the way. The street scenes look a lot like areas of Greece, I thought.

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    1. Thank you John, that's very kind. I don't know Greece... but Slovenia is kind of how I imagined, not that it's a place I've ever given any thought to before now.
      I meant to say in response to Singing Bear above too, that I listened to some of N'toko's raps in Slovenian rather than English, and there is something rather appealing about the rich sounds of his native language spoken that way.

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  8. Well done! It's great that the world gets to see your brilliant work.

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    1. Aww thank you Dr MHM, much appreciated!

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  9. Congratulations on your deal, C. I played the rap video which was a bit odd (to me). The Festival Of The Roasted Potato sounds great, maybe they could team up with the Festival of The Sweet Potato that takes place a few kms from here.

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    1. Ah thank you! It is a bit odd, isn't it, but I can't help having a soft spot for it... funny how some things can do that unexpectedly.
      There's a Festival of The Sweet Potato too? Oh I'm jealous - I'm not sure where you are, but we are seriously missing out on potato fests back here!

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