I am a very bad blogger. Sorry! I have the best intentions to update regularly and scribbled lists full of blog post ideas/regular feature plans but they tend to fall by the wayside, especially with my daily drawing posts sucking up a lot of time. I expect you're sick of dwarves by now (really I probably should have started a separate blog or Tumblr for them, never mind!) so as a little breather from them, here's a much-delayed post on my trip a few months ago to Italy! Never one to miss a bargain or a ripe opportunity, I thought that it would be a good idea to combine our late honeymoon to Italy with a visit to the Bologna Children's Book Fair. Reports from other illustrators of what it was like in previous years really made me want to visit, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity when otherwise I wouldn't have had the funds to take a trip out there solely for it. I was totally aware that it's predominantly a trade show for publishers to negotiate licensing etc, so I didn't really put too much pressure on it as a visit to find work, and instead enjoyed just browsing all the foreign books, gathering inspiration, and finding out about some international publishers and what they're up to [there are so many! I never expected it to be so huge, but it was really overwhelming and busy with so many different publisher stands]. There was certainly a lot of inspiration to be found, and I came home with a suitcase full of publisher information and illustration goodies! It seemed that some of the international publishers were using styles a lot more similar to my own than some UK picture book publishers, so that was really interesting/encouraging to see, and it's great to find such a huge variety of styles and stories throughout the world; a lot of them really different to our own. The Asian picture book collections were particularly beautiful and I tired my feet out browsing all of their shelves! It was the 50th anniversary of the fair this year and Sweden was the guest of honour, so there was a great exhibition and tables full of lovely picture books to paw through. The famous illustrators wall was also pretty impressive; thousands of postcards and posters from lots of hopeful illustrators all pinned up, clamouring for a space (see if you can spot one of mine in the photo!) - there was also lots of familiar names popping up every time I walked along the wall! The rest of the trip was great... we also stayed in Verona which was really beautiful and a lovely tight little city with lots to see, visited Lake Garda, Venice (hot, crowded, amazing, and horribly expensive toilets!), stood on 'Juliet's Balcony' feeling a little bit silly, and climbed up a lot of towers. There may have been some gelato, olives and ricotta involved as well, and the odd pizza or two. Enough rambling - on to some photos!