Children's Book Summer School

  • SVS OG

    I wanted to let you know about a children’s book course I took that really helped me (before I found SVS which really is the best!)

    It’s in Cambridge, UK, and it’s a week-long residential summer school end of July, so obviously not going to be relevant to most of you but I figured European SVSers like @Leontine and @smceccarelli might like to know just in case…I’ve done it twice and each time there were quite a few overseas travellers (particularly from the Netherlands but some further afield like Japan).

    The content is most similar to @Lee-White’s Visual Storytelling Techniques course…it’s not about making perfect art or beautiful rendering (you don’t need much more than paper and pencil all week) but they do totally go into depth on the storytelling front - thumbnailing, character design, how to tell a story over 12 spreads, how to get a variety of illustration types within the 12 spreads, getting a ‘surprise’ on the next page, how to make a dummy book…that sort of thing. It’s a mix of lectures and working in a studio on your own project with a daily critique.

    You have to come along with your own children’s book idea and they basically rip it apart and help you put it back together again 🙂

    Anyway I don’t want to distract from SVS but the intensive work and daily critiques was definitely helpful…so I mention it just in case.

  • Pro SVS OG

    Thanks Dulcie! Cambridge is only one hour flight and less than 100 USD ticket away, and I have family there, so this is really quite interesting. I will check it out!

  • Thank you so much for sharing, that looks amazing! Great to hear that you've experienced it and recommend it too.

    I've often looked longingly at their MA in Children's Books, but it's out of reach for me at the moment - but a week in the summer could be do-able, how exciting!

  • SVS OG

    @smceccarelli Glad it might be of interest! If I can help any more in terms of what it's like just ask.

    @Nanette Glad to share! Nice to see someone else from the UK here too 🙂

    Yeah, I've also thought longingly about their MA (for anyone else reading - it's the only place in the UK where you can do an MA in children's book illustration, as opposed to general illustration)...but similarly, I just can't do it right now because I have to support my family with work. Maybe when the kids go to school it will be different...

    I did hear though, from a talk they gave about the MA during the week - that the MA is different in character, for example the first year is almost all life drawing - drawing drawing drawing - and it's only the second year that you get down to your own project and relate all that groundwork to children's books. Whereas the summer school is totally focused and intensive on creating a dummy book.

    When I was there last year, it was great but I was also thinking, 'what on earth am I going to do when this is over? I can't do the MA yet, where am I going to get my illustration fix next?' And that night I found a site called SVS on the internet..thought 'oh that looks good' 🙂 So I'm really grateful that SVS exists for those of us who can't get out there to do a university course...

  • Thanks a lot for the tip, ill check it out, (and seen if I can leave my kids for a view days)!

  • SVS OG

    @Dulcie I would love to go if I could. Sounds wonderful.

  • Pro SVS OG

    They offer accommodation for the whole week for 200 GBP! That is an unbeatable deal and makes it overall cheaper than going on holiday for a week. This year I will not manage - I have used up all my holiday allowance to finish my thesis project. But for next year it is definitely very interesting!

  • SVS OG

    Yeah it's a very good's in the student accommodation which is basic/functional rather than luxury, but it's super close and cheap. Ah well maybe next year 🙂

    I heard about another picture book teaching holiday - this one's in northern Spain in early Sept, taught by Benji Davies, Marta Altes and Alexis Deacon...I don't think I'll be able to do it but I post here to tempt you all 😉 They're only taking 15 students so the teacher/student ratio would be pretty good.

  • For goodness sake, @Dulcie Stop showing us such wonderful tempting trips, my holiday budget is going to go through the roof! 🙂 The Spanish one is even taught by two of my illo heroes!

    Adding this one to the list as it looks good too, it's in the UK, and is an SCBWI event, but open to non-members: Picture Book Retreat

  • SVS OG

    @Nanette Haha, sorry for tempting you 🙂 Thanks for sharing that last one too - that's only an hour's drive away for me so would be really convenient! Will definitely consider that...

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