5 Tips for Bologna Children’s Bookfair

Last week I’ve finally hit the road again to Bologna. Italy in Springtime, great espresso, great food, great books – in a nutshell: La Dolce Vita for book lovers and caffeine-addicts. I usually share an appartement with some of my illustrator friends – something I really enjoy because my friends are scattered across the globe and it is really nice to see each other in person for a chance and to catch up. | Letzte Woche war es endlich wieder soweit: Buchmesse in Bologna. Ich freue mich immer sehr auf diese fünf Tage im Frühling, denn sie bedeuten meistens die ersten fünf richtigen Frühlingstage (in Bologna sind meist schon frühlingshafte Temeperaturen). Außerdem gibt es guten Espresso, richtig viele tolle Bücher zu bestaunen und viele Freunde und Kollegen zu treffen. Außerdem gutes Essen, tolle Ausstellungen und La Dolce Vita.

Here are five tips for Bologna I’d like to share with you
Hier ein paar Tipps für Bologna:

Arrange meetings in advance
Based on my experience it has become more and more difficult for illustrators to arrange meetings with art directors and editors directly at the bookfair. So contact them early (at least three months prior to the fair) to arrange a personal meeting.

Standing in line
Some publishers offer an illustrator’s hour, but here you probably will wait in a long line and your portfolio will be rushed through by a stressed and overloaded editor (they are only humans too …). So, if you want to attend, be on time, or even better, be half an hour early, so you are the first in line and have a chance to meet a still focused art director.

Educate yourself
Some of the publishers even started to decline any appointment requests because the editors don’t attend the fair anymore and prefer a digital portfolio sent by email. Is that the case with your favorite publisher, use the time at the fair to study the program by taking a look at the published books. Get an idea of what type of artwork your publisher needs, so you can send a well selected portfolio afterwards. And don’t forget to ask for contact details, so you can send that portfolio directly to the art departement.

Bring Tape!
The Bologna Illustrator’s wall is a huge exhibition space at the entrance hall in Bologna where everyone can hang up images. Editors and fellow illustrators browse the wall to find inspiration and new interesting contacts. If you want to put your artwork on that wall, don’t forget to bring tape or something to attach your postcards, business cards or posters with. Better yet use tape which is detachable, so your postcards won’t get ripped when removed by an interested editor.

Meet great colleagues
One of the best things in Bologna is that you can meet a lot of interesting and nice fellow illustrators. Use the time between appointements to get to know your crowd. Illustrators are usually very nice people and appreciate an exchange of experiences. So don’t be shy and socialize – while having a nice cup of espresso or a tasty slice of pizza.