Martin Salisbury

The founder of the Children's Book Illustration MA program at Anglia Ruskin University (and the external auditor for my illustration program at the University of Edinburgh), Martin Salisbury, recently gave a talk in Edinburgh hosted by PictureHooks. While I'd met with Martin in his auditor role several times, I'd never heard him give a lecture. So, this was a treat. He talked about the history of picture books, something he's written about at length in many respected books.
     The audience was filled with my picture book peeps here in Scotland (SO NICE to see everybody!), including my former ECA professor Jonathan Gibbs who introduced Martin.
     First, Martin explained what a picture book was with this famous quote by Barbara Bader.
     I especially enjoyed the graphic where he showed how the pace of a picture book is like music. (I'm sorry I can't credit this image or tell you what the music is - does anybody recall?)
And a handout on pagination by one of the professors at Anglia Ruskin.
     My Hollins students will appreciate his focus on The Owl and the Pussycat storyboard and page layout. I missed the illustrator on this one too! Anyone?

     What really resonated with me was when Martin said,
"If it's a great composition without the text, it will be a terrible composition with the text. Text is a shape like any other shape."
     I also liked the Saul Steinberg quote he shared, "Drawing is a way of reasoning on paper."
     He shared work by no less than 19 illustrators, including John Burningham.
and Quentin Blake, of course, along with work by newer creators too.
     Martin is one of the first children's literature academics to come from a practice-based background, as a working illustrator. He even came out of Graphic Design - like I did! It's why he was happy to share the high-design trend and process trend he's seeing in picture books these days. That said, there are more of us academics coming up in this world of kidlit, bringing our unique angle of discussing picture books from the practitioner's viewpoint. It made me excited about my BFA in Graphic Design, MFA in Illustration, and PhD research in Children's Literature. It's a booming field and one with so much subject matter to discuss! For instance, his talk was through a UK lens. Made me want to put together a history of US Picture Books slideshow. I think I shall...

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