North East Connected

Leading illustrators heading to Hartlepool to open The Northern Festival of Illustration 2019

Internationally-renowned illustrators are heading to Hartlepool for a day of masterclasses showcasing some unique creative talent to launch the third outing for the award-winning Northern Festival of Illustration.

On Saturday 1 June festival organiser, The Northern School of Art, is hosting a day of free events by leading illustrators Rob Flowers, Sam Arthur, Darren Yeomans of Atomhawk, Keith Robson and Frances Moffatt.

The free to attend event in the School’s lecture theatre at Church Square, Hartlepool, TS24 7EX, offers an insight into the work of key figures in contemporary illustration, whose work forms part of everyday life through advertising, editorial, products, games, film and TV, to books.

Rob Flowers kicks off the day and will be talking about his favourite stuff, his toy collection, and how that influences his work.

Most of what Rob creates comes from his interests and influences – collecting toys & other miscellany, folklore, mythology, ghoulish characters and anthropomorphic food. To the backdrop of a hoard of vintage action figures and Happy Meal toys, he creates his illustrations that embody this obvious love for humour and characters.

Next up is CEO of international publishing company Nobrow Press, Sam Arthur, who will be delivering a session entitled ‘How to Survive in Publishing’.

Sam, who set up Nobrow in 2008 alongside his friend and former St Martin’s alumni Alex Spiro, says that their mission is to “bring fresh, young talent to wider audiences, as well as to remind the world of the great talents that have been producing stunning work for many years.”

A talk by Darren Yeomans, Art Manager at Atomhawk Design offers a rare chance to hear first-hand about life behind-the-scenes at a world-leading digital art and design studio Atomhawk, which creates concept art for Marvel, Aardman, Warner Bros amongst others.

Former Beano and Dandy illustrator Keith Robson, will be delivering a session based on his experience as a professional artist since the 1960s, during which he has tackled a huge diversity of jobs including school textbooks, pre-school television, children’s storybooks, and model-making for animated TV series.

A session on what to look out for in a creative contract wraps up the day delivered by Frances Moffatt, a freelance illustrator and Lecturer on the BA (Hons) Illustration for Commercial Application degree at The Northern School of Art.

Frances, who has illustrated two books, The Fashion Exercise Book and Pick up a Pen and who was on the judging panel for this year’s Batsford Prize, an annual award scheme for students studying art and design, will be referencing her huge experience of working across editorial, greetings cards and publishing, and live drawing for events.

The Programme Leader for The Northern School of Art’s BA (Hons) Illustration for Commercial Application degree programme, Ben Clowes, said that the symposium is a wonderful opportunity to gain insights from some leading figures in the field.

“The festival is designed to celebrate the diversity of illustration and show how it affects everybody’s lives. It is accessible to the public and gives a chance for people not only to enjoy the artwork, but to be able to meet people from the industry and learn of their experiences and the talks we have organised certainly do that.”

Works by the symposium speakers will also form part of the The Northern Festival of Illustration itself which runs from 1 June – 15 September.

Organised by the north east’s only specialist art and design school, The Northern School of Art, this is the third outing for the biennial festival which takes place at Hartlepool Art Gallery with a series of events and workshops at other venues across the Tees Valley. The two previous festivals attracted over 73,000 visitors.

The exhibition at Hartlepool Art Gallery is showcasing work by more than 25 world-renowned and emerging illustrators, cartoonists and comic artists including the first showing outside of London of a range of Chris Foss’ black-and-white illustrations for Dr Alex Comfort’s world-renowned book, The Joy of Sex, and his acclaimed sci-fi illustrations including his illustration for the ‘Bandersnatch’ Black Mirror episode.

Also on show at the Gallery will be work from Chris Riddell OBE, the political cartoonist for The Observer and author of The Ottoline books, Goth Girl, and The Edge Chronicles and a three-time winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal, the British librarians’ annual award for the best-illustrated children’s book.

Work by illustrator and comic artist Tor Freeman, a previous winner of the prestigious Maurice Sendak Fellowship, whose books include the Digby Dog series, will feature as part of the exhibition alongside a huge mural she is creating at Hartlepool Art Gallery especially for the Festival. As will new work from educational illustrator Derek Brazelle, whose children’s books, including Cleversticks, have sold over 120,000 copies, and whose work featured in the 2015 festival.

Other illustrators on show include Jack Teagle, Nicholas Holmes and Donya Todd as well as the artists shortlisted for The Northern Illustration Prize, a major new international competition supported by The Gillian Dickinson Trust and the Association of Illustrators.

The Northern School of Art’s Vice Principal, Pat Chapman, said: “We are very proud to host and organise the festival – this time with our new name – The Northern Festival of Art, reflecting the new name of The Northern School of Art.

“Access to all we do and offer is free because we believe in removing barriers to people experiencing the very best quality art. In the exhibition you will see art from contemporary illustrators from across the globe.

“This year we have truly gone global with The Northern Illustration Prize which offers emerging and established illustrators the opportunity to reach new audiences as well as win significant rewards. Hundreds of entries came from six continents and you can see the twenty shortlisted pieces in the main exhibition.

“So once again, the Festival is putting Hartlepool, Tees Valley and the North on the world stage.”

Details of The Northern Festival of Illustration symposium on Saturday 1 June and how to book tickets is available at

The Northern Festival of Illustration takes place from 1 June – 15 September at Hartlepool Art Gallery and at venues across the Tees Valley. Entry to the Northern Festival of Illustration and all events is free. Further information is available here

A number of free workshops organised by The Northern Festival of Illustration are taking place as part of Crossing The Tees book festival between 8 and 22 June. Further details of times and locations are available here

The Northern Festival of Illustration partners and supporters include The Northern School of Art, Hartlepool Borough Council, Sir James Knott Trust, northern print, Lottery-funded Arts Council, Tees Valley Combined Authority, Association of Illustrators, Newspaper Club and The Gillian Dickinson Trust.

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