Nestled between the Baltic Sea and Russia – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have often been overlooked as cultural powerhouses in Europe. Yet, the Baltic States host scores of new innovative artists and – as part of our new International Illustrators project – here at Pop Up Projects, we’ve endeavoured to tap into this talent.
As part of the project, eighteen children’s illustrators and comics artists have been selected from the Baltic States and the U.K. to mentor gifted 16-24 year old visual artists from sixteen colleges and universities. Over the course of a number of workshops, the illustrators have guided these students through the production of their own ‘leporello’ – a concertina-style graphic novel. These are being published by four publisher partners in each country; Nobrow in UK, Päike Ja Pilv in Estonia, kuš! in Latvia and Vilnius Academy of Arts Publishing House in Lithuania. The chance to have a small print-run of each story is an incredible opportunity for the young students notwithstanding the prestige of being published by the likes of these particular companies. At London College of Communication, we heard students speak of their excitement at being published by Nobrow, a publishing house seen by many of them as the epitome of future career achievement.
We’re excited to be pioneering cultural exchange between the UK and the Baltic States, an exchange that proves timely as the London Book Fair 2018 has its ‘Baltic States Market Focus’. Indeed, the resulting library of 33,000 copies of 160 original titles of leporellos from the project will be presented at the LBF next year. Furthermore, some of the participating UK students will go on to access opportunities for children’s publishing-sector training and progression, supported by three UK Bridge organisations: Artswork, Festival Bridge, Royal Opera House Bridge.
As well as inviting cultural dialogue between the UK and the Baltic States, the International Illustrators project helps nurture up-and-coming talent within illustration across all four countries – with fantastic opportunities to exhibit their resulting art.
As schools and universities break up for Summer, we have come to the end of the second wave of UK workshops, with students across the country finalising their leporellos and waiting in anticipation for the prints to materialise in the Autumn.
Next week will see UK Cartoonist Hamish Steele and Author/Illustrator Alexis Deacon deliver their workshops with 20 students in Riga, Latvia – and we can’t wait to showcase the results. Watch this space!
Sophie Monaghan – Digital and Marketing Intern, Pop Up Projects