Pop Up Creators: An illustration exchange across the UK and Baltic Countries

A new collection of graphic stories has been created from collaborations between 150 talented young artists and 18 professional illustrators from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the UK.

Through this ambitious international exchange, the professional illustrators mentored small groups of talented, aspiring young artists (age 16 to 26) at 17 educational institutes and a summer school across the four nations. Through this grand adventure we aimed to seek out hidden talent, nurture emerging artists through rich and immersive artist-led processes, guide them through development of original illustrated stories, shine a spotlight on these stories by taking them to print, and signpost routes into children’s publishing.

Through the mentors, our four publisher partners (Nobrow in UK, Päike Ja Pilv in Estonia, kuš! In Latvia, Vilnius Academy of Arts Press in Lithuania) set participants an especially tough challenge: to transform both sides of an unusually long blank piece of paper (a ‘leporello’, or concertina frieze) into a graphic story in any style, using (or not using) any language, and with no unifying theme or aesthetic.

Artwork from the project will be displayed in an exhibition with ROSL ARTS at the Royal Over-Seas League in Mayfair, London. Co-curated by Pop Up Projects and House of Illustration, the Pop Up Creators exhibition will run from 10 April – 20 May.

The project coincides with The London Book Fair 2018 Baltic Countries Market Focus, and has been funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence Programme, Lithuanian Council for Culture, Latvia’s International Writers and Translators House and the Ministry of Culture of Estonia, and supported by a number of other partners in each country.

At the exhibition, Pop Up Projects is also launching a new digital platform, Pathways, developed in collaboration with illustration agency Inkygoodness and with seed funding from Arts Council England. Its aim is to seek out, curate and showcase diverse emerging illustrators and comic artists direct to children’s publishers, drawn from this project and beyond. If the funding is secured, those featured on the platform will access opportunities for children’s publishing-sector training and progression, supported by three UK Bridge organisations: Artswork, Festival Bridge, Royal Opera House Bridge.

Evaluation partner Stephen Spender Trust embedded writer-translators into 6 of the 18 groups, to document and share learning about processes and outcomes.

It is also our hope that through this project we will develop a network to increase collaboration between UK and especially European children’s literature organisations, to promote and exchange outstanding illustration and comics practice and practitioners in the long-term.

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A seminar titled ‘Pushing the limits of Graphic Stories: Spotlight on the Pop Up Creators Project’ will take place on Tuesday 10 April at The London Book Fair. The panel includes artists, mentors, tutors and publishers from across the project, discussing their experience of the process, as well as how the innovative and eccentric styles of these young artists push the limits of the genre.

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Related blog posts:

Information about the Pop Up Creators Exhibition

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ARTISTS: William Grill / Alexis Deacon / Emily Hughes / Katie Harnett / Jim Stoten / Hamish Steele / Ulla Saar / Kertu Sillaste / Elina Sildre / Joonas Sildre / Anna Vaivare / Oskars Pavlovskis / Elīna Brașlina / Reinis Pētersons / Akvilė Misevičiūtė / Lina Dūdaitė / Ieva Babilaitė / Rasa Joni

INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS: Estonian Ministry of Culture / IBBY Estonia / Estonian Children’s Literature Centre / Latvia’s International Writers & Translators House / kuš! Latvia / Lithuanian Culture Institute

EDUCATION PARTNERS: Victory Academy (Rochester) / MidKent College / Harlow College / University of the Creative Arts (Canterbury) / City of Oxford College / Banbury and Bicester College / Southampton Solent University / Brighton Metropolitan College / Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge) / Peterborough Regional College / London College of Communications (University of the Creative Arts) / Birmingham City University / Estonian Academy of Arts / Tallinn University / Pelgulinna High School (Tallinn) / Vilnius Academy of Arts (Vilnius & Kaunas)

SUPPORTED BY: Arts Council England – through an Ambition for Excellence award / Lithuanian Council for Culture / Latvia’s International Writers & Translators House / Estonia’s Ministry of Culture