I know, I know! It's starting to feel like I am doing a Tour de European book fairs this year (I actually might be doing it as I think about it, haha!). Anyways, I've been really busy last few weeks and then right after I met all the deadlines I had to, I jumped on the plane and together with my wonderful illustrator friend Daniela Olejnikova (check out her work at www.daniole.com) we took on to Paris (ah oui...). Daniela was actually invited by the Literary Centre to take part in some workshops with children and to present her work in front of quite a few publishers who seemed interested in what she does. I decided to go ahead and join her, because I always feel I learn a lot when I travel, meet new people and try to do the illustration business outside my own country.
As for the Montreuil book fair (http://www.salon-livre-presse-jeunesse.net/), I have to say I really liked it and enjoyed it. For an illustrator, it just feels more welcoming than Frankfurt Buchmesse, although I still think Bologna Book Fair offers the most opportunities of all the European fairs I've been to. Montreuil is aiming purely on the children's and young adult market. And it does so with the help of illustration, so it seems like the right place to be for an illustrator. However, the approach is a bit different from the others. You register on the website to get a professional admit and then somehow, you're supposed to sign up for the meetings with the publishers (note: there are only French publisher available for appointments, but they do speak English, so don't be shy, heh), which are scheduled really tight. Now, I might sound a bit dumb, but I really was not able to figure this out. I could not even find an English version of the site, aaaaaah. Well, I do realize that sometimes it is not that easy to get around France (and French) without any knowledge of their language. I do have some knowledge, but it seems like it still wasn't enough. Anyways, now I know what Mice is, be sure you look for that when you enter the website and don't speak French. Watch out for the registration date for the publisher appointments (I've spoke to some illustrators while waiting in line and was told the site fell down immediately after the reg started) and hope for the best. Have some knowledge on what you're aiming for. Know the publishers. Don't be depressed if you did not get a spot with Thierry Magnier, when your place might rather be with Milan. Montreuil book fair will still be a great experience, even though you might feel that the market competition is just overwhelming (the place for publisher appointments really looked like a speed-dating spot). Just have the courage, grab your books and portfolio and go. It's fun! And it's in Paris! Ha!
Before I finish this little blog, I would really like to thank the wonderful people at the Ecoles de Conde in Paris. I was able to be a part of the conference they held for Daniela and another great young illustrator from Lithuania, Karolis Strautniekas (http://strautniekas.com/) and it just felt so welcoming. I would like to thank especially to the professors, Francois and Isabelle (sorry if I misspelled the names, aaah) who invited us for dinner in their own home. Thank you!
Here is a blog they keep at the school: http://condeciap.blogspot.sk/2014/11/daniela-olejnikova-karolis-strautniekas.html
Oh and one more thing - or rather a tip - if you ever find yourself going to Paris and are on a budget - be sure to check out a charming little hotel called Hotel Stella - http://hotel-stella.voila.net/, it is in the heart of Paris with lots of restaurants and cafes around and you won't spend a fortune staying here. It really is a great little place!