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What children’s book illustrators can look out for at AFCC 2017

13 Dec 2016 // Filed under Children’s / Events

Did you know that The Book Council is filled with people with varied talents and interests? For example, Judi likes creating poems and repurposing old bags, Adan enjoys writing and reading heaps of comics, and Mabel likes editing (hehe… I'm leaving her to edit this post). As for me, I enjoy illustrating.

I’ve tried experimenting with different mediums – water colour, acrylic and just a tiny bit of papercut art. Gosh, if you are good at gouache, hats off to you. It’s not easy to master!

One of my experiments: Trying my hand at calligraphy

As some of you may know, I'm the Festival Executive of the annual  Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC), the largest festival in Asia dedicated to children's books and stories. One of the perks of doing this is being able to meet many awesome illustrators and artists from around the world. What amazes me even more than their art? The ideas and philosophies that shape their subject matter and style.

Whether you're a budding or experienced illustrator, here're some things you can do at the upcoming festival in 2017. Ready? 

1. Attend sizzling sessions

Behind-the-scenes of creating Karung Guni Boy. Photo: Eric Wong

I adore picture books that have unusual illustrations, such as Akiko White’s Sweet Fairy Tales and Su Blackwell’s The Fairytale Princess. So, I’m really excited that Singaporean illustrators Eric Wong (who illustrated Karung Guni Boy) and David Liew will both be speaking about the world of 3D illustrations at the AFCC session, Thinking Out of the Box: Unusual Illustrations

As part of the AFCC 2017's Country of Focus: Indonesia, Grace Kusnadi from Popcorn Asia will also be shedding on light on the expending international opportunities for illustrators at the session Indonesian Illustrators: Getting International Recognition.

2. Delve deeper into your craft

A cut-out illustration by Orit Bergman

If you're itching to become much better at your craft, you can get personal coaching on creating quality picture books at the upcoming AFCC Writers & Illustrators Retreat. This is the only retreat dedicated to picture book illustrators in Asia, and is only held once in two years, so be sure not to miss it!

Intermediate illustrators can also enjoy going in-depth in picture book illustrations in two of AFCC's Masterclasses— Playing with Pictures: Exploring Pacing, Design and Storytelling in Picture Books by creator and illustrator from the UK, James Mayhew, and Playing with Pop Up: From an Idea to a Functioning Model by award-winning Israeli artist Orit Bergman.

3. Be lured by children's and YA books

A glimpse into the AFCC 2016 Book Fair  Photo: Jacob Kong

If you’ve seen me looking around the AFCC Book Fair many times during this year's festival, you’ve caught me red-handed. The books beckoned me and the unique selection of children’s books at the AFCC Book Fair always draw me in. It’s difficult to find some of the titles at the Book Fair at local bookstores. In fact, Denise from the Festival Bookstore, Closetful of Books, saw me lurking round the bookstore so often during breaks that she asked, “Are you supposed to be here?” Whoops. Couldn’t resist the call of books.

So don’t miss coming to get lovely books for your kids, friends, young relatives - or even yourself, for that matter - at the AFCC Book Fair from 17 – 21 May 2017 at L1, Plaza, National Library Building!  You can also expect to browse through lots of international titles, including Indonesian children’s books and comics, as well as unique books from Asia and around the world.

4. Get a chance to be featured

Winning artwork for afccSKETCH 2016, by Tran Dac Trung, an illustrator from Vietnam, based in Singapore

Ah yes… I should not forget to mention that there are some contests and activities that you can submit your art for.

#1) Book Illustrators Gallery – The gallery at AFCC each year boasts a fantastic and current selection of picture book illustrations from around the world. With authors and publishers viewing the gallery, it is the opportune moment to showcase your art. 

#2) afccSKETCH – This year, we were surprised by the overwhelming response from the afccSKETCH! The two winners were given a complimentary Writers & Illustrators Conference pass worth S$350. For 2017, we have some good news! We will be having a total of four winning entries, and all of winners will get a free pass to the Writers & Illustrators Conference as well. Find out more here

#3) First Look: Illustration Critique – As the title suggests, are you longing for a first look at your unpublished picture book? Don’t hesitate to send in your art, which will be reviewed by a panel of established illustrators and publishers.

#4) Portfolio Review – Get up close and personal with professional illustrators as they give constructive comments on your art in a one-to-one consultation at the festival. 

5. Bump into an AFCC Festival Artist

Illustration of Shaun Tan’s Skype session by Paula Pang, one of the Festival Artists for AFCC 2016

Did you chance upon our Festival Artists sketching scenes of speakers and ongoing sessions during AFCC this year? If you didn’t, take a look at the fun drawings on our AFCC Facebook page! In 2017, we are delighted to have with us five brilliant illustrators as our Festival Artists: Candice Phang, Stephanie Ho, Favian Ee, Melissa Tan and David Liew. I can’t wait to see what they might draw. I could definitely learn a thing or two from them.

This concludes my personal take on highlights for illustrators at AFCC. We also have plenty in store for writers! For full details on our programmes, please visit our newly-launched website at

See you at next year's AFCC! 

- Alycia Teo 


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