I still haven’t caught up on emails from my time away at Book Expo America (BEA) in New York City last week, and it will probably be a several weeks before I get through all the magnificent books I picked up, but I thought I’d share some of my photos and experiences from my first day at BEA.
Rene Kirkpatrick of Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island, WA took this photo, capturing my giddiness at just being in the same room with Peter Sís and his original artwork at the beginning of the Illustrator Studio Tour on Wednesday. Madison Butler (Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, WA, right) shared my delight and excitement (although not my goofy smile)!
Here is Peter Sís addressing the roomful of booksellers, surrounded by art from his new book about Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Pilot and the Little Prince. The art show at the Czech House in New York was amazing! (You can also see Secret Garden bookseller Suzanne Perry from Ballard, WA in the green stripes. Pacific Northwest booksellers were well-represented at this event and the convention in general.)
The Illustrator Studio Tour crowd was divided into small groups and escorted to locations throughout the city to visit illustrators’ studios. I was paired with Cathy Van der Bil from Eight Cousins Books on Cape Cod for a visit to the Brooklyn studios of Daniel Salmieri and Brett Helquist. Alas, I didn’t get a photo during our visit with Daniel– I was too amazed by getting such a personal tour of his workspace and having the opportunity to ask questions about his career, meet his new dog, and see original artwork from favorite books like Secret Pizza Party and Big Bad Bubble.
I pulled myself together enough to take some photos at our final stop on the tour: the studio of Brett Helquist. When he showed us original cover art from the Series of Unfortunate Events, I had an incredible flashback: The Bad Beginning came out in 1999, the year I started working as a bookseller. Now, 15 years later, here I stood in the studio of the artist who helped make that series so iconic. Brett regaled us with tales of illustration past and present, revealing behind-the-scenes tidbits like the fact that in the original manuscript for The Bad Beginning he read, the Baudelaire children were blond.
Brett also wowed us with artwork from the newest book in the Doll People series (written by Ann M. Martin and Laura Goodwin): #4, The Doll People Set Sail (on sale in October 2014). Brett took over the illustrations for this book after Brian Selznick did books 1-3. I loved when Brett showed us the line-up he drew of all the dolls, from Brian’s imagination and his own, so he could know everyone’s relative proportions.
I relished hearing Brett talk about the books he has worked on. He explained that he reads every manuscript carefully so he can capture the characters as the author intended. His attention to detail and love for the work really shows!
Thank you to Daniel and Brett and Peter and all the other artists who opened their studios to star-struck booksellers on the BEA Illustrator Studio Tour. Thank you, fellow PNW booksellers for helping NYC feel like home with all your friendly faces. Thank you, Cathy, for being my buddy on the adventure. Thank you, too, to the American Booksellers Association for all their hard work organizing such a memorable experience.