I'm back from the London Book Fair, and glad to be shutting up. There was much enjoyable discussion amongst colleagues, to the brink of physical voice-loss.
Officially, I had two minutes talk time to indicate: What I do, How I do it and what I'll do Next, to close a panel talk on the Booktrust Best New Illustrator's award with Anthony Browne, Polly Dunbar and Lauren Child.
So I did. As I walked to the stage I fell over my handbag, which wiped my memory briefly, but I managed to fit in the words "Interactivity", "Encouragement", "Achievable" and "Materials" with my first slide and used the velocity to go "Hooray for digital picture books" and "Art education is great" with the second.
Then I sat back down and listened to a brief discussion of digital media versus print media and wished I could say the last bit of what I had been meaning to: that digital, interactive and multi media options are not out to kill the beautiful picture books. They are there to replace some of the ones that need not be printed on treeslice in the first place, yes. But already some of the most beautiful picture books are made now by people who are versed in digital art, who chose to make a physical book rather than taking the format for granted. We are rediscovering the book as an object, with all the potential it has, and we produce them with a new sense of preciousness and care, aware of the form as well as the content. I think this very exciting.
There is a generation of new artists coming up now who grew up playing great computer games, taking in art from around the world, learning to communicate using words and pictures with crowds of strangers. Isn't that a what illustration is all about?
Some of them will chose to use those digital skills to tell stories in whatever new media are emerging. Some will use the network to exchange traditional skills, and produce tactile objects, and distribute them over the net, and at events that are organised with the help of it. Many will do all of the above.
And who knows what skills those little ones will have who are getting "dumbed down poking at touch screens" today. They are learning how to use a new medium, and they will produce art that will blow our minds, as every new generation does.
It's such an exciting world, I can't wait to see what we do next.