The Boulevardiers have a new friend, Coralie Bickford-Smith ~ the book designer. When you read about Coralie and her magnificent work, if you don’t know Coralie yet, you will be envious of our friendship. Don’t despair, it’s ok to fall in love, read on…!
In Coralie’s words from her website: “I am Coralie Bickford-Smith and here is a bit about myself. I graduated from Reading University after studying Typography and Graphic Communication. I currently work at Penguin Books. Amazingly my book covers have been recognised by the AIGA (NY) and D&AD (UK) and have featured in a numerous international magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, Vogue and The Guardian. The work I did with Penguin Classics on the clothbound series has attracted worldwide attention and harkens back to the world of Victorian bindings and a golden age of book binding.”
Waterstones Book of the Year is Coralie Bickford-Smith’s debut The Fox and the Star. “Inspired by the poetry of Blake, Bickford-Smith’s picture-book fable about grief is awarded top prize for its ‘great physical beauty and timeless quality.’ “
Once there was a Fox who lived in a deep, dense forest. For as long as Fox could remember, his only friend has been Star, who lit the forest paths each night, But then one night Star was not there, and Fox had to face the forest all alone.
A story about love, loss and learning to accept change. The Fox and the Star is Coralie’s first work as an author/illustrator.
Tell me about Coralie the young girl, and the young artist?
I remember painting my own copy of Andy Warhol’s banana at the age of 6. I blue-tacked it above my bed. I remember it being very important to me for the reason I loved bananas a lot and Andy Warhol had made such a great job of painting my favourite fruit. I wish it had been because I was a Velvet Underground fan at the age of 6. I painted the banana on grey sugar paper and the yellow paint was beautifully bold against it. I was always making things, drawing and painting. I painted what I loved. I remember cans of fizzy drinks eventually making their arrival into our home and I drew and drew these cans obsessively.
When did your love of books emerge, and was there one memorable childhood read?
I was surrounded by books as a child, my mother had an enormous respect for them. When we visited our grandparents we all went to our favourite second-hand book shop and got to choose any books we wanted for our holiday reading. It was a big deal and extremely exciting. My sister was really into The Famous Five and I was totally into The Secret Seven books. It all sounded so cosy and the home made lemonade sounded divine.
Did you know where you were heading when you got to University, and if not, when was your direction clear?
Yes, by the time I was going to university I had found my direction. University gave me the confidence to follow my chosen direction, it gave me the possibility to dream for the first time, that I might actually become a designer. There were tough times but I had people who were supporting me who made sure I never dropped off the radar. I belonged to a group of people for the first time who shared my passions and I had never thought it was possible that I would fit in anywhere.
What was the first big break in your career?
Everything that I experienced was a small step towards a career that I now love. There was never a pivotal moment where I felt like I had a big break, which early on in my career was frustrating. But everything I learned fed into the next thing and so on. I appreciate all the experiences I have had and am yet to have as I am constantly evolving and growing.
Which project established you firmly in the industry?
I think the Penguin Cloth Classics were the series that seemed to resonate with people the most. I love the material we use, the cloth with the matt pigment foil stamped into the covers. This is the work I get the most emails about from collectors eager to learn what new titles I am working on.
Which project has most stretched your creativity?
Every project has stretched me creatively in its time. I am never happy or satisfied, always picking holes in my own work. Always striving. So the last project that stretched me was The Fox and The Star. Now it is the idea for a new book. I am already having great waves of anxiety about my abilities. I think this is normal as if I was content with my work I might lose some of the magic that people see in it. I always want to be stretched creatively, it means I’m alive.
What inspires your eye?
All sorts of things, I have anthropomorphic tendencies that trigger something in me creatively. I find myself examining objects lying out of context in the street. How does it feel? What is its back story? When I approach book covers I like to think about the whole object not just the design. I like things to come alive and tell their stories.
Are you having fun with The Fox and the Star attention?
The attention is beyond my wildest dreams, but its about letting the book go and moving on to the next project. I love the process of creating. I think that the attention that Fox is getting means he now has his own life, and in a way I am no longer part of him. I have to let go like he did. I want the book to be what it needs to be for the people that relate to it. A message of hope and positivity that is now separate from me.
…Thank you to magical Maeve Mullally for her friendship and for always finding & sharing the best of everything…HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!