On the last day of our trip down to London we headed over to Serpent's Tail, an independent publishing house, set up about twenty five years ago. It prides itself on committing to publishing works which have otherwise being neglected, rejected or shunned by mainstream publishers, and it's commitment has paid off as it's become very successful, even gaining notoriety for their choice to publish books such as We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.
On arriving we were met by Niamh Murray who talked to us about what Serpent's Tail looks for in an illustrator and how a decision is made, based on the appeal of the cover to markets such as Amazon, who rely heavily upon the success of their online sales and therefore need to ensure that the products they're selling are presented well; so, for example, an illustration needs to be able to stand out as a thumbnail on an online site. With her Niamh had varies copies of books which Serpent's Tail had published, giving us an idea of the kind of artwork they tended to go for, as well as the range of paperbacks they printed, some being embossed or textured. Like we've heard so many times, Niamh also spoke about the importance of self promotion, and that email was essentially best, as if you're constantly receiving promotional packages, some are bound to end up the bin, and the illustrator therefore forgotten.
We were then introduced to Peter Dyer, the in house Art Director, who kindly offered to see us individually in order to review our portfolios. I was the last one to be seen but it turned out really well. Rather than just throwing my portfolio at him and leaving him to it, or babbling on about every single page, I asked if they often had students coming through, and we had quite a nice conversation as he started to look through my work. Like my other portfolio visits he remarked upon the difference between the quality of my paintings and the quality of my papercuts; I mentioned that this was the direction I had recently begun to move in and with probably stick with, and he agreed that it was a good decision, but that perhaps I shouldn't entirely rule out my paintings, as I had some lovely detail in them. We came to my Little White Lies cover for Black Swan and he mentioned that he really liked it, and was surprised to hear that my tutors had very much not liked it; he felt it conveyed the atmosphere behind the film very well and that he liked some of the ideas I was working with throughout my portfolio, and that I was 'there' with the papercuttings, perhaps now they just needed to be presented more in context. Peter said that it's be good to see some of my future work, and to keep in touch.
I was so pleased with Peter Dyer's response to my work, as well as Niamh's when I told her the subject of my FMP.