Bonjour tout le monde! I have returned from the extremely lovely Angoulême BD Festival. Many beautiful things have been seen/bought and I've seen so many amazing people. It's been an exciting, inspiring and exhausting experience.

Report on Angouleme.

Having been classed as a 'comics artist' for the last few years and taking my 2nd year of university in Brussels studying Bande Dessinée, I was looking forward to this Festival.
I have been to several comic conventions, but the reception of comics in England is completely different in France. In England it's more seen as something for childish of for the 'geeks'. In France however, it is a cultural everyday, every person thing, like pop music; and I was extremely surprised and happy to see how big the festival was.

The tent I (Pittville Press) was based in "The Alternative" or independent artists area. The size of the tent was bigger than any artist alley or even floor space of any convention that I had been too. It was wonderful to see so many talented and varied artists, not just from France, but from England, Italy, America and even Hong Kong! It was wonderful to talk to neighboring artists about their work and their process. I found great delight in talking to artists who were looking for new people to collaborate with and also to talk about printing services (which is always so helpful to know).

There were many other tents full of wonderful things. Many were French comic stores selling vintage comics or limited edition prints. There were also some important companies such as WACOM (digital graphic tablet company) which, thanks to them, alot of French artists are able to produce many great pieces of work. It was fun to try out their new tablets. There was also the Cafe Sale group. A famous online digital art community (much like Deviantart) selling their artbooks from artists of the community and also having popular concept artists live drawing and signing books. I was really lucky to talk to an artist I had admired for a a few years. Something I probably wouldn't be able to do if I had no explored around (or even in any English conventions).

The most surprising tent I found was the editor's tent. Which was more like it's own expo show. It contained all the French & Belgium publishing companies that distribute all the BD, manga and comics into French. This reminded me heavily of the massive comic stores in Brussels. But to see so many gorgeous books in one place, I became very jealous I couldn't buy one of everything to take back with me! This tent had all the popular and famou artists signing people's books and doing life feed demonstrations. The lines for the artists were huge (and even longer at peak times during the weekend). It was really charming to see small girls squeal and get excited to meet their artist heroes like American tweenagers go mad for Justin Beiber. It was a lovely thing to see such a nice cultural difference of people so young appreciating art and reading.

Angouleme, the town itself is a huge expo. Around the place there are comic and art museums that hold exhibits during the day and and private viewings at night when the festival closes. These private viewings are very underground, a typical art scene cliché with heavy music and smokey rooms, art created with every medium and every subject. I loved it! And the exhibitions during the day are fascinating. I saw exhibits about Chinese artists (with artists drawing right in front of me) exhibitions about middle class France during the 1980s with boxing and steelworks and even seeing local comic contests from children taking part. There is just so much to see and do!

I consider myself very lucky to take this opportunity. I had wanted to visit last year's festival when I was studying in Belgium but never got the time so I'm really grateful for this. It seemed we were the only group representing a school/class out of all the artist tables that were there. I think this is an excellent thing to do. The alternative tent is to show new and upcoming talent and work. So students and classes should come (and continue) to show wares and their work. Sadly I didn't sell anything, but I discovered what people like, what interests them, and they they look for. I should mention, that it was very hard to sell anything on our table because there were so much on display. So it's probably wise to have a few (no more than five possibly) books/comics and a handful of prints/cards. This would allow much easier approach for customers to look at the items on display/sale rather than (from what I witnessed) people staring at everything and almost too afraid to pick anything up.

Some ability to speak French and include some French text-based works would also be very good. Baring in mind that a lot of people who come to the festival are French-speaking locals and people representing French comic companies. I was approached by a man representing a Parisian angency and he picked up my French BD comic that I worked on in Brussels and was surprised to see English in it as well, sparked a conversation and a I'm grateful enough to have a French contact because I could speak and write a little French. It was mentioned having work that includes no speech/text at all may work. This can work, as I had done a similar project in Brussels that excluded any speech which worked well. However, it would require strong work that can master expression and storys telling to carry it off. Because the French can read comics alot better than English can, you have to play on their level (not always, but it works).

Regardless,. This festival is a real eye opener to what other artists do globally and also a possible springboard for future jobs and clients outside of your country. You learn that comics isn't just for children and geeks, but for everyone, and there's always something for someone. I really recommend anyone who wants to see art on a wider perspective to go to this festival. It really is an amazing experience that leaves you inspired, and rather exhausted.

Remember my giveaway contest is on until the end of this week so leave a comment to be in with a chance!

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1 comment:

  1. Omgosh Gemma! It's Georgette ♥ I had no idea you had a blogspot : ) I miss you and I love you and let's have tea & cake when you're next in Peterborough ♥ ♥ ♥


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