One week ago today I returned from the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and I’m still futilely attempting to distill into words what was easily to best week of my life.
On any given day I’d find myself, say, escorting a 72-year old master illustrator back to his hotel as he described beating up a pickpocket the week prior, or talking Italian politics with my AirBnb.com rentees until 2am as water dripped from the above light fixture, or getting lost in an intestinal labyrinth of a medieval streets with nothing but a pedal-less bike and Beach House for company, or having a two-hour hot chocolate-induced panic attack hallucinations wherein an adolescent Jesus Christ is beating the literal hell out of me. It was stone cold BANANAS.
Prior to the fair itself I stopped in Florence, where you couldn’t walk five feet without running into a Renaissance masterpiece or the best meal you’ve ever eaten. The place was swarming with Michelangelos, Raphaels, Donatellos, Leonardos; ALL the Ninja Turtles! And nothing can prepare a person for the Duomo; it takes up your entire field of vision and occupies every atom of your imagination.
And David! I saw David! I stared at David for two hours and I still couldn’t believe I was seeing David. I didn’t know how to respond, I tried sketching him which ended in tears and then settled on taking an illegal iPhone selfie with David in the background.
Bologna, also incredible. Seeing my artwork up on the gallery wall was surreal, as was being publicly presented with a certificate of participation by some of my illustration heroes, as was the realization that I’d be having dinner with said heroes later that night and they were technically colleagues. Technically.
There was also the opportunity to collect the business cards and handshakes of publishers and illustrators from around the globe, make new friends, meet up with old friends, and get inspired by the foreign books I’d never see otherwise. Even bought a few of them. Google Translate and I are going to spend some quality time together.
[Right to Left: Sarah Brown, Katie May Green, Trudi Esberger, and Becky Palmer. Hire them for all your illustration/modeling needs.]
But the fair is over and I’m back in Seattle, no longer a minor celebrity. Just another pseudo-hipster in a cat fur-covered cardigan who spends too much time indoors.
Ah, well. There’s always next year.