• YJA Students

A Talk With... Lucy Dillamore!

The next alumnus that we are talking to is illustrator Lucy Dillamore.

Since leaving Boston High School, Lucy went on to achieve a degree in Ba(Hons) illustration at Norwich University of the Arts and then completed an MA in Children's Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art.

Her debut picture book 'Nipper and the Lunchbox' (Child's Play) was published in 2018 and was nominted for the 'Read it again' award and won a 'Northern Lights Book Award'.

We emailed Lucy and asked her a few questions.

What is your favourite memory of Boston High School?

It’s so hard to pick one as there’s so many! We went on some amazing school trips- the highlights being New York and Paris! Looking back now my favourite memories have to be just being with friends; everyone being really excited and passionate about the Bazaar, art lessons of course, helping out towards our school productions and even cooking in food tech - even though I was (and still am!) rubbish at it!

What career path did you take to get to where you are now?

After GCSE I studied Art, Media Studies and English Literature in sixth form. Media Studies and English Lit gave me a good knowledge of how to structure a story - and of course Art taught me how to illustrate! After sixth form I moved to Norwich and achieved a 1st in Ba(Hons) Illustration at Norwich University of the Arts. After that I moved back to Boston and applied for the prestigious Masters course in Children’s Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin (Cambridge School of Art) in Cambridge. I was shocked to get a place and would travel down to Cambridge from Boston every Wednesday morning for a full day of university, and worked 2 part time jobs the rest of the week to pay for the tuition fees!

During the MA I learnt so much, not only how to write and illustrate my own picture books, but about networking and the publishing industry. We were encouraged to go to the Bologna Book Fair which is an international children’s book fair in Italy. The MA course actually had a booth at the fair where they would exhibit student’s work - so publishers all over the world would see it! It was a fantastic place to network and publishers often had portfolio critiques for illustrators.

Throughout the MA I posted as much as I could on social media, particularly on instagram to get my work seen by as many people as possible. This caught the eye of my now agent Caroline Walsh and I signed with her just before the end of the course. As an agent her job is to find me work and liaise with publishers about contracts. We had a graduation exhibition in London at the end of the MA in 2017 where we showcased the books we had written and illustrated on the course. This was where my first picturebook ‘Nipper and the Lunchbox’ was picked up by the publishers, Childs Play. By 2018 it was published and since then had three co editions in Dutch, Danish and Turkish. It also won and was nominated for a couple of awards! The book was based on my partner’s dog at the time, so it’s been amazing to see children from all over the world seeing him.

At present I do all sorts of other tasks alongside working on new book ideas for my agent to show to publishers. Some of these tasks include running an Etsy shop where I sell my own cards etc, doing school visits and author events, logos, magazines and wedding stationery!

What has been the highlight of your career?

The highlight of my career so far had to be the moment when my first picturebook was published and I found it sitting on the shelf in my local Waterstones! It was an amazing but surreal feeling holding the real life physical book in my hands.

Do you have any tips for students at Boston High School?

If you’re a student who’s interested in a career in illustration then posting new work as frequently as you can on social media is a good tip to follow. This is how the majority of publishers and clients find my work and where most of my traffic on Etsy comes from! Have a separate account for personal photos or anything not to do with your work so your accounts solely consist of your work. Take part in art challenges and definitely make a Pinterest account to add your work to as this is a very underrated way to get people to see your work.

Generally, I would say if you are really passionate about a goal then keep going for it, don’t give up! However, do set realistic goals for yourself in the time you have and don’t burn yourself out. Finally, stay in touch with your friends and don’t forget to have fun.

- Abi, Year 13

Boston High Newsroom

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