Coralie Bickford-Smith, The Fox and the Star

Spread from The Fox and the Star © Coralie Bickford-Smith

LondonArt & Culture

Coralie Bickford-Smith, The Fox and the Star

Fascinating exhibition lays bare the working process behind Coralie Bickford-Smith's instant classic...

‘I started by putting ideas down onto paper and thinking about how words and visuals could work together to tell my story.’ Begins Coralie Bickford-Smith, of her preliminary sketches for Fox; the protagonist in the writer/illustrator’s debut children’s book, The Fox and the Star.

Coralie Bickford-Smith, The Fox and the Star at William Morris Gallery, London

First sketches of Fox © Coralie Bickford-Smith

They are the starting point of a new exhibition, opening today, that documents the process behind the instant classic. Crowned Waterstones Book of the Year 2015, The Fox and the Star has been widely regarded as one of the finest illustrated children’s books of all time, winning accolades the world over for its visuals, story, and embracing of the ‘classic fable’ approach.

Indeed, it harks back to the visual language of William Morris and William Blake, their storytelling and aesthetics a key influence for Bickford-Smith: ‘Morris’s design work on the Kelmscott Press has been an inspiration throughout my career designing book covers for Penguin, and took on a renewed relevance when embarking upon the illustration of my own debut story,’ she explains, referencing her position as in-house cover-designer at Penguin Books.

Fittingly, the exhibition is showing at the only public gallery devoted to the designer, craftsman and radical socialist. ‘His attention to detail and gift for pattern is celebrated in the permanent collections of the William Morris Gallery,’ Bickford-Smith continues, ‘who work to inspire and inform people of his legacy. I hope that visitors to the exhibition will use the opportunity to engage with Morris’s work and discover the enduring relevance of his ideas.’

A fascinating insight into the workings of a creative whose work is positioning her alongside the greats she so admires, The Fox and the Star continues at William Morris Gallery till 29 January.

@WMGallery
@cbickfordsmith

Roughs of the Fox from Coralie Bickford-Smith’s sketchbook

Roughs of the Fox from Coralie Bickford-Smith’s sketchbook.
© Coralie Bickford-Smith

‘I developed the fox character and gathered all the individual drawings on one page to check that he was consistent throughout the book. These are all ready for final printing as I also design the book and produce the artwork so that it is ready to go on press. I had to make sure that all the fox fur illustrations would print correctly so doing overviews like this was very useful.’
– Coralie Bickford-Smith

The hardback cover design for The Fox and the Star

The hardback cover design for The Fox and the Star
© Coralie Bickford-Smith

‘The cover of the hardback of The Fox and the Star was bound in beautiful cloth and stamped with a foil. Much of my work harks back to the beautiful bookbindings from the Victorian era. Books should be loved and treasured and passed down through generations.’
– Coralie Bickford-Smith

The paperback cover design for The Fox and the Star

The paperback cover design for The Fox and the Star
© Coralie Bickford-Smith

‘The paperback is bigger and has full-bleed images. We have created a more child friendly book this time but which has the same lovely paper and orange coloured thread binding the book together.’
– Coralie Bickford-Smith

Layouts for The Fox and the Star

Layouts for The Fox and the Star
© Coralie Bickford-Smith

‘Pacing the use of colour throughout the book was really vital to the flow of the story,
so this has to be taken into consideration by over viewing the whole book on one page.’
– Coralie Bickford-Smith

Rough storyboarding for The Fox and the Star

Rough storyboarding for The Fox and the Star
© Coralie Bickford-Smith

‘There was much story boarding that took place to work out the pace and the flow of the words and images. Lots of ideas get left behind in an attempt to simplify and communicate the most vital elements.’
– Coralie Bickford-Smith

Cover roughs for The Fox and the Star

Cover roughs for The Fox and the Star
© Coralie Bickford-Smith

‘When designing the cover it goes through many different stages. The first ideas are a playful exploration of possibilities.’
– Coralie Bickford-Smith

Spreads from The Fox and the Star
Spreads from The Fox and the Star
Spreads from The Fox and the Star

Spreads from The Fox and the Star © Coralie Bickford-Smith

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