Reading is one of the greatest joys in life—this is why book fairs are such special and highly expected events. Every year, the China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair (CCBF) commissions a new visual identity to give a fresh feeling to one of the most important gatherings of children’s book people around the world, and to celebrate the joy of reading, for both children and grownups.
2020 marks the eighth edition of the Shanghai Children’s Book Fair. Like every year when the first signs of spring are popping up, the Shanghai Children’s Book Fair is very excited to release its new looks for 2020.
This year the CCBF organisers invited 2019 Golden Pinwheel Young Illustrators Competition winner Gui Tuzi to create the CCBF new visual universe. A skilled picture books illustrator, Gui Tuzi‘s style delicately hovers between dreamy fantasy and realism. Every piece of her work is impregnated by her strong perceptions of life.
From the beginning, the designer studio in charge of guiding the CCBF key visual artist in the creative process, saw great potential in Gui Tuzi’s The Big Boat—the series that gave her the Grand Award in the 2019 Golden Pinwheel Competition. In this series, she reveals a distinctive visual style and shows great talent for composition. As simple as her work can look at first glance, it is indeed an astounding immersion into a strong detail-driven narration. So when Gui Tuzi had to decide which technique she would use for the CCBF key visual, she eventually decided to keep in line with the The Big Boat and use watercolours. Watercolour is actually Gui Tuzi’s preferred creative tool, which grants her work with great elegance and fluidity.
“I started working on this key visual during the outbreak of coronavirus in China”, Gui Tuzi explained.“I could feel that thousands of people around me were struggling against the virus, like in a real battle between humans and the disease. I think artists must follow their heart and intuitions. So, I immediately settled on this topic and decided to represent it through a tug-of-war game, on a background of waves and layers of black mountains. What I like the most are the clean and refreshing waters that represent hope and the future.”This year’s key visual provides a special meaning to the Shanghai Children’s Book Fair, and it also attests of our current times.
After choosing the theme and style of the visual identity, the illustrator used delicate brush strokes to depict the impacting waves, the characters involved in the tug-of-war, the ocean and sky fusing in the distance, and many other details scattered around and waiting to be discovered… The image’s kinetic strength, combined with the calmness of the composition, gives it a very special feeling and opens endless potential for imagination—who is pulling on the other side of the rope? Who wins in the end? What will they do after they are done? To all these questions, each of us will find infinite possibilities for answers…
As we are playing tug-of-war with a virus, we are pushed to rethink our relationship to nature and animals. Animals are running to the left, looking for a safe place to breed, and humans are rushing to the right, towards endless technological progress and civilisation. In their respective race, people and animals will eventually meet on the other side of earth. The illustrator hopes that this will be a new starting point for a harmonious coexistence between people and animals.
The visual identity created by Gui Tuzi will be featured in CCBF numerous promotion campaigns along the year, it will also be used onsite at the next Shanghai Children’s Book Fair, in November 2020. It will become a distinctive business card of the book fair.
2020, let’s roll, it is time to start our journey together!
About the artist
Gui Tuzi, art name of Liu Jing, is from Nanjing, Jiangsu province. She is a professional illustrator and picture book artist born in the 1980s. Since 2010, she has illustrated children’s fiction and worked for various magazines. She started publishing picture books for children in 2013. Since 2015, she is focusing on art education, especially watercolours. Her picture books include The Funny Bean, Blue Horse and Goshawk, Meet the Sheep, The Gift of Eight Claws, The Old Scenery, Snowman, etc. She received the 2014 Laurel Picture Book Award, the 2018 Bingxin Children’s Book Award, and is the winner of the 2019 Golden Pinwheel Young Illustrators Competition Grand Award to a Chinese artist. Her works were selected in the first China Illustration Art Exhibition, the second National Illustration Art Exhibition, the 13th National Art Exhibition, among others.