‘The Weird and Wonderful World of Eurovision’ Laura Sayers x Amy Gerrish

We’ve found out something new about our paper artist Laura Sayers - that she’s pretty keen on Abba!  - only as we immediately wanted to find out more about a pop up book, thought up by Digital Editor Amy Gerrish, and illustrated by Laura, here's a link to the film....

With Eurovision (well it's replacement) in a few days time, we thought we’d share the in’s and out’s of this marvellous book, a homage to ‘The Weird and Wonderful World of Eurovision.’ This also gives you great insight into one way Laura’s creations can really be bought to life. Hope you enjoy...

Can you tell us a little more about yours and Amy's relationship - how you were introduced – and what path led you to collaborating on this unique book?
Amy Gerrish and I still haven't met in real life, unfortunately! She's one of those funny Instagram followers that became a friend, mostly when we both realised we both really like children's books and have a guilty pleasure for Eurovision... She put up a post saying she was looking for an illustrator to help her with a project so I popped up and we got chatting. Amy works for Chicken House Books as their digital editor, and as well as reviewing kids books with a focus on our world and sustainability on her Instagram she's been studying for a postgrad in Children's publishing, which is where this project came into play. She can take all credit for the idea to make a Eurovision themed pop-up book, while I helped her out with the character designs based on some of the best known acts through the years - as an unashamedly big Abba fan I was sold on the idea! 

THE Eurovision Song Contest has been cancelled in 2020 for the first time in its 64-year history due to the coronavirus pandemic. But a replacement show - Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light, it will feature all 41 Eurovision 2020 entries and well-known Eurovision artists from recent years - will you be watching? Have you heard any of the songs for this year?
It's crept up on me but I think I'll try and catch it; although I haven't heard any of the songs this year! A couple of weeks ago I watched 'the Isolation Song Contest' which I can highly recommend too!  A whole bunch of recognisable comedians had the challenge of writing a song and making a music video for it... it's very home-made as are a lot of things in these times but it was so much fun to watch. If there's anything you do with your quarantine, you need to watch Mel Geirdroich singing in Italian about how she wants her cleaner back; one of the best things to come out of all this.

Can I ask you what you think the enduring appeal of Eurovision is? As the popularity seems to be increasing every year,  and it has been running for so long!
I think the fact that we never win anymore in the UK is part of it! It brings countries together for some tedious, badly presented entertainment, and I love all the effort and hype that goes into it. If you commit to it you get weirdly excited when your country gets any form of a mention, and there's always part of you that thinks maybe this is the year we'll win...

How long did it take for you to complete this book roughs from start to finish and what tools did you use in this project?
I worked on the line drawings over Christmas, which took me longer than I'd thought - I'd recently got into working with Procreate on an iPad and thought it would be the quickest way to work, but thanks to the friendly undo button it probably takes twice as long because you can afford to be a real perfectionist! Once we'd figured out the characters that Amy wanted to include, I drew them all up and sent them to her for colouring, then she constructed the pop-up book and all the paper engineering that came with it. I was so impressed with the outcome, and the way she really brought the drawings to life with the intricacies of the pop up elements and the finely tuned rhyming text.

Is there any work / characters/ facts you explored together, that didn't make it into the book?
He made it on the back, but there was going to be another pop up page for Lordi from Finland. This one was my favourite to draw for all of the spikey details, but it took me a while to figure out how to make him less scary for the child audience (their song was Hard Rock Hallelujah, to jog your memory). I'm quite glad we didn't make the whole band in the end as some of them look too gormless to sugar coat it for kids!

Can you envisage a sequel to this book, if so what other areas do you think you could focus on regarding Eurovision?
I know I'm sounding a bit like a broken record, but I really am a fan of Abba's music and their story/stories! I think it's fascinating how two married couples worked so well together for years, and even when they divorced they carried on writing and performing their songs with all of that baggage. I love that tension between the two guys writing the songs and their wives having to sing them and all the real emotions and situations that are intertwined with that. I know they have a bit of a rep for being cheesy, but there are very few bands who have so many instantly recognisable songs under their belt and if you look closer there's so much depth there. I don't know if there's a children's book concept in there, but they are supposedly making a comeback soon so maybe now's the time for me and Amy to knock our heads together!

We'd love to hear your thoughts, also perhaps you have a project in mind for Laura, please get in touch: [email protected]

Contact Amy Gerrish via email or IG

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