I do lots of work with primary schools across the UK – and sometimes abroad – and have led workshops at art colleges, book festivals and museums, including two extended seasons of teaching at the V&A Museum of Childhood.
‘CREATE A PICTURE BOOK’ WORKSHOP
This suits all ages – from KS2 children, to teenagers and adults, and can be easily adapted for yr1 & yr2 children. (I enjoy working with the very youngest children too – but of course those classes are focused on readings and drawing.)
The workshop is highly structured, with a clear, tangible goal. The tension between formal structure and free-wheeling imagination sparks energy, children are inspired by the challenge to work within strict boundaries, channelling even the craziest ideas into a beautiful end-product: a hand-made picture book of 12 page spreads.
In the workshop I demonstrate how I draw – we all draw together – each child making their own picture of one of my characters.
I write lists of mixed-up ‘picture words’ that the children choose from, to each create an exciting, original character of their own. They draw their character (I help whoever is stuck) and we discuss how to turn those ideas into stories. We discuss story ‘problems’ – and children plot their story across a 12-square storyboard – with the ending of their narrative always in view.
I end by showing the children how to turn their story into an illustrated book of their own, with front and back covers, reviews, blurb, and a decorative title page with dedication and copyright info – so their book feels as much as possible like the real thing.
The workshop usually takes an hour.
In primary schools I usually do a series of 1 hour workshops with each year group across a full day, beginning the day with a whole school assembly. But the workshop can be expanded as a more in-depth day-long project.
For secondary school pupils it offers a confidence-building way into storytelling for reluctant writers. For art students it is an intensive masterclass in narrative structure and visual storytelling – the strict parameters and tight deadline creating real excitement, energy and focus.
I have been a visiting lecturer at The Royal College of Art, London Metropolitan University and Ulster University, and I ran a further education course on Writing and Illustrating for Children at the Mary Ward Centre in London. I have taught creative writing workshops for adults at Charleston in Sussex, and day-long courses to primary school teachers at CLPE.
I recently designed and illustrated two workbooks for KS2 children for Pop-Up Projects. The Explore booklet has an activity-sheet version of my Create a Picture Book workshop. You can download the workbooks here:
Some feedback from my recent workshops at the V&A Museum of Childhood:
I just wanted to write and thank you so much for gifting me the most wonderfully inspiring, creative and engaging hour I have spent in a long time! My 7 year old daughter and I accompanied by great friends of ours stumbled upon your workshop whilst trying to find something to do for our ‘grand girly day out’ and we are just so thankful to have found this…
A very talented, warm inspirational down to earth individual! My daughter was in awe of him, as we all were – so engaging, confidence boosting as well as informative & fun!
I wanted to say a huge HUGE thank you for the fantastic course we attended at the Bethnal Green V & A museum. You were a great inspiration to both my kids, especially my 11 year old son.
I just wanted to drop you a line to thank you very much for the workshop you ran at the Museum of Childhood. My son’s Elliott (Age 6) and Isaac (Age 9) absolutely loved it! They came home full of stories on how the day had gone and how much they had enjoyed the workshop. My eldest son Isaac said it was “The best English lesson he had ever had!” Thanks again, for giving them what was clearly a truly inspirational time!
Absolutely wonderful – inspiring and inspirational man. Will take some of David’s energy back to my class / school.
Naomi (primary school teacher)
The workshop was brilliant for making my ideas flow out of my head. I loved it! Amelia (age 7)
I want to be a storywriter like you.
Sofia (age 8)