A World of Illustration: Work Experience at the Library

19th May 2022
A World of Illustration: Work Experience at the Library

We love our work experience students. Every summer term we welcome several students to the Library to show them different aspects of the service, giving them insight into what it's like to work in such a varied environment at the heart of the community.

We also try to tailor their placement to their particular interests - recently we were delighted to host College of FE student Dominique, who has a keen interest in illustration. Here she is to tell us a little more about her experience.


My name is Dominique Mayer, I’m 16 and currently a first-year student at the Guernsey College of Further Education where I’m studying the Creative and Digital course. As a part of the course, we’re encouraged to find work experience, and I chose to come to the Library.

I’ve come to the Library specifically to learn more about children’s book illustrations as I have a keen interest in illustration. At the moment I’m in the middle of a project called “something good?”. I decided that I wanted to create my own short story focusing on men’s mental health, and my main inspiration was the original Winnie the Pooh books by A.A. Milne and illustrated by E.H Shepard. I also enjoy creating my own characters with water colours and fine liner pens. I did change my concept to oil painting on canvas’ because I struggled to find my own style for the illustrations, but I’m hoping to go back to illustrations once my project is over.

Illustration from Winnie The Pooh (left) and The Midnight Fair (right)

On the Wednesday morning of my work experience, I met Rachel (Head of People and Projects) who showed me around the Library and told me all about the history behind the building. Everyone I met was extremely welcoming and friendly. They’ve created a very relaxed environment to work in, which put my nerves at ease. I went on to meet Jodie (Reading Lead) and we looked through a few of the books that have been nominated for the Greenaway Award - each illustrator had a completely different style and my personal favourite was The Midnight Fair by Gideon Sterer and illustrated by Mariachiara di Giorgio. The book has no words in it, so it encourages the reader to make up what they want just from looking at the images. The book was really well thought out with details hiding in the background and adding more depth to the book - especially the way Mariachiara used the lights in the background of every page.

After lunch I met Emily (Outreach Librarian) and she showed me different children’s books that are aimed at different ages. I learnt a lot about how artists use the gutter (the inner margin of the book) to add more to the image. The gutter can be used to make an illustration look bigger or to highlight two different areas in the story. My favourite book that we looked at was The Odd Egg written and illustrated by Emily Gravett as it showed different ways that the artist uses the actual size of the page in the illustration to indicate how big something is supposed to look. To end my day, I went downstairs to the children’s section to sort the books on the non-fiction shelves.    

Illustration from The Good Egg

For my second day I started with two Baby Bounce sessions with Kate (Library Assistant). The first session was with babies that were only a few months to one year old. The youngest baby there was only two weeks old!

After that, I went to Notre Dame infant school with Julia (School Librarian) and joined their Greenaway group discussion with Year 2, where the children read the book together and spoke about the illustrations. The book they were discussing was Shu Lin’s Grandpa by Matt Goodfellow and illustrated by Yu Rong Shu Lin. The book is about a girl called Shu Lin who has moved from China to a new school. She can’t speak English, so she avoids playing with the other children.

I still have a day left, and I have really enjoyed my time here so far. I hope to come back again either for more work experience or a part time job. I am extremely grateful for all the staff that have taken the time to help me find more information about illustrations and expanding my knowledge of the work that goes on behind scenes.

Illustration from Shu Lin's Grandpa