Our final judge Nigel Blackman has been a judge of the Dulwich Festival for the last three years. He told us more about the judging process and what he will be looking for from the entrants.
How long have you been involved in judging the Children’s art competition and what do you enjoy about being a judge?
This is my fourth year helping to judge the competition and it’s something that I do enjoy. I think that the themes are always interesting and it’s obvious that the children put a lot of imagination into their artwork.
Art is so subjective and it must be very difficult to judge. What will you be looking for from the entries?
Above all I like to see where the young artists have put effort and imagination into creating something original. It’s not about being the best or the most skilful artist (though it’s always a pleasure to see good work) but about finding ways to express an idea and having fun creating something new.
As an illustrator yourself, what tips can you offer to anyone taking part?
Enjoy yourself and don’t worry about making something perfect every time – just give it a go and see what happens!
Why is it so important to encourage our children to be creative?
Creativity is hugely important. Anyone who can think creatively and use their imagination will not only be able to navigate their way through the world more effectively, I think they’ll have a happier time as they do so.
Creativity is natural to most people (of all ages) – like playing – it just takes time to nurture. It can be easily lost among all the distractions of modern life and children in particular are under such a lot of pressure to work hard.
The theme is ‘home’. What is your idea of ‘home’?
A place where you can be yourself, relax, think and rest – before diving back out into the world again and discovering more new things.
What projects are you currently involved in?
I’ve just finished writing the sixth story in Secret Dinosaur series – I was working to meet a scary deadline because the series is being released by several international publishers, so it’s a big relief to have done that. I’m really looking forward to the next few months because I’ll be devoting myself to illustration and creating pictures for new editions that will be released at the end of the year. I’m discovering plenty of new things about my own illustrations and there’s so much I want to do.
Nigel Blackman is the author-illustrator of The Secret Dinosaur children’s series, now translated into a number of languages worldwide. His Anglo-Saxon adventure Freedom for Bron has been shortlisted for the 2017 James Reckitt Hull Children’s Book Award.