International Women’s Day: Alumni Paula Knight

One of the most celebrated days of the cultural calendar is without a doubt, International Women’s Day and this year it falls on Thursday 8th March. Women and men all over the world come together for talks, exhibitions, film-screenings, events and gatherings to celebrate female achievements across the globe. With this year’s events colliding with the treacherous weather and overthrowing many of the early organised celebrations over the country, we wanted to kick-start our celebrations with recognition; a nod to one of our great achieving alumni’s, author, illustrator and comic creator, Paula Knight and her work.

Paula studied her Foundation Certificate at CCAD, attending our Green Lane campus in 1987-88. Since then she has gone on to illustrate over 60 books and has had 3 of her own children’s books published. Most recently she released a very popular graphic novel with Myriad Editions called The Facts of Life. The book tells the story of best friends, Polly and April in the 1970s set in the North East whilst celebrating trials and tribulations of what it take to be a woman and a mother. Paula’s novel has been featured in a Suffragette display in Oxford celebrating 100 years since women got the vote.

Paula talked to Graphic Content about the changing place of women in modern culture and why comics are the perfect form for memoir.

“I think it depends on where in the world and within which cultures young women live. I wish I could say ‘better’. I’m happy to see that Fourth Wave Feminism is fuelled by strong clued-up young women who are consistently questioning the status quo – groups such as Everyday Sexism, for example, and also Malala Yousafzai’s brave pioneering activity for rights to education. There is hope for continued progress as long as feminism thrives.”

Check out the below exert from Paula’s blog where she’s written a few pointers she’d give her younger student self!

“As a published picture book author, I would say to my young student-self:

  • Not bad for a first try at making a story book, but:
  • Avoid rhyming text for a first book; it makes translation of co-editions tricky, but if you must:
  • Try using a thesaurus to avoid lazy rhyming stanzas.
  • Learn some grammar and how to spell ‘fly’ and ’embedded’.
  • Fish don’t ‘shout’ – they scream silently (in the same way an uprooted flower does). They don’t laugh either. Mainly, they glug.
  • Think about page turns – who was lurking on the bank? Make the reader want to turn the page to find out. Same goes for the very last line – it would be more dramatic if it had a page to itself at the end.
  • Don’t simply illustrate the words, drop some words and let the pictures do the talking, too.
  • Try for a more imaginative title – publishers aren’t keen on ‘Sammy the Squirrel’-type titles. How about Massacre in the River Tees* instead?”

We are thrilled to celebrate a talented Alumni student continuing to practise in this great creative industry as a female illustrator.

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