A 24h online Portfolio Marathon is the brilliant invention of Mimaster Illustrazione and the Illustrators Survival Corner for this special year. This new tool reinterprets the successful format for the digital environment, bringing together an illustrator community unable to meet as usual in Bologna this year for the amazing party that is the Children's Book Fair. It’s a new way of taking on the future.
But how does this marathon work? It’s really simple. 24 reviewers located in the world’s major time zones will each be on line for a 60-minute video call during which they will review 10 portfolios. In order to have their portfolios reviewed, illustrators had to book their slot in advance.
The marathon starts at 00.00 (UTC +1, Italian time) in New Zealand (where it’ll be10 AM), continuing across the globe following the successive time zones: Australia, Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, India, Iran, and Russia - the country concluding the Asian block – to then pass to the European time zone. The first country will be Greece, followed by Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Spain. At 5 PM the marathon will cross the Atlantic Ocean to land in the Americas: first on the US east coast, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and, finally, San Francisco, where the marathon will end, after 24 hours, at 11.59 PM (UTC +1, Italian time).
While we all wait for the marathon to begin on May 5th, BCBF asked the Mimaster team to tell us how this great, challenging idea came about, and how, if we are to stay the course, we’ll have to make careful use of our energy, keeping our eyes firmly on the final goal - just like marathon runners.
Would you like to explain how the Illustrators Portfolio Review Marathon works? How did the idea of a 24-hour marathon entirely dedicated to examining portfolios come about?
The idea that turned into the 24hPortfolioMarathon was born from a very limited experiment we conducted recently. Perhaps it was a reaction to lockdown: when your horizons narrow, your ideas tend to expand as a consequence.
In March, we hosted an online portfolio review session for our illustrator students at Mimaster, and we were surprised by how effective it was despite the lack of any physical presence. Importantly, the reviewer - in this case Maria Sole Macchia, a children’s illustration professional with a lot of teaching experience under her belt - had seen the students portfolios in advance, and so had all her positive comments and criticism for each one at the ready. This allowed her and us to optimize not only to time available (one hour), but also the effectiveness of the assessment. She was able to answer the most targeted questions and offer concrete support to the students and their needs. In this case, the limited time available (we’re talking of an average of 6 minutes for each portfolio) was in our view sufficient and rational, allowing personalization attention.
So the idea of the marathon began to take shape, along with the awareness that BCBF would be the most suitable partner and place for its debut as a new Illustrators Survival Corner activity. Indeed, what more screams ‘survival’ than a marathon with 24 reviewers connecting from all over the world, chasing the sun from New Zealand to San Francisco?
What was the reviewers’ reaction, when you contacted them and explained your project?
The first time we contacted the reviewers, they were incredulous. They couldn’t believe a project like this could actually be done. It’s the first time - to our knowledge, at least - a venture like this has been attempted in an illustration context.
Once we started defining details and organizing what had to be done before and during the marathon, the most frequently asked question was “are you talking about my local time zone, or what?”, which is quite understandable!
It was amazing to talk again on screen to the reviewers from Oceania and Asia during the connection tests, and greet each other face to face again after so much time. It’s difficult to describe the pleasure smiles give at a time like this. We too see the pleasure in everyone else’s eyes, the happiness to meet again and build something beautiful together. If only for a day and a night!
We can only thank them for their lack of hesitation and great enthusiasm. They have decided to wear running shoes and shorts for one hour, and run with the 240 illustrators from all over the world ready to show their portfolios.