Signatories to the letter, which Adeola wrote after the BBC didn’t credit his work during a segment with Lenny Henry, include Malorie Blackman, Patrice Lawrence, Chris Mould, Rob Biddulph, Catherine Johnson and Sarah McIntyre, who runs the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign.
Last Saturday the BBC broadcast a segment with Lenny Henry about his upcoming children’s book with Macmillan Children’s. Henry answered questions from children – and Adeola helped the producers find the children to take part in the show – and yet when his own book was featured his name wasn’t mentioned.
“The producer neglected to tell me they were going to use my book,” he told The Bookseller. “Just a screen credit would have been apt. I put out a tweet saying I would never not be annoyed with people sharing my work and not crediting me and went to bed. When I woke up there were so many messages from people saying they couldn’t believe the BBC hadn’t mentioned my name.”
The BBC also omitted his name when Look Up!, the book he created with Nathan Bryon, won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize earlier this year.
“If you removed illustration from all of this work what would you have?” he said. “You would have stories but they wouldn’t have as much magic. Otherwise why would we create a whole industry that marries images and words.”
In the letter Adeola says: “I’ve been in the children’s publishing industry for two years and it’s become very apparent to me that there is a major problem when it comes to how illustrators and visual artists are valued by the media. It’s really not on. The financial compensation for illustrators in all fields can be very modest; and then to suffer this erasure on top of that simply isn’t acceptable. We become invisible when the media use our artwork for content or spotlight the success of our books and art with no mention of our names.
“This constant erasure affects careers. It prevents artists from achieving much-needed visibility, making it significantly harder for people who like their work to find the source of it to buy or commission more.”
The letter asks the BBC and the wider media industry in general, “to ensure that illustrators are given equal acknowledgment wherever illustrated books are being recognised”.
Other signatories include Tom Holland, Vashti Harrison, Jim Field and Gill Lewis.