2023 Backstage

Now in its seventh consecutive year, the BCBF Visual Identity Workshop develops the visual universe for the next Bologna Children’s Book Fair in co-production with Chialab Design, the design practice entrusted with the trade show’s visual identity. This is the story of how the Chialab worked on the creation of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair visual identity for 2023. 


Still rocking at 60!

Can a single image be created by 20 different people, each with their own characteristic style? Is there such a thing as a collective image or the collective imagination? And so, can they convey the scenes and characters that BCBF has welcomed and hosted over 60 years in a single unified vision? This was the completely new challenge the – now consolidated - BCBF visual identity workshop faced when preparing for the 60th edition of Bologna Children’s Book Fair. And this is how we, at Chialab, went about it.

The first step was to broaden and share the challenge in a collective workshop inviting the illustrators selected over the last 10 Illustrators Exhibitions to take part.

The theme proposed was “Landscapes and Portraits of BCBF”. The illustration format had to be square, any technique could be used, but the 4 colours of the BCBF logo - red, orange, magenta, and black – had to be used.

The jury - made up of the illustrators who had produced the covers of the Illustrators Annuals over the last decade - Elena Odriozola, Albertine, Hassan Mousavi, Igor Oleynikov, Ludwig Volbeda, Rotraut Susanne Berner, Laura Carlin, Roger Mello, It's raining Elephants/ Nina Wehrle, Peter Sís - selected the 20 finalists: Wei Chun Dai, Veronica Ruffato, Talita Nozomi, Raquel Bonita, Peng Wu, Peppo Bianchessi, Mariana Rio, Masha Bazilevskaya, Maria Titova, Gina Rosas, Katerina Voronina, Fatima Ordinola, Elena Repetur, Davide Bonazzi, Elena Maricone, Chengliang Zhu, Caroline Pedler, Anna Sarvira, Andre Roesler, and Ami Shin.


The illustrations depicted porticos, squares, statues, roofs, people and individuals walking, walking and eating, eating and reading, reading and looking at clouds, and looking up at clouds and tripping over books and folders.


At this point, we had 20 illustrations. All we had to do was choose one. Each captured perfectly the landscape and atmosphere of BCBF. Each, could have been chosen to represent the 2023 edition. But none was able, singly, to render the abundance of images, styles and visual cultures that the Fair welcomes and exhibits every year. What to do? We were stuck!

We decided to take a risk and break with the tradition that demanded a single image with its own particular style and identity. We shut ourselves away on an island inhabited by shepherds - an endangered species - during unseasonably spring weather, close to black mines, and took along some good red wine that glinted with shades of red, orange, magenta and black.


These colours guided us, showing us how we could seamlessly juxtapose, assemble, overlap and multiply the 20 illustrations. Gradually, we wove them all together, cutting out and assembling extracts and details. The result was new scenarios, new characters and new environments that together spoke of the many individual talents that made up the whole. Individual visions were diluted in the mix only to produce even greater significance.

This was how the choral work that broke with the tradition of a single representative image came about. The 2023 Bologna Children’s Book Fair, its 60th edition, has become a concert with 20 musicians playing a 4-colour score. What better image for this year’s slogan “Still rocking at 60!”

The individual illustrations will be on display in the Exhibition “Landscapes and Portraits of BCBF” located at the centre of the Book Fair and visible online in our Galleries section. Enjoy!

January 2023