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<<August 2015>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts from the Illustrator category, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 326 - 350 of 149,210
326. Saturday Morning Head Study - Charcoal

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327. Space Cat Portraits

Today I drew people as Space Cats, as part of the Galactic Fete at Creation Space London.
I especially enjoyed drawing families - I asked them to do a space pose. 

I managed to forget my drawing pen, so I had to hack a writing pen by adding a pipette I happened to have in my brush roll as a reservoir for drawing ink. I also cut a nib from a beer can and used some correction fluid and a toothbrush for stars.

Well, that was fun.

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328. #PicturesMeanBusiness: taking a stand on book covers

It's great following on Twitter the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign to credit illustrators and seeing how we're making some progress. (See picturesmeanbusiness.com if you wan to catch up.) But we're still hitting major hitches: writers, publishers, journalists and reviewers whom you'd think would support crediting illustrators - some of who've even heard of the campaign and expressed interest - keep letting us down. Writers and publicists launch new cover art with no mention of the illustrator. Illustrators of highly illustrated books are left off the cover. Articles show lavish book art without mentioning who created it, the list goes on.

Why? What's the problem? I don't think most people are doing it deliberately, they're just being thoughtless, or can't be bothered. What I love about children's book world - but what also can trip us up - is that its people are mostly very NICE. They love book-themed cupcakes and photos of puppies and being, well, nice to each other. Everyone can coast on a wave of niceness, never addressing the major issues that have illustrators flailing while often maintaining their rictus grins.

I want to do something that's not exactly nice. But maybe taking a stand will bring attention to the problem:

From now on, I'm not going to buy any new illustrated children's books unless the illustrator's name is somewhere on the front cover. Join me, if you like! By 'illustrated', I'm going to set the standard as 'at least one illustration per chapter'.

'But... but... that doesn't give us any time to make changes!' a publicist might object. 'Books might be send to print a year in advance of publication!' Well, I'll make a concession for one year: I'll buy the book PROVIDING the bookseller puts a Post-it note on the front cover, letting me know the name of the illustrator.

'But... that's kind of ugly!' the publicist might object. Well, yes, it is. Better just to put the illustrator's name on the cover then, right? A quick redesign of a dust jacket might work, before you change the cover to include the illustrator for the second print run.

Publishers: if you don't think the fact a book is illustrated adds any value to a book, or that making people aware of this draws in potential customers, don't bother spending the money to get your book illustrated. And then watch as the illustrated books soar ahead of your books in sales and those other books draw in the so-called reluctant readers, gladdening the hearts of parents and teachers.

(Find out more at picturesmeanbusiness.com and browse the #PicturesMeanBusiness hash tag on Twitter.)

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329. Onwards and Upwards

My goodness the last two weeks have simply flown past. Books and ephemeral items are selling at such a rate I’m having trouble keeping up. Thank you to everyone for the numerous messages of support and love. Thank you for the orders, the cards and the sweet words.  I thought March House Books would be missed by a few people now I know it will be missed by many.  The doors will be closing for good on the 1st August, so if there is something you want don't delay.

I visited the flea market at the Bath and West showgroundtoday and came home with these. 

I promised Terry I would look and not buy but how could I resist these treasures? Some will go into my collection (how could I sell the Muffin the Mule Christmas card?) and others will be listed on eBay.  I might keep a couple of the Little Grey Rabbit books too. 

Last weekend we visited the annual St. John's Church Fete at Milborne Port

One of the most popular attractions was the 'human fruit machine' 

The book stall was doing a brisk trade
According to the local paper, over 200 people attended and between them raised more than £2,000 towards the upkeep of the church. Pretty impressive considering the fete was competing with Yeovilton air Day and Wimbledon. 

I'm toying with the idea of modifying/changing the name of my blog.  My cousin John came up with March of Time Books which I really like but what do you think?

I read a great quote on Facebook a couple of days ago... If a door closes, open it, that’s what doors are for!

Have a wonderful week  

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330. marionettes and Roses at the O'Neill

National Puppetry Conference, photo Richard Termine

Because YOU helped send me to the O'Neill National Puppetry Conference again this year, I had the great joy of spending 11 days intensively studying and making marionettes. 

For the pre-conference strand I got to participate in The Language of Material and Objects: Movement and Experimental Puppetry with Alice Gottschalk of FAB theater of Stuttgart, Germany. A student of the preeminent string master, Albrecht Roser, Alice's sensitive way of discovering new relationships between the body and things through play and attention will be a method I'll use and teach with from now on. It was one of the most liberating and creatively fruitful workshop I can remember.  

Alice Gottschalk's class, National Puppetry Conference, photo Daniel Gill

The next week was dedicated to traditional marionette construction with Jim Rose, with some performance training with Phillip Huber. Rose is a name all over the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, including on the Margo and Rufus Rose performance barn in honor of Jim's parents who were local Connecticuters and famous puppeteers (the creators of Howdy Doody) and helped develop the Center. Much more about this important puppetry family here.

Margo & Rufus Rose with son Jim, photo Henson Foundation

This week was extremely special to me, because my grandfather David Bogdan was a great fan of the Rose family and studied their techniques for building, which Jim is still teaching to this day. Here's a photo my grandfather took of Margo and Jim teaching a mold making workshop at a Puppeteers of America Festival in the 1970s:

And here's my photo of Jim teaching the same workshop this year at the O'Neill: 

I spent every minute I could with Jim and his wife Judy, who are in their 80's and have been coming back to the O'Neill every June for 25 years to help ensure this tradition carries on. It was a tremendous honor to learn and spend time with them, including their famous daily 3 o'clock tea times, when everyone in the shop is required to stop working and connect with each other in philosophical conversation for an hour.

Getting to sit with Jim while he demonstrated old marionette tricks went pretty deep emotionally for me. My grandfather passed away when I was 15, long before my own passion for puppetry emerged. He had helped raise me in his puppet shop, taught me how to sculpt clay and put things together, and gave me a remarkable education I didn't recognize the specialness of at the time. But he died thinking his love of puppetry had fallen on a hopelessly uninterested grandchild. Getting to talk to Jim, who is of the same era and dedication as my grandfather, was like getting to know my grandfather as an adult for the first time. This accounts for all the red-eyed, wet-nosed photos of me during this week. Here's me with Jim after I convinced him to sign the rear end of my puppet, which was of much amusement to him.

A particularly amazing moment was sharing my grandfather's marionettes with Jim and some of the other marionette masters at the O'Neill. They were able to show me the process my grandfather went through to build each puppet- how extra holes were where he'd experimented with alternative stringing, what particular lineage of puppet building he'd tried on each character, how one puppet had possibly once been rigged to emit smoke from his mouth. Below is me barely able to contain myself in the presence of Annette Mateo, Phillip Huber, Ronnie Burkett, Kurt Hunter and Richard Termine.

photo Richard Termine

In all the years I've had his collection of 20 or so marionettes, not once had I attempted to operate them. I think I was holding onto a childhood habit from when I'd probably not been allowed to touch them for fear of a child's fingers tangling the strings. So this year for the first time, I played with my grandfather's puppets.... and they were marvelous! They also encouraged me to begin a serious digital archiving of his puppets and the accompanying photos, the start of which is here on my Stringpullers website.

Dana Samborski, myself and Fred Thompson, photo Richard Termine

I can't leave out a major element of the O'Neill: Fred Thompson, exquisite puppet maker, shop manager and generous mentor. You'd have to meet Fred to get the full effect, but he's a character like no other. A prickly outer layer over the sweetest man you can imagine, rolled in a sense of humor that pervades the entire conference. My puppet life would not be the same without Fred.

National Puppetry Conference, photo Richard Termine

I also completed my first marionette (above). Named Rosabella in honor of the Roses, she's been my constant companion this summer as I discover this whole new feeling of bringing life to an object through delicate strings.

I'm continuing to make more marionettes in my studio on my own. Most fascinating is the real dance with gravity they create, and how inserting a string just a little differently can change the posture of a puppet enormously. It feels much more related to my love of gestural figure drawing and dance than I ever expected. It's a whole new world!

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331. Sleepy San Francisco Squirrel

Greetings, I want to share a recent illustration that completed for my MFA program. The program has us traveling around the country for different contact periods twice a year, spring and fall. We always return to home base which is the Hartford Univeristy in Connecticut in the summer time. Last fall we traveled to New York […]

via Studio Bowes Art Blog at http://ift.tt/1CJMmb4

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332. Plants vs Zombies~!

Its Out~! I did 2 short stories (2 pages each) for Plants vs Zombies! My stories feature the balloon zombie and the Sunflower. I loved making use of the balloon shape for the zombie story. Transitions were challenging in this story. (Photos from the comic below)  I LOVE drawing plants, so I was delighted to get the sunflower piece! It was such fun working on pacing in this story.

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333. ‘Hot Bod’ by Claire van Ryzin

A lonely man drinks a glass of water that changes his life.

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334. Cirencester Hare Festival 2015

Meet Patience the hare!

As part of the Cirencester Hare Festival 2015 I was asked to decorate a small hare this year! The hare is one of 50 as part of the Small Hare Passport Trail. The hares can be found all over Cirencester and this little one is located at Cirencester Hospital. There are 6 small hares to see up at the hospital; each one decorated by a different department. I decorated the admininstration team's hare.

Please check out some more photos after the jump...

Here are some photos of my painting process...

And finally, it had to be done, a hare selfie!!

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335. some updates

I've just been updating my website Events page (do have a peek!), and SCBWI have just announced that Philip Reeve and I will be keynote speakers at November's conference!

In fact, there will be four keynote speakers, including Jonny Duddle and David Fickling, and there are about twenty other people speaking (some more famous than us) who could easily have stepped in!

SCBWI Conference is such a great opportunity for anyone who's starting out in children's books and wants to find out how to get in deeper, or who's been in the business for awhile and fancies mixing with company, learning some new things and sharing experiences. Here's the programme. The cost of a packed weekend is £220 for SCBWI members, £250 for non-members and you can book here. I've been to several of these conferences and they're a big part of how I got into the business.

Sometimes my books with Philip are called 'middle grade' and Philip hates that term, for good reason. So he's written a new blog post about it, and you can leave comments or tweet your thoughts to him on the subject at @philipreeve1 or leave a comment on our Reeve & McIntyre Facebook page.

Keep reading...

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336. Illustrator Challenge #9

Draw 10 boxes in a row - about 1"x1". The first box stays white and the last box goes as dark as you are able to get it (hopefully without embossing). Fill in the boxes in-between in a gradient from light to dark. Work slowly, build up the pencil. Keep your edges neat. Keep the value even. This is a value scale which can come in handy for all sorts of future work.

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337. Collateral Materials

Unity Fort Lauderdale
held a very successful event for the Fourth of July. "Little Miss Independence" raised over $4,000 for Unity. I had the opportunity to design all the collateral marketing pieces for this special event. What is collateral?

Collateral is the collection of media used to promote the brand and support the sales and marketing of a product or service. It's the tangible evidence of the brand, designed congruent with the brands core values and personality.

That means I designed the flyers, posters, banners, signage, FaceBook posts, postcards, tickets, advertisements, website page and anything else the promoters decided at the last minute would benefit the show.

Here are some examples of the collateral for "Little Miss Independence" :

  LMI 4x6 postcard2-01LMI SFGN full page ad copy-01 LMI POSTER photo

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338. Part 4 - How to run away to NYC to become a children's book illustrator

photo of me in colors.jpg

And so our tiny tale of hopeful striving rambles on... with our petite protagonist settling into his new life in the big city. Having dared to dream, he discovers that the world quickly becomes his oyster.


It was fun exploring my new neighborhood. There was the one grocery store where nobody spoke english... not even the checkout clerks. Somehow we managed. Then at the other grocery store, you’d be greeted by ‘Howie’ the manager... a real mustachioed character along the lines of Don Ameche. Howie really loved to sing. You’d walk in and he’d be crooning... “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie... That’s Amore!” They don't sing like that in Seattle.

Outside, the neighbor kids would be break dancing to boom box music on flattened cardboard boxes on the sidewalk. They'd wait for the next delivery job to take groceries to some apartment on their special 3 wheeled delivery bikes.

There was 'The World Famous Pizza Joint’ on Broadway with live video coverage of ‘The World Famous Burger Joint’ just two stores down. There was the Apthorp Laundry and Zabars Delicatessen.... where one soon learned better than to just ask for 'cheddar cheese?' They had about 7,000 different kinds! I haven't seen a real deli anywhere west of the Hudson since.

And of course I needed to furnish my new lodging. In Manhattan, I discovered, this is as easy as picking through the piles of garbage on the street outside. You would not believe what people throw away in NYC! Probably within 2 days I had most everything I'd need. A desk, a swivel lamp, table and chair. And to keep the roaches out of my soap and toothpaste, I found a birdcage, which I hung from the ceiling. I'd keep my soap, toothpaste and some of the silverware inside. I strung christmas lights on the wall for a soft evening glow of illumination. So there you have it... La Boehm... right on West 78th Street. Everything but Mimi, of course... but she was to arrive later.

On to Art School

Art school was way down in Greenwich Village. It was a 15 minute ride in the subway or a 40 minute ride on the bus. I really liked taking the bus more usually, because I got to see so much of New York City. I remember feeling totally happy one morning riding the bus down to school... as if it were a feeling I'd never felt before. The bus went past the FlatIron Building... past the Christmas Store... a crisp bright fall morning in New York city and it was wonderful to just feel almost like a different person. I had an apartment and a job at the Parsons School of Design. I had a whole new exciting life... my old and miserable life had been replaced almost by magic.  And I liked the new one better. It was exciting.. it smelled an exotic, intriguing, edgy, big time smell... no telling what was ahead. Life was good.

At Parsons I got a job in the school tour office. It was the funniest little office. To get there you walked through a gallery space and then up a funny spiral staircase made of cast iron and looking very old fashioned. I did a bit of paperwork, looking through letters from prospective students and also I gave tours of the school... which was fun.

I’d tour parents and students through all the floors and departments... showing off the school. A few parents actually pressed $10 bills into my hand, thinking somehow I could help their children get accepted. Wierd!

Classes were okay I guess. Mostly just life drawing. It was all just learning all the art basics about colors and values and all that stuff. Drawing from the nude. You know how it is with art teachers. One teacher would teach all the students to paint just like her. She had us all buy the exact same brush she used... the same paper... the same palette. She had us hold the brush exactly like she did and move it just like her.

Another teacher would be busy torturing the models with absurd poses... and torturing the students with absurd commands. Some of the teachers were just great... and realized that we don't all have to paint just like they do. I had one class from Norman Rockwell's cousin... David, or Peter or something. He was a wonderful old gent in a sporty cap who'd tell great stories about the old days.

One morning I had the oddest experience. Walking onto the school elevator there was a girl I'd sat next to in my college german class for a whole year... 2000 miles away!

"Margaret! What are you doing in New York?", I asked, incredulous.
"Modeling for life drawing!", she smiled, "And trying to get into a broadway show".
We chatted a bit... but never did get together. New York never seems to allow anyone time to just hang out. Good thing I met her in the elevator. I imagine if she'd just walked into one of my life drawing classes out of the blue and dropped her robe, THAT might have been just too much! I always had kind of a crush on her. Auf Wiedersehen, Margaret... I guess she was chasing a dream too.

I’d have to say mostly the classes weren’t very interesting and there was a real undercurrent of discontent among many of the students about getting out into New York and seeing publishers and finding work as illustrators. I guess it was around that time that I found out you really didn’t need a diploma to become a freelance illustrator... all you needed was a portfolio and talent. And I already had those. This was a happy discovery for me. As always, I was in a hurry... I'd already been to college.


After about 5 weeks of becoming more disenchanted with the school, I went in to show my portfolio to Murray Tinkleman, the dean of the Illustration department. That experience turned things around for me 180 degrees. Murray just luved my work and immediately put me into Maurice Sendak’s children's book class which was mostly for 4th year seniors. He also switched me into some other more interesting classes.... with Walter and Niad Einsel. Both those classes were worlds better, and exactly what I'd hoped to find in a New York art school.

To be continued... when our ambling artist wannabe meets 2 Caldecott winners and strikes out on his own.

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339. James Gurney's Gurney Studio

Do you know about James (Jim) Gurney's tutorial videos? There are several of them ranging from painting with oils to creating stop-motion animation like this one - Clementoons™. Click the image to go watch on YouTube.

CLICK HERE to see previews of all his tutorials, subscribe to his YouTube channel, and register to watch the entire tutorials!

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340. Experiments with a Limited Palette

You can make a limited palette out of almost any two colors, as long as one is cool and the other is warm.

Catskill Roadhouse
For this painting I used ultramarine blue and cadmium red scarlet, together with white. It's basically red, white and blue, so you can call it the "American palette." 

Here's a video showing how the painting developed (Link to YouTube video):

With two colors that are near complements, it's fun to work over a surface primed with a color from the far side of the spectrum. I'm using blue and red over yellow. The yellow is about 95% covered up, but where it peeks through, it energizes the color scheme like a pinch of spice.

You might try orange + violet + white over a cyan underpainting, or yellow + cyan + white over magenta. You can also introduce black, either as an accent if you want to deepen the darks, or if you want to use it as a color of its own (such as black + orange + white over blue). 

A two-color-plus-white palette has some advantages:
1. It's extremely fast to set it up and get it running. (I was painting while Jeanette was still fooling with her umbrella.)
2. It's good for beginners because it reduces your choices to light or dark and warm or cool.
3. It puts you into realms of color that you would never think of if you had all the color choices available.

I was using casein, but this method would work for any opaque paint: gouache, acrylic, or oil. If you're doing the painting in gouache, the priming should be done with a paint that gives a sealed surface (such as colored gesso, acrylic, or acryla gouache) so that wet layers don't pick it up. 

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341. Ready to ship

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342. "To Carry the Feather" by Linda T Snider-Ward

To Carry the Feather is a watercolor painting of an imaginary horse, painted on a full sheet of watercolor paper. It's been in a couple of shows and is now retired to my home.More of my artwork can be seen on my website and my Etsy shop

If you're a watercolorist or just someone who likes dappling in watercolor, and you would like to join this site and share your work, send me a link to your blog or website in a comment, and I'll add you to the site.

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343. Tim Probert’s Charming Illustrations


A5_Hockey A1_DinoKid A5_SpaceRocks

Tim Probert Website >>

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344. The daily routine

My publisher Sanatorium is up holding an age old tradition, scanning on a Saturday. The result will be the third in line, out this fall.

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345. The Artistry of Chuck Jones

(Link to YouTube) Film editor Tony Zhou presents this concise summary of what makes the cartoons of Chuck Jones so memorable. Jones developed from a good director to a great one by refining perfectly timed gags driven by memorable characters.

Animation is a medium of movement, and the characters' movements were always original and understated, based on observations of real life.
The YouTube channel Every Frame a Painting analyzes the techniques of great filmmakers. Check out the episodes on Akira Kurosawa and Jackie Chan.
The book Chuck Amuck:  The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist, written by Jones himself, is a good source for his thinking.

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346. Off to the beach

The beach! The smell of the sea, the sound of the waves and the sea gulls, the warm wind on your skin... staying out of the sun and in a shaded area, I could spend hours, drawing and enjoying thins place.

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347. The best museums in New York: The New Museum

As the Whitney Museum, New Museum, innovation and originality in art is dedicated. In contrast to the Whitney, but specifically "avant-garde" has brought the new museum's commitment to contemporary art, and not a concept expressed. If you are interested in monitoring the work of young artists working on new and interesting projects of the New Museum could be your ideal place to visit. In the new building, the architects designed, located, in order to make the shape of a transparent interior, this museum in New York visitors and critics for the quality of the observed light inside because the windows in unusual places. The museum was founded in 1977, it is the only museum in the list of all the museums in New York to focus on contemporary art. In recent years, its location in a hip, artistic neighborhood of Bowery, the New Museum in New York, in the career of artists from around the world began.

Augustus Frisbie House - source: nixonlibrary

Located in the heart of Plantation, The New Museum in New York is one of a number of small galleries, museums, art-house cafes and small shops in this (gentrifying true artistic) area. Although it is not affordable for the majority of live, Plantation, but the house large number of interesting places. From a dealer Haunted House Museum Lower East Side Tenement Museum around the corner, and other interesting areas of the region, visitors safe in the area that you want to do something interesting that before or after visiting the museum. Also buying near South Broadway in Soho provides a convenient way to avoid the scene of contemporary art and the world of contemporary fashion. Trains new museum are numerous, but take the best, J stop on the Bowery. Another train stops at the New Museum in St. Prince, 2nd Ave - Lower East Side, Broadway-Lafayette, Grand Street and Spring Street-Lexington. Lines serving the stop on B, D, F, H, N, R, 4, and 6, so there are many opportunities for rail transport in the museum in New York.

As for the works of art can be seen at the Museum Neues, the museum received a remarkable exhibits of contemporary art from around the world. Over the past five years, the New Museum of Art and more countries issued from all over the world. Variety is a good chance that there is at least something that you like here. If you are a fan of modern conceptual art, or to find a new museum to be a rewarding experience. The radical labor sculptures, paintings and mixed media, as shown here, of course, be interesting and informative.

Since it focuses exclusively on contemporary artists, which is the New Museum in New York, unlike many museums in New York, who has no permanent collection. This, as its architecture suggests seven story only bright space for the ever-changing works of art by artists working today. At one point, thousands of these works may inhabit the new museum space. Because galleries and exhibitions are always in motion, a new museum like no other museum in New York, where you will always come back to see what's new.

We invite visitors to New Museum your comments, photos and videos with the wider community museum in New York City to share a museum. The new museum, more than any other in our list of museums in New York, is designed to awaken the conversation. So, to answer, and then send your answer to the museums in New York City! We welcome any thoughts and feelings that you have about a particular exposure. All you need to participate in the New York museums will help our community, arts and culture in New York to enjoy, so you share your content and help us to the community museums in New York add.

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348. TREASURE by Janice Fried


Submitted by Janice Fried for the Illustration Friday topic TREASURE.

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349. The Red Case

Wow what a ridiculously long time between blogs. Possibly the longest yet. I don't know what to do to fix it; this (non) blogging issue, that is. I don't know why it seems so hard to do. I'm drawing all the time. And have all sorts of projects on. But just never seem to get around to blogging about them.
But, I'm here now, and here's one such project that's been occupying my time and mind. It's a drawing session/class/event that I've been running at a local studios. Once a month I arrange for a great model to pose in various scenarios for a group of sketchers. The difference between this and a (clothed) life drawing session is that there is a story, a narrative, running through the sessions and is passed on from model to model via
We started in session, or chapter, one with a show girl...
(drawing by Steve King)
...who held a dark secret...
...no matter what she did...
(drawing by me)
...to try to forget...
...it was always there, so one night...
 Drawing by Kate Yorke
 ...after too much to drink, she wrote a letter...
 ...asking the only person she trusted...
...to pick up the red case...
(drawing by me)
...which she did...
(drawing by Paul Gent)
 ...and now she carried the burden...
...and now, no matter what she did...
 (drawing by me)
...to try to forget...
...or who she talked to...
 (drawing by Kate Yorke)
...she too now held the secret...
 (drawing by me)
...so she decided to dispose of the case...
(drawing by Lynne McPeake)
(drawing by Karrie Brown)
...she was caught in the act...
(drawing by Kate Yorke)
...and she was marched off to jail...
 ...which all proved too much for her mother...
...but her cousin was there to pick up the pieces, and the inheritance, including the red case.
It would be his undoing.
You can see where the story goes here;
Photography by Rod Walton
Showgirl played by Pinky DeVille
Edith played by Miriam Gent
Hector played by Mike Cross
Fancy joining my class? Get in touch.

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350. #PicturesMeanBusiness: notes for writers and publicists

It's great having the support of writers for the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign: our previous Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman was one of the first writers to support it, Philip Ardagh asks questions when illustrator names are left out of articles featuring illustration, Joanne Harris tweeted a list about illustrators, and of course my co-author Philip Reeve has been right there with it all along. I think it adds extra weight to the arguments when writers fight for us, like we're in it together. When I first started talking about it, writers on Facebook were quick to point out how much they value their illustrators and cover artists.

But even writers who talk about the importance of crediting their team still forget to credit them at key publicity moments. Why do they do this? I think many non-illustrators in the world of publishing are completely clueless about everything related to illustration. They think it's something quickly added on at the end of the book process to make it extra-shiny. But they don't understand what illustration actually involves.

Here are a couple of real-life scenarios (genders may have been changed for anonymity):

Scene one: A writer raved about his new book cover on Twitter, even writing a detailed blog post about how much he loves the artwork and why he loves it. But he forgot to mention the name of the illustrator, much less link to her. Why? There was no lack of space to write that information, he just didn't think of it.

But isn't it obvious, to link illustrations with the person who made them? Perhaps the writer saw it like I do when someone compliments me for my outfit and I just say 'thank you', instead of telling the person who designed each item (because they didn't ask). But I still find it VERY strange when someone compliments a writer on their book cover art and they just say 'thank you' instead of saying 'Isn't it great? It's by Joe Illustrator!' In this case, the person just needed a gentle private reminder and he fixed the blog within minutes. (Funnily enough, I find myself talking a lot about my tailor to people these days when they compliment my dresses.)

Scene two: A publisher got in touch and told me a writer has been asking to have me illustrate her children's book (fiction, with chapters). I had tight commitments to do other work, but I knew the writer a little bit and thought, well, maybe I could do the work in the gap times. I read the manuscript - it was pretty good - and I could see ways I could inject a lot of extra humour into it through the pictures. I wrote back to the editor to find out what sort of deadline I'd have, and she replied, 'One month'. WHAT? Okay, so there's no way I could do that in the gaps. The designer wanted over 150 illustrations so it would've had to have been my full-time job. I wrote back saying I couldn't do it in that amount of time. We wrote back and forth a couple more times and the correspondence took about a week.

I ran into the writer at an event a couple weeks later. We had a chat about the book and I apologised for not being able to illustrate it.

'I can't believe they would only give me a month to do all the pictures', I said, with a rueful expression on my face. To my surprise - and horror - the writer smiled broadly and said,

'But isn't that great?!'


'It means the publishers really want to push my book, to get it out there!' she gushed. 'They're not going to let it sit around.' I gaped at her. This was a writer I knew had spend at least a year, possibly YEARS, preparing this manuscript, taking it to critique groups, crafting it to be just right.

'But it's not fair on the illustrator', I protested. 'Over 150 illustrations in... well, now it's three weeks, not a month'.

'But that's okay,' said the writer. 'He has a really sketchy style and he can just knock them out in no time.'

By this point I was almost on the floor, overwhelmed with grief for this poor illustrator. The writer had NO IDEA how much time and effort that illustrator might be taking to work out the layout with the designer, come up with the looks of the characters, get the drawing compositions right, etc. The illustrator might have to make five painstaking under-drawings of a picture before tracing over it in that 'sketchy' style that looks so effortless.

The book came out, the writer was thrilled with the pictures, which weren't amazing, but still surprisingly good, considering how fast they'd been done. But my heart hurt for the illustrator, I hope he hadn't had any family crises or anything during that time. He must've needed the work very badly to have agreed to that time schedule. The writer proceeded to publicise the book vigourously, never mentioning the illustrator's name unless directly asked.

I made a vow to myself that I would rather change professions before agreeing to work with that writer. And I don't think she ever had any sense that what she'd been saying to me was so horribly offensive. I later heard her saying she might self-publish and illustrate the next book herself because 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid is practically stick figures and that sells well'. ...There are stick figures and there are stick figures. I didn't even know how to respond, in any way that she could understand. If she can pull it off, more power to her, but I have my doubts.

Writers often like to cast themselves in a very romantic light. They tweet about their process, staring thoughtfully out windows, drinking too much coffee, trying to pull something from the depths of their souls. But I think this is sometimes how they understand writing and illustrating:

And they are very wrong. Here's the truth. (And I think much of this also applies to translators.)

But it's not just writers who underestimate what goes into illustration (and translation); publicists are forgetting even to include information that their books are illustrated. Publishers, why bother spending money on illustrations if you're not even going to mention them? Isn't that false advertising? You're either pretending the book isn't illustrated, or you're pretending that the writer made the illustrations. And don't say 'but the illustrator's mentioned on the back cover'. No one looks at the back cover when they're browsing online.

Fortunately we have a #PicturesMeanBusiness ally in Fiona Noble at The Bookseller. Here's her article from this week's magazine. Publicists, people WANT illustrated books. Don't be ashamed of the illustrations, don't forget about them, and certainly don't forget that it was a real person who created them. Writers, remember that illustrating may be a long, thoughtful process, too, and it's worthy of credit.

(Find out more at picturesmeanbusiness.com and browse the #PicturesMeanBusiness hash tag on Twitter.)

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