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One of the most magical moments in art is the point of connection between artist and observer. That time of recognition that occurs when the work of art stirs something in the observer eliciting a sense of shared experience – a “me too” factor – that eliminates the idea that our unique experience of the world is an isolated one.
Jean Baptiste Camille Corot - An Orchard at Harvest Time
Years ago, I had seen a beautiful landscape painting by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot at the Metropolitan Museum that literally stopped me in my tracks. As a gardener, I find many of Corot’s landscapes stunning – he depicts the loveliness of nature so perfectly - but this particular painting transported me right into his landscape. It was of a morning harvest, and immediately I could feel the coolness in the air, smell the moist, sweet earth, feel the hint of the warmth of the sun that was just rising. There was something about his use of light and color that resonated so clearly with my own experience of morning, and nature and working the earth that the boundaries of time, space and separate experience vanished, and I was left with the sense of shared experience.
Similarly, a few weeks ago, I was reading a book review by Robert Rastelli of Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna and his turn of phrase, “…Herein lies the merciless search for love and the heart,” evoked an instant emotional response. I had never regarded the search for love as merciless, yet those five simple words, “the merciless search for love” tapped into the feelings of “mercilessness” of every unrequited teenage crush, of every failed attempt at parental approval, or any time I had ever subjugated who I was for who I thought someone else had wanted me to be. I marveled at how a deft hand with paint or prose can unearth a personal collection of human emotion and experience as simply as a key unlocks a door.
Jean Baptiste Camille Corot - Souvenir of Riva
And how powerful art is. All forms of art are ultimately about connection. Even those individuals for whom the “point” of art is to shock or challenge their audience, the core of such provocative work - even if its primary intent is to alienate – paradoxically and inevitably connects us to
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The latest batch of fan mail was filled with great stuff. Highlights include lots of Pigeons: Some great ideas for stories:The 'torn from today's headlines' Pigeon tale: Don't Let the Pigeon Get a Job!:And my favorite stuff, the Pigeon with characters created by kids!:It's always nice to see Wilbur from Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed:And Leonardo from Leonardo the Terrible Monster:And Trixie and
It's been more than a month since we last went Tapjacketing, in the style of The New Yorker's Talk of the Town. So let's get right to it. Check out these interesting web pages about cover art / book design (some specifically about kids books, a few about book design/cover design in general) - just click on the word "Link." (and thanks, once again, to our intrepid Tapjacketing friend, Sarah Blake Johnson, for pointing us in the direction of #3 and #4. )
#1. Link: "...horizontal diversification" (the term used to explain her interest in archaeolgoy, art history, art, design, book design.) Over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, contributor Steven Withrow does a great job interviewing Susan M. Sherman, the art director at Charlesbridge Publishing, who has worked with such artists as Barry Moser, Chris van Allsburg, Jane Dyer, David Macauley and Ed Young (nice roster!)
2. Link: "With photo manipulation, who can tell for sure these days?" Jacket Whys takes a look at the blue butterfly books. Vladimir Nabokov would have been in heaven.
Nabokov with Butterfly Net
3. Link : "You can't judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a book cover. And the best of them become as vital a part of a book as the sentences on the bound pages."Bob Greene takes a quick look at nine jackets (a few for children) that he feels are vitally connected in our memories to the books they covered. The original cover for Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is a surprise - I would have pegged that as a book that came out much later, maybe the 1970's - so it must have felt way ahead of it's time. Also surprising: How simple the cover is for Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.
4. Link: "You can't tell a book by its cover if it doesn't have one." Interesting to think that we might be in the Golden Days of book covers, before they start losing their impact due to different electronic delivery modes for books Think about the way LP record album art became less important once CD's started taking over the market. Will that be true about book jackets, too? Will different delivery mode rings the death knoll for book jacket design? Motoko Rich wonders about it in this article from the NY Times.
4. Link: "''Sort of like how people used to experience vinyl records,'' he said, with the ''album covers and the music as a unifying whole.'' Am I seeing a theme emerge? Album covers & book covers = doomed? Stephen Heller talks briefly to cover art guru John Gall about designing twelve paperback covers for Haruki Murakami's fiction ("...lots of cropped women and circle motifs.") Display CommentsAdd a Comment
Lately I have been getting a number of emails asking me if I have an agent or how to get an agent or if an illustrator needs an agent. This article is directed mainly at illustrators and those who write and illustrate their own children's books.
These thoughts are based on my own experience and opinions, so you must also consider the views of others who are much better known in the field of Children's Book Illustration.
Agency representation is a very personal choice on the part of the illustrator or author/illustrator. Just as you go about carefully choosing the agent you most want to represent you, the agent will have criteria for acceptance of illustrators and authors.
If you are just beginning to write and/or illustrate for children a great agent could give you a head start. But devoting too much time to finding an agent shouldn't be a priority. The best pathway to success is to keep your writing and your illustrating fresh, explore new ideas, work hard on any assignment that you receive and take the suggestions and criticisms of editors, designers, and art directors with grace and act upon them. Focus on your work and make it the best you can. Attend conferences, workshops, and classes that will help you grow as an artist.
Many beginning artist/illustrators are out there searching for agency representation. However, having an agent does not guarantee immediate success. If you do feel you want to share your fees with an agent it is a good idea to make sure it is a top notch agent who works full time in the field. Any choice other than the type of agency that is well respected and works full time at the business is not worth your time or your money.
So, for the sake of an example, let us say you found a great agent, the agent agrees to represent you and find suitable assignments for your type or art. You now have someone or a group that will handle the contracts, negotiations, and submissions to houses that only accept them from agents.
You will need to be prepared to accept the assignments given to you. You can't be too choosy about the work that your agent offers you. You will be asked to share in the promotional costs. In addition you will need to let go of the business issues that are the responsibility of the agency. You will need to meet deadlines, take criticism, make changes and behave in a totally professional manner. An upbeat and positive attitude are great qualities in an author or illustrator and are appreciated by the publishing community .
Your talent, if your nurture it, will create a pathway for you with or without an agent. Be the best you can, be excellent.
Wonderful illustration from Barcelona and Warsaw based designer Jan Feliks Kallwejt. The piece was created for a Polish daily newspaper that is devoted to business and economic issues. The white buildings form a jumping gazelle. I’m not sure how the newspaper used the illustration. Could some of our Polish readers fill us in? Can’t say I would want to live near the rear end, it would bring new meaning to living in the “ass end ” of town.
My friend's nonprofit, Global Language Project, is competing in the Pepsi Refresh Campaign. They are soooo close to winning the $50,000 grant, & need your help to vote ONCE EVERYDAY until this Friday. They just need to be in the top ten to win the grant!
Argh... feeling a bit overwhelmed this week! I'm doing the B & W final art for Maggie & Oliver, have a big map due on Monday, and am yearning to put the final tweaks on a picture book dummy I've been working on forever. But I have to laugh. In almost 17 years of working for myself, this feeling has become familiar. And the work has always gotten done. (Must be those magic elves that drop in at night.)
Here’s an incredible four minute film - a student film - from France’s Georges Méliès School. The filmmakers are Vivien Chauvet (”Looky”), Adrien Toupet and Clément Delatre; their short, La Main des Maîtres (The Hand of the Masters), mixes an anime influence with steampunk and Art Nouveau. An English subtitled version is on You Tube, Vimeo version below has better picture quality:
After my visit on Tuesday to see Francesca Cassavetti, I went for lunch at beautiful Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath and geeked out about books with the amazing novelist Candy Gourlay. She's one to watch, her book Tall Story comes out this June with David Fickling Books and is SUCH a great read! (Go have a look at the book's website!)
When I found out David Fickling was publishing my friend's novel, I went into a total excited fit, and when David asked if I knew Candy, I blurted out, 'Yes! We've even slept together!' He and my editor looked so shocked that it amused me hugely, so I just left it at that. In fact, we did share a bed when we went to the Bologna book fair in 2008. I just remember being almost ill with tiredness when we came back from a full day at the fair and carousing at the Pink Bar, and when I woke up at 3 in the morning, Candy was sitting up in bed with her laptop, working on her novel. I swear, that woman never stops.
Candy also organises loads of stuff for the British branch of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, which was really helpful in teaching me about the industry, helping me get a foot in the door, and introducing me to lots of other writers and illustrators. SCBWI used to be an organisation mostly for people who were trying to get published, but we've had so many success stories that we're having to shift our focus a bit to help people who are already getting published.
So after our Hampstead lunch, we went for a power walk to Camden, where we had ice cream at Marine Ices in Camden. I'd never been there, but Candy says it's The famous ice cream place in north London. (And it was yummy. My other favourite place is just a few doors down Chalk Farm Road, called Inhabitation and they do the best milkshakes ever. I am trying to avoid them because they are too good, especially the lime milkshakes.)
I'm off soon from the studio to meet my fab publicist Alexandra, to go up to Stratford for two days of events at the Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival, really looking forward to it. (I even just get excited about staying in a hotel, hehe.)
Thanks, Geek Syndicate for the Morris the Mankiest Monster mention on the review of Hi-Ex (another very friendly comics festival!).
Don't miss Forbidden Planet International's review of David O'Connell's third installment of Tozo. I popped into Gosh! Comics last week and saw all three booklets proudly on display, they looked smashing.
Congratulations to Darryl Cunningham, whose amazing graphic novel Psychiatric Tales just came back from the printer! Go look over here on his blog! (He's tallguywrites.) I can't wait to get my copy. It's a great read a
Note : I am posting the progression of these Alice pieces, start to finish. This stage is the rough + color study.
From Alice in Wonderland, Chapter, The Queen's Croquet-Ground :
"First came ten soldiers carrying clubs; these were all shaped like the three gardeners, oblong and flat, with their hands and feet at the corners: next the ten courtiers; these were ornamented all over with diamonds, and walked two and two, as the soldiers did. After these came the royal children; there were ten of them, and the little dears came jumping merrily along hand in hand, in couples: they were all ornamented with hearts. Next came the guests, mostly Kings and Queens, and among them Alice recognised the White Rabbit: it was talking in a hurried nervous manner, smiling at everything that was said, and went by without noticing her. Then followed the Knave of Hearts, carrying the King's crown on a crimson velvet cushion; and, last of all this grand procession, came the King and Queen of Hearts.
Alice was rather doubtful whether she ought not to lie down on her face like the three gardeners, but she could not remember ever having heard of such a rule at processions; `and besides, what would be the use of a procession,' thought she, ;if people had all to lie down upon their faces, so that they couldn't see it?' So she stood still where she was, and waited.
When the procession came opposite to Alice, they all stopped and looked at her, and the Queen said severely 'Who is this?' She said it to the Knave of Hearts, who only bowed and smiled in reply.
'Idiot!' said the Queen, tossing her head impatiently; and, turning to Alice, she went on, 'What's your name, child?'
'My name is Alice, so please your Majesty,' said Alice very politely; but she added, to herself, 'Why, they're only a pack of cards, after all. I needn't be afraid of them!'
'And who are these?' said the Queen, pointing to the three gardeners who were lying round the rosetree; for, you see, as they were lying on their faces, and the pattern on their backs was the same as the rest of the pack, she could not tell whether they were gardeners, or soldiers, or courtiers, or three of her own children.
'How should I know?' said Alice, surprised at her own courage. 'It's no business of mine.'
The Queen turned crimson with fury, and, after glaring at her for a moment like a wild beast, screamed 'Off with her head! Off--'
'Nonsense!' said Alice, very loudly and decidedly, and the Queen was silent.
I'm pretty pleased with the color comp for this one. It came together after the pink sky. I'm looking forward to drawing this one.