A Lesson from KidLitVic 2019

I missed out on the Illustrator Showcase this year, and I was super disappointed about it. But missing out meant I felt more compelled to get a Portfolio Assessment, and that was the best decision I could have made.

I’ve spent most of the last year in a kind of hibernation. I was focussed on moving my art in directions I’m happy with, telling stories I want to tell, and developing techniques without too much outside influence. I think that was a good decision, and will be incredibly helpful moving forward. But I did also need a reminder to move forward, and the advice Susannah Chambers (of Allen & Unwin) gave me really helped me realise that.

In short, I had been so focussed on the stories that I personally want to tell, that I had forgotten the practical side of things. Form with no function, as it were. So, while my dream project may be to do full page illustrations for a weird collection of middle grade sci fi poetry… there aren’t that many projects like that floating around. And it’s not like it’s the only thing I’m interested in.

Specifically, Susannah pointed out that usually, as a junior/middle-grade illustrator, you don’t often get the luxury of full pages to work with. And if that’s all that’s in my portfolio, then it can seem like I’m either not interested in making the kind of illustrations they need, or that I can’t.

To turn all of this into another field: I love wearing short denim shorts. I would be happy wearing them every single day. Except that obviously I can’t or I would be cold and miserable. And there are tons of winter clothes I love wearing too, so it’s all good. But my portfolio shouldn’t just be filled with denim shorts or no one will ever hire me to wear bootcut jeans and cute sweaters. Yeah?

That is to say, I need to survey where I’m at right now, and find where it intersects with illustrations that people want, and then show them that I can do that (and want to!) by posting about it on the internet. Publishers are busy people, making books is risky, and they need to know I’m up for the project.

And also, separately, I need to continue my development work in a safe space free of outside influences, so I can look across at that and use it as a guide to stop me accidentally buying skinny jeans when I know I hate wearing them. But that’s for another post.

Goldie Roth

Goldie_Final_flat_3

This piece is fan art of Lian Tanner’s Museum of Thieves. Goldie, the main character, is just about to venture forth into her new life as a runaway. She’s a determined kid, but she’s just spent all day crying, and is alone for the first time in her life.

goldie thumbs

I really wanted to capture the city as an imposing secondary character, and to include the Great Hall as an obvious focal point, looming over the scene. I settled on a close-up view of Goldie, so I could show her expression, and the (plot-relevant) ribbon around her wrist.

Stylistically, I tried to call on middle-grade illustrations I love. From Helquist to Riddell, I find there’s a common thread of stylised but rendered. That is, things don’t necessarily need to be fully realistic, but they should have a sense of solidity, of depth and detail. You want to feel that the world continues beyond the pictures. 

Goldie at Docks2

From there, I collaged the picture together – painting and drawing bits and pieces, scanning them in, and layering them up. I’ve been trying really hard to bring my ‘sketchbook style’ into complex finished pictures, and collaging is what’s working best at present. The scan below is what I used as a guideline for various elements. Other parts of the picture (like Goldie herself) were drawn almost entirely digitally. And, yes, that hair was super fun to draw.

final_drawing_web.jpg

For fun, and because I’ve been told I really need to show I can work in vignettes (more on that in a later post!), here’s a quick alternate version with just Goldie and the boat:

Goldie_whitebg.jpg

Have a nice Sunday, friends, and expect some more blogging sometime soon 🙂

Fan Art for Shipwrecked Comedy

The Case of the Turncoat’s… Coat

When Claudette Knickerbocker discovers corruption in The Force, she calls in the only person she can trust: an old friend from… The War.

Join Private Investigator Ford Phillips and Public Journalist Fig Wineshine as they help their pal untangle this knot of betrayal and intrigue in a deadly serious film noir with absolutely no jokes whatsoever. None.

Congrats on five years @shipwreckedcomedy​, I’m so grateful for all the things you’ve made so far, and excited for everything you’re gonna make in the future.

PS: Shipwrecked are currently fundraising to make a holiday short and you can see donation info here if that’s the kind of thing you wanna see. (It is.)

Singapore Reflections

I had Big Plans for sketching in Singapore. I wanted it to be like my Europe sketchbook (12) but with a way higher pictures to days ratio, and in colour. I had visions of making a beautiful stop-motion video of sketches appearing on a desk, taking you all on a journey through my trip.

As it is I came back with a lot of sketchy scribbles and colour notes and photos and ideas, and things that mean a lot to me.  There were a lot of lessons about materials (crayons melt in the heat) and sketching methods (as above: using memories instead of actual material can help me narrow down a picture to its key elements instead of overworking). And I learned some more about the sorts of things I want to make.

But I didn’t end up with a lot that I really want to share. So I’ll just leave you with this, and a link to my instagram for the two sketches I posted while away.

Singapore Prep

Alert! I am now one of Those People who takes pictures of their art materials. This is what working traditionally has done to me.

Anyway, I’m going to Singapore, and this is the stuff I plan to take. It’s definitely overkill, but that’s okay. We’re only gone for a week, and clothes for Singaporean weather don’t take up much space, so there’s plenty of room in my bag 🙂

Any recs for places to see? Things to do? So far our plans are: eat a lot. Wander around both the Botanic Gardens and the gardens at Marina Bay. Visit the fancy new Art Gallery and the Art+Science Museum. And see the Masjid Sultan and Sri Mariamman Temple.

Editorial Adventures

This fortnight I have jumped wildly from my slow and thoughtful post-Blaugust habits right into work fast!-mode. (Continuing the trend of not-sharing-immediately, though, so some of it won’t be posted for ages.)

But! This piece!

I took Ed J Brown’s Skillshare course. It was really really good. Like, if I had a survey that was asking ‘how likely are you to recommend this course?’ then my answer’d be 5(/5). Because I would and am recommending it to anyone who’s interested in that sort of thing. Useful info, good teacher and just the right level of challenge to stretch you (or me, anyway).

Anyway, this is the result of all my homework. Sketch ideas and alternate finishes can be found on the project page, if you’re into that kind of thing. I had a fun time, and I’m gonna go off and set myself some more editorial assignments in the future 🙂