I’m not a linear thinker and I’m more about dialogue and image than description. Writing descriptively feels uncomfortable, it’s not a good fit. The best engagement I can get is when a reader looks at something I’ve created and puts a different slant on it. That stimulates my mind and keeps me on my toes. A good way to do that is to attempt a wordless and laconic narrative illustration style.
Some of you know that I started my MA back in September, and it’s definitely encouraging me to try new and different things. Before I committed, I knew that the only way this would hold value for me was if I pushed myself in a different direction. But, because children’s publishing is where my heart is, that’s quite a difficult task.
I’ve enjoyed the research involved so far and it’s definitely produced a rabbit hole for me to get lost in. I found graphic novels down there thanks to my tutor, Kate. Until I started that research, my experience with illustrated books for grown-ups had been limited to Hellboy and Gemma Bovery (Posy Simmons), which follow a typical panel style. I love to read them, and the artists are crazy-talented, but I don’t feel compelled to create something in that style.
A lot of the research I’ve been carrying out has been focused on dark and taboo issues within children’s books. Very far removed from what I do day-to-day. I tried to remove any opportunities for whimsy. I also made a conscious effort to not look at my close peers – the guys I interact with via social media or share an agent with. The next thing I did was like jumping off a cliff. I turned off my Cintiq and lined my ink bottles up. After lots of experimentation, I put another restraint on myself. No paintbrushes. The style of this illustration is informed by considerable research and I don’t want to write a lengthy post here. As soon as my research is graded, I’ll link it so you can read about that side of things, if that’s what floats your boat.