The Importance Of Pretend Play In Child Development from Scientific American
– Why Creativity Thrives In The Dark, Fast Company
…for those of us both writing and illustrating our own books. This conversation between Neil Gaiman and Shaun Tan was published a while ago, and has helped me edit my own work:
Episode 68 of the podcast Escape From Illustration Island is an interview with Elizabeth Dulema, who has illustrated many books as well as Lula’s Brew, which was one of the first storybook apps on the iTunes store. Interviews with storyapp developers are pretty rare, so here are some of the most interesting points:
Always start your illustrations in the middle (to kind of warm up) and save the cover and opening spreads for the end (when you’re in the zone and it’s flowing) – because those are the first ones people will read!
I’ve done it both ways now: The Artifacts was illustrated as I felt like it, but I’d been putting off doing the title page because that required design skills which are a little different from illustrative inner pages. So for Midnight Feast I did the splash page, title page, menu page, navigation pages, about page, options page… and I still hadn’t started illustrating the story. This took several months and was a dispiriting thing to do! Next time I’ll be starting in the middle.
Do you have a dream house that exists only inside your head? Perhaps it’s somewhere you hope to build one day, or a mixture of great spaces you’ve been to in your lifetime. If you were asked questions about this dream house, I wonder how specific you could get?
As Gaston Bachelard says, quoting Rilke in The Poetics of Space, those of us who keep dreamt-up houses in our heads haven’t worked out the details. Details such as: How does one get from one room to another without a connected corridor?
[The imagined dream house] is not a building, but is quite dissolved and distributed inside me: here one room, there another, and here a bit of corridor which, however, does not connect the two rooms, but is conserved in me in fragmentary form. Thus the whole thing is scattered about inside me, the rooms, the stairs that descended with such ceremonious slowness, others, narrow cages that mounted in a spiral movement, in the darkness of which we advanced like the blood in our veins.
— Rainer Maria Rilke, quoted in The Poetics Of Space
I realised that the house I had imagined inside my head wouldn’t necessarily work. And the architecture of the house is essential to the plot, which is certainly not true of many other picture books.
I wonder if it’s common for picturebook illustrators to draw a floor plan when illustrations are set largely inside a house. It really helped me out a lot, to spend half an hour visualising the entirety of Roya’s world within the story, down to the wallpaper.
Once I’d sketched a layout of the apartment, illustrations progressed at a faster pace*. I didn’t have to consider the interior decor, of her non-imaginary world, at least. I’ve heard art advice to the effect that you need to understand the entirety of a subject even if you’re only going to be depicting a single facet. I was imagining a banana when I heard that advice, but it certainly applies to houses and floorplans. Otherwise you’re liable to draw a house without any doors.
(By the way, I decided the toilet and bathroom are communal, downstairs.)