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Monday, April 29, 2013

Be Positive in Illo Work

Hi, Friends, how have you been? 
I enjoyed the weekend and come back to the picture book projects : an education picture book and a trade picture book. Both are going well. I've been enjoying lots of Black & White roughs and Colour roughs. Technically, many "washes" will come up in the trade picture book that bridges reality and unreality. The education one is factual.  
BTW, I'd chat over our job, picture book illustration in physical and mental aspects. Once, I wrote about the picture book illustration process in the post.
Illustration is like "falling in love" with a "manuscript." You love it at a first sight. You can't hold your emotions and respond to the text! --- is essential or preferable.  

However, it's a hard task to keep an illustrator's emotions fresh and high. Picture book illustration often takes a "year" (or years) to finish up 32 pages (*an average page number for one trade picture book). Please imagine, a person must be excited nearly everyday for a year. Friends, we all know, not easy to keep falling in love with the same person for 24 hrs for 365 days. Furthermore, submitted illustrations could come back for try-it-again. 

Physically and mentally, very demanding job. Technically, very sophisticated. We work very hard and try experiments lots at the stage of roughs and a story board -- I'm just there! Readers only know a tiny bit of an illustrator's huge efforts like an ice berg. 
Sometimes, our job is undervalued.  
Recently, when I was invited to a public library's event, a lady approached to me arrogantly. 'I've heard you're an illustrator. I have wonderful texts(=I'll give you a chance). Work together.'  Patient Sadami courteously and proudly answered, 'Rule of thumb, we'll never work for freebie. Quite expensive. Please check ASA rate, our minimum wages. I'm a picture book illustrator.' My say disappointed her badly. She said in disdain, 'Picture book? (with a full contempt) I don't work with a kid's picture book illustrator. I'll tell you, my daughter, talented daughter, 8 yrs old already writes a chapter book....blablabla.'  Very patient Sadami gave her the info on Australian Society of Authors and suggested, 'Please consult ASA about your daughter's case,' and got back to dear librarians.    

Friends, I love this job, illustration, although it consumes both energy and time so much. You know my daily sketches that allow me to create picture books. Quite tough job, but, --according to another big name's say, -- 'You'll get addicted to this job!' Yes, indeed. Also, I'd like to believe that many people appreciate our work, picture books. Actually, this blogging and blog friends back me up so much. Thank you! 
Friends, chin up, if you're in a tough time. You're not alone! I'd send you my biiig hugs!
Keep up and Happy Painting!!


Monday, April 22, 2013

World Book & Copyright Day

Hi, Friends, did you have a wonderful weekend?
Now, 23 April is the World Book & Copyright Day set by UNESCO.
I'll chat over pros and cons of E children picture books.

E books, in general, have many advantages -- more compact, light weight, economic than printed books and accessable at anywhere and from all over the world. However, in disadvantages, E books lack human interactions and without computers or pads, people cannot access E books.

Regarding children's picture books, I love printed books more. Probably, the most beauty of print books is sweet human interactions between children and readers(= care givers). We stay together and enjoy books. Great joys are touching pictures in pages, smelling a book etc, etc, sensing a books on a parent's lap. Not only touching a book, also we feel, touch our bodies, warmths and love, hearing voices! Talking of human relation, printed picture books often become gifts of love between family and relative members. Of course, human interactions could be possible by E books. But in an art phase, a small screen is equivocal to appreciate pictures. Another concern is appropriate page turning timing. When we, illustrators create a book, book design always accounts page turning with the real sounds of text reading out. It's uncertain that E books's page turning displays what an illustrator means to show in an information flow. Or, I should say, can young readers fully enjoy page turning in E books?  
But today, society is moving toward digitisation more and more. E books beat hard cover books in many points. Take a public library for an example. A same budget takes more E books than print ones. E books save space on shelves. Moreover, any procedures over a counter are not necessary. A trip to a library does not bother users any more. Overdued E books are simply access denied by libraries. Also, fonts are easily enlarged, which is helpful for readers who need help. So, E books save time, money and space, and very accessible for users such as people with disabilities and in countrysides.

Besides the E books's strengths, in reality, babies are born with computers and mobile phones. Kids are growing up with computers whilst playing around with them. I wonder only me have sentiments for old printed books, particularly, for children picture books...? They might become fossils in a museum ...and, gulp, for school excursion in the future...? Sigh.

What do you think, Friends? Let me hear your throughs. Anyway, a book is a little universe, and probably, one of our most precious inventions on the earth.  

BTW, I'm very busy with the education picture book project in a tight schedule, while I'm having a fun in colour roughs for the trade picture book. Editors and famous illustrators encourage me very much.
Friends, thanks for cheers and pardon me, if I should not upload a blog post regularly.  
Anyway, Friends, Happy Painting!!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Research for Picture Book Illo

Hi, Friends, how have you been? Picture book projects occupy me. But what a surprise! An old uni friend visited my place whilst her temporary staying in Sydney. Today, the friend is a linguist doing research in a field work. Her team is making a picture dictionary for the researched language. Validity and reliability of visual information is crucial for both picture book illustration and academic use.

Regarding research, creating a children's picture book is nothing different from the linguistic work mentioned above. Based on a deep text analysis, data collection starts for pictures. Gathered data will be categorised and critically analysed for use. I know many famous illustrators did/do research for YEARs to create a picture book. 

Think of this ;  if an illustrated picture should give inappropriate information such as too much generalised or stereotyped one. Yes, it's important to be aware of responsibilities of pictures. Thus, research for pictures is necessary and essential.  

So, Friends, your research skills and academic background are great strengths to approach publishers and to work on projects.
My linguistics and sociology study definitely helps my illustration work. I've won Editors's trust in me. I always submit a text analysis for Editor/Publisher like an academic research essay. Then, Editor and I will discuss about a project and pictures more and profoundly. 

This post might sound hard, but good children picture book illustrators are all good researchers with good writing skills -- is so true and not well known. In clear writing, Illustrator logically convinces Editor of her text analysis and greatly enjoys discussions over a text. 

Back to the light topic, my dear linguist friend. Unexpectedly, my experiences as a picture book illustrator helped her! An illustrator pointed out a linguist's blind spot. The linguist would contact the team. Very happy! I heartily hope their project, too, will go well. After a long chat, the friend and I went to a beach for swimming. In turn, she helped me revise roughs for the education picture book project. With her help, I could reorganise roughs in a few days before a due date, this Monday. Yey!  
In addition, "Friends Make Our Life a Party!"  -- is also true!! Hahaha!

Friends, Happy Painting!


Monday, April 8, 2013

Sydney International Chess Tournament

Hi, Friends, did you enjoy a weekend? 
The education picture book project is going wellʚ(ˆ◡ˆ)ɞ.

Now, I enjoyed sketching "Sydney International Open Chess Tournament" held from 10-15 April in Parramatta Town Hall. The sketches were done by the courtesy of Mr Shane Burgess, vice president of NSW Chess Association. 66 players had battled everyday from morning to evening for prizes. 
Friends, shhhh, later, I'll tell you how to beat an opponent with "tricks."ʚ(ˆ◡ˆ)ɞ

My first impression. A player's concentration was astonishing. Crashing an opponent is an ultimate goal in a tournament. Huge pressures are on players. In high tension, each player's body language told me very well about what was going on and who was a winner or a loser. I was quite empathic for a loser. 

But a player told me, "No! Body language does not always match a player's thinking. Chess is much like a poker." Then, the giggling female player whispered me two tricks.

Trick1 : Pretending! A player pretends perfectly ok at a bad movement and puts pressures on an opponent. Or a reverse, "smokescreen," a player pretends as if he has made a great mistake, in fact, a very clever movement. Or another player always keeps "smiling" in any context.
Oh, I see! Chess certainly is a psychological game!

Trick 2 : Maximize What You Have?!
Another trick I heard was, a woman's "sexuality show-off," = put on a very pretty and low cut shirt to show your "milk-tanks." It distracts a male player. Male players told me, "And they (=women) lean forward, while they are struggling. Once, they feel they can win, then, they will not show it any more!"  Players and I chuckled together!
Friends, if you play chess with a male friend next time, go for it. You may beat him, "Checkmate, daarrrling"?! ʚ(ˆ◡ˆ)ɞ Or, gentlemen, when you play chess with women, look at a flat chess board, not at "two mountains." Otherwise, you'll be led into a death valley.  
By the way, chess players and visual artists have similarities in socio-economic aspects. Financially, chess hardly supports a player. Many chess players have day jobs or teaching others chess for income. Also, a social status is low for chess players as well as artists. It is a great shame neither chess players nor visual artists are respected well. An artist once said to me, "Think this -- society without art! Where's happiness and joy? We, visual artists have to do strike!" I'd say the same is true of chess players in society. 
Ultimately, chess is interactions between two people. After the game, both sides shook hands and smiled at each other, which touched me, too. Wonderful! Players know very well each other. The tournament is a "chess lovers community" and "socialisation." It was so lovely to make friends with chess players, who respect a visual artist.
Finally, I'd say special thanks for Mr Burgess and his staff or backstage players who organised the event. You're great!!

Friends, Happy Painting!!