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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Helen Chamberlin, Mastery of Editorship Dedicated to Children's and Young Adult Literature

My illustrated picture book will be included in "Helen Chamberlin Books," an *imprint* of Windy Hollow Books next year. Great honour and very happy. We’re working on the final stage of the illustration just before layout. A one more push is needed in a very tight time frame. I feel a gentle mother's protection, under Helen’s wings now. 

Certainly, Helen has fostered so many acclaimed Australian illustrators and authors for nearly half a century. These "Australian super stars" have been fledgling from her nest ...Shaun Tan, Gregory RogersAnne Spudvilas, Peter Gouldthorpe, Neil Curtis, Narelle Oliver, Sarah Davis and so ons, too many to write them up. 
This post compares Helen’s editorship to mothering with special thanks.
Helen Chamberlin
Helen Chamberlin’s Editorship Features
Illustrating a picture book text is difficult, because, as renowned author Mem Fox asserts, a long complicated drama like “War and Peace” is compressed in “Haiku” or an extraordinarily short text. Only **thirty two pages** are available for an illustrator to unpack the story and visualise it. Thus, illustration is almost mission impossible. In an illustrator's striving, a distinguished editor, Helen does these things to accomplish a project. As Tanner Award declares, “Helen epitomises the best of editorship, a quiet voice standing in the shadows behind the public faces, shaping and guiding, challenging and demanding." Her uncompromising determination is that readers should get the best levels of variety, quality and choice.
Wow, what remarkable professionalism! 

Helen’s Editorship vs Mothering
Friends, don’t you find Helen's professionalism above exactly overlaps good mothering? I feel so. Let’s chat over it.
The driving force of Helen’s professionalism is her pure love of children, illustrators and authors. That "motherhood love" leads to Helen’s enthusiasm of literacy and to want for excellent picture books. She’d love to offer the best work for readers. In order to create qualified work, Helen shows respect and absolute trust in creators. It encourages us, illustrators and authors to pull out of our best. Helen gives illustrators maximum freedom to produce pictures. But if necessary, a good mother Helen can give tough disciplines so that we will not go astray. Mommy’s tough love is great! All the elements above are from Helen’s devotedness for readers in her working philosophy. So, there’s no surprise that Helen has edited so many award winning books.  

Sounds too awesome to approach her?

Very Shy, Humble Mother/Editor Helen
In fact, Helen is a very, very shy lady and a sweet mum who prefers to stay at a backstage! Yes, sooo humble. Too modest (*I love silently sitting besides her, as if I were in Indian summer). Her body language is extremely gentle and polite.  
It reminds me of ...      
Rosa” withdrawn from a centre stage, a hidden beauty, yet sends sweet and rich scent. In a Japanese metaphor, an intentional backstage player is “giving others her found flowers.” Behind a curtain, she stands silently with empty hands, wearing on a satisfied smile in a humble manner, as if she did nothing to do with a great work. A flower holder is having a spot light and enjoying applause on the apron of a centre stage. 
I’ve felt so in Helen’s smile and body language. It's like an "excellent mother." Mothers do not show off their great job.  
However, I’d say this for Helen's honour ; she is not quiet! She’s become very humorous and compassionate. Helen often makes me laugh with her profound knowledge of literacy and languages. Editor/Publisher Helen is no less than a linguist. I feel...she can do a lexicographer, a semanticist and a pragmatist, while working on German, Italian and English morphosyntaxes. Helen taught them at school. All editors are really abundant in language like a deep ocean. I, a visual artist, always admire their bottomless intelligence and great language assets. 

Portfolio of Helen Chamberlin
Now, Friends, are you getting an image of Helen?
I made the sketches of Helen. Helen and I had a big laugh together!
I put it on a wall right before my desk. That sketch has encouraged me so much to get through difficulty In the middle of night. Helen said, “I’m honoured! It looks ?? yrs younger than me!” (*Put any number as you like and have fun.) 

Ehum! But other publishers editors and famous illustrators said my sketch is really nice! Yes, it captures who she is well. A sensitive, caring, cheerful Mum and Editor/Publisher! So, her portrait has actually well supported me in the middle of night. I’ll write more about her help and you’ll get it below.

How has Helen been helping me? 
Helen is a great collaborator who always respects me, an illustrator. 
Helen wants my creativity, originality and beauty most in work. A thoughtful editor gives me free rein, but she pulls up harnesses, and gives a whip, if necessary. Similarly, a good and thoughtful mother tries hard to support a growing child, but she gives only necessary minimum help in illustration. Helen really, really wants my own style to bloom out  on paper. With her spot-on advice and support, my ideas have been coming up one after another. She also bravely takes risk to allow my experiments. I’ve been truly enjoying the project. A sweet mum has a discipline that leads kids to a right way! Yet, she always gives a creator room for a decision -- it's amazing. 

Helen knows creators' burden and happiness well
Helen said, "Enjoy illustration" at the beginning of the project. I felt she well knew how difficult illustrating is and joy must come first. How many people on the earth know that art work will not shine without joy? I’m convinced that Helen’s empathy is genuine. She has the deep understanding of creators' delight and pain. Wonderful. 
"Enjoy illustration," has become my motto for art work and picture book illustration. 

Editors Do Mothering for Creators 
As I mentioned in the past post, Helen Chamberlin is the Australia legend editor/publisher in our publishing industry – she’s so thoughtful, intellectual, sensitive, wise, humorous, enthusiastic for literacy and full of love for children and colleagues. When I had a chat with "Margaret Wild" -- another Australia legend for her mastery of writing and editorship --- we agreed that good editors are doing mothering for us : illustrators and authors. It’s not coincidence that most editors are women who work so hard silently. 

Yes, Helen has been mentoring me so that I will show my best in watercolour illustration. I'm very happy to have been working with her. Thank you very much. Helen nurtures an illustrator struggling in work and a caring mum gives well balanced sweet spoil and discipline.
Now, I'm head down and get on the work! 

Friends, I've got to concentrate on the illustrations in a dead hurry in following weeks. So, please pardon me, if I should not update the blog each Monday (I'll try!!). I'd appreciate your great support. 
Work with your admiring editor! It's a great fun and you can learn lots.  
Happy Painting!!

*"Imprint copy" is the publishing info you see in every book, usually on the second or fourth page, but sometimes on the last page. A different use of the word is that publishing houses can have several imprints - usually for different genres. 
**Usually, a picture book has 32 pages. Some picture books have 28 pages. 




  1. Hola, Sadami. Tus trazos, tus colores y tus palabras siempre acarician y abrazan. Muchas gracias por compartir y regalar belleza y armonía.
    Un fuerte abrazo. Cuídate mucho.

    1. Gracias, J.Paz! Vamos a disfrutar de dibujo juntos para siempre!
      Mis mejores deseos, Sadami

      Thank you, J.Paz! Let's enjoy drawing together forever!!
      Best wishes, Sadami

      >>>>J.Paz said...
      Hello, Sadami. Your lines, your colors and your words always cherish and embrace. Thank you very much for sharing and giving beauty and harmony.
      A big hug. Take care of yourself.

  2. ¡Fantástico trabajo y preciosas rosas! Te felicito por tus trabajos, Sadami.
    Un abrazo.

    1. Gracias, Onera! Estoy trabajando duro y feliz. Vamos a disfrutar de dibujo juntos para siempre!
      Mis mejores deseos, Sadami

      Thank you, Onera! I'm working hard and happy. Let's enjoy drawing together forever!
      Best wishes, Sadami

      >>>> Onera said...
      Great work and beautiful roses! I congratulate you for your work, Sadami.
      A hug.

  3. Que buena eres con los retratos, parece como si conocieramos a los que pintas!.

    1. Gracias, Tina! Vamos a disfrutar de dibujo más. Mis mejores deseos, Sadami

      Thank you, Tina! Let us enjoy drawing more. Best wishes, Sadami

      >>>Tina said...
      How good you are with pictures, it looks as if we knew that you paint!

  4. What a beautiful portrait you painted, Sadami, both with brushes and with words! You wanted us to meet Helen and I feel like I now know her...
    BTW I love the way you did the green leaves of the rose - these semi-transparent colors with hinted edges, just delicious!

    1. Thank u, Blaga! Yes, I wanted others to know humble Helen's work. Helen said, "You(=me, illustrator) are the star!" which made me sad and motivated me to write this post. I did the research of Helen's work in the past nearly 50 yrs --- truly amazing, ground breaking achievements in Australian publishing industry (*so, big names come and ask me to show my ongoing picture book project, when they hear Helen's name.)
      BTW, very happy to know you love my roses. I'm not a big fan for still life though, I should try it more often. You, too, enjoy drawing and painting!!!
      Cheers, Sadami

  5. Dear Sadami - such lovely fresh and beautiful and your portrait is awesome. Hope you are having a wonderful day. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Oh, sweet Debbie, thank you so much! Your blog posts are full of beauty, love and faith. Very moving. Please keep up wonderful work and bring us joy and smile. You, too, enjoy life fully! God bless you, too. Best wishes, Sadami