Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Sams solution- the art journey of a small press published book.

Last year in March I jumped into the tail end of the chapter book challenge (ChaBooCha) run by Becky Fyfe (facebook group and Chapter Book Challenge 2014   and contributed stories to the Teapot Tales anthology.

I also sent some art. Later that year I contributed stories and art to several other anthologies Becky was involved with. Earlier this year a fellow chapter book challenge member was seeking an artist to create work for her chapter book and Becky recommended several artists  of which I was one.

Melissa Gijsbers - Author Melissa Gijsbers - Author

Melissa approached me through facebook and we began a discussion about the kind of art she was looking for. She sent me the story as it stood then and I found it to be a lovely story about the difficulties faced by a child changing schools and countries and the teasing and bullying that follow her and the child, Sam's solution to deal with the challenges she faces.

I began with some concept drawings in pencil of what the main character and her adversaries might look like, what the school and the main play area could be and some ideas for a cover. 

Several phone calls, a few inbox messages and emails later and we were beginning to get a closer idea of what Melissa wanted. She suggested the art work of another illustrator as a comparison and I went to take a look at the style Melissa was looking for. This was very different to the original concept art but I felt up to the challenge. 

 One challenge was to get the pink jacket just right. Melissa wanted a puffy jacket "like the one worn by Alice the best friend of the Vicar of Dibley". Not being much of a Vicar of Dibley viewer at the time (this has changed) I had to seek out a copy of a DVD and online pictures to find the jacket in question then fashioned the jacket for the character accordingly.
The jacket  looks a bit like this.
So Sam's Jacket looked like this -->

The antagonist in the story had to have a jumper(pullover) added because the season is winter in the story. Melissa felt the jacket was too puffy so once more back to the drawing board and finally Sam had a smooth pink jacket that met with Melissa's approval.

I sent all the art to Melissa, both coloured and black&white versions and she introduced me to her publisher,

Julieann Wallace  from Lilly Pilly press

 Lilly Pilly Press

Julieann was working with Melissa to have the book formatted and she and I entered a few email discussions of what else Melissa was seeking in terms of black and white art as chapter headers. I sent Julieann several pieces. Melissa and Julieann had used some clip art as fillers while they decided how the final product should look and I undertook to send some original art work to replace the clips.

Unfortunately Melissa's time frame and mine did not coalesce for me to be able to create a cover to her deadline but she and Julieann used the art work of the main character on the cover they created so I feel very excited to see my art on Melissa's book.

Making art for another writer has some interesting challenges. It takes good communication to really clarify the vision in the writers head. I learned I needed to ask the right questions and I had to be flexible about changing style and focus. I had to be prepared to work with the brief but really be clear what Melissa was asking for and I had to learn how to change the art work digitally so Juliann could use it in the setting she was using. I have only met Melissa once and never met Juliann so working electronically and remotely is also a learning curve for me. I have gained a great deal of insight and understanding from this enterprise and feel a great deal of satisfaction in having achieved a milestone in my art journey.

I wish Melissa all the very best with her published story and thank her sincerely for the delightful experience of creating art to bring her character to life.

Melissa's book is currently being crowd funded through Pozible and her publisher has made a short trailer.

FInd out all about it through this link-
Swallow Me, NOW! by Melissa Gijsbers