As you know I started illustrating last year and its been a fun year creating characters like Pipi Pintade and Naughty Goose. I always loved children’s books,classics like Winnie The Pooh, Peter Pan, The Wizard Of Oz, Dragon In Danger, The Mouse and his Child to name a few,and pop-up books. The French have bookshops that have dedicated pop-up sections, a candy sweetshop for me!
I also have been working on writing my own stories and now there are a good eight in note form, one that has 28 tales within. They all need illustrating and the last year has been my way of growing my confidence in ideas and techniques…but I still put this project on back-burner for a few years hence. However, a couple of weeks ago a lady from America contacted me, having loved my guinea guys on the guinea forum, and asked if I would help her get four books ready for agents. After a few disappointing years she had put her stories on hold. She hadn’t got an illustrator and it seemed an uphill climb and eventually you give up.
I was keen to help. This would be new territory for me, working to a deadline, having to allocate time to my own work and hers and following a story, not of my own. The latter meant changing imagination creating hats and trying to create for her characters that won’t conflict with mine, a minefield of problems later if her books became successful, and characters she could bond with, that represented her emotions. Writers get very attached, as they should, to their stories and often its the visual that people remember most, so it’s good if both illustrator and writer love the results. You also have a chance to stand up a little against indecisive agents, and stick to your vision. We know many great books suffered from agents who lacked that!
So I read her story. I loved it and I am critical. I spent a few years myself researching writing, publishing and the pros and cons of traditional versus self publishing. I must read over 200 children’s books, the type this lady hopes to publish. A few famous ones I wouldn’t give house room for, but the timing, the PA, the writers string pulling ability does come into play.
So before getting bogged down in commission fees, rights and other contractual issues, I am going simple. I will go for a one off fee. The characters are hers to use…I am not in need of them. I have my own. I want the simple ability to get my name out and hold a tangible book in my hand. I can promote it as a passive income. I also limited what I do before going to an agent. I will draft all the main protagonist’s and then once she has approved, draw up four full pages to represent the whole. The worst thing to do is draw up the whole book and give that to the agent. They feel your presumptive and they will change most of it..you’ve just wasted hours of your time.
So I air with a little caution and will see what happens. I am loving the process and really improving how I do my own illustrative work…trying to find a style that embraces everything I love…traditional old style 1950’s to 1970’s, colourful, whimsical and lots of detail.
I can’t show the project as that would be unfair on the writer and steal her thunder but below are my recent doodles for mugs, fabrics and other little brewing ideas.