Over the years I have entered a number of awards around the world. I see these competitions as an opportunity to develop a concept and push my illustration work in new directions. As the entry period for the Association of Illustrators (AOI) awards for 2017 draws to a close. I have been considering entering an illustration for this year. In the past I have entered into the Children’s Books. While I have a few choice illustrations to choose from for that category. I have decided that I could use the competition as a way of pushing myself to produce images for the some of the concepts that I have been playing with over the last 6 or so months.
This is my first choice, an ink illustration created with Staedtler pigment liners (0.05 to 0.8). It is for a story concept based on the Nordic legend of Baldur. My version involves Viking Cats. You can see the early pencil sketch versions of this concept on this word press site (17th July 2016)
My next choice is based on some graphic novel images that I have been developing from my Grandfathers World War 1 journal (Private Charles Flowers, 1916). This is one of the concept images that I have been developing on for this project.
I feel that I may have to work on this concept more before I would be happy to submit an image from this project.
AOI awards are held in London each year. The run a couple of award programs that give illustrators an opportunity to hone their skills. For more details follow this link http://www.theaoi.com/awards/enter-info.php
Entries close on the 6th of Febuary.
*** Update on the 30th January 2017 ***
After a quick Facebook poll of 5 to 1 in favour of the new reworked image for a ‘Dogs of War’. The final entry is the image below.
I recently received a sample pack of Staedtler Mars Lumograph black pencils. The pencil pack came as a tin pencil tray. It contained 2 x 2B, 2x 4B, 1 6B and 1 8B.
These pencil leads have been produced with a higher proportion of carbon in the lead than the standard Lumograph pencils. The idea is that the carbon will create a matt black finish. Testing the standard and black pencils side by side, it quickly becomes obvious that the higher the carbon the more matt the finish. While the 2B and 4B pencils in both standard and black produce a shine when applied with a heavy-handed burnish. The black also live up to their name and are noticeably darker than their counterparts. The 6B and 8B have a noticeably more matt finish in black than the standard lead pencils. The tooth on these pencils are also more aggressive. It bites the paper more like charcoal than pencil lead. I tested on a 300 gsm fine grain cold pressed watercolour paper (Canson, Aquarelle) and 110 gsm smooth cartridge (Quill).
The Pencils are also smudge well, again the higher the carbon content the more they smudge. Excellent if you like to use a smudge stick or a finger tip to blend your pencil work.
I did notice that the 6B and 8B pencils are a little brittle. I had problems sharpening the pencils when I first started using them. I soon realised that the problem was the sharpener not the pencils. As the sharpener was a starting to go blunt and the leads are brittle the pencils were crumbling. Interestingly the standard Lumograph pencils were fine with this sharpener. I switch the sharpener to a newer one (Staedtler Metal double-hole sharpener) and the pencils shaped up to a sharp fine point.
When creating work to test the black pencils I decided to push the pencils to produce darker images. Using a ‘chiaroscuro’ technique I pushed to shadow in the images to take advantage of the black matt finish. Trying to make the character merge into the black background.
While the Matt black finish helps reduce shine when viewing the images. Scanners still pick up some reflection off the surface of the image. Not as much as when using a standard lead pencil at a heavy burnish level.
The attached article (below) is an interesting interview about one of my new books with Nick Falk, ‘How to stop an alien invasion using Shakespeare”.
This is the first in a series that Nick and I are working on. The next book in this series, “How to beat Genghis Khan in an arm wrestle” will be released in the next few weeks.
This interview is one of the first where I have been able to not only talk about my work as an illustrator but also include insights gained from my reading and research for my PhD at the University of Canberra.
If you’re interested in illustration and illustrative practices or theories of Visual Literacy, you will most likely enjoy this interview.
April 2016 Interview HowTo_TheBookCurator
People seek inspiration in a wide variety of way. When I had to create a design for ‘Inspiration’ I didn’t look too far from home.
In my latest series with Nick Falk, the “How To…” series (1st book ‘How to stop an alien invasion using Shakespeare’) Inspiration is the Mighty Professor Skeletron’s cat. The Mighty Professor Skeletron is an evil genius (boy) that invents all kind of weird thing. One of these inventions is a pair goggles (Diabolical Prognosticator) that his cat can wear to see into the future. The professors blue print diagrams are always complex, scientific packed blends of the real and the ridiculous. The reality always looks a bit simpler. Mainly because he builds everything out of cardboard boxes, sticky tape ad other household items. His Diabolical Prognosticator are made out of pipe cleaners.
When I started to work on the rough sketches for ‘Inspiration’, my cat Daisy jumped onto my lap and demanded attention. The choice for Inspiration was obvious. The cat had to be Daisy.
The best thing is that like all cats, she sits around a lot, so she is a great model. She also like to sit onto my drawings when I work. So I can say that she has approved the use of image (otherwise she would scratch them up!).
Draft covers (spot Daisy)
I will be Invading Brisbane Book Week this year (Monday the 22nd to Friday the 26th of August). Demonstrating my approach to illustration, creating narratives, and visual literacy.
I still have a few spots available for school talks, for Book Week bookings contact “Speakers Ink”. If you are interested in attending an illustration session for adults or a visual literacy session for teachers, contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
While I am not available for Book Week session in Sydney this year, for school bookings in Sydney at other times, please contact Paul or Amy at the Children’s Bookshop Speakers Agency.
For all other areas contact me directly at email@example.com
I am currently located in Canberra, as I love a road trip, I am always happy to discuss school talks in any location at anytime of the year.
The Children’s Bookshop Speakers Agency
0407 414 261 (Paul).
9481 8811 and ask to speak to Amy.
My next appearance will be at Jervis Bay (Huskisson) on the 4th of June, 2 – 4pm presenting at the ‘Seachange’ festival.
For more details or information on other events at the festival please refer to the festival website, http://www.seechangefestival.org.au.
When considering how to create and sustain the Edo period world of “Samurai vs Ninja”. It was important to undertake a lot of research. One of my favorite forms of art is the Ukiyo-e woodblock period of Japanese art. I love colour saturation, the strong line work and the masterful compositions.
The work of artist such as Katsushika Hokusai are synonymous with the art form. His ‘wave’ (The great wave off Kanagawa, from the 36 views of Mount Fuji series) image being one of the recognized images of Japanese Artist.
From the Edo period of Ukiyo-e woodblock artist, my favorite character artist is Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Kuniyoshi work from the early to mid 1800’s. One of his most recognize series being the images of the 47 Ronin. His distinctive black and white patterned sleves on the characters in this series was the inspiration of Buta-sama’s own clothes.
In Samurai vs Ninja (book3) Day of the Dreadful Undead (June 2015), The story required an image to over state the actions of the Mighty Kingyo-sama, Lord Goldfish of the Samurai. When asked by the ghost of a long dead relative “’Tell me, Master Goldfish,’ rumbled Fuka-Sama,’how many victories have YOU had in battle?’” (p41)
Kingyo’s assistant then tell of an epic battle against a mosquito. I thought it would be funny to have the battle commemorated in a woodblock print.
Know that Utagawa Kuniyoshi used to portray narrative based conflicts. I started to research into his battle images. I quickly found one of his more interesting compositional device was to place the conflict in the bottom 3rd of the image, suggesting the character on top had the upper hand and was overpowering his opponent.
I decided that this would be a dynamic/over the top way to portray such and under stated conflict.
I love it when my illustration work allows me to draw inspiration from and pay homage to such an amazing artist as Utagawa Kuniyoshi. I would certainly encourage anyone who love Ukiyo-e woodblock prints to have a look at his work on line.
I have recently began a PhD in design at the University of Canberra, looking at the role of visual literacy in emerging reader chapter books.
The purpose of my study will be to investigate visual literacy from the perspective of the creators of illustrated works. From my initial readings on the topic of visual literacy, it is normally tackled by educators and literature experts. While this is highly appropriate, a unique perspective on the subject can be gained by discussing visual literacy with the people who create it.
Books that are narrative driven by text and illustrations occupy a unique phase of in a student’s journey to literacy. The transition from first concept books to pictures books then onto illustrated chapter books can set a student onto a path of life long reading. As a professional illustrator my work is primarily in the area of emerging reader chapter books for 8 to 12 year olds. I feel that this a very important stage in the reading journey and that through greater understanding we can support children both learn to read and develop a love of books and literature.
While I have access to limited research funds, I am alway looking for more opportunities. One of which is a ‘Big Ideas – pitch for funding’ run through the University. I will have 3 minutes to explain my research proposal and the reason it is relevant and deserves funding. Unlike most of my other presentations, where I can draw illustrations or show an avalanche of images. I am limited to a single image to support my concept. below is my book bridge image for the presentation.
I am hoping that the pitch will be successful and I receive some extra funding to assist with my research expenses. It is my aim that this research will have a practical out come, giving teachers resources to draw upon for a more in depth understanding of an illustrators work practices and the visual narrative devices they construct. Enhancing their ability to utilise illustrated works in supporting a student’s development of visual and text based literacy skills.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in my research area.