I’m making final preparations for my trip to America on Wednesday. I am heading to the International Visual Literacy Conference which is being held at the Leslie University in Cambridge Massachusetts. At the conference, I will be presenting a paper on ‘Illustrating Visual Language Research” at 10 am on Sunday the 17th. In which I discuss some of the overlapping theories from the academic world on illustrative works and from the world of illustration practice.
While I am in Cambridge I plan to take advantage of some of Harvard university’s collections. I will be heading to the wonderfully named “Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology” to draw some of the Mayan artifacts from expeditions conducted in South America in the last 1800’s. I plan to include these in an upcoming book project.
I also hope to get access to some early sketches by John Tenniel. Harvard has some of his early drawings for his version of the character of Alice, from Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass”. I’m sure that these will great for future research work and may link back into my current Thesis on illustrative work practices and visual literacy.
And finally, if I get time I would love to catch a train to Salem one evening for a ‘Voodoo, Vampires and Ghost walking tour’. I’m sure that this tour would be illustratively inspirational in some way. It should also be heaps of fun as I haven’t done a Ghost tour in years, The last one I went on was at Port Arthur in Tasmania.
I have been lucky enough to have a paper accepted for the International Visual Literacy Association Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For those of us not from the States, that is right next to Boston and the home Harvard University and a number of other universities, I will be presenting at the Lesley University. The conference runs from the 14th to the 17th of September.
My paper on ‘Illustrating Visual Language Research’ comes from the research that I have been doing for my Ph.D. at the University of Canberra. I have been extremely lucky to have had a number of generous illustrators open their studios and their homes to me. Allowing me to invade and ask all sorts of questions about how they create their amazing images.
I would like to thank Graeme Base, Rod Clement, Sarah Davis, Stephen Michael King, Freya Blackwood, Ann James, Gus Gordon and Matt Ottley. Who all gave so generously of their time and patience.
I would love to share more about the talk, but that would mean you no longer have an excuse to come and see me in Cambridge! I am sure that you will be able to follow some of the proceedings on social media in September.
I will be taking parting in an event organised by the ACT Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) on Tuesday evening, 5:30 pm to 9 pm, on the 20th of June. The event, “building your story” will be a great night if you’re interested in creating your own stories or just love children’s books. There will be a number of author talking about story structure and plot work.
I will be presenting a talk on illustrating story plot elements. This will be one of the first events that I have done since completing some extensive research into illustration as part of my doctoral research. So I intend to skim some of the words of wisdom on the night, from such great illustrators as Stephen Michael King, Graeme Base, Ann James, Rod Clement, Freya Blackwood, just to name a few.
I hope to see you there.
For more SCWBI events visit their web page, http://www.scbwiaustralianz.com/scbwinswact/
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
When planning an illustration there are many composition theories that can be applied. One of my favourite is ‘the Golden Ratio’. Some times referred to a ‘Di Vinci’s Golden Section’ or ‘Golden Spiral’. That is Leonardo Di Vinci not the Mutant Ninja Turtle. “The Golden Proportion is considered as the most pleasing to human visual sensation and not limited to aesthetic beauty but also be found its existence in natural world through the body proportions of living beings, the growth patterns of many plants, insects and also in the model of enigmatic universe” (Akhtaruzzaman & Shafie 2011) This image from book 2 of the Samurai vs Ninja series is based on a double ‘Golden Ratio’ spiral composition. Calculating the Golden Ration is very involved and there numerous complex mathematical models are available in print or online. But to keep it simple the ration roughly works out as 1:1.6. This works a grid of rectangles is formed based on the short length of the rectangle being multiplied by 1.6 to give the longer length. Once you had one grid calculated it is simp a mater of ceasing a series of rectangles that for a grid pattern. Each of the intersection or grid line form strong focal points in an illustration. A spiral can be plotted through the intersecting lines. In this diagram you can see the spirals have been overlaid on the grids and I have rotated the 1st grid (and spiral) 180 degrees to create a complimentary balance from one page to the next. The resulting focal point and elements of the illustration that imply the spiral as shown above. So why have I bother to use this technique in such detail? This image is printed in black and white on a small page. I wanted to give a scenes of chaos while maintaining easy readability. The section of battle on the left hand page is cluttered and the characters body become merged together. I have used the spiral to guide the readers eye into the image. On the right hand page I wanted the battle to focus on the fight between the 2 main characters (brothers) Buta-sama and Kingyo-sama. The centre of this spiral leads down to the clash of their weapons. As the spirals are arranged in this way. the eye of the reader is guided form one spiral to the other in an endless loop. For more in-depth reading on he subject I recommend looking at Akhtaruzzaman,Md & Shafie, A.A, 2011.Geometrical Substantiation of Phi, the Golden Ratio and the Baroque of Nature, Architecture, Design and Engineering, International Journal of the Arts, 1(1), p1-22
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 email@example.com if you are interested in my research area.