Friday, March 31, 2017

I don't draw, a book.

My latest book came out last week, written by Adam Lehrhaupt, published by Simon & Shuster. I'd like to tell you a little bit about the making of this book!

The whole project came about when my wonderful agent Kirsten Hall saw something in one of my sketchbooks from a few years ago.

She said, let's do a book about colours! It was after much brainstorming and experimenting that a story was created by Adam Lehrhaupt through the publisher. I was really excited about working on this book. the abstract representation of colour and emotion and the conceptual side of the book really fascinated me.

Here are some of the spreads. I had pictured some of them as a continuous image, possibly a fold out page. There was a huge amount of experimenting with how the colour spreads eventually turned out. I had to convey a powerful emotion through one colour, and at the same time I needed to 'unlearn' how to draw.

the most difficult part about making this book was, believe it or not, drawing as a kid would draw.

here are some more spreads from inside the book:

and here are some character development sketches and some of the ideas for the cover. The title of the book was originally going to be simply 'I don't draw'.

finally, I want to post this image from the second last spread of the book. I had imagined the boy, who is represented in black and white from the beginning of the story, to undergo a transformation, an explosion of colour, a cathartic moment where he becomes all-colourful.

this image was thought to be too conceptual, and potentially too 'explosive' for the US market, and so was substituted with this one:

which is less powerful, but still works. The image of the exploding boy is important for me. I fought for it to be kept in the book, because I believe children are the first ones who can teach us an (unspoken) lesson about conceptual understanding. I believe children should be surprised, and stimulated to wonder. The publisher was very understanding, but in the end had to make a different choice. In the making of this book I found myself struggling to understand the dynamics of the US picture book market, compared to the European one, where it seems that everything is allowed.

It was a lesson in making compromises and learning to trust the publisher. There are things that I would have done differently, but in the end, a book is always the result of a group effort, and I am grateful to have been part of this group and to have produced this wonderful picture book.

Overall this is a great story that I think many children will identify with (including my own!), and a great way to talk to little ones about emotions. 

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