I’m not known for painting animals, it has to be said. It took a long time to accept that I could draw and paint animals that look like humans , mainly because I got hung up on the word that describes this process; Anthropomorphism.
Or, perhaps I couldn’t let myself enjoy considering the possibility. The work I do is mainly about people and objects and how they interact. I spent a lot of time doing that. But, as every day is a learning day, last year seemed like the perfect time to start focusing on a new skill – two new skills, actually; creating animal characters and then creating stories where they could be free. Creating them in my own way is like cutting through a thick jungle with a blunt blade and maybe one day things will start to come together.
It’s taken all this time to believe, understand and get excited about this new process. Here are a few from the sketchbooks. All of these characters have made their way in to a book idea with the working title ‘Norton’s Nose Knows’… I’ll leave it at that for now!
Okay. Coming from an African country, I have seen some crazy (and dangerous) insects in my time. Whether I’m right or wrong about the bugs I like or dislike, most people have a thing, a phobia, if you like, about some creepy crawly. For some it spiders, for others its anything that has wings and buzzes. Children are fascinated by them, though and that’s what this upcoming project is all about. Wtih your help (hopefully) I am, I mean, WE are going to create a complete entomology of made up insects. The finished ones should look like the above.
I have a dozen or so in my sketchbooks waiting to be finished, appreciate any other suggestions or even sketches. There might even be some prizes in it, you never know.
I haven’t had much time to add tot he growing collection these last few weeks, so I thought it would be good to show you the set so far in one blog post. ‘m going to be making some 3-d versions of these for a school event on June 19th. It should be fun! Details of that event will follow in the coming days.
I subscribe to Good magazine and I read a short article called ‘We Should Probably Turn Text Books in to Comic Books‘ by writer Liz Dwyer. In ti the writer points out that the debate about books being physical or digital might actually be a side issue: more important, according a to university study is ensuring that “the academic content within the book is in a format that’s going to help students retain more information.”
It reminded me of a time, decades ago, when I was very enthusiastic about designing educational books and material for young people. I was particularly keen to introduce a comic book look or feel to heavy subjects. PErhaps my skills were n;t honed enough, or the time wasn’t right, but I never managed to convince anyone else that this was not only a good idea but also a beneficial one top the young learners. I didn’t want to create super heroes to describe a mathematical formula or anything like that, but It was clear that children and young people respond very well to comic strips. This is probably because the comics are very well thought out tools of communication with very little wastage of bot words and pictures. Whatever is in these books works very hard to tell the story. Perhaps 20 years ago they were not thought of in this way.
As the graphic novel makes its way into the mainstream, surely this is the future of both printed and digital publishing? It works well on both platforms without adaptation. Could it also be the future of educational publishing for younger children too? It will need authors, experts and illustrators to work from the same script, something which is not always possible. Egos get in the way, as do time and money.
Wouldn’t be great, though? The result would be well though out mini plays, window by window, explaining the mysteries of science and literature to hungry and appreciative young minds.
So my request this week is this; Are you an illustrator, writer, teacher, editor or designer keen to work on such a project? If so, get in touch and let’s start conversation…