Thursday, March 31, 2011

Totally 30's

I'm a teenage from the 80's. And what I learned during those radical days is you are what you wear. For me, high top Kangaroo sneakers, a Polo shirt with U2 buttons pinned to it and some feathered hair was the gnarly "look" I went for. For others it was parachute pants, a mullet and anything neon.

Since I've become an illustrator I leaned that your character's attire can make or break the whole concept. If you're doing a greeting card for example it's probably OK to adorn your character in some baggy pants with the undergarments hanging out. This because the shelf life of a greeting card is usually somewhat limited. If you're designing a children's book though, (something that hopefully has a longer shelf life) it's better to stay away from a fashion statement that will look dated in a matter of months.

While addressing this subject matter, Jannie and I have talked about how we should dress our characters. In Evil Knievel retro wear from the 70's or in today's current fashions. Inevitably the talk then shifted to placing our story line as far back as the 1930's or 1940's. A time when the latest fashion rage was flappers and argyle socks. The neat thing about that time frame is this opens up using props and colors that will help set a mood. Sepia tones and a bit of a muted palette might not be what you think of as far as children's book colors but if done right, it might be just the fun look we're going for.

At this point nothing is written in stone but we'd LOVE to hear your thoughts or comments on the idea of placing our storyline in the past rather than in today's fast paced world. What would be more interesting to a child in 2011? Seeing a character that is more apt to wing walk on a bi-plane at a fair grounds or one who would back flip a go cart over a port o potty?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Avoiding Microsoft Word

How does a story come together? Does one just open Microsoft Word and start typing? I decided to add some more words along with my doodles. Scott and I had decided to write our own version of the manuscript and send it to each other. But I was already having serious writer's block.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Getting to know you.

The most formidable challenge for this project will be merging the style of Ho and Nelson into a look that isn't distracting to the reader. We're basically looking to become "Team Hoson".

As we move forward and learn how to work together, we'll inevitably find each others strengths and weaknesses. Honest self editing will make the book stronger. The above images may be cute but I already recognize that there is nothing truly endearing about my chicken character just yet. Maybe in the end Jannie will handle the chicken work and I'll do some of the other characters. Maybe I'll do the outfits and she'll handle the background. However we split the workload, I'm sure it'll be fun overcoming all the challenges along the way.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Writing in Doodles

After Scott and I had a few more email conversations about what kind of fun story we can do with a Daredevil Chicken, we decided to brainstorm a little bit more on our own. For me, that means doodling in my moleskine.

Sure, I like drawing chickens, but the daredevil theme is something new to me. We had talked about a chicken telling the others about his grand stunts but he's really a chicken (get it?!) Above, he is telling his "story" but in reality (below):

I did a few more scenerios- his grand tale:

In reality:
Visually speaking, I liked the contrast between his grand tale, and then turning the page and showing what really happened. But I think I'm jumping ahead. Its the designer in me talking. Gotta put on the writer hat first.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Start Your Engines

Making a living as an artist is a lot of fun for me. Each day it seems as if there is always something new and fun to draw. It's certainly can't be considered a death defying career choice but it does have it's share of scary moments. So as a humorous illustrator, I'm constantly on the lookout for funny things around me that will help me make a living drawing. Sometimes I gather inspiration by watching TV. Sometimes it's simply people watching. I often visit on of my favorite artist blogs entitled "Illustration". This web site features a single word each week and artists are encouraged to draw or create any image or emotion that the posted word conjures. There is no rules to what can be submitted so it's a fun place to test out new techniques, styles or ideas. I've submitted a number of times myself and I try to visit the site each week to view the fun other artists are having with it.

A few months ago I spotted the simple word CHICKEN on the site. It had been submitted by artist Jannie Ho. A creative person whose style I marveled at for many years. Jannie's color choices and youthful style had always caught my eye. I knew I had to enter my own view of what CHICKEN meant to me. But what did Chicken actually mean to me? Chicken? Chicken?? Hmm. I pondered over this simple word for a while. I really didn't want to simply draw a barnyard chicken sitting in a coop. Where was the funny in that? So I dug a little deeper and thought, "What does being called a chicken mean? And where did this negative term for a person lacking bravery come from?" It then took my brain about a nano second to reflect back on a youthful inspiration (a place I often go)to memories of one of my own heroes. A character who had most likely NEVER been called chicken a day in his life. Evel Knievel himself. So there I had it. The inspiration generated from a single word that created my silly drawing posted above. I simply drew it, posted the image and promptly forgot about it. A few weeks later I then spotted Jannie's avatar on my Facebook account and decided to show her directly what her Illustration Friday post had inspired. This eventually began a discussion about creating a whole new children's book using this chicken daredevil character as our hero. A few more social networking messages back and forth and a collaboration effort was born. What fun! All because Jannie likes chickens, I like Evel Knievel and the Internet was there to bring this whole concept together.

So start your engines and follow along each week as Jannie and I work on this project together. We'll be looking for your comments, suggestions and even artwork to help this become a great book. So join us__unless you're chicken. :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Not Just another Chicken Picture Book

Many people are surprised that I have not yet done a picture book with a chicken as the main character. After all, I am Chicken Girl. So when Scott sent me his daredevil chicken, and we had some discussions about collaborating on a book, I thought it was a sign for me to finally play with the idea.

I also love the thought of starting a blog to document our process. How will two illustrators with two different styles come together in a book? We would love to get your feedback as we go along, and hopefully learn from each other along the way.

So here we go! Please check back here if you love the picture book making process, creativity, collaborations, and a chicken in between.