Friday, September 30, 2011

Being More Careful With Words

Hi There!

This morning I received an email that greatly disturbed me, in that I may have made a mistake in the way I have worded my thoughts. I am sharing this will all of you for two reasons: 1) maybe you won't have to learn through experience, like me, but through others' mistakes, and 2) to clear the air on my intentions.

Here is the email, which is written in response to my latest Goals post, (found here.) Its subject was "Standards, or Snobbery?"
In your "It's a Hoot" blog, you said: “I will not be illustrating for clients’ stories intended for… e-book publishing, or print-on-demand publishing.”
So, you would not want work with the publisher Simon & Schuster (who does print-on-demand for some of its books), or the writer Aaron Shepard (who keeps his books “The Sea King’s Daughter” and “The Baker's Dozen” out before the public using print-on-demand, and so that public continues to experience the beautiful illustrations by Gennady Spirin and Wendy Edelson), or any of the hundreds of other writers and publishers whose picture e-books are purchased every day from Apple’s iBookstore and from Barnes & Noble and are enjoyed by millions of children, parents, teachers, and librarians who use their iPads or their Color Nooks.
That’s a shame."

That IS a shame! Because that was not what I meant to say. And here was my response:

"Oh no! Perhaps I mis-wrote my intentions! I will fix that right away!
What I meant was for individual authors, (like a Mom who came up with this story about some inanimate object, etc) writing little stories but not serious about the book making process, but they have a story they want to "publish" but really they should be looking towards vanity presses for their purposes. They think that a children's story is so easy and that anyone can whip one up. (Even though people make go to school, get degrees, and make actual careers of this, just as I plan to.) They aren't willing to get their stories professionally edited, or try to make it better for the reader's sake, (such as near-rhyme, etc). I have had a few contact me, and upon reading the manuscript, I would suggest here or there that they repeated themselves or the ms needs a bit of help, and they would resolutely state that the ms stays the way it is. The story is okay; the wording or pacing just needs help. Which is fine for some people, but for myself I would like to work with individuals who strive for the very best as well. 
I meant to deter some requests that tend to take a while to explain to those who aren't in the business and don't quite understand the many steps taken, and are also not willing to pay for the hard work done. I had thought it would have been a time-saver, but perhaps I am mistaken!
I also did not mean to appear snobbish in any way, truly, but to personally guarantee excellence and that I will work hard to make a book the best that it can be. All of the titles you have mentioned have authors and illustrators who hold themselves to a high standard, and that is why they have been so successful; they are good at what they do!
I'm sure you have seen, that amongst the successful, high quality stories found in the ebook stores, that there are also some not-so-shiny ones as well. Readers notice spelling and grammar mistakes, or when a story has been written or illustrated poorly. I am merely trying to assure my potential clients that I will work very hard to make our books one of the successful ones!
In addition, I truly believe in e-books and self-publishing! I have been learning as much as possible on the topic so that I will be ready to jump in when the time is right for me. (I have a story I intend to put straight on the e-book shelves, but the ms isn't up to par as of yet.) 
I didn't mean to offend anyone, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention! In your professional opinion, should I omit that whole section, or perhaps have worded it differently? What would you have said or done in my position? I apologize for the miscommunication!
Thank you again, for taking the time to share your thoughts. I value your opinion, and I hope this will not leave any ill feeling towards anyone!
Take Care,"

Now I'm curious as to know if everyone had the same thoughts on that little article? I am by no means an expert with words, (which is why we revise, Revise, REVISE!) and I had not intended to portray what Mr. Email had thought. What are your thoughts, if you have any, on how I should have handled my words?

It seems Mr. Email has the same ideas, too, because he's said some of the things I was aiming towards, but in a clearer way, here on his blog. So this was definitely a mis-communication on my part! 

Also, I thank you for riding along this bumpy ride with me! I am learning new things every day, and some of you probably wonder why I even post my mistakes. But I need to keep myself accountable, and in-check, and blogging about my ups and downs have done that very thing for me. And I want to help the Newbies like myself, learn too. So Thank You, again!

Have a great day; it's SUPER nice out where I am!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Children's Book Illustration 3: Project 1, Part 1


This past week in class we each chose a sample story, and our homework was to storyboard it and draw up some character art. Our homework this week is to choose one page layout and draw a final sketch, and to put together a selection of character poses to use as final art. So here it all is, in one package! Woo!

The story I chose happens to be a poem that was featured a few months ago in the children's magazine called Ladybug. (That particular magazine is my favorite, because of the age group and the art that comes out of it. I get Cricket in the mail as well, but I generally like Ladybug better.) Anyhow, the story is about a girl named Zoey who tries to get her dog to do things, and her dog Sam does just the opposite.

I chose to put the two in a winter atmosphere, so Zoey will be from the Inuit tribe (Eskimo) and Sam is her sled dog. The back story I came up with, not mentioned in the poem, is that Zoey wants to have Sam take her on the sled to go ice fishing. But Sam really wants to walk together, not pull everything, so that's why he's fighting her the whole time. In the end, Zoey chooses to give in and just be friends, and they go off together the way it should have been in the first place, as equals.

So here it is:

Initial Character Sketches

More Developed Characer...

This is what I was looking for!

Sam the sled dog

Story board, based on the 8 page standard

Composition sketch

and the final composition....

Might add a few more details here and there, and the sky will be orange as the sun sets.

Next week, we do color comps! See you then! :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

WOOO! I Got the Job!

Hi There!

Just spreading the news that my Potential Client and I have agreed on a price, and that I am currently drawing up a contract! This will be my first published work *EVER* so I'm super psyched about it!

For those of you who don't hang on to my every word, (hahaaa, which is all of you) here are some of the details:

-This project will be self-published, NOT vanity or print-on-demand, or published by a Big Publisher. It will be designed, independently printed, marketed and sold by the author and myself. We're going to work our bottoms off to make this book really shine!

-The book's age range is from 3rd Grade to 5th Grade (7-10), depending on the child's reading level, and will be a chapter book/graphic novel hybrid. Lots of words and new vocabulary, but lots of fun art mixed in! We're aiming to have the book fit on the shelf quite nicely next to Captain Underpants, Babymouse, and the Stilton series.

-It is about the water cycle, and has an environmental theme with fun characters. All of the information in the book complies with the teaching requirements for the subject, according to Fairfax County's public schools. The reason for this? The author is a teacher and also plans to use his book as a tool in his classroom. Our hopes are that other teachers will follow suit, and that the book will become a valuable and fun part of learning to many children!

-I'm estimating that the illustrations will be done by the end of February of 2012. Then we'll be working on finalizing the layout and prepping for the printer... and hopefully, by Spring, the book should be available for sale! (Let's cross our fingers on this! Wish upon a star!)

And we're both doing all this while working our day jobs, teaching, going to class, etc. So it will be an intense few months. In fact, you probably won't see me in person very often, (unless you stop by for a bite to eat at my work) but I'll be blogging about the process all the way!

To follow this and other projects I am working on, take a gander at my Project Schedule! To see what I'm up to in class this semester, go to Children's Book Illustration III.

As always, thanks for reading, and for all your support!
And Best of Luck to you!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back to School Again!

Last night I started RISD CE's Children's Book Illustration III class, taught by the published children's book artist Emilie Boon. (Love her work!) It's great to be back in class, surrounded by my friends and people who love books and art as much as I do!

The class will be broken up into three parts, with a new finished product due at the end of each part. Part I consists of creating child characters, Part II will focus on animal character design, and Part III focuses on storyboarding. As we move along through the course, each student will be honing in on their chosen medium and style and playing up to their strengths, so that we'll each have a more consistent look in our portfolios.

Speaking of style- Emilie shared with us a tidbit on finding one's own style from Dan Santat's blog. (Love his work, too!) Very nice little piece, and it reminds me a lot of what I'm going through. Trying new things, doing stuff because I like doing it (probably more than I like how it looks), and overall playing to my strengths and doing things the way I want to do them. It's okay to be in love with another artist's art... attempt making it for yourself... and then realizing "that's just not the way I work!"

In other news, I am working out a contract/price for my soon-to-be client! Woo hoo! Let's hope we can find a happy medium between the two of us, because if we do, I'm estimating by Spring of 2012 I'll be a freshly published illustrator!

Time to get some homework done, so see you later! :)