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Blog

Pen to Page: making and creating books

Laura

Pen to Page

Pen to Page

This panel discussion took place during the second Limerick International Publishers’ Salon, Limerick’s annual book art exhibition at Ormston House. Illustrators, artists, small publishers and academics offered insights into their own work and the wider industry of book making and publishing. The discussion encompassed children’s picturebooks, artists’ books and the publishing industry. It began with Martin's keynote of great children’s picturebook which examined the relationship between picturebooks and artists’ books and concluded with some playful thoughts from Jacob on ‘why I draw penguins’.

The role of the artist or the illustrator and their work was insightfully explored by Peter, Jemma, Becky and Jacob in very different ways. The relationship between the artist making work and how it turns out can be complex and difficult to articulate. A description of a character looking disparaging at the shoes the illustrator had drawn for him offered a simple yet poignant example of how a character can come to life and be developed from early sketches through to finished artwork. The role of the artist was also examined in relation to a sense of autobiography in book making. A narrative about childhood and sibling rivalry, which included some wonderfully whimsical drawings, explored this quite directly. Autobiography and collaboration in book making was also described in a discussion of how Road Books has developed since its foundation in 1991.

The relationship between picturebooks and artists’ books was discussed in relation to authorial ownership of the illustrator, which raised questions regarding the role of the publisher as both an originator of content and also as a facilitator to help promote and develop new work.

Links to the websites of the panellists can be found below.
Ormston House   |   Limerick International Publishers' Salon   |   Martin Salisbury   |   Peter Morgan   |   Jemma Kang   |   Becky Palmer   |   Jacob Stack

Visual representation

Laura

Dog

Dog

A couple of weeks ago I was micro-teaching: 5-7 minutes in which to run a short class ideally containing at least one activity and some way of assessing if the group understood your points. My group was made up of a mixture of postgraduate students and lecturers from a variety of backgrounds, but none in art or design.

My main point suggested that sometimes it can quicker to use visuals rather than words to describe something. Visual representation is highly effective and it doesn't need to be artistically brilliant in order to be understood. People are incredibly good at reading images; they have extremely sophisticated skills at interpreting visual information. As an artist, you can leave out a lot of detail in your drawings, allowing the viewer to fill in the gaps. Gombrich articulates this in Art and Illusion as '…makes him [the artist] cut out all redundancies because he can rely on a public that will play the game and knows how to take a hint' [p196]. This sentiment is echoed by Scott McLeod in Understanding Comics, who describes the artist being 'aided and abetted by a silent accomplice' in the form of the viewer.

After talking through a number of examples of extremely simple graphics which demonstrated this point, the group drew some pictures of dogs. The image above is my picture of a dog, which I drew using the shape tools in PowerPoint in under 5 minutes. By using a limited variety of drawing tools within a set time period, I was forced to concentrate on capturing the essentials and removing extraneous details. The result is not artistically wonderful, but it visually encompasses the essential 'doggyness' of a dog.

 

Volume art, book and print fair, Birmingham

Laura


Roof garden in Birmingham library

Roof garden in Birmingham library

Held in the fabulous new library, last weekend saw the first artists' bookfair in Birmingham. Intended to celebrate independent publishing, the variety of books on display was extremely diverse, covering the more commercial work of bookstores from local galleries, such as Ikon, and the work of individual makers and collectives for artists' books and zines. A nice touch was a live zine making session on Saturday, with bookfair stall owners each contributing a page of writing or drawing. 

 

Confia conference in illustration and animation, Porto

Laura

 

Casa da Música

Casa da Música

Day two

Day two opened with a discussion on art and the academy, an insightful keynote which explored the tensions between the practitioner and the university system with regard to the growing area of practice-led research. 

A panel on changing genres explored the role of the illustrator with regard to technology and the illustrator's ability to position themselves within the world of new media and interactivity. Interactive gifs, such as those featured on the New York Times' website were used to exemplify the author's proposition. The interaction of animation and theatre was beautifully shown in a series of short videos, where silhouettes of actors moved across screens showing projections of animations. A visually rich presentation discussed the collision of film noir, the graphic novel, fairy tales and the picturebook in the work of Yvan Pommaux. 

The day concluded with a comprehensive overview exploring the relationship between paper engineering techniques and picturebook apps.  

Confia conference in illustration and animation, Porto, Portugal

Laura


Conference proceedings

Conference proceedings

Day one

Hosted in the incredible architecture of the Casa da Música, day one of the Confia illustration and animation conference is over. I think today had a slightly greater slant towards animation, with three panels on animation, one on children's picturebooks and one on drawing. The panel on children's picturebooks (which I presented a paper about emotion and character design on) also had an interesting presentation on using the picturebook as a medium for introducing children to meditation and a paper which looked at children's responses to John Burningham's picturebook, Grandpa. I think this mix of approaches created an interesting dynamic for the discussion. The notion of audience crops up frequently when discussing picturebooks so a combination of papers on creation, audience and response gave a nice balance to the panel.

Some fascinating insights on drawing in the next panel. A paper on the relationship between words and pictures discussed the differences in visual and verbal articulation. The relationship between words and pictures is a well researched topic in literature on picturebooks. However, it is generally discussed regarding the finished picturebook. The focus of this paper explored the creative process looking at descriptive writing and image making and how one might influence the other. 

The history of styles in illustrations for patents was also discussed from the fifteenth century to present day. I wonder how closely the illustrative styles used in patents could be mapped over to other aspects of art and design across that time period. Some of the visuals reminded me of diagrammatic illustrations documenting medical developments from various Wellcome Trust exhibitions. 

Looking forward to day two!

Laura

city birds_bday.jpg

The Pink Parrot Press is one this week!

Dog

Laura

dog_low res.jpg

Just found this picture of a dog in an old sketchbook, I rather like him!

Baltic artists' bookfair

Laura

baltic_low res.jpg

There was a really nice variety of work on display at the Baltic artists' bookfair last weekend in Newcastle. This image is from setting up my stand.

Badges

Laura

Sammy the Fish and Magnus the Cat badges are coming to the Baltic artist's bookfair in Newcastle with me in a few weeks! There are four pics to this post, click on the image and it should display another one if it's not showing all four.

Prints

Laura

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The printed copies of my Wolf and Seven Kids book have arrived! They're printed on recycled paper, which works well with the printed effect of the woodcuts in the book.

Flowers

Laura

flowers on table.jpg

Looking at using textured backgrounds with flat colour on this digital print.

Giraffe

Laura

giraffe.jpg

I found this early example of using stencils to layer colours, combined with some flat coloured backgrounds. I quite like the contrast between the flatness of the digitally produced backgrounds and the more textured blocks of colour on the giraffe and the tree.

Limerick International Publishers Salon

Laura

20130223_LIPS resized.jpg

Some pics from LIPS (Limerick International Publishers Salon) which was on at Ormston House in Limerick from 21 - 23 February. My books are the two on the bottom left, and 'Cats' over on the opposite side.

Sammy

Laura

Sammy the Fish

Sammy the Fish

After looking at geometric shapes last week, I'm now working on a new book, about a little fish called Sammy. Here's a pic of him in his bowl.