09 June 2010

Illustrations and Yawning Bears

Last Christmas, my Aunt approached me about doing illustrations for a storybook about her grand-kids. Naturally, she also served as author, editor and boss on the project.
Before I started, I had to discuss art style and design with her, and my impression from the was that she wanted simple, design-oriented pictures like Richard Scary or Dr Seuss, so my first roughs were cute and cartoony. (Incidentally, the yawning teddy bears were not my idea. She asked for yawning bears, so I dutifully drew yawning bears.)

Well, after viewing the cartoony roughs, she asked for more realistic drawings, as she seems to think that Cartoons are overly cute, saccharine and trite (as opposed to yawning teddy bears?).

I'm not going to hammer on illustrative realism here, particularly in picture books that treat us to works of Alexandra Day and Chris Van Allsburg. But what frustrated me about the project was having to shift gears in the middle of the intersection so to speak, and the same attitude one slams up against again and again: "Cartoons=Bad, Realism=Good."

I'll probably rant more about that later.

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