Childrens Book Illustrators
One of the most enjoyable tasks a freelance illustrator can find himself doing is that of a childrens illustrator. This work is usually very creative, involves lots of nice colour work and can be terrific fun! Sometimes the childrens illustrator is also the writer. This is ideal - to have creative control of the words and the pictures, also to retain the copyright of both. Pictures are so important in children's books. Antony Browne, the Children's Laureate said, "Picture books are for everybody at any age, not books to be left behind as we grow older. The best ones leave a tantalizing gap between the pictures and the words, a gap that is filled by the reader's imagination, adding so much to the excitement of reading a book."
It is always a great pleasure to see one of your published creations in the hands of the intended end user – the child. Richard Deverell's granddaughter loved to have his Haunted House pop-up book read to her. She enjoyed the tactile experience of poking the scary characters as they popped up and out of each page. The words were written in verse by Christine Deverell. She always receives applause when she does a public reading from the pop-up Haunted House. As it's intended for the little ones, you can't make it too scary. Definitely no gore. So Richard created cartoon caricatures of the usual suspects. Count Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, the Medusa, Phantom of the Opera, an Egyptian mummy etc. In fact Rhiannon became quite attached to one or two of the characters, finding them more endearing than scary.
Roald Dahl is quoted as saying "You can write about the most horrible things for children. As long as you make them funny, they won't mind." Richard loves creating pop-up books because you are introducing that third dimension into the pages. As well as things popping up and out, you can create movement. A dragonfly's wings will flutter, a dinosaurs long neck will stretch out from behind a rock, a head wil revolve. These days most pop-up books are produced in China. There is so much hand assembly involved in production and labour is relatively cheap. Prior to this most pop-up books were produced in South America. The assembly was done in Ecuador. A whole village was employed to create these mini masterpieces. The first pop-ups Richard was involved with were produced in Cali, Colombia. He learned a lot about the process of manufacturing from the charming people at Carvahal. Children enjoy funny illustrations. Cartoonists have contributed to many children's books, to their great delight. One of the top selling Christmas annuals in the UK is always The Beano Annual. This is packed full with the work of very skilled cartoonists. A lot of cartoon comic strip art is the staple material of The Beano comic, which has enthralled children of all ages since the 1930s. The children's illustrator can also work extensively in the world of educational books, CDs and online learning programmes. The correct teaching of phonics is an essential part of learning to read. Richard is involved in illustrating and producing a series of storybooks designed to help the child develop their reading skills. Each book has one or two phonic sounds embedded in the text of the story. These attractive books are published by Sounds-Write Publishing – a company dedicated to the correct teaching of phonics through books, teacher's workshops and training programmes.
So, what is the future for childrens illustrators? With the advent of the Ebook will the printed book go into decline? No wise person would predict. When the CD rom first hit the marketplace there were dire predictions that this would be the end of the printed book. One well-known publisher opened a large department devoted to the production and sales of CD roms. Within a short time the staffing of this department was eventually reduced to just two people! Whatever the format, the need for childrens book illustration will always still be there, because alongside the words there will always be the need for the work of the graphic artist, the freelance illustrator and the children's book illustrator.