Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Telling a story



© Copryright Alicia Padrón 2010



I often get asked this question, "What should I include in my children's book portfolio?" and my answer is always the same. Animals, kids, anything else you love to draw... but don't forget to always try tell a story with your art.

But what does that really mean? And why is telling a story so important?

When you illustrate a book you are given a beautiful gift. You have the opportunity to visually tell the story you want to tell. Of course you have to illustrate the writer's words but a great illustrator always finds a way to say more. There has even been cases were the art says something completely different than the text, so there are two parallel stories being told.

The important thing to understand is that, as visual artists, we have the responsibility to take the child into a wonderful world. Remember that some of these kids don't even read yet so they are "reading" the book through your art. The art has to speak to them. Has to spark their imaginations and has to make them curious as to what comes next in the story.

Your portfolio should be no different. You want to tell a story with your art. Even though each page of your portfolio is not linked, you want to individually make a statement with each image. Images that tell stories speak to both young and older audiences. There is something about them that make you wonder and always raises questions:

Why are the characters there? How are they feeling? What will the do next?

Like with the sketch above. I knew I wanted to have a kid and a dog asking for three wishes. There are tons of ways to make that point across, but by experimenting with characters, angles, perspective and composition you can make a so-so image be a wonderful image that grabs you right then at first glance and makes you ask those questions. Why are the characters there? How are they feeling? What will the do next?

Always try to think of situations when creating art for your portfolio. Think beyond the obvious. What are the characters feeling at the moment? Is my art telling you this?

Make the characters interact with one another. Imagine you are the director of a film and just yelled "action!". Actors don't just turn around, look at the camera, stand still and smile do they? No, they act. They interact. They are interesting and alive. Your art should be no different.

We are so lucky to be able to illustrate for children. I'm sure you all have fond memories of a favorite book you had as a child. And I bet you that even tough the story was amazing it was the art that spoke to you. The images are still imprinted in your mind as if it was yesterday, aren't they? How powerful is that?

Don't take your images lightly. Always make the best of them.



14 comments:

Heather said...

This is great advice. THANK YOU. I am going to print this out! thanks - heather

Diandra Mae said...

Great post, Alicia! Your explanations are right on point.

Jennifer Bower said...

Super advice. Thanks for sharing from your experience and leading me to this really cool blog.

Michelle Henninger said...

Great post Ali!! (Gorgeous perspective!)

Loni Edwards said...

An excellent post! Thanks Alicia! I agree with Michelle, great perspective on the illo!

Alicia Padrón said...

Thanks a bunch girls! Glad you enjoyed my post. :o)

Renee Kurilla said...

Ahhh, true words of wisdom. Very well put, Alicia. These are words for childrens illustrators to live by for sure :)

Heather Davulcu said...

Such insight~thoughtful guidance to all us inspiring story tellers-thank you~

Alicia Padrón said...

Thanks Renee and Heather! :o)

jennycreates said...

this is a wonderfully insightful and honest post, alicia. love it. very inspiring. thank you. :)

Alicia Padrón said...

You're welcome Jenny! Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for visiting :o)

Ann Marie said...

I can FEEL the space and those coins falling down toward me. This is a masterful illustration and perfectly demonstrates the ideas in your post!

Alicia Padrón said...

Oh thank you so much for your sweet words Ann Marie!

Michael Startzman said...

Great information and amazing art! Thank you for sharing!