Sunday, 8 September 2013

'From a little spark may burst a flame'

I love September; it’s a month where I feel energised and full of ideas after the lethargy of August. I have spent it so far writing up story ideas for my next project on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art.

Here are my essential tools for organising my ideas! Coffee, a small note book and a squiggly line that means nothing to anyone else; but to me it is the beginning of  a story. This squiggle is the result of a chat with my brother in-law months ago. From this  interaction a tiny idea  became ignited  and  it feels full of potential.

My little notebook goes everywhere with me because  I will see or hear something that will trigger an idea, and I know I won’t remember it. This can happen anywhere.  But if I sit down  to  ‘come up ’with a concept  nothing happens except panic and the need to browse Face Book! So I have learnt to relax, be open and receptive and when I am least expecting it I might have  a light bulb moment.

At a concert last year Joan Armatrading  said her lyrics were often inspired by snippets of conversations she overheard  on the bus and I really understood her process. So my little notebook is full of random words, interesting names, facts, doodles – little sparks that have nothing to light yet, but eventually  they will,  perhaps in 5 years time,  who knows! Like a library to delve  into for information.
My first published picture book was conceived and  hastily written on a paper bag whilst I worked in a posh cake shop in the 1980’s after a customer left an umbrella and someone else took it.  That paper bag, with its scribbles and doodles  was  reluctantly shown to the publisher and she took me on, there and then. She could 'see' my idea and story even on a tatty paper bag.

When I feel really stuck a trip to a bookshop  never fails to inspire – so  this month I  also want to share two great books I bought. 'Reinventing Lettering' by Emily Gregory  (to take away my fear of all things lettering!)- It really helped as many pages take an illustrative  approach, showcasing various artists work.

 And  'The Storm Whale' by Benji Davies – a beautifully illustrated picture book with real charm, wonderful layouts and a gorgeous colour palette. I thoroughly recommend them both.

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