Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Why I don't do children's books





When I was a small child, I really felt like my stuffed animals were my best friends. I imagined that they were real; that when I left the room, they would animate, and when I would come back, they were back to being still, their realness kept for their own little world amongst each other, and away from us humans. I drew them a lot as well, and I based my own drawn character creations on them. This is one of the many reasons that I loved doing a portrait of a dog named Arnie. On so many levels, Arnie's portrait was so much fun for me to do. There was all the stuffed animals in the portrait of course (his favorite toys), but just as meaningful to me was the children's book- style of the portrait. Children's literature is a prominent theme in Arnie's household, so it made perfect sense for it to be a large part of the theme of Arnie's portrait. But on other levels it made sense for me to do that portrait for Arnie's family. See, I always thought I'd make a great children's book artist, and I always dreamed of doing so, but that was until I learned that there is so much more to being a children's book illustrator than what's on the surface. I've had many a rejection in subtle and some not-so-subtle ways. For a long time, it was a sore spot for me, I'll be honest. But once I began doing pet portraiture, I realized that THIS was a perfect fit! There was several little realizations along the way, but one very BIG realization came to me one day. I had sent out my monthly email newsletter, and one of the people on my recipient list was a very well-known children's book illustrator's agent (whom I had previously received some helpful and constructive feedback from in the past). She emailed me back after looking at my web site (which at the time was brand new). Her email had few words: "kathy, great animals but we need more "narative"... (sic) It was then that I realized that I truly did not care what she thought! In fact, I realized that I just didn't want to draw children, period, and no amount of drawing children was going to make me enjoy it. Moreover, to be a children's book illustrator, you really should enjoy drawing children, after all. I guess that sealed the deal for me. That was the end of that. I still think it'd be cool to do children's book art, but not at the expense of my own aesthetic for whatever the recent trend may be, or having to draw things I don't enjoy to draw. ( Disclaimer: I love children, folks - I just don't enjoy drawing them.) Now that I have discovered pet portraiture as my means of creative expression, the entire process for me is everything in the world that I want - and nothing that I don't!! :)

No comments: