Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Getting My First Ever Book


A reader asked me to talk about when I first started illustrating children's books. It was a while ago, but I'll tell you what I remember.


My very first commission was The Show at Rickety Barn. There was definitely some luck floating in the air around me when I got it. Read on...


For 10 years previously, I'd been a freelance editorial illustrator, working in pastels for all sorts of clients: the one above was for the Times Educational Supplement, an article about excluded kids. Below was a piece for a doctors' trade journal about equal opps:


I'd started lecturing part-time too, just to get out of the house occasionally (honestly, there was no need for real human contact for weeks on end). But the teaching started to take over, and I felt the need for a change, so I resigned my lecturing post and took 9 months off, to build a brand new, children's book portfolio.


I developed 2 new styles, one in watercolours (below), the other a digital version of watercolours (above).


I also wrote a picture book text, which I roughed up and did sample artwork for. These are 2 pieces from that book, about a big flood. Spot the mistake though: at that time I had no idea that you should never include text on your artwork (because of co-edition translations).


I also added in half a dozen pieces that seemed appropriate, from my old editorial folio. Especially those featuring animals, like this one (can't recall the article now):



I set up appointments to visit a dozen London publishers, to show off the new folio. I got very encouraging responses, but publishers were almost unanimously interested, not in the new watercolour work, but in the editorial style!!

When I visited what was then David & Charles (and is now Gullane), it just so happened that Paula, the Art Director, had a text about a singing cat on her desk. She was in a bit of a pickle: the text had already been illustrated, but it wasn't looking right. They needed a different illustrator for a new approach to it, but were now way behind schedule.

When she saw the above editorial illustration in my folio (originally for an article about something to do with serendipity), the connection clicked into place: she could see from my singing dogs how my singing cat might look...

I got the commission, which was a delight to work on, and I have been illustrating books for Gullane ever since.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, the text on the poster was not part of my pastel illustration, but added later on the computer, using Corel Painter and Photoshop (here's how).

12 comments:

Jack Foster said...

Great ,inspiring story Lynne! You are an inspiration. Isn't this the same book where you were doing a school visit and a young lad pointed out that the juggling cow's balls were missing ? :o) I love your style Lynne. God bless.

Lynne Chapman said...

It is indeed - well spotted!

Thank you Jack for your lovely feedback - much appreciated.

Alice said...

Thank you, Lynne.

Alicia PadrĂ³n said...

I LOVED this post Lynne. So glad you got to illustrate that first singing cat. It led to a beautiful and wonderful career! :o)

Ira Robbins said...

I loved reading this and seeing the work!

Nicole said...

very interesting article! How things fall into place when you put out the energy!
I love these hens having a ball!
Or perhaps they drank too much sun!!

Lisa Graves said...

this is a fantastic post!!! Thank you for sharing this information.

Lynne Chapman said...

You're welcome - glad you found it interesting. I enjoyed the trip down Memory Lane!

Kristin said...

Thank you for sharing!

Clipping Path said...

Looking funny !

Remove White Background said...

The cat looks excellent .

MCcKevin said...

This book story amazing and new i read totally and enjoy allot thanks for share it knowledge skills and abilities examples .