Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Foreign Translations - Issues with Text



The final, must-have-it-all-done deadline for my urban sketching people book is August 21st and I am delighted (and relieved) to say that everything is on track to be ready in plenty of time. Cue round of applause...


The whole timing thing has been a tad tricky though. I am used to the world of picture book publishing, where I can predict pretty accurately how long things will take me at each stage, but the planning, writing and illustration of this book has been totally different. With no previous experience, it was impossible to know how long I'd need for any of it, which has made it very hard for me to plan my time this year, particularly with weaving it around other projects. 


All a wee bit stressful, especially as, I must confess, I am a bit of a control-freak (ask John). 


One last-minute job I've just sorted, was to find some extra images from European sketchers. This is an interesting ploy by my publisher. Other sketchers who have done books will tell you that there is a big issue with having text on your drawings: it creates problems with foreign co-editions, because the handwritten text can't be translated. Now, if you know my work, you will know I use quite a lot of text...


The discussion started early on, when I wrote a section on how to add value to your drawings by writing snippets of overheard conversation, or any other elements which seem pertinent to the moment. I often like to record incidents (see above), sounds and smells (see below) as an intrinsic part of the image, to better conjure the slice of time, or the place I am recording. 


It was obvious the text needed to stay in place for sketches in this chapter of the book, but then I realised that it would look slightly odd if, having recommended the technique, there was no hand-written text to be seen anywhere else.

My team at Quarto had a bit of a think. My editor said we might be able to get away with keeping English text on my sketches, if we also had lots of other work with handwritten text in a range of other languages. I had already included some foreign language text on the work of guest sketchers - one of my all-time favourite people-sketchers is Marina Grechanik from Israel, who uses loads of text:


But the foreign sales team said that the translation issue is more to do with Europe than anywhere else. So I went on the hunt. It was not easy: most urban sketchers don't feature people much and those who do, don't usually use text. I found several brilliant music ones from a website link someone sent me, like this one by Nicolas Barberon:



But I needed more variety of subject matter. In desperation, I put up messages on various Facebook groups. It worked! 



The wonderful thing was that they came in from lots of sketchers who weren't necessarily well known outside their own country. From the outset, I wanted to feature less high-profile sketchers in the book, alongside the old favourites like Marc Holmes and Inma Serrano. The sketch above is by Enrique Flores, the one below is one by Juan Linares and the bottom one is by Ana Rafful.



The only remaining difficulty was finding space to fit these extra images in, when the book is already pretty much written and the sketches for inclusion already chosen. A bit of last-minute jiggery-pokery was needed. 

Some of the European sketches have been substituted for guest ones I chose previously, some have been squeezed into relevant chapters. We also dropped an idea I was going to include and instead created a new spread, looking more generally at how urban sketching works, where I can talk about the brilliant way the movement has pulled together people from around the globe. 



I am expecting another batch of layouts any day, the latest version of the whole book, which will help me to see any holes, where bits of text are needed, and give me the chance to make any amends before we go to proofing stage. I've seen most of it already, in bits and bobs, but this is the first time I have seen the whole thing together. 

10 comments:

Sue Pownall said...

This post is really interesting Lynne. Glad you got it sorted out. Can't wait to buy the finished book.

Lynne the Pencil said...

Cheers Sue :-)

Lisa Catherine Layton said...

Can you give me some more info on your book, title release date etc as it sounds just what I'm looking for! Think you may well have plugged a gap in the market for urban people sketching, lots out there on urban sketching in general but little on people. Can't wait!

Lynne the Pencil said...

Hi Lisa. It will be called 'Sketching People: an Urban Sketcher's Manual for Drawing Figures and Faces'. It will be published by Barrons in the US and by Search Press in the UK (there will I'm sure be other co-editions, yet to be announced).

I don't have an exact release date yet, but it will be end of October or into November time.

I will be announcing more info as I get it here, so the best thing is to subscribe to my blog (use button on the right hand panel), so you get updates.

Candy Gourlay said...

I'm so ready to pre-order!

Candy Gourlay said...

I'm so ready to pre-order!

Littleviews said...

Good solution! And to add to it, I usually don't read the personal diaries seen on Urban Sketcher's posts. The writing itself appears as a design, so including images created in a variety of countries is very appropriate (at least to me). I live in a section of New Jersey where Spanish speakers are as common as English. Attendents in hospitals and medical centers around us tend to be Spanish speakers. Where my daughter lives in Brooklyn, hospital attendents are from The Islands. I am currently in the Midwest where a relative is having a procedure done, and attendents seem to be from the Midwest. ... Basically, the USA is becoming as bi-nationality as Europe and Asia (and let's not forget Mexico and South America where many flavors of Spanish are spoken). All of these languages and struggle to understand each other's languages create a musical sound to our environments as well as imply that there is more to life than what goes on in our own neighborhoods.

Lynne the Pencil said...

Absolutely! It's such a shame though that all the text that's on the actual images in my book won't be translated in the various co-editions. There just isn't space. I speak enough German to work out simpler text, but even my French is almost non-existent, let alone Spanish and Italian... Not to mention the languages with different alphabets, like Chinese. We'll have quite a range anyway, so it will be very inclusive!

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