Recently I’ve been thinking and planning a project for the end of year show. This will be the final project I will likely do in educational circumstances, so its slightly intimidating. This will be the project that may help me get my foot in the door somewhere. I can hope so anyway, who really knows.
Thinking about what I wanna create for this project has got me thinking about what kind of illustrator I really wanna be. And to answer that, I currently really don’t know. But I do know that I love narrative illustration and storytelling, even if I’m not so good at it myself, and I wanna be able to build on my strong points and learn something new with this project.
Something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while is illustrating something kinda spooky. Like horror, and horror fantasy in particular. Ghost stories and the supernatural have always interested me since I was a kid, and books like Goosebumps were my favorite. I also used to have a book of a collection of ghost stories and horror stories for kids and even though I must’ve read it when i was about nine I still remember the creepy imagery I have of reading about the story of the monkeys paw, and another one about some un-dead Count. Traditional fairy tales and lore and legend of fairy and creatures were a big fascination of mine too, reading about creatures such as Babayaga or changelings. Sorta almost silly stuff I guess now, but I loved to scare myself as a kid. I was a bit of a reader when I was younger, and don’t really remember most of what I read about, and I most certainly don’t have any of those books anymore, unfortunately.
Since I loved all these tales so much when I was a kid, I am thinking about possibly illustrating a horror story aimed towards children. I’m unsure what age group to be honest. Possibly a good start would be the age I was when I was super in to all that stuff, which I think was about 8/9/10-ish. Another decision I need to make is what form of illustrative product I will make. I could go for a picture book, but again, what age group do I choose. Or I could create some sort of graphic novel/comic.
I’m also not really that much of a writer at all, so am taking a story to adapt and illustrate from local folklore. Possibly Herefordshire, or Gloucestershire. It might even be interesting to find a story from The Forest of Dean, where I grew up, but I feel like that will take some very determined digging and research. I’ve been told of a folklorist named Mary Ella Leather, who I need to do more research for. Her collection of folk tales is now out of print, unfortunately. So any copy I have found has been a bit out of my price range. Will have to visit Hereford library, who knows, they might have a copy. I want to be able to bring back some interest into local tales. These days they are difficult stories to find, but British history is full of storytelling.
Some visual influences for this project have been comic artist and writer Emily Carrol. (Her website here.) I have a copy of a collection of her stories “Through the Woods” I absolutely adore. She seems to have a knack for capturing the perfect feeling of dread in her illustrations. Below is a small example of her work, which is a personal comic inspired by the video game Fallout 4. Her other fallout 4 inspired comics can be found here. I Like this comic because of the cinematic timing, the slow zoom, and the cleaver use of tone to emphasize something hiding in the dark.
Another artist I’ve been recommended to look at is Australian artist Shaun Tan. I particularly love his character designs he made in his book “The Singing Bones”. All the characters are inspired by tales from Brothers Grimm and are quite abstract and fun, and most importantly to me, not particularly human like. I struggle greatly with drawing people and faces, and new interesting approaches towards creating characters like this are always fun and inspiring to me. (Link for his website here.)