First, I would like to thank the University for the generosity in giving this grant to me. As a result of the money I received, I experienced and learned many things that might have taken longer and had been harder to learn.
Briefly, I composed my proposal of two parts: (I) Researching the Children’s Book Industry, and (2) Creating a Picture Book of my own. In researching the Children’s Book Industry I tried to find out how the market operates, how to break into the business, and how to be successful in it. I did a major part of this research in New York City while on an internship through the Design Department. I have done the remainder of the research here in Utah, using the Provo and Orem Libraries, the BYU library, BYU faculty and my adviser, Richard Hull. In my original grant proposal I had planned to create a picture book based on American Regional Folk Tales that I would compile. After completing some of my research, I learned that it is far more advantageous to write one’s own story. Therefore, my original plans changed somewhat since now I am working on writing my own original story. I began the process of creating my book while in New York, and continue to work on that process here in Provo. Though I have not yet completed my project, I am actually ahead of the schedule I outlined in my Grant Proposal. I have completed most of the research I wanted to finish by December 1994, and I will have the paintings done by February or March 1995 rather than April.
New York City was a marvelous experience. I would go back in a minute. With the help of the grant I received, the trip became a little more affordable. I spent two months in the city interning with an illustrator, Stephen Guarnaccia, visiting other illustration studios, publishing companies, art directors, museums and galleries. At Stephen Guarnaccia’s I got firsthand experience at how a studio operates day to day. I helped with all aspects of running a studio: answering phones, sending mailers, shipping artwork, invoicing work, Jogging in payments, researching for illustrations, brainstorming for ideas, and even did some sketching and painting. Stephen was very helpful with showing me how he worked, and how I could work better. I occasionally worked with a children’s book illustrator, Dan Yaccarino, who shared his process of making a picture book. He helped me to come up with my own story and storyboards. I showed my portfolio to several other illustrators and received very helpful critiques. I met a few art directors and an artist’s representative, all very helpful with good suggestions for my portfolio. In all, New York opened my eyes to the real world of illustration. It became very real, and very exciting. I hope to be able to move there soon after I graduate to start my own freelance career.
Concerning creating my own picture book: it’s so much fun! I talked with some children’s book illustrators and publishers to learn the entire process. One thing I learned: it is much more satisfying creatively (and financially) to write your own story. I have expanded my research to writing children’s books as well as illustrating them. So, instead of folk tales, which are common knowledge, I am working on writing a book called The Amazing Aqua Follies. It is about an amphibious water show, somewhat akin to the MOM musicals of Esther William’s. But, in this story the star is a newt, and the villain a lizard. I have been watching a lot of old movies to find the right feeling. I also have been researching other children’s illustrators to see what they have done. I have been researching dance (the star, Isadora Newt is named after the pioneer of modern dance, Isadora Duncan), aquatic plants and animals, and old musical films. I have been working on media studies to find just the right look for the book. And to condense what I have discovered in the process: Keep it simple, entertaining, and fresh.
I am a very happy with this project, and I hope someone will want to publish it for me when I finish the paintings! I am very grateful for this grant that helped me take steps forward in establishing my career as a freelance illustrator. I would be happy to keep you updated with the progress of my project, and show you the final artwork. And above all else that I have learned with this project, the experience reaffirmed that I am doing what is right for me: being an illustrator.