Draw for me

Continuing with The Author journal, and my time travel, I found several good articles in the Summer issue. One of them was by Sarah McIntyre, who illustrates, but also writes. The odd thing was that as I absentmindedly stared at the double spread lying open in front of me, I saw the writing in the middle of the illustration, and thought ‘that looks like Sarah McIntyre’s writing’. And it was. It would have been even more immediately obvious if I’d read the byline or looked at the picture.

It seems – although I knew this already – that wannabe authors contact illustrators and ask them to do their picture book. Because obviously this is what artists in the book world do; hope some amateur will come along and their fortune will be made. Just like that.

Whereas they work hard, because a book takes a long time, and they have contracts and deadlines to stick to, and usually the publishers are the ones who will know who will suit which story.

Sometimes an illustrator has to choose between answering these emails [politely], or spend time with their families. Hard choice, yes?

But you know, it’s an irresistible thought. Who would I want to illustrate for me? The answer is most of them.

Again, as you know, I have no real book plans, and certainly not picture books. But there is that thought at the back of my mind. If I had a book, it would at least require a cover image. And so my mind goes. I like a lot of illustrators, and their work. My solution is to ask a new person for each book I publish. Or, more likely, my imaginary publisher will in their infinite wisdom commission new cover art for every book I have coming out.

The Tracy Beaker look, maybe. Kate Leiper would make my heart leap. Debi Gliori. Sean Tan. Mairi Hedderwick.

What the pages inside these lovely books would have on them is anybody’s guess. I have no idea. But just as some people begin with having the perfect book title, so I have a great cover coming. I just know it.

6 responses to “Draw for me

  1. I’m sure Sarah must be inundated with those emails – I don’t even do picture books (I do covers for ‘middle grade’ books mostly) and even I get two or three a week. I have a standard reply that I tweak a bit to personalise it, and I try to offer a bit of advise without (hopefully) coming across as patronising. The vast majority of these wannabe authors never respond, which makes me think they just email a load of illustrators all at once (which would explain why their book ideas often bear no relation to what I actually do). Then you get the ones that are quite offended by my saying ‘no’: one chap had written a book in the first two weeks of last year’s lockdown (’cause writing’s just so easy, isn’t it?) and wanted me to illustrate it for free. When I said no because I have to try and make a living, he said “I do see your point, but sometimes I feel I need to go above and beyond to give to others”. There’s a name for people like that…
    I’m currently mulling over how to phrase my response to an “author” who wants me to illustrate TWELVE picture books for him for his own family’s exclusive use, because something made for his children is more “special” than something made for public consumption. Sheesh.

    That’s an incredible illustrator wish list you have there though 🙂

  2. Twelve??? Good grief.

    Well, David. I didn’t know your name (although everyone in my life is called David), but I do know your work. The Guggenheim one I’ve been wanting to read just for the cover.

    And, er, one of the covers on your website almost gave me a heart attack, but some googling restored my health and I see someone proofread the words before publishing…

    I’ll be adding you to my list of cover artists for my books. I’m sure you could do wonders for a book of blank pages.

  3. Although, I do seem to have enthused over your art before. Good Dog Lion…

    My excuse is I’m getting old.

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