I’ve been obsessing over the miracle that is Jim Kay for about a year now, ever since I discovered his illustrated version of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. And then I stumbled upon his concept art and his take on “A Monster Calls”. And I was immediately and irrevocably head over heels, heart beating fast, forever lost – sort of in love with his art.
I will start with the atmospheric magic he managed to create for “A Monster Calls”. I will also try not to fan girl over it too much. It’s going to be very hard.
Now, I have to admit, I have not yet read the story, but it is on my soon to be read list and that is mostly because of Kay’s illustrations. They’re dark. They’re mysterious. They’re strangely sad with a tinge of hopefulness. And they are damn intriguing.
There’s a lot of detail in each picture, built with a play of light and shadow, as well as different textures. It feels and looks earthy and shadowy. It is also so very different from the type of image and technique he employs in his depiction of the Harry Potter world, not to mention his other concept art (for example: the Paddington Bear concept art). He is really successful at capturing the soul of a story, a fact which hits you as soon as you open the gallery page on his website. Initially, after a quick google search when I discovered he was doing the new Harry Potter illustrations, I actually thought the artwork for “A Monster Calls” was done by someone else. It was so different from the colourful pictures I saw advertised for JKR’s book.
I have to admit, I was a bit jealous at first. But then… you can’t feel such petty things when you are faced with illustrations like these. (I know.. I am fan-girling right now)
Talking about fan-girling-
I am a massive Harry Potter fan. MASSIVE.
I still get excited whenever I hear something about the Potterverse. I am the kind of nutcase who would pay £30 for a new edition of a book she has read and re-read so many times (not to mention listened to the brilliant Stephen Fry audiobooks), just because it is fully illustrated. I have justified this ridiculous purchase by saying it is university research. I was lying. I would have bought these even if I weren’t interested in becoming a book illustrator. They are magical! And because they are going to release one volume every year, that guarantees me one happy moment per annum for the next 5 years at least.
What enchanted me the most with his take on the Harry Potter books, is the variety of techniques and media he used to create the world. It’s not just a collection of illustrations meant to accompany the text. It’s a whole. It lives. It breathes. You can smell the autumn air in the illustrations of Hogwarts surrounded by almost barren, yet still colourful, trees.
And no two images look the same.
And I think I will be forever intrigued by how he manages to create each image. I would love to see more of the processes involved in getting that amazing final product. Unfortunately, all I can do is stalk his website and gawk at the artwork until I develop X Ray art-vision so that I can study all the layers underneath.
If one day I grow to be half the illustrator Jim Kay is, I will consider myself very lucky indeed.
Here is a link for his official website:
And of course, all the pictures in this post belong to him.
I apologise for the long fan-girl sort of post.