There is nothing – NOTHING! – worse than that period of time between the excitement of finding a new project and actually beginning the first draft. Why? Because in between you have the dreaded research stage, not to mention the inspiration block stage. And did I mention the crippling self doubt stage? No?! Oh, it must have slipped my mind.
It doesn’t matter how many mind maps I draw, how many plans and timetables I put up on the wall, I always bring myself close to tears trying to find the courage for those first drawings.
Right now.. I am at the above mentioned stages. I am doing as much research as I can, but somehow it just doesn’t seem substantial enough. I have googled away my nerves by trying to find out different ways people have been illustrating books these past decades, and I am not sure how much I am achieving with this. All I get is a sense of dread. Because none of those illustrations feel like me. Which, I suppose, should be good because you don’t want to copy someone else’s style and work. I think the best thing for me to do is to go to my happy place (Foyles in Tottenham Court Road) and from morning to sundown just flick through all their books. If nothing else is achieved through this technique, at least I will have spent my day in my happy place.
In the meantime however, I did come across some interesting illustrators. So in case you thought this was all going to be a long, paragraphed meltdown, rest assured. I have included some actual information in here. You know.. just in case you are interested in discovering some actual illustrators.
Benji Davies’ illustrations have a particularly warm and lovely feeling about them, even though his style is one I will never go close to. I like it, but it’s miles away from what I try to do.
Then there is Philip Bannister. The way he uses watercolours is pure magic. It’s a style and technique I will always admire, but not one I think I would use in my coming illustration project. Still, going through his portfolio is a kind of an education.
There is another illustrator I have admired for a long time now (ever since my private tutor pointed her to me): Madalina Andronic. I think her illustrations resonate so much with me because we come from the same cultural background. I love seeing the modern twist she puts on Romanian folklore. For me, going through her images is a visual feast. And it is undeniable that she has her own, well defined style, an identity so strong, I have to admit I am a little bit (more than a bit) jealous.
I also managed to find a buzzfeed post on a few 1920s fairytale illustrations. It was quite interesting to see how this has evolved over time, because if you go into a bookstore now and flick through a fairytale book, you will find a completely different style in illustration.
Of course, there are many more illustrators I find inspiring and jaw-droppingly good, but I’ll save them for a bit later. I have an appointment with my pillow; I plan to cry on it until I magically turn into a good artist.