Monday, 2 April 2018

ILLUSTRATORS – you just have to love them – DIANNE HOFMEYR

Bologna is a true celebration of illustrators... exhibitions everywhere of exciting work bursting with life, movement and expression, both from well-known illustrators and new emerging ones... and long queues everywhere of art students clutching massive portfolios, all waiting to see the art directors.

Ten days before Bologna, Roger Mello, 2014 Hans Christian Andersen winner from Brazil, and Piet Grobler of the International Centre for the Picture Book in Society fame, and their partners came to stay and for a few hours I saw the world through illustrators’ eyes. We sat above the sea on the Robberg Peninsula with icy wine in our glasses at sunset until it was dark. And the next morning what a pleasure to wake up and find Piet Grobler already working in the early African sunlight on my deck.

What undiluted energy! They were like boys let out of school. I was charmed by the quickness of ideas and the exuberance of their thinking as they brought the world alive. It struck me that this is exactly what illustrators do – they blow energy into the clay of a writer's story and make it come vibrantly to life.

Roger says he works from tins of wall paint... a first for me... because the colours are more immediate and vibrant. And vibrancy is what his work is about as these images from Maria Teresa show... an epic story steeped in fantasy, fiction and reality about the memories of a traditional carved figurehead, mounted on the prow of a vessel that ploughs the waters of the São Francisco river, and brings good luck to mariners while she collects the stories and dramatic fantasies of the river. Pity we don't see more of his work here in the UK. 


Piet Grobler works fast. In fact he's the fastest illustrator I've ever worked with. Without any emails going back and forth, his work suddenly appears in my Inbox utterly complete in 12 Spreads, blowing vitality and energy into my lifeless clay characters. Here are a few for our next book, Fiddle Dee Dee.

Carol Thompson is another fast worker. In her hands stories seemed to be teased out effortlessly into a coherent whole. With humour and the lightest of touch and quick sure line, suddenly a character springs from the page. Here's a glimpse into her studio and one with the artwork of My Daddy is a Silly Monkey lined up. Perhaps a penchant for turquiose if the dog, Coco's necktie (below) from a rough from our next book together is anything to go by?

Jane Ray is a master of colour and lay-out. Here's Jane in her studio and also a glimpse of her table while she was working on a Venetian illustration for The Glassmaker's Daughter. When I asked how she was going to manage a glass palace... her reply: we shall see when the time comes. The result is the glassiest of all glass palaces, blown into life by the delicate touch of Jane Ray. 


Jesse Hodgson too is a colourist of note... layering her pencil crayon strokes in such fine detail that I want to pick up a magnifying glass to see how she does it. A perfect creature emerges through the forest with all the tigeriness of a real tiger. I feel the sinuous energy, feel the tigery heat and smell the tigery breath in her work for Tiger Walk

At Bologna this year the honour of the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration given by IBBY, went to Russian illustrator Igor Oleynikov, who has illustrated a broad spectrum of stories including those of Russian masters Pushkin, Gogol, and Trotsky.
Just for whimsy and imagination, these two images below would be enough to make him a winner. I wish I'd been at Bologna to see his work in real life. 

Now Bologna is behind us and it’s time to stop dreaming and get back to work... but let's not forget all the great illustrators who give meaning to our words! And yes, we DO love you!
Twitter: @dihofmeyr
Instagram: diannehofmeyr


Enid Richemont said...

Oh I could write a whole blog on my illustrators - all so different, and all so wonderful. Where do I begin? Perhaps with Jane Ray, who has not so far illustrated me, but who is a neighbour and friend whose work I admire enormously. There's the irrepressible Beccy Blake, and Daniel Howarth who produced such an amazing wizard for me, and Sarah Massini with her princess - all three have become personal friends.

This year, I've been lucky enough to have four illustrated books coming out with Franklin Watts, so I've been looking a four very different illustrators. There's Ben Whitehouse and Shahab Shamshiraz (thank you Shahab for that overweight and tantrum-prone maharajah!) Ayesha Lopez will be developing a dragon for me, and Andy Catling who'll soon be finding the courage to deal with three fearsome ogres. There have been more, but I'll run out of space, so I'll just say a profound thank you to all of them - they are all mega-stars and I love them to bits.

Sue Purkiss said...

James de la Rue did wonderful illustrations for Emily's Surprising Voyage, which features two Victorian children and is set on the ss Great Britain. His representation of both ship and characters was perfect - just exactly what I would have done if I'd had the skill. He brought my characters alive.

Enid Richemont said...

PLEASE WOULD SOMEONE SEND ME THE CORRECT URL FOR ABBA ASAP? Have just mentioned it on my FB Children's Author page, but seems I got it wrong.

Mary Hoffman said...

I have been so lucky in my illustrators - Chris Riddell, Joanna Burroughes, Jane Ray, Christina Balit, Caroline Binch, Karin Littlewood and now Ros Asquith, with whom I have done eight books and counting. These have all been a joy to work with.

adele said...

I roo have been very lucky with all my illustrators. Jane Ray among them. Also Louise Brierley, Valerie Greely, Soppy Williams, Cliff Wright, Shelagh McNicholas, Emma Chichester-Clark and others...Love them all.

adele said...

Sophy Williams! Not Soppy at all..

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Some great illustrators here. I just wish Louise Brierley was still illustrating Adele. There was something so magical about her work. People berate writers for not giving enough credit to illustrators but I think its quite the opposite for many writers.