Books, Culture and Society

Information About Children’s Book Illustrators

When one looks at the books that are focused on the little ones contain pictures that bring the story to life. Children's book illustrators have a very difficult job in that they must be able to interpret the writings of another in such a way that children can understand it. This form of art has been going on for many years and, actually, originated with pictographs.

Information About Children’s Book Illustrators

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When one looks at the books that are focused on the little ones contain pictures that bring the story to life. Children’s book illustrators have a very difficult job in that they must be able to interpret the writings of another in such a way that children can understand it. This form of art has been going on for many years and, actually, originated with pictographs.

The oldest known form of printed works began in China in the 9th century. They utilized a block-print design which was borrowed by the Japanese and continued as originally designed until about the 18th century. By the 20th century they had developed the most highly technical form of printing processes and have continued to this day as leaders in this industry.

The type of illustrations we are familiar with today began in the 15th century in Europe when printing began with what was called “block books.” These were similar to what the Chinese had invented years earlier. This was where the text and pictures were carved into the same block before printing. Copperplate engravings soon followed, but it wasn’t until the 18th century that Thomas Bewick’s wood engravings and Senefelder’s lithography changed the look of books and magazines forever. Soon masters such as Daumier, Dore, and Gavarni perfected the art.

By the 19th century photomechanical processing widened the variety of painting and drawing techniques available, but this often resulted in messy reproductions that masked the true artistic talent of the illustrators. This led to a resurgence of hand illustrating by artists such as Morris, Matisse, Rouault, Picasso, and many others. However, this didn’t dissuade artists such as Beardsley, Pyle, and Vedder from pursuing and perfecting the photochemical process.

When it came to children’s books the 19th and 20th centuries allowed children to visually enter a fantasy world with works such as Alice in Wonderland and the story of Santa Claus. Prized writers such as Dickens utilized the services of artists such as Leech, Browne, Cruikshank, and Tenniel. However, today many famous writers, such as Potter, Bemelmans, and Sendak illustrate their own works. This has had the advantage of allowing the writer to bring their story to life visually.

For those interested in becoming an illustrator, the ability to draw is of paramount importance. It should be remembered that this is a highly competitive field and breaking into it may take much work as well as effort. Therefore, the first step is to determine the age group preferred, the style that fits best with that group, and the subjects of most interest.

One way to determine how a person can be identified as a unique alternative to other, more established illustrators is to conduct research about the target market. By browsing the children’s section at the local bookshop one can identify what is most popular and how it will fit in with personal goals. This may lead to working relationships with existing writers or other illustrators that can help get a foot in the door.

By gathering a portfolio and keeping it handy all the time, opportunities that arise with publishers, literary agents, writers, or other illustrators will help maximize opportunities to have work seen. Additionally, by contacting publishers directly and sending letters of inquiry along with samples of work, if allowed, one may find a career not previously considered an option. The point is to keep trying and understand that this is not a quick process that will lead one to their dreams.

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