THE YELLOW CAR BOOK ILLUSTRATIONS
In late 2014 I spent a couple of months crafting the story I’d been telling on stage into book form and I’d imagined that somehow (a miracle would happen?) and we’d find the money to hire an illustrator to bring the story to life.
Then I looked into the price of hiring an illustrator!
Our wallets balked at the cost and refused to yield anything like the funds needed. They kept insisting on the mundane things like rent and food.
Eventually we had to face the fact that if we wanted the book illustrated we’d have to take a leap into new territory and do it ourselves. My brilliant husband, Phil, had been ‘between jobs’ for the previous twelves months and this turned out to be fortuitous.
Not only can he make, build or invent just about anything – he’s also willing to learn new skills and is a delight to work with. His availability meant that the crazy idea of us illustrating the book was, in reality, a workable option.
We had absolutely no idea what we were doing when we started and I suspect most of our friends and family thought we were both a tad ambitious and completely nuts.
To begin with I struggled to turn out a passable stick figure (see below – excuse the focus, it was the only pic we had). I have to admit that these are not even the earliest ones (those can never be seen).
I hadn’t drawn anything since taking a short art course almost twenty years ago and, initially, I would take a whole day to draw one person – only to have to sentence that little person to life in the bin.
I was often discouraged by my lack of skills and for a while found any excuse to avoid having to draw. For a while I thought we had bitten off more than we could chew.
Gradually I began to improve and both of us developed a worshipful reverence for illustrators!
In our naivete we had imagined whipping up the illustrations in four weeks – that wasn’t quite how it went.
The drawing, cutting and building was only one little bit of the process. Sometimes we’d design and build something only to find that it didn’t work and weeks of work would be scrapped.
After a month of trying to work out how to photograph and light small dioramas we had to call in a kind professional who volunteered to teach Phil how to improve his images. Next Phil had to work out how to edit them (online tutorials rock!).
It was a huge learning curve!
The four weeks I’d originally allowed turned into over three and half months. I started logging our hours after the first month and by the time we finished the illustrations we had logged almost 800 hours between us.
It’s been an incredible, and quite wonderful, experience – Phil and I never imagined we’d illustrate a book let alone start playing with animation to make our little Kickstarter video.
We ended up surprised by what we could achieve. What started as a reluctant ‘last resort’ became a rich and rewarding experience. Sometimes the very thing that looks like the big problem ends up being the joy.