Illustrations and Mayhem!
As a graphic designer how far would you go to make a friend happy? Encourage them with positive reinforcement? Make sure you’re always there for them no matter what, in times of joy or crisis? Contract a graphic designer-illustrator in Columbus, Ohio to create a 28 page book of illustrations from a two page poem written for family just to prove to your friend that they CAN be a writer?
The latter is exactly what my client would do for his good friend Susan Cagle … musician, author, and creative force. Susan had written a poem several years before to the delight of her brothers and sisters, entitled Memory of Mayhem. In this tale, Susan ventures through a cornucopia of unusual situations, confrontations and finally, evaluations about her life and friendships.
When my client Richard made first contact with me in late December ‘15 – early January ’16, he had an idea he wanted to propose to my creative sensibility … could I visualize enough from his friend’s short, two page poem to allow a book to spring from my mind onto paper? The answer was YES as long as I could follow two strict rules:
- As an artist I had to find key points in the poem that would be fun to illustrate and then create believable characters that would entertain the reader.
- As a fellow writer and narrative storyteller I had to stay true to the source material as written and not let my imagination run too wild which could possibly take me in another direction entirely, and lose the reader in the process.
Excess within Control
I approached this project, knowing this was not going to be released to the general public and that fact took away quite a few barriers a traditional publisher might impose. Point 1 … her poem flows along from a simple bike ride at the beginning, through a cavalcade of characters who react to various situations, to stopping suddenly after her encounter with a town full of frowning people who crown her Queen after she rescinds a previous order of no smiling! Point 2 … at the end of the poem she states “stay tuned for part 2!” … most publishers would want to know what part 2 is all about BEFORE they took a leap of faith with part 1! But beyond those minor sticking points there was also a wonderful sense of fun throughout the poem, and I felt I could flesh out some great visuals to tell the story in a simple but colorful fashion!
So my challenge was to introduce the reader to this world populated with zany characters, in such a way that would advance the story and allow it to flow as we follow the story through the eyes of the author herself.
Next blog … why the illustrated characters are important!