Saturday, November 11, 2006

lost tale

As Elaine said, on Wednesday we were lucky to hear David Mcphail speak. His talk was "off the cuff", very informal but capturing an honesty and candidness that the most prepared speeches can't achieve. I, for one, found myself fascinated.

And,to be honest, a bit saddened and envious. The way he described his life and artistic career seemed so simple and unhindered by the daily rigors that the Blue Rose Girls and I seem to complain about. His picture of the publishing industry when he began so many years ago seems a fairy tale in itself--when one made a book, the publishing company did the rest and the world embraced you with open arms. When the author and illustrator simply authored and illustrated-- without the pressures of marketability and leveled reading and promotional plans. It was the story we all told ourselves when we were in art school.

And listening to him speak made me realize how much that tale has gone astray. David has sketchbooks filled with "daily affirmations"-- 1 to 2 hour drawings that he does everyday just for fun. I haven't drawn "just for fun" in years. I can barely get my paying work done in time, much less a personal affirmation. Somewhere between school and life, form and function and theory and practice I feel as if I've lost my way.

Perhaps it's time to draw a map, just for fun.


Elizabeth O Dulemba said...

I had the opportunity to get to know another of the great illustrators in our business recently. He too had the euphoric experience you describe. I was also saddened and envious. At the time I wondered if the struggle I've experienced was just me, if it wasn't happening the "right way."
Since then, I've talked to enough truly established illustrators (those who came up in the 80's and 90's) to realize it's not us. The industry has changed. Competition is more fierce. Whereas illustrators used to have to be in New York, which in itself limited the competition, now they can be anywhere in the world . . . and that's in a decreasing market that is paying less and less for what we do.
I don't think you've lost your way. I think the way has become a tougher road to travel and requires more from illustrators than it used to.
My 2 cents,

Libby Koponen said...

And the same goes for writers! When I talk to people who had their first children's books published in the 70s, they too describe a vanished world. It IS harder now -- harder to break in, harder to STAY in once you're there. More books published, fewer magazines that review them, fewer independent bookstores.....and a constant pressure to promote yourself. Last week, wondering how the numbers (books published, books in stores etc.) have changed since then, I did a little research and that's what I'm going to post about on Wednesday.

Meanwhile: great post, Grace -- and E, whoever you are, thanks for confirming that it's not just the BRGs.