Children's Books Professional
Commissioned by Nia Roberts at Simon & Schuster.
Benji Davies specialises in writing and illustrating children's books. Before focusing fully on children's publishing he worked as an animation director making commercials, music videos and short films. His first self-penned book The Storm Whale won the inaugural Oscar’s First Book Prize and has been published in 20 languages, whilst his illustrations for On Sudden Hill, written by Linda Sarah, were Greenaway long-listed.
This is my second book as the sole author of both words and pictures. It’s a book about remembering someone, the things you did together and wishing they were with you even though they are far away. It explores how that connection lives within memory. Through the illustrations I aim to evoke and celebrate these core human emotions and experiences.
To write and illustrate another picture book.
Some brush pen on paper to illustrate textures, but largely digital.
A lot of my research is based on Googling images of plants and animals, settings and people. Otherwise I rely on my own visual memory and allowing things to surface through sketching to produce my work. A trip to the southern tip of Thailand contributed heavily to the story and the setting, helping me draw the overarching narrative together, which I had been tinkering with for over a year or more.
Rough work was done in grey ink on cartridge paper and scanned. I then worked up the illustrations using a Wacom tablet and Photoshop until there was no rough work visible. Where appropriate I employed hand-drawn ink on paper as texture or silhouettes to inform the shape and details of the scene – in particular for the jungle foliage and sea.
Being concerned with the potential commercial problems of a story about losing a Grandparent – but I felt compelled to carry on regardless.
That it is possible to take highly personal ideas, moments and observations and create something, which has the potential to resonate broadly. When people notice something in the work and it feels personal to them somehow, it is very satisfying to me, as I have made a direct connection to my audience.
Other projects vying for attention and new ideas surfacing. And the internet, of course.
Second book syndrome.
Time to crack on with book number three!