WIA2017 Children’s Books sponsored by Walker Books New Talent Category Winner
Bethan Woollvin graduated from the Cambridge School of Art with a First Class Degree in Illustration in 2015, and currently lives and works in Brighton as a freelance illustrator. Inspired by vintage illustration and printmaking, Bethan uses bold colours and quirky characters to tell stories with her illustrations.
Represented by: Bell Lomax Moreton belllomaxmoreton.co.uk
Project Title: Little Red
Commissioned by: Two Hoots
About the Project:
Little Red is a children’s picture book, adapted from the classic Little Red Riding Hood tale with my own text and illustrations.
There was no commission as such, the book began life as a project in the second year of my illustration degree. A very broad brief was handed to us, simply to make a book of any kind. I decided to use this opportunity to experiment with illustrating for children, and with narrative illustration.
I spent a lot of time researching into the formats of children’s books, which are primarily 32 pages long. It took a while for me to understand that out of those 32 pages, you only really have 24 pages to tell your story, due to end papers and title pages. While this was daunting, it gave my project boundaries in what was a very open brief.
I also spent a while researching fairy tales and their structure, before I decided upon Little Red Riding Hood.
I used gouache paint on cartridge paper, and I digitally enhanced the artwork in Photoshop.
Little Red really began in my sketchbook, I started by experimenting with characters, brush strokes and rough compositions. These quick sketches gradually became more refined, at which point I moved onto larger paper where I combined all of my experiments and created the final artwork.
Showing expression on Little Red’s face, without eyebrows…
One thing that has stuck with me since working on Little Red, is my understanding of the relationship between text and image, and how important it is in storytelling. Text and image can very easily clash in a book, especially if they both give the same information. Whereas in Little Red I placed visual cues throughout the book to encourage the reader to interpret the story in their own way.
I was at university whilst I was working on Little Red, so I guess going to lectures and seminars were a bit of a distraction – but in a good way!
Also group critiques were a large part of my studio time at university but they were also helpful in refining my story.
6 weeks, 32 pages, 273 words and 6 tubes of red paint.
On reflection the project has exceeded all expectations and intentions. I only decided to create a children’s book as an experiment at university, and it went on to win the Macmillan Childrens Book Competition, amongst other wonderful recognitions! It feels very strange because I didn’t think it would ever leave my sketch book, let alone become published…
As for what I’d do differently, that is a tough question. I think artists in general are always looking for ways to improve and refine their artwork, but since Little Red has received such a warm reception, it reassures me that I wouldn’t change a thing!
To keep experimenting with your creativity, using different mediums and platforms, especially whilst you’re still at university!
Just that I could not have done it without the wonderful team over at Two Hoots!