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Illustrating the Island

Illustrating the Island
May 18, 2015 Tilbury House

This piece was written by the talented Jamie Hogan, who illustrated the Tilbury House book Island Birthday. It appeared on her blog  first before being reposted here. It’s a fascinating visual tour through the illustration process that a reader may not even think about: site visits to new environments, finding the right child to model the drawings after, and making paper airplanes from which to draw actual airplanes. Read below and jump over to her site for more examples of her work! 

When Tilbury House editor Audrey Maynard approached me with a manuscript by Eva Murray, right off I was intrigued. A picture book by an admired author that combines bad weather with a mopey kid on a remote island?
It all sounded…familiar. I put together a pencil dummy book and asked the 8 year-old across the street to be my model. He gave me his awesome drawing of a plane!

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I’ve drawn this Peaks Island native before. He made an appearance in my 2011 Sketchbook Project, counting chocolate eggs.

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His whole family is a great source of inspiration, in fact. I used their colorful kitchen for the opening scene.

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After submitting my dummy, I visited Matinicus, the Maine island where Eva lives.

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Matinicus is one fine and salty place! Upon returning to my studio, I began working on final illustrations in pastel.

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I needed more reference of more kids for one illustration, and my model brought over two friends who moved to Peaks from Matinicus, and another Peaks friend. They happily pretended to be swimming.

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There’s nothing quite like swimming in phosphorescence.

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The story hinges on the arrival of a plane, which is real life when you’re 23 miles out to sea. I found a book of punch-out paper airplanes for my model to play with.

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This meant another round of photos, more cover sketches, more fun!

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Here’s the final illustration for a wrap-around jacket.

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It’s a good thing when all the art is DONE. Too bad I don’t have a table big enough for all the pieces.

I met with Audrey last week and she took this photo for posterity, as I clutch the envelope of proofs. Island Birthday is due out in May.

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Now my studio table is free of pastel dust, as I work up sketches for other projects, back to my own island rhythms, and waiting on the next ferry. Thank you, Tilbury House and Eva Murray!

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