Books, Work In Progress

The Cuddliest Monster

Crystal Mirror Sneak Peek

“In a cave, on top of a hill, overlooking a lush green forest, there lived The Cuddliest Monster In The World.”

I am finding it wonderful, though more than a little challenging, to be working on a project that is the polar opposite of Lighter Than My Shadow in so many ways: The Crystal Mirror and Other Stories.

The first challenge is working in full colour after four years working in the same very limited palette. I’m painting entirely in traditional media (as opposed to my usual combination of analogue and digital) because we want to exhibit and possibly sell the finished pieces. I am illustrating someone else’s stories, not my own. To top it all, I’ve decided to use coloured inks – a medium I’ve only started experimenting with in the last couple of months. It’s quite a learning curve.

But perhaps the biggest challenge is changing the way I think. Illustrating a story book is very different from illustrating a graphic novel, and I’m finding that my natural instinct is to illustrate everything. In Lighter Than My Shadow, that’s precisely what I did. I only used words when I had to: to clarify meaning, for dialogue, and to explain things the images couldn’t. ย In The Crystal Mirror, the illustrations serve a different purpose: to illuminate, decorate and expand upon the story but not to tell it. The words do that perfectly. My job is to add to them.

But my job is also to take away. I only have 96 pages in which to illustrate five stories, which feels exceedingly short having just taken five hundred pages to illustrate one. When I read these magical stories, my mind fills with images of “coloured silk and rare feathers and crushed flowers and fabrics embroidered with gold”. But I have to choose which of the myriad images in my head is right, has the most potential to add depth and atmosphere to the stories. And which is it better for me to leave out?

Self-editing is not my strength, so I’m lucky to be collaborating so closely with writer Tim Malnick in this process. We’re sharing every stage of this collaboration with the book’s supporters on our blog – even the frustrating and grumpy bits!

With 9 days to go, we’ve reached 75% of the funding we need to make this book happen this year. If you’re interested in the stories and how they’re coming to life, or reading more blog posts like this, please do consider supporting us. You can find all the details on The Crystal Mirror website.

Books

The Crystal Mirror

Eight years ago, when I was first deciding that I wanted to be an illustrator, my dear friend Tim shared with me some stories he had written. I took them away and read the manuscript cover to cover, immediately falling in love with the characters such as The Cuddliest Monster in The World, or Polly, The Girl Who Was Always Changing. I knew straight away I wanted to illustrate them.

Fast forward a few years – because I had a lot of studying to do, and a certain other project that needed finishing first – and now I’m illustrating Tim’s stories for real.

The Crystal Mirror and Other Stories is currently my full-time job. Our gorgeous little hardback book is being published, hopefully this November, by Vala. But all of this is only possible because the book is being crowd-funded, and lovely folks have been signing up to support the book’s creation. Here’s a video to tell you a little more about it…

We are still a little short on our fundraising target, but there are still a couple of weeks left if you’re able and would like to help us out – in return we’re sharing every stage of the book’s creation (spilled paint, tantrums and all) on The Crystal Mirror website, as well as offering prints, limited edition handmade books and invites to our launch party – hopefully in November!

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It is here!

Picture 1

I’m very very excited to share with you my new website, www.lighterthanmyshadow.com, where you’ll find a 24-page preview of my forthcoming graphic memoir, Lighter Than My Shadow.

This site has been in the works for a while – actually at one stage I thought I’d be able to update it while I was working on the book. (Ha!) But it’s here at last, and in the coming months leading up to publication I’ll be blogging there about the process of creating the book, as well as sharing some sneak peeks and ‘deleted scenes’.