Sunday, 7 June 2009

Waterstone's "Picture This" Julia Donaldson competition..."Freddie and the Fairy"





Well I mentioned a few posts back that I was having a crack at a children's book illustration competition.... I think it's safe to post up my submissions now as, like 894 other people, I haven't been selected as one of the lucky 6 to go through to the second round... ho hum. Of course I'm a bit disappointed but it's all part of a jobbing illustrators life I suppose. If your work isn't right for the project that's all there is to say about it.

I was really happy with aspects of the artwork I produced. Being a bit outside of my comfort zone with illustrating fairies (they wouldn't be my first choice of subject matter, but again, all part of being a working illustrator, so a healthy exercise) I felt a need (rightly or wrongly) to push the fairy envelope somewhat and come up with something a bit different. After researching Julia Donaldson's (the writer of the Gruffalo and also the competition text entitled "Freddie and the Fairy" ) working practices and inspirations I opted for a folk tale feel to the illustrations. As the fairy in the story was called Bessie-Belle I just had to style her like a bell, and once I had that shape it was just a small step to depicting her as a Russian folk art Matryoshka doll. Maybe the judges didn't approve but it helped me find a direction for the submission. Another decision I made early on was that I didn't want a bright green spring / summer forest setting which would be too similar to the Gruffalo. For me autumn is more visually inspiring, so the colour palette for the artwork came quite quickly. I was very happy with the loose leaves in the Bat background piece.

So a lot of sketches and a couple of late nights later here's what I came up with. I don't think I'd do things much differently if I had my time over (although Freddie does need a redesign).... but I'd love to know where I went wrong with respect to what the judges wanted :)

25 comments:

Kevin Levell said...

Great work - well thought out. Visually very rich and you have just the right amount of quirky elements to make it identifiably you. Nothing to feel down about I reckon!

Keep up the good work, looking forward to seeing Alice!

Amy C said...

WHAT - did you say 'wrong'
No no no no no.
Seriously Matt - these are stunning and beautiful and fantastic and there is nothing 'wrong' with them.
I especially love Freddie's boots and ears.
I didn't get around to reading the text but I have read a few of her books and I think your style would be an excellent fit.
Take some comfort in the fact that there were 894 others and some dumbo must have surely overlooked your winners.

simonreid said...

Don't worry too much about the judges' decision, it seems like an awesome leap forward for your work anyway!

These are excellent, and I think you totally nailed some of those character designs. The bell-shaped fairy and the frog struck me first of all, amazing shapes and details on those. Your animals are always downright charming.

Do keep it up!

Owl Eng said...

You're very talented! all of your artworks are fabulous and unique! they tell a great story each ;)

Tom said...

hi matt, brilliant artwork. love the russian influences and autumnal colours. thanks for sharing your train of thought. sorry you didn't make the next round :(

michael robertson said...

I wouldn't worry too much, matt. You're an awesome talent... you never know why judges choose the way they do. your illustrations are beautiful. great color & atmosphere, and the characters are very appealing... wonderful work.

krisztina maros said...

Oh the fairy!!!

I agree with earlier sentences: this work is wonderful! (and I've seen the others' illustrations on flickr...do you know who are those lucky six ones?)

Your fairy is just adorable but I love so much Freddie and his ears (don't redesign him please!) and the dog too... They're so unique characters!

Of course I absolutely feel with you but don't be sad too long time.

Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli said...

Hi Matt,
These look great - I really like your color palette. Love how you placed the frog on the boy's head - cute and unpredictable.

Rnormfoto said...

you know we used to have some Waterstones here in the US---and like most good and interesting things here, they sadly went away :(

damon said...

vary cool

love the gorilla

David Kow said...

absolutely wonderful!!!

Chris Kennett said...

Personally I'd have been all over these designs. I think your take on the fairies is unqique and all the more appealing for it! I love the understated colours too.

Bad luck not making the cut, their loss, our gain!

Atsi-Batsi said...

These are great Matt :) I think the choice to choose an "autumn setting" was really clever and I love the huge purple gorilla :)

In the end, you still created something beautiful and I think that's the great thing about being an illustrator ;)

ArtSparker said...

These are very charming. Trying to second-guess on unknowns=probably just making yourself crazy.

Gulzar said...

This is so sweeet! Wow!
I like the treatment that you have taken on these ones...very simple..and appealing mate!

And regarding the Lou, phew I digg his works bro! totally rad man!

hope all is good...
keep in touch man!

Best
G

thefridayfrog said...

i think it's pretty safe to say that the judges prolly didn't get what GOOD really is and i'm not knocking any of the other 893, not outright, anyway, but i think this is some fantastic work, well thought out and rendered characters, and hands-down, one of the BEST styles around and i'm not just saying that cuz' i'm in need of another cup of coffee. i'm a huge fan but not in a scary weird way. and clearly, i'm not the only one. ")

just keep saying to yourself, that rackham guy...i wonder if he was ever 1 of 894, way back when. or that dame zwerger...wher'd SHE fall in that mass cattle call of illustrators, in her time? on to your next great adventure, mattie!

Louis said...

Your work is beautiful and your characters are fantastic.

Eric Barclay said...

How the heck did this NOT get picked? Truly outstanding work.

Zara said...

These are absolutely awesome, regardless of the competition result. I love them!

Alicia PadrĂ³n said...

This is amazing work!!! Really outstanding! :o)

fashion fucsia said...

Matt I only can tell you one thing: Your work is wonderful. I love the characters and the colors are awesome. Please, you don't come down for a long time and still working, you're a great talented artist... Yes!!! It's the true!!
^_^

justdoodleit said...

These are really nice characters. Like the subdued graphic color palette as opposed to the traditional glittery/shiny one about fairies. Nice work!

Abz said...

Too much talent! Love your work man!!

Mafe Mantilla said...

Wonderful work!!!

viagra online said...

There's nothing wrong with this stuff, I enjoyed it so much!