A Glimpse into the Collaboration between Illustrator and Picture Book Author

Dear Regional SCBWI Members,

I hope you are making plans to attend our March 6, 2010 Conference on “Creating Diversity in Children’s Literature.”  We have a great line-up of speakers.  Read the previous post below to learn all the details and to download a pdf version of the registration form.  And don’t forget that the fantastic rate of $89 for a room at the Hilton Garden Inn in Frederick is only available if you reserve your room by February 5th!  Click here to reserve a hotel room online.

In the meantime, I thought you might be interested in a blog post by our Illustrator/Author/Art Director speaker, Christy Hale. She makes some very interesting points about the collaboration between illustrator and picture book author.  See below:

In my earliest collaborations with authors, not only was I illustrator, but also designer, typesetter (letterpress type, where each metal letter is handset), printer, binder, and publisher (The Hale Press). My first project was a friend’s lengthy translation/retelling of Beowulf in couplets. I printed the illustrations as lithographs. I bound each of the 75 copies in cloth over boards, and we sold them to our friends. That was 1984. Then I moved to NYC to study illustration at Pratt. I continued making books with poets, and was even invited to collaborate with William Stafford on How to Hold Your Hands When It Rains for Confluence Press. I enjoyed working with poets. I was connected to their words. I knew the feel of each and every letter.

After Pratt I began work in commercial publishing as art assistant in the children’s book department at E.P. Dutton. I continued at different publishers until eventually I became an art director—a position that involves pairing newly acquired manuscripts with illustrators. The occasional slush dummy arrived with author/illustrator teamed up, but most often there was a weak link in these collaborations and a rejection letter was dispatched.

When I was offered my first picture book illustration assignment, I was already an art director for Four Winds Press. I knew that it was not typical for authors and artists to communicate during the illustration process. One author-friend thought that co-creators were kept apart to avoid discussion of discrepancies in advance payments. No! This is done to allow space for the illustrator to find their own visual narrative without a back-seat driver issuing directions. Here I would like to say loud and clear that I applaud this practice…

To read more of Christy’s post, follow this link to the One Potato…Ten! Blog by ten writers and illustrators of children’s books:

And I hope to see many of you at the March conference!

Happy writing,

Edie Hemingway, Regional Advisor

About ediehemingway

I am an author of children's middle grade novels and the Regional Advisor for the MD/DE/WV SCBWI chapter.
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1 Response to A Glimpse into the Collaboration between Illustrator and Picture Book Author

  1. Laura says:

    Great post, Edie! Christy Hale sounds like a fascinating person. Can’t wait to meet her on March 6.

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