Regulars / Nicer Tuesdays

Marion Deuchars on how to make a great picture book

The idiosyncratic brushwork and hand-drawn typography of illustrator Marion Deuchars is instantly recognisable, and have charmed children and grown-ups alike in her many books. Recently, Marion has been both educating and inspirational in her books about the art world, particularly in Bob the Artist, which aims to teach kids about well-known artistic techniques while also encouraging individuality. The new follow-up Bob’s Blue Period is about expressing emotions through creativity, and is loosely based, she explains, on Picasso’s story of loss.

At Nicer Tuesdays she shared her advice for making a great picture book. “I’ve been an illustrator for 25 years and done all sorts of work, but it took me a long time to make a picture book,” she said. “You think anyone can do it but it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve done.”

Giving “sneaky tips and tricks” she told the audience about how the books began with a character. “I kept drawing this little bird, so I wrote a story for him.” One of her realisations with picture books was that “you have to draw your characters a lot” and these have to be consistent, and be seen from all different angles. Therefore Bob is simple, based on a triangle and a circle. Another tip she shared was the importance of finding your own voice.

“It’s a really competitive market with a fast turnover… so I’d say go for something personal and unique. I try to bring things close to home, and look around me for ideas – it gives your work detail and an extra dimension when you use that real life observation.”

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