A journey into Authoring
The first step
Here I made this:
Today is the Anniversary of this newsletter! Thanks for coming along on this ride!
📰 In today’s newsletter, which is alternatively titled: Dave Pilkey writes in a cave next to the beach in Japan and other tips for becoming a bestselling Author illustrator.
A reintroduction , and kind of reboot of the newsletter.
Lessons on designing Characters from Dave Pilkey.
Lessons on designing Characters from Luke Person.
Here, I made this(Above ; Adam Ming practices author-illustrating)
A question for you.
A reintroduction. (For the new people)
Hi, I’m Adam Ming. And I’ve been writing this newsletter for exactly a year! I started writing to document the beginnings of my journey banging on the door of the publishing industry.
I’m happy to report they let me in as an illustrator.
I have a book out soon and am finishing up a couple of others, one’s at the final edits stage, and I’m working on the colour illustrations for another.
And while I have another four books lined up to be illustrated after that, It has been my childhood ambition to be an Author-Illustrator. The illustrator part of the equation is off to a good start. So I’m setting aside a day a week to work on the “Author”part. And I’ll be honest, I don’t have a clue how to start.
So I’m going to research how the people who do it well do it. Here’s what I’ve found so far!
Note: As an author-illustrator, the visual design is part of the authoring
Lessons from Dave Pilkey
Dave Pilkey author of the bestselling Captain Underpants and Dogman writes in a cave, by the beach in Japan.
His advice foraspiring authors is to:
keep writing, practice. It’s never a waste of time, the more you do, the more you learn, nothing is wasted, even a crumpled up sketch teaches you something. It’s a path, bad work leads to good work - Dave Pinkey
Dave discovered that ‘Underwear’ was a powerful word when a 2nd grade teacher said it and the class laughed. This teaches me to watch for ‘powerful words’ to build characters around.
The main characters of the hit Captain Underpants series are ‘George’ and ‘Harold’ were designed as the two parts of the authors personality. Other characters were built as an amalgamation of real people.
If I could distill this knowledge into directives it would be:
Use powerful words as the basis of characters.
Put a bit of yourself into various characters. (Splitting is okay)
Put various people into single characters. (Combining is okay)
Keep practicing and you’ll be moving up the path, nothing is wasted.
Lessons from Luke Pearson (on Designing Characters)
Luke Pearson is the creator of the Hilda Comicbook.
In a talk he gave in 2019, he shares his honest ongoing quest to design the character he is best known for; Hilda. From Psycahedelic beginnings, to it’s modern form as seen on Netflix.
A lot of the character design is developed in a sketchbook as Pearson tries to solve mundane problems, like how to draw the character from various angles.
The character design also evolves through a lot of drawing as a lot of the embellishment is loss through repetition. Leaving only the most essential characteristics.
Hilda’s trademark boots, were inspired by a Tove Jenssen quote which was a guiding force in the character and the world.
“Lie on the bridge and watch the water flowing past, or wade through the swamp in your read boots, or lie on the roof and hear the rain fall, it’s very easy to enjoy yourself”
So again if these were directives:
Draw your characters repeatedly until they are free of embellishment.
Create designs that solve for various mundane problems.
Infuse the visuals with inspiration from significant texts.
We live in an amazing time when we can wonder how ‘the best at what they do’ approach their craft and learn directly from them via the clues they leave on the internet. We get to choose our teachers.
And I’ll start off by choosing these two to help me develop this particular part of my practice.
And I’ll be a student in public.
Question for you:
If you were me, how would you approach this challenge of adding authoring to my illustrating?
Boy you're journey is heavily influencing and inspiring my own..(though im still starting NOW)
You're already a good author because your newsletters are very well crafted and not everyone can do that.
I'd do the following to better it(i'm already working through this list)
*Read Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul
*Read On Writing by Stephen King
*Read Pixar Storytelling: Rules for Effective Storytelling Based on Pixar’s Greatest Films
*Follow Anoosha Syed's Patreon where she chronicles her journey and process for picture books.She has an author debut out too.
*Lastly read blogs/books by author/illustrators by Beatrice Blue,Anoosha Syed ,Rebecca Green etc
Hope these help and Congratulations man!!
Happy First Anniversary! Congratulations!
If I was interested in an author-illustrator path, I would join or gather a writer's group for author-illustrators, focused on the author part. My guess is that others in this special realm will be great support and your collective wisdom will be incredible. A general writers group would be ok, but I think you'd get to where you want to be faster with others navigating this same terrain. Good luck!