So, as I left my last post, I was looking for an illustrator. I didn’t have much of a clue where to begin. My clever buddy illustrator whom I mentioned suggested a few people, but their styles weren’t quite what I was looking for. Which begged the question: what was I looking for? I seemed to know what I didn’t want anyway.
My fiance led me through a series of questions, designed to get to the bottom of what I actually did want. We sat on his rickety dining table chairs in his then-apartment in Pyrmont, me scraping the skin from around my nails and wondering how on earth I was going to find someone, and soon, to do exactly what I wanted, when I didn’t know what I wanted. My fiance, meanwhile, took a break from his frantic film production work as it was clear that I was otherwise going to keep roaming around the kitchen and living room/study, silently pervading the entire apartment with angst. He, the picture of calmness, asked me to take a seat.
“I’m going to ask you a few questions,” he said. “Hopefully we should find out what it is that you are looking for.”
“OK.” I was ready for the magic.
“OK. What is it that you want?”
“That’s the whole…issue, the whole point! I don’t know what I want!” I started up off the chair, which proceeded to fall to the ground and risk permanent dismemberment.
“I mean, what other illustrators’ work do you like?” He asked, picking up the chair, still Mr Serenity, gesturing for me to sit back down.
“I guess I like…” I was embarrassed, but there was no other way to do it. “Well, I like the illustrations for Winnie the Pooh. E.H. Shepard.” I honestly wasn’t that familiar with much other work, not really. But I tried to make it sound like I had at least some idea of the illustration world and wasn’t setting off into the land of illustrated books without a clue as to what was happening out there. “And Shaun Tan. And maybe that guy who wrote the Sad Book. Blake?”
My fiance nodded, a model of non-judgment any Buddhist could be proud of. Feeling a little encouraged, I went on. “I want it to be olde worlde style, like, Victorian, but wistful, and pencil drawings. And a sombre palette.” I liked that. ‘Sombre palette.’ I started to give my nails a second chance at survival.
He nodded more and typed in “E.H Shepard” into google. There they were – simple drawings giving a sense of movement, magic and a world of their own that was still familiar to me, so familiar I could practically taste the hot Milo before bedtime.
“Yes!” I exclaimed. “That sort of thing. Wait, here.” I typed in “Shaun Tan.” Up popped his gorgeous, magical world, all steam punk and whimsy. “Isn’t it fantastic,” I breathed. My betrothed nodded.
“All right then. So why don’t you call Shaun Tan?” he asked.
“What? No way.” My nails were not going to survive the day. He was now talking loco.
To be continued.