I come from an artistic family with an entrepreneurial spirit. My older sister, sitting at the top of our talent pool, creates made-to-order portraits and awe-inspiring fine pencil sketches comparable to the likes of Robert Bateman.
My Dad is a very talented sketch artist as well, (though very few people know that about him). Seeking a channel to exhaust some of my own creative energy as a young teen, I started a small business making custom designed chocolates. I was creating colourful candies and suckers in any style or character you can think of. As the client base grew, I realized that the business needed a brand presence – a challenge I gladly accepted. Putting forth my very first branding effort, I developed a logo and fell in love with the idea of graphic design; it was an idea that launched my career.
Before working with Tellwell, I spent most of my days designing graphics for corporations. I’d work on everything from logos and brand identities, to movie posters and marketing campaigns (and everything in between). Illustration projects did come up occasionally, but not as often as I wanted them to, so I began to seek them out. In August of 2015, I had the great fortune of stumbling across an ad asking for an illustrator to design a book cover. There was a need for a specific style, and I’m always up for a challenge! Little did I know, this project would become the first of many, and the beginning of my enduring and very rewarding Tellwell journey.
Since that day, my balance as a freelance graphic designer has shifted greatly towards illustration. With Tellwell, I get to work with brilliant authors and talented peers each and every day, telling stories through our shared passion. It’s an adventure in which I take great pride, and great responsibility. Knowing that my drawings can breathe a certain kind of life into these diverse and wondrous tales is my most cherished part of this role.
Don’t get me wrong –it’s certainly not always an easy task! Extracting an author’s imagination and interpreting it into pictures presents its own set of unique challenges. In some cases, much of the creative process is left for the artist to decipher and that’s perfectly ok. In other cases, very specific ideas have been swirling around in the author’s head for decades, and deciphering them in the way they want it presented to the world requires vision and a very effective information gathering process.
Believe it or not, as an illustrator, my most valuable tool is emotion. I want to feel what each author feels, understand their mission, be inspired by their characters and fully immerse myself in their story. Just as such, I like to challenge authors to also be inside the minds of their characters when they establish directives for their artist. Wherever possible, volunteer background and details that may not even be defined in the book but perhaps were part of your story and what inspired you to write it. Pragmatic components such as detailed descriptions, reference points and graphic examples are always beneficial, however for me, the unseen, more thought-provoking side is just as crucial in achieving the best end result.
Example of a basic character description:
Carly is a sad young girl with long brown hair and a wears a flowery dress.
Example of an ideal character description:
Carly is a reflection of me as a child. She’s a shy and self-conscious 8 year old girl that wishes she could make friends as easily as others. She wears a loose, floral dress because she was complimented on it once by a boy in second grade. She has plain, straight brown hair that goes down to her waist.
This detailed view into who Carly is as a person creates a meaningful depiction of her character and encourages an infinitely more compelling visual. So authors everywhere, try to invite your illustrator as deep as possible into your creative mind and the mind of your characters. Let them harness your ingenuity and understand your goals. Trust them to see your story from the creator’s perspective and enable them to truly bring your story to life.