Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reading, drawing and judging a book by its cover

I knew I had to prepare for this picture book journey. I needed direction to start this path to a childrens book written and drawn by me. I knew I needed to read and draw and write and read some more. Most of all, I needed to focus. For someone who is known for her phrase “I have an idea”, focus was going to be the most important aspect of negotiating this multicolored road.

So I took an intensive certification class at the University of Washington – "Art for the Childrens Market". I learned much but was inspired even more. I sat on the ferries for hours observing and drawing kids and some adults until I'm sure the parents were beginning to think I was some sort of pervert...that is until I showed them the drawings. It was hard to tell them they weren't for sale.

Drawing ‘ferry folk’ made me think a lucrative business could be of drawing people on the ferry and selling them their candid portraits, but I'd tell myself this was research. Focus Kate.
Billy's cricket KAH 2009

Just reading, reading and reading kid’s books was probably the most important part of this early education. Sitting on the floor of the childrens section in the local library and bookstores, I would carefully list all the books that children immediately snatched off the shelves. “Can I have this one?” they’d beg. I knew then that the cover mattered as much as the content. Hummm, interesting marketing lesson.

What made a great cover? Color, subject and what could be seen clearly and brightly by the child, all added to the attractive mix. Most of the covers chosen were not the ones I thought would be the most compelling.

Lesson one: Don’t make assumptions about what children like. Observe.

Remember this, although what Grandma or Mom chose was very different then what little Jenny chose, the first book the child wanted was usually included in the purchase. Covers are as important as the insides. Who knew? So much for the adage “Never judge a book by its cover”.

No comments: