20 Jun 2014

What happened after 279 hours and 30 minutes of illustrating and a few months of waiting

Some months ago, I wrote about what happens in 279 hours and 30 minutes. Time has passed, and after the process of designing, proof printing, revising and finally printing, I found a very pleasant package waiting in front of the door when I returned from Istanbul last week: a children's book called EGGS, the very first children's book I have illustrated, wrapped inside a white package with an Australian stamp on it!

If you're happy and you know it, take a pic! (snap, snap) 

EGGS is an imaginative picture story book about six eggs, who each have their own dream of becoming something different. The book is written by Ebony-Jane Carroll, an Australian kindergarten teacher and passionate writer, who created the book specifically with children and teachers in mind. Next to illustrating the book, I worked with her to create a set of free educational activities from colouring pages to word games. I think it's really brilliant that also parents can have fun with their kids after reading the book by printing out some activities accompanying the story. The activities could also be a good way to keep the kids in the back seat happy with a few less are-we-there-yets on summery road trips, hint hint!

It's been a yearlong relationship I've had with those six eggs, which makes it the longest and the most intense (and polygamous?) illustrator-character relationship I've had so far. Finishing the last illustration for the book in January felt sentimental. Sending in the last design for the educational activities felt sentimental. Holding the book in my hands feels sentimental. It's been a great year, and those little dudes will always have a special place in my heart. I will miss drawing their oval shapes. (Luckily, there's a new illustrated character I'm busy with at the moment, and she is quite chubby, too - a great round rebound, I'd say!)

The book that Ebony-Jane sent to me has a personal note saying "thank you for making my dream come true!". I could say the same to her.

Oh sob. Where are the napkins…?

Amongst other places, EGGS is now available on Amazon and Book Depository.

18 Jun 2014

Istanbul (not Constantinople)

A few weeks ago, I took a one week semi-holiday to visit Istanbul for the second time in my life. I was told to send postcards from the trip, but as you know, buying postcards and hunting for stamps is one of those things that you usually end up doing on the last day of your trip. That happened to me as well. In fact, I was already at the airport, when I saw a rack of postcards and the "oh yea, I should buy some postcards" thought hit my mind again. But did I really want to buy a set of typically lame holiday cards with radiant letters running over a collage of touristic photos, only to do the writing on the plane and glue Dutch stamps on the envelopes at home whilst pretending they were sent from Istanbul? Not really. What would those cards have told about our trip, anyway? We spent our time sitting in cafes, drinking Turkish tea and playing backgammon whilst it was rainy and grey outside. Walking around parks, meeting friends, eating watermelon when it got too warm and stuffing ourselves with the ever-so-yummy local pastries called poğaça. The only tourist attraction we visited was Galata tower, and even that was just because we happened to buy ice cream somewhere near by and there happened to be a nice place to sit next to the tower.

I decided to forget about buying postcards and spent the flight with my sketchbook and pencils instead. Here's the result, which is on its way to seven different mailboxes as we speak!

See the letter L...? One day in a park, we saw a cat that had climbed all the way to the top of a tree. He was so high that you couldn't reach him even with a tall ladder. The poor cat was just hanging on to a tree branch, helplessly swaying in the wind. We didn't see how it all ended, as people were advised to leave so that the cat might be able to find the courage to try coming down. I hope he fell on his feet and will be smart enough to stay away from trees the next time he wants to admire the views.

1 Jun 2014

It's a freelance life

Looking for jobs is a pretty big part of being a freelancer. Your eyes are always open for new projects, and your ears are alert, constantly trying to spot possibilities even in casual chats. Sometimes, when projects are scarce and your pencils don't get out of their pencil case as much as they'd like to, the "looking" turns into "desperate hunting". At that point, you are not searching for something - you are looking for anything!

Those times are always very frustrating. Next to writing tons of messages to potential clients, not having a big project leaves plenty of time for questioning things such as the meaning of life and being a "starving artist". I'm still learning to deal with the fact that sometimes cooking dinner will be the biggest achievement of the day. Indeed, the less work I have, the more time I tend to spend on cooking. Filling the freezer with homemade falafel or fish patties is my favourite activity on quiet days - even if my pencils would get sadly bored in their pencil case, cooking keeps me satisfied for having spent at least a few hours on something truly productive.

Next to excessive cooking and messaging, the quiet times might also lead you to do some small designs and test jobs. Most of the times, they don't pay much (…if anything), but hey, the freezer is full, you've got time and should definitely do something before your pencils want to get a divorce. That is why I have done things such as...

...grown some veggies...

...baked a digital Hawaiian pizza...

...and become friends with a unusually colourful lion.

And the best part of all this...? Sooner or later, one of the test jobs, chit-chats or applications will score you a new project. And then you have a reason to cook pasta in 10 minutes again. That, my friends, is real luxury!