This week Jen Vincent from Teach Mentor Texts, Jennifer Reed from Reederama, Cynthia Alaniz from Librarian in Cute Shoes, and I are celebrating How to Tell a Story by Daniel Nayeri and Illustrated by Brian Won. I am excited to have Brian on the blog to share about his work on this project. Thanks Brian for stopping by.
How to Tell a Story seems like a different type of project to work on than say an actual book. What did you have to take into consideration when working on this project with Daniel?
Although this project was different than illustrating a book, it was just as enjoyable and in some ways, more challenging. Ironically, the illustrations didn’t need to “tell a story” but convey an emotion, action, or location as quickly as possible. The dimensions of the cube faces are about 1.5 x 1.5 inches so my main goal was to make the illustrations simple and engaging. Also, I had to take into account the sheer number of illustrations required for all the sides of the dice, about 120. Categories like People, Places, and Things were easier to represent while Emotions, Relationships, and Verbs required more conceptual thinking.
Can you share your process for determining which images would represent what on the blocks? Was it collaborative? Did you do research in order to decide?
Daniel was absolutely fantastic to work with. He supplied an initial list of ideas and if I hit any roadblocks, he would provide several more options. Also art director, Colleen Venable, was instrumental as a sounding board. Early on I sent Daniel vector sketches, but soon found that to be time consuming. My usual work process doesn’t involve pencil sketches, but with so many moving parts, pencil sketches were far more effective. We were able to see if not only the illustration was working, but if the word itself needed to be changed. Below are some examples of rejected sketches and themes. Tied Together, still makes me smile.
Are there any you are particularly proud of?
I am most proud of the illustration that represents Sail. It reminds me of when I’m driving with my son and I tell him to look out the window at the beautiful mountains. He has zero interest.
How do you hope your artwork might inspire young writers?
I hope the artwork and the book will show young writers that writing is fun. I tend to put writing on a pedestal. I get tripped up with grammar and feel inadequate even when constructing an email. However, we can all tell a joke or talk about the crazy thing that happened five minutes ago. These are stories, wonderful stories worth telling and writing.
What is your favorite indie bookstore (where is it and why do you like it)?
My favorite indie bookstore is Vromans in Pasadena. I have fond memories of my mom buying us books there when we were kids. My younger sister would get one of the Babysitters Club books and I would get something Roald Dahl.
Finish the statements: “Reading is…” and “Writing is…”
“Reading is… the best thing you can do with a kid. Not even for the sake of the child, but for yourself. The day doesn’t seem so bad after a shared book.”
“Writing is.. whittling a golf pencil from a sequoia tree.”
What are you reading and loving right now (or recently)?
Thanks to my friend, Renee Kurilla, I am reading Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. I highly recommend this book for both writers and illustrators.
“Forgive yourself if you tried to create something and it didn’t work out. Remember that you’re nothing but a beginner – even if you’ve been working on your craft for years. We’re all just beginners here, and we shall all die beginners.” -Elizabeth Gilbert
What is the best writing advice you have received and what advice would you give student writers?
“When you are going good, stop writing. You don’t go on writing and writing until you come to the end of it, because when you do, then you say, well, where am I going to go next? You make yourself stop and you walk away. And you can’t wait to get back because you know what you want to say next.” – Roald Dahl.
This also applies to illustration. Fiddling with your chair, checking the basketball score, Facebook – its all a distraction from actually starting. Student writers, have something good to come back to so you aren’t afraid to begin.
Check out the other posts in this blog tour:
November 3, 2015 - How to Tell a Story Week Kick-Off - Teach Mentor Texts and Kid Lit Frenzy
November 4, 2015 - Jennifer Reed at Reederama and her students play How to Tell a Story
November 5, 2015 - Illustrator, Brian Won visits Kid Lit Frenzy
November 6, 2015 - Author/Creator, Daniel Nayeri visits Teach Mentor Texts
November 9, 2015 - Cynthia Alaniz at Librarian in Cute Shoes and her students play How to Tell a Story
November 10, 2015 - How to Tell A Story - Share your "Why Game" stories - Teach Mentor Texts and Kid Lit Frenzy
Enter to win a copy of How to Tell a Story:
We hope you'll check out How To Tell a Story and visit the various blog posts we'll have up to celebrate #howtotellastory week!
Thanks for stopping by and celebrating with us! We do have a giveaway as well. Thank you to Workman Publishing, we have a copy of How To Tell a Story available to five lucky winners with a US mailing address and the sixth winner picked will win a Skype visit with creator, Daniel Nayeri.