2019_1 | Craft Studios

C4. Picture This

Robin Cowcher


Studio Inquiry

What comes first the pictures or the words? Using the form of the picture book or graphic novel, this studio explores story telling in words and/or pictures. It examines their relationship to each other and to readers. Creating your own story or reflecting on an existing one, you can develop characters, play with story arcs and explore how your visual practice informs the narrative. We will look at illustration styles and genres across all ages. Write, illustrate, design and produce your own book. Your words and pictures can explore social issues, personal stories, fantasy, crime, history, adventure or humour (to name a few genres). By nature book illustration is a fairly solitary process so our focus will be on sharing ideas, metaphor, message, developing rich visual context and hopefully stretching the boundaries of all. We will also consider the role of the book in the digital world.
Students will research and share their own knowledge of contemporary and classic graphic novels, comics, YA books and children's picture books. We will look at contemporary and classic illustration techniques. Studio time will be a mix of practical work, workshops, critique, guest visits and excursions. Students are encouraged to share and document the creative process and collaborate in class by acting as editor and art director for each other or in groups.
Communication of knowledge
You are encouraged to reflect on what or who inspired your topic and why you think it engages readers. Students should consider how their work relates to younger readers or readers of any age. Students could also reflect on illustrations they liked as younger people and interview young readers about their choices. They could create their own mini workshops or story telling sessions with younger folk as well as publishers or other authors and illustrators. It's a two way thing, who IS on the other side of the picture book? Students could potentially present/read the final book to a published graphic novelist as part of their practice.
Producing a hand made or bound book of (maximum) 24 pages which includes cover, end papers, title page, end/credits page story whether written or visual or both. You will work on 12 main plates which could comprise some spreads. Consider character development, styles of illustration, narrative flow, design, pacing of words and pictures, plot, meaning and the wider social context of your words and images. Please note it is expected that as well as digital presentation the actual book (either manually crafted or professionally bound) will take time and planning- there will be costs involved in that process.
1. Develop and draft a story. Create and develop characters. Explore and choose a style of illustration. Draft a flat plan of the book including cover and all non image pages. Indicate in finished rough form 2-4 of the major plates. Give thought to paper, color, texture, a book is a tactile thing! 2. Execute all final artwork. Produce book. 3. Studio Knowledge Object - an A5 research publication which documents your process, research, working notes.
I suggest a visit/research at a good book store The Avenue or Readings Carlton are excellent and also the library/State Library to look at the latest titles, the classics, illustrations styles etc. I will put together a reading list and a background of my experiences as a book illustrator. In the meantime look for anything by Mandy Ord, Shaun Tan or Isabel Greenberg, (there are many others). Also 'Understanding Comics' by Scott McCloud is a good resource.
Communities of Practice
Designing through Image, Designing Publications, Book publishing, Book Illustration, Editorial Illustration, Comic Books, Zines, Graphic Novels, Drawing from Life.

About Robin Cowcher

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