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Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Everything Goes by Sea

(This post was partially written yesterday, October 22, before my old and reliable laptop took a day off while on my current book tour. 24 hours later, the cursed device suddenly began working again, so I’m currently sitting in the staff break room of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh NC finishing this post and getting it up into the world…)

Today (yesterday) is October 22, which is the day that HarperCollins is publishing Everything Goes: By Sea, the third, last, and final picture book in the Everything Goes series. What this means is that you can go buy it now. So, that said, I’ll take a little break here and let you take care of that business.

Indiebound
Amazon

Okay, thanks for that.

The publication of this third book in the series represents the culmination of about six years of pretty solid work for me on this project. I first started knocking around the idea of Everything Goes back in 2007, at which point it was just a note in a sketchbook that said “transportation project.” I loved (love — I still do…) drawing vehicles of all kinds. I created a book for French publisher Éditions du Rouergue back in 2003 that I had a blast making, and my literary agent Steven Malk had been encouraging me to racket in vehicles again but with something more palatable to American publishers.

By summer of 2008 I had a folder thick with ideas. My good friend and longtime creative sorter-outer Jason and I spent a couple of days going through the piles of dozens of pages of script and hundreds of sketches, trying to find threads that held the various decent ideas together. After these marathon sessions at the Philadelphia Central Library, I could see what was going on and where it could go, and it was at that point that I started to get excited.

It was at a coffee shop with my now-wife Sacha that I realized that this was not one huge tome, but rather would be best split into three separate books, each covering a different mode of transport (land, air, sea).

And then it was in May of 2009 that I created a proposal that my agent took to publishing houses and led to Donna Bray at Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins offering to publish it. Donna also suggested that we include three I Can Read books and six board books in the enterprise, which made the whole thing feel huge.

The first book was begun in earnest around the beginning of 2010 and completed more than a year later, in February 2011. The second book was done in March 2012, and the third book was done April 22, 2013. The first book took longer since it set the template for the next two.
The very final piece I drew was this little boat for the endpapers of By Sea. In fact, it was the word “WOO” that completed the work.

sea-endpapers


I like process, and I always love seeing the preliminary work that goes into a book or film or almost anything. So I’m posting here a bunch of images of sketches and the work that went into the cover for Everything Goes By Sea.

BY SEA sketchbook1

BY SEA sketchbook2

These two images are from my little moleskine sketchbooks that I keep. As I began thinking about and planning the By Sea cover, I knew pretty quickly that I was going to have the “By Sea” subtitle on the sails of a sailboat, so that motif appears pretty quickly. Looking at these now, I’m a little surprised how much the partial cover-sketch at the top of the second image looks like the final cover.


EGSEA_cover_thumb

This is the first rough thumbnail of the entire cover. By the time the third book in this series comes along, a couple of things are already designed and in place. For example, the Everything Goes logo will be the same as before and will be in the same place, and the subtitle of the book (By Sea) and my name will be incorporated into the illustration in some way. Here are the previous two covers for comparison.

land-air-covers


SEA-COVER-sketch

EG by sea cover template

These two images are pretty similar and, in fact, are created from the same drawing. Or in this case possibly several drawings, since at this stage I’m sometimes drawing some of the boats separately, scanning and placing them into the sketch digitally. That’s how I put the logo on the cover as well. The second image is the one I send to HarperCollins, where the shading and title logo makes the piece look a little more finished and slick.


SEA COVER scan

After I get approval on the sketch, the next thing I make is this inked line-drawing of the cover. This is my favorite part of the process. I use black ink with a brush, but my ink is watered down quite a lot (a little more than I’d like, actually) which is why the big black areas actually look grey. Again, the drawing is made without the title logo, since the logo was created for the first book and I just use that again each time I need it.

everything goes logo

There is a pretty good little video of me doing this part of the process with the second book, In the Air, here.

EG2 cover timelapse from Brian Biggs on Vimeo.

The inked line drawing is scanned into the computer and then it’s opened in Photoshop where all of the coloring and final work takes place.


SEA COVER color pre

This is the same line-art drawing once it’s scanned in and touched up.It now has the title added to it and I’ve cleaned up the lines a little. Often, cleaning up the lines means a significant amount of Photoshop surgery, but in this case it was pretty close to right the first time.


Everything Goes by Sea

And here, as at the top of the page, is the final finished color cover.

Also, here is a video of the digital coloring of the second cover so you can see how that is done.

coloring everything goes air from Brian Biggs on Vimeo.


I thought I might also include a couple of real-world uses for a book such as this. The first example was taken by a friend of mine in Calgary, Alberta who has a son named Bas. Bas is apparently enjoying Everything Goes By Sea.

The second and third photo is a display at the book store where I am currently writing this missive. Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh NC has a beautiful display of Everything Goes books, and if you have a book store or even a living room, I encourage you set up something similar.

bas

quail ridge 1

quail ridge 2

raceboats

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

So today is publication day for third and final Everything Goes book, called By Sea. I had a nice juicy blog post with lots of pictures and sketches lined up to post today but today is also the day that my trusty seven-year-old Mac decided to go belly up. Even worse, it happened on the second day of my book tour while preparing to give a presentation to 75 kids at the wonderful Washington DC book store Politics & Prose.
So I improvised, doing a bit of an analog song and dance, and am now posting this via my phone while on the way to Raleigh NC, trying to figure out what to do next. Going to the Raleigh Apple Store and getting a new laptop is a strong option.

In the meantime, today is publication day for Everything Goes By Sea and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Stay tuned and I’ll get that blog post up ASAP.

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Sunday, October 20th, 2013

everything_goes_tour

In about an hour or so I’ll be leaving for the Everything Goes By Sea book tour. I’m going to Washington DC, Alexandria VA, Raleigh NC, Chapel Hill NC, and Decatur GA, returning to Philadelphia next Saturday. I had a great time last year in Chicago IL and Oxford MS, and I suspect this time it’ll be just as interesting.
I noticed that I’m traveling via train, car, and airplane, so I suppose it’s sort of ironic that this is for By Sea. Of course, I lobbied for a cruise tour to Hawaii and the Caribbean, but I lost that fight.

Here’s the itinerary:

Monday Oct 21, Alexandria VA
4:00pm Hooray for Books.
1555 King Street, Alexandria

Tuesday Oct 22, Washington DC
10:00am Politics and Prose,
5015 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC
3522 Wade Ave, Raleigh NC

Wednesday Oct 23, Raleigh NC
4:00pm Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh

Thursday Oct 24, Chapel Hill NC
10:30pm Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill NC
752 Martin Luther King Blvd

Friday Oct 25, Decatur GA
5:00pm Little Shop of Stories, Chapel Hill NC
133A East Court Square, Decatur GA

If you’re anywhere around these shops, please come by and say hello!
Publication day for Everything Goes by Sea is Tuesday Oct 22, so watch this space for more about that!

Friday, September 6th, 2013

For the last five years, I’ve been pretty busy. I counted, and since 2008 I’ve illustrated around thirty books. So as you might imagine and hopefully understand, it’s been a while since I drew pictures just because it’s something I like doing. But this last week I’ve been kind of at it. There are some projects that are hovering over this process and they make themselves known as I’m scribbling, (robots, astronauts, lettering), but they’re not the sole reason for doing these nor are they the determined destination. Let’s say that for the last couple of years I’ve been sketching on the interstate, in a hurry to get somewhere. It’s nice now taking the windy little roads through towns and through the back woods, not sure where I’ll stop and what I might see.*
In related news, I finally put together an exposure unit for screen-printing, so maybe these will lead to that. Maybe I’ll try taking some life-drawing sessions and see what happens as well.

astro_i feel good_sm

sketchbook6hitech

sketchbook5astros

sketchbook7frank

sketchbook4lovelystunning

sketchbook3shame

sketchbook1

sketchbook2littleoldman

*(I mean, really, we all know what I’ll stop and see. Robots, astronauts, monsters, weird-looking dudes, cats, birds, and maybe jet packs. Right?)

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

My gosh has it been since May that I last posted? Well shoot.

In all honesty it’s been a pretty slow summer, workwise. I completed the third Everything Goes picture book back in the Spring, the final two Everything Goes board books in July, a couple of other outstanding book projects that I’ve had hanging around (which I’ll post about later), and some non-book illustration work got done also in July. I have a huge series that the great Jon Scieszka is writing that I’ll be spending the next couple of years illustrating, but Jon isn’t done writing the first one yet so until then it’s kind of sllooowwww.

Nevertheless, the fun never stops. I was in Adamstown, PA two days ago at Renninger’s Flea Market. I love flea markets because I love to have strange and useless things, discarded by others, sitting around my home and studio. Mostly records, maps, little figurines, toys… This trip I went looking for ideas and inspiration. Somewhat related to the information in that first paragraph, I’ve been creatively a little slow this last several months, and I’m looking for things to get me excited about making images again. Everything Goes really took a lot out of me this last four years, and other than the Scieszka project, I really don’t know what I want to do next. I have a few picture book manuscripts that I’ve got at various levels of readiness, a list of “good ideas,” some thoughts on designing puzzles and toys but no idea what to do with them, and nothing that has my gears turning. I recently procured that gigantic Taschen book about Magic with posters and photos of magicians, and a little while ago I also got the smaller but similar Taschen Circus book as well. Both of these subjects are fascinating to me, and both of them are chock full of interesting things one can pursue as a person who makes images. Whether it be through screen-printing, collage-making, or my more standard ink-drawing, there’s stuff there.

So it kind of fell into place on Sunday when at one of the first booths i stopped at at Renninger’s, I found this terrific Columbia record set of 78s called, simply, “Circus.” It’s performed by the Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey band, and it’s nearly new condition even though it’s likely fifty years old. I am one of the few people I know who has a turntable and one of the fewer whose turntable plays 78s, so the asking price of $5 was a no-brainer. The cover art alone was worth that.

Columbia Circus

Columbia Circus

Columbia Circus

Columbia Circus

The next thing that caught my attention was a poster at another booth for a Shrine Circus that was apparently held from April 6 to April 11. I don’t know what year, but it wasn’t recently. I skipped this at first, thinking I didn’t want to go crazy with circus stuff. But not five minutes later I saw yet another circus poster that was as good as the first one. For the same reason, I passed on this one too, but once I found the second Circus music album soon after this, I knew I’d be back for the posters.

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Shrine Circus poster, 28x11

Shrine Circus poster, 28×11

Mills Bros Circus 28x22

Mills Bros Circus 28×22

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The second album is a more mundane 33 1/3 LP, but once again the cover art is what forced me to grab and go. I love this crazy clown. I don’t know who is Merle Evans, and the Everest label seems to be somewhat lost to obscurity. But like the Columbia collection, it’s in perfect condition, and did I say how much I like that clown?

Big Top album cover

Big Top album cover

Big Top album

Big Top album detail

Big Top reverse

Big Top reverse

So clowns. Elephants. Monkeys. Trapeze people. Not the Cirque de Soleil kind but the classic Ringling kind, and even better, the somewhat scary European kind. It’s fodder for the imagination.

Friday, May 10th, 2013

I’m working on the illustrations for the sixth EllRay Jakes book right now, and there’s a scene where a couple of characters perform a dance for the school talent show. I had my kids here last evening while I was looking up the dances that the writer describes in the book, and we had a really good time watching these videos and attempting the moves ourselves.
Frankly, I thought that the author had just made up dances called “The Dougie” and “Stanky Leg.” Alas, she did not.

And the sketch:

stankyleg

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

I’d like to first announce that this past Friday at 8:19pm, I completed the third and final Everything Goes picture book, called Everything Goes: By Sea. Due to some things over the last six months like a book tour in September, my wedding in October, a week of jury duty in November, and breaking my hand in December, this book was late late late. I’m sure that everyone at HarperCollins was pulling their hair out by the time I got the final illustration complete and turned in, but overall they were very nice not to tell me about it as I madly completed the work over the last few weeks. The very very final piece that I did was the endpapers, which I have a part of here for you to look at.

BYSEA_endpapers

What was the last part of this that I drew? It was, appropriately, the word “WOO” on top of the small water taxi.

Now, this isn’t the end of Everything Goes. I still have one more board book to complete, and then there will be parties and fireworks when this book is published in September. But as I’ve been drawing cars, trucks, airplanes, and boats pretty solid since about 2007 as I conceived of, worked on, and completed this book series, I’m very excited to hit “save” and spend some time now making other things.*

In other Everything Goes news, I was surprised to find this big box of books in my mailbox this morning, full of several copies of the Complex Chinese version of Everything Goes: On Land. Two different publishers are making versions of Everything Goes in China. One is this one, published by Global Kids in Taiwan, and the second one is translated into Simplified Chinese, and published by Tianjin Maitian. Now, I don’t really know the difference between complex and simplified Chinese, nor do I know how or whether they are different from Mandarin or other kinds of Chinese. If any readers know the answer to this, I’d very much love to know about it.

I was skeptical whether this book would be possible to translate, what with the gazillions of labels and signs and details all over the place. However, the publisher did a knock-out job with this, even using the textures and outlines and stuff that I did on the original. It must have been some really tedious work, even more since they had to translate what I made, where what I made was often kind of random. Again, I’d love to know how close they got, especially like on the food trucks and some of the other details. Let me know if you can read any of this and I might have a book to send you.

130424_everything goes complex chinese_009

130424_everything goes complex chinese_003

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130424_everything goes complex chinese_006

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130424_everything goes complex chinese_010

* In addition to the final Everything Goes board book, I’m illustrating a picture book written by Kelly DiPucchio and the sixth EllRay Jakes book by Sally Warner, both to be done by June; and I’m giddy to start a new series called Frank Einstein, Boy Scientist that is will be six books, written by Jon Scieszka. It has robots.

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

I just realized that I haven’t posted anything here since January 10. The entire (but not so long) month of February sailed by and I have been absent. So before we begin talking about school visits, I should mention that my lack of visibility here can be attributed to the lateness of Everything Goes: By Sea and my current crazy rush to get it done. Breaking my hand on Christmas morning didn’t do any wonders for my schedule, and as soon as the cast came off in February I more or less locked myself in my studio and went back to drawing. I’ll write more about this progress later.
Another relevant thing is the “Sketch of the Day” album I’ve been posting on my Facebook page. I realized I should use my Facebook page more than I do (kinda like this blog!) and this is a fun and easy way to do it. If you don’t already, go “like” the page and follow the sketches.

Okay so to the meat and potatoes. I visited the schools of Southampton Township, NJ, last Friday. I showed and talked about my drawings and Everything Goes to about 400 students over the course of the day. I might have written this here (or elsewhere) before, but visiting schools is one of those mental-health moments that is so good for people like me. Most people take mental-health days from work and stay home. Since I work alone in my studio 99% of the time, it’s great to go somewhere and be adored. I hate the morning and afternoon rush-hour traffic (how do you commuters stand it? it’s insane!) but it’s worth it once I’m at the school.

So I’m just gonna post a bunch of pictures of the visit and the day, and let you see what the students and teachers made. Thanks to Jacquie Daddato for having me out to Southampton and thanks to all the teachers, staff and students for making it such a great day.

One of three full-house presentations.

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That guy.

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I signed more than 300 books!

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And here are a bunch of drawings that they made inspired by Everything Goes.

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

I get invited to local book fairs, book stores, book festivals, and so on; and I often run into this dude named Erik. Erik is probably something like 13 years old, and Erik loves books. He writes a column for his local newspaper, The Upper Bucks County Free Press about books, and he has his own blog, called This Kid Reviews Books. Recently at one of these local book events where I run into Erik, he asked if he could interview me for his blog, and of course I said yes.

Erik’s interview was published this week, and here it is.

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Now that everyone is all shopped out but likely didn’t get what they really wanted, I relisted a few things and added a few other things to my Etsy store. I’m down to just three of the robot/heart screen prints, so it’s your last chance for those…

Go to the store here.

blue robot 5x7

robot valentine screenprint

robot heart screenprint

yellow pretty bird

teal pretty bird

seduction of the innocent

busted

dino 5x7