Ten years ago I made a series of six race car collages that screwed up my brain. See, I draw. I’ve always drawn. The idea of making images with cut paper seemed so foreign, and making these race cars was so crazy fun and weird and maybe 10% scary. It’s not digital, there is no undo, and it’s like trying to learn to communicate effectively in a different language. I know how a car looks when I draw it, but how does it look if I make it with paper and glue?
Mainly, I loved the process and I couldn’t wait to do more. But somehow ten years and about 35 books went by and I only periodically messed around with the technique. I have stayed in touch with collage, from afar. My friend Kevin Mercer makes lovely work, and I’ve read a bunch of books and seen some exhibits while I waited for the opportunity.
Well, waiting for opportunities is dumb. You don’t wait for them, you make them. So after finishing a picture book a few weeks ago, I blocked some time and got to work. The excuse here is an alphabet book I want to pitch, and these are practice images. Both are cut paper on pine boards. One is 10×10 inches and the other is 12×12. Both utilize magazines, comics, scanned images from an old plumbing and heating manual, and other printed ephemera. And the enjoyment has not slipped away. This is fun stuff and I can’t wait to make more.
Here are some process photos of how these things come together. The two pictures of the book are from “Audels House Heating Guide 1948” which was used for the robot parts in the rear of the blue truck, as well as the rear of the truck itself.
Back a couple of years ago, I got the strangest manuscript. It was called Blobfish!, written by Julie Segal-Walters, and I didn’t have a clue what it was about. It was kind of a book about animals, it was kind of a meta-book thing where the illustrator and author get into a spat about how the book is supposed to go, and it was pretty funny. I signed on, and went about worrying about it for months. Usually, when I decide to illustrate a book, I have some idea what the book will look like. It’s usually clear why someone asked me to work on it, and I can see pretty quickly what I want to do with it. This one was an exception. Even my agent, in his email to me about the script, said it was weird.
Time went by, and I worked on other commitments, occasionally sketching from this story, and occasionally talking to the editor about what we might be doing with it. Julie made some revisions to the script, I stared the process of laying out the page-breaks and finding the story’s rhythms, and things started to fall into place.
Well, today is the book-birthday for the resulting picture book. Now it’s called (This is Not a Normal) Animal Book, and Paula Wiseman Books / Simon & Schuster has it available today for you to order up and read aloud to your kids, you partner, or yourself.
I’m pretty happy that we even got to have the “fake” cover as the case-cover here. The idea, of course, being that the illustrator sabotaged the jacket cover.
Matthew Winner, he who makes the All the Wonders podcast interviewed Julie and me a few weeks ago, and today that conversation went live. You can listen to us here.
This is a very different book than anything i’ve ever made. There are drawings in it, of course, but there are also pages and pages of cut paper, and crayons, and scissors, and sketches. My art studio became a photography studio for a week last year while I was photographing these objects. I even had jars of jelly (you’ll see why).
A friend of mine asked me to contribute a sign for her son’s school in Brooklyn. They have a spring carnival every year in which they have these hand made signs and then they auction them to benefit the school. I’ve been looking for an excuse to do some collage work again, as it’s been a long while since I made those race cars and the work is the most satisfying kind of creative process I know.
So of course I said heck yeah.
This is 18 inches square and is made with collage and acrylic paint.
Spent this morning working on this little collage. It’s about ten inches tall, made of acrylic and various paper goods. Graph paper shirt and the hair is from an old Archie comic book, for instance.
Sometimes I need to spend a few hours that are about something other than cars and trucks, or at least not the typical way I make illustrations. It had been a while since I cut and pasted and painted. I’m gonna try to do this every week.
Here are all six race cars. These will be for sale at the Main Line Art Center’s children’s book fair this Sunday, Feb 8. I’ll be there with several other authors and illustrators. At 1:30 I’ll be giving a 15-minute presentation talking about my illustrations and inspiration. Hope you can make it.
Whatever of these race cars that doesn’t sell there will be going on my Etsy page on Monday. I plan to do a lot more of these, as well as some monsters, robots, aliens, trucks, etc.
I have a set on Flickr that shows these cars in the works.
I’ve completed the six collage race cars I’ve been working on for the last couple of weeks. These are all for The Main Line Art Center’s Children’s Book Fair this Sunday, February 8. I’ll post a picture of all six in the next day or two, or you can see them all here.
These are collage/paintings, made with magazines, the yellow pages, various papers, and acrylic paint on 10 x 10 inch plywood. They’ll be for sale at the show, but I’ve yet to settle on a price.
I’ve written this before, but I haven’t enjoyed making stuff this much in a long time. I hope to make more of these, and I hope to find ways of incorporating this technique in my books and illustrations.
SHe may be cute, but don’t let that fool you. She will gladly blow your doors off and put you into the wall.
Sacha suggested that one of the race cars needs to be driven by a lady driver. Here she is. Materials used: acrylic and part of a GapKids ad on yellow pages.
Finished two more of the race cars. Each one is closer to what I had in my old head when I conceived of these things. I’m spending a bit more time planning them, and being a little tighter with the craft part of it.
I’ve two more to do for the show on Feb 8, and then I’ll see where to go next.
You can see how these are made on my Flickr page here.
Started race car #2 today.
All the blue is from magazines and the driver and windshield is from the yellow pages.
Note as well that I’ve sanded down the gesso, revealing the wood. I like this. I’m gonna do it on the rest of the collages.