Ho Ho Ho and Merry Christmas to everyone! The decorations are up in the Vecchi household and I’ve been feeling festive ever since. It certainly is the season to be jolly, as the old song says, but it is also a season of reflection for me and many others. January brings in a brand new decade, as well as a brand new decade of life for me, as I turn 30 in March. (It’s still weird to see that written out.)
I have high hopes for 2020, and my 30’s in general! I haven’t been actively posting lately, but my dedication to pursuing an illustration career has been amping up again after a few months’ hiatus due to an injury I sustained over the summer. This autumn has been filled with illustration podcasts, a trip to the University of Findlay’s Mazza Museum (formerly the Mazza Museum of International Art from Picture Books), and even a decision to pursue the most intimidating project to which I’ve ever challenged myself! But more on that later.
Since it has been months (and months) since I last wrote, I decided to do a bit of an art dump so you could see the few things I’ve worked on this year. It is slightly saddening to look back on it and see how little there feels like there has been, but I have been trying to live with giving myself some grace for difficult seasons and just double down moving forward. I really didn’t do much over the summer as I recovered and rested, but I did get a few drawings done for #Inktober this year that I really enjoyed!
I also tried to rework a piece I had submitted for my SCBWI chapter’s yearly calendar contest with the theme of “family.” I had really liked my idea, but was unhappy with how I had executed the piece for the actual submission. I went back and inked my initial sketch, threw some grayscale shading in it and asked some of my kidlitart friends for some critique. They had some helpful bits of insight for me! I flipped the orientation, did away with the secondary wall, and cleared up my silhouettes. I tried something more bold with my coloring, but I’m not completely pleased with it yet. I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually.
As we were nearing December, a short series of events led to me cranking out a few wintertime animal portraits of myself and a few friends. I now have a few more in the works, and I’ll try to remember to post them when they’re done! Here are the ones I have done so far.
And now, back to the aforementioned intimidating project I have given myself! Earlier this year, I was struck with a story. It literally started as a dream I had that I just couldn’t stop thinking about. I told my hubby that I thought it would make a great book, talked the idea over with my lunchtime walking buddy at work, and began to flesh out the dream into an actual storyline in my head. I even wrote two chapters of my first draft that I planned to finish, revise, and eventually try to take to a publisher.
In the past month, I have begun listening to Three Point Perspective, a podcast for illustrators by Jake Parker, Lee White, and Will Terry who work for The Society of Visual Storytelling, which I plan to join in the new year (if not before then). Listening to them talk about their work and the benefits of creating your own content really had me thinking about my novel idea. Matt had suggested I make it a graphic novel, but I had quickly dismissed it by saying I didn’t have the right “style” for this kind of story. Now that I have given it some more thought, I’ve decided to give it a go! I’m realizing that there are plenty of graphic novels that don’t look like your stereotypical “comic book superhero” style of art that are still taken seriously for their content and what they are able to communicate.
It is going to take years of work to get this idea off the ground and out into the world, but I’ve already started! By having some of the work done towards making it a book, I have already begun developing a cast of characters and a basic plot, though it definitely has a ways to go. My first goalpost I have set for myself in all of this is that by the end of December, I will have the major components of my storyline mapped out. How do all the major characters come into play? What key scenes lead up to the main conflict? How does the main conflict play out? How are the outstanding issues resolved? My plan is to have this basic framework done by year’s end so that I can begin filing in the gaps between the main points and connecting all the dots until I feel it is ready for me to start drawing up story boards for how it will be paginated and such.
I am totally stoked to get into this project, although I feel quite overwhelmed. As I work on my plot, I am planning to be reading graphic novels from other authors who tackle supernatural, fantasy, or sci-fi themes in conjunction with using more cartoon or stylized illustrations. I am definitely looking for recommendations! I did pick up the first of the Bone series by Jeff Smith from the library tonight, which I hear is excellent. Please comment and let me know of any other titles that might be useful for me to look at!