Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Prehistory of Mr Bling

It took me ages to break into picture books.

I first started visiting publishing houses in London after finishing work on MARS ATTACKS, and would try and get down there at least once a month to "blitz" the publishing houses. I'd initially made contact via introudctory letters and phonecalls to the companies I was interested in getting on board with - Hodder, Collins, Penguin, Macmillan and the like. Then it was a case of keeping the relationships bubbling away, sending down new samples of my work whenever possible, calling up and in as often was deemed non-stalkery and generally just reminding them I existed.

"I got the same old story from all my peers, there ain't no room around here for a gee-tar man..."

Each of the art directors and editors I met pretty much unanimously said they loved my work. However, the couldn't employ me. It was simply too dark. My influences were Tim Burton and Lane Smith, and consequently I had real trouble "lightening" my paintings. When I eventually sucked it up and tried this approach, I got my first commission from Harper Collins - to illustrate "Dinosaurs After Dark", a text written by the lovely Jon Emmett. It was a story that immediately captured my imagination, following the adventures of young Bobby as he sees a dinosaur creeping past his bedroom window at night. The book is inspired by one of both mine and Jon's favourite books, "Where The Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak.

I'll put up some more of the artwork in the next few posts for you to take a butchers at - the original artwork adorns my children's nursery, although some of it is for sale. We're actually looking to get this off the ground as a kids show too, so watch this space!

Thanks to Glazey for kindly compositing these huge paintings as Jpegs ;-)


Tim Bye said...

Encouraging post Jo! I'm a university graduate currently unpublished so it's nice to hear of other peoples breakthroughs!

paulhd said...

Inspiring stuff, gonna work extra hard in 2008 to try and break in to kid's books.

Cassie said...

Dangermouse has a Myspace! I definately think you should get one for Nine!!

Niel Bushnell said...

It's really interesting to hear about how you got where you are. Please tell us more!! From experience I know that most introductory letters are ignored. How did you get past the first hurdle?

Belf said...

Can we see more of the dinosaur book mate? Dinosaurs = brill.

Anonymous said...

nice story too.

why write a kid's book?
write a book...and if kid's like it

Andrew Glazebrook said...

That top piccy doesn't seem to want to enlarge.
It's really cool to see these pics close-up when stitching them together to see the paint textures etc...

Jo Bling said...

Thanks for posting everyone - aye, you can't go wrong with a bit of dinosaur action.

Tim - you have to start somewhere and fresh out of uni is as good a time as any. Get your face in the door at the pub houses.

Paul - you have added inspiration now too for the kids books!

Cassie - I reckon it'd be a bit previous to set up a nostalgia site for the CAT just yet ;-)

Bushy - LOL! Does that mean as a Comp Director YOU ignore introductory letters?! :-D I don't know how I got them to consider me, it was usually an initial phonecall to touch base, send some samples and a cover letter in that licked their proverbial behinds, and then follow that up with a phonecall to pin down an appointment. As I recall that was the way with all those initial approaches. I know some people are funny about being "cold emailed" so I'd be wary of that avenue...

Belf - more dino-goodness to come I promise!

Brian - Why write a book? Well, ideally, you ARE writing for yourself. If ANY audience like it then groovy, but sometimes some stories are straightforward and kid-oriented. My older fiction stuff is aimed squarely at me and my mates.

Glazey - I don't know what's with that fella, it aint the first time Blogger has done that to my artwork. Thanks for the lovely words mister man and as ever the time out to put my stuff together ;-)

Niel Bushnell said...

Coitis - I can see how my post could be read either way! ;)

I love stuff me!

dragonhead said...

Oh gosh! "Where the Wild Things are Rules" Rules.

"We're actually looking to get this off the ground as a kids show too"

Anonymous said...

Tim Burton as an influence I can see, but that bloke who played Perry White in "Lois and Clark"?

When's yer housewarming, then?


Fabián Fucci said...

Nice illustrations.

Anonymous said...

Hi Curtis

Looking for your Marks email - do you have it mate

My email is

Cheers Curt

Paul Woodage