Now that I am no longer buried under the mountain that was my most recent project, I can finally blog about it! These Are Dangerous Waters is my most personal, fully realized picture book to date. It is an idea I first outlined in late 2009, that has grown to accommodate many of the interests I have cultivated in the years since then.
With this book, I really wanted to push the limits of my style, experiment, and try new techniques. I began the project with the goal that I would work towards more shape-oriented compositions and a designed aesthetic, but with little idea how reaching in this direction might look. I first tried drawing in silhouettes, then adding flourishes of brushwork and willow charcoal. It was not until I began to make textural rubber stamp mono-prints and finally embraced the pen tool in Photoshop that things finally started to come together.
Looking at the graphic posters of Tom Purvis, I decided to draw a little less self-consciously and then discover what shapes were already there in the image, choosing areas of pure white highlights and simplifying from there. This turned out to be one approach I would return to as I continued the project.
The toughest element was also the meat of the story, in which one image, a fantastical sea creature, becomes just another mundane feature of an ocean liner. After completing the first draft of a cover design, thumbnailing the book, and wringing my hands over a few sketches, it was clear to me that symmetry was an important design element. Adding that basic concept to the workflow I had developed for more figurative images in the story finally got the ball rolling.
The final piece of the puzzle was the text. My professors Marshall Arisman and Carl Titolo encouraged me to go wordless, but I worried about how understandable the concept would be as well as the complete forfeiture of a slightly more complex reading of the story. After an exciting and helpful meeting with my future thesis advisor, Stephen Savage, I finally was able to let go of my weighty, descriptive, dialogue-filled first draft, and write a more pared down, suggestive version. You can read the book as an epub file here and all of the images are gathered on my SERIES page.
Ultimately, I am really happy with the way it came out. Of course, there are a few moments and pictures that I would love another chance to tackle someday. Any suggestions or critique for that eventuality would be much appreciated. I plan to send out copies to prospective agents and publishers once my thesis is nearing completion. Check back again soon for more new work!