Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Going Digital

As an art director and art buyer I have seen a huge change in the industry in the last decade. There is no bigger change then the need (requirement!) for all art to be in digital form.

I don't mean the art has to be created digitally but that it has to arrive on our desks in some digital manner. I am speaking mostly about textbook work and don't know if trade houses are the same. Publishers just don't want to take the risk or incur the costs of shipping art from and artist and back again.

I am happy to say that most artists I have worked with have adjusted nicely. Oh I do understand the outrage as some say they have to go to an outside source to have their scans done and so incur a cost that the publishers won't reimburse. But so many artists have bought desktop scanners and learned to use them as any other art tool. We may have to adjust colors when we get the art but its still better than having to send it in the mail.

I have seen many artists actually adapt their style to being created all digitally as well. At one point you could tell what was "computer generated art" but not anymore. With programs like Painter and Photoshop, I have received art that I swear is a watercolor painting only to learn that it was all done on the computer. With the advent of FTP sites, services like or just e-mail, we have been able to work with artists all over the world. And worrying about getting art mailed in time and safely has disappeared.

But I have one friend who is an artist and she has done lots of work for me in the past. When I tell her I can offer her work but it must be digital she grumbles. But slowly, even she sees the advantages. Not only does it give her more opportunities for work but she can now control colors more easily, adjust them quickly on the computer and never worry about spilling ink on a nearly finished painting!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Art Directing Your Own Book

So I am in a rare situation. Usually you are a writer or an art director, not both.

I am lucky. I had not co started Red Chair Press so I could write again but the opportunity was there. We needed one more book for our Living Healthy series and it was assigned to me.  I thought of many different scenarios without much luck. Then I remembered a story I had kicking around for the last decade that never made it into a book. With some simple changes I could turn it into the fun, simply written tale with a twist on keeping in shape. Its called The Runner King.

After my publishing partner edited me into shape it was time to get it illustrated. And this has become a great joy for me. Not only do I get to write, but I then get to hire my favorite artists to illustrate the stories.

For this book that meant trying to hire my old friend, Jui Ishida, to illustrate this story. I just saw her art in my head as I wrote it and wanted her to do the pictures very badly!

I was very happy when Jui said yes. Her art is beautiful to look at and adds a dimension not seen in the written text. The final art far exceeds my vision.

So its not often you get a chance to bring a long dormant story to life. And to have it wonderfully illustrated is all the sweeter!