“Illustration” or “A Couple Thousand Words are Worth Some Pictures”

Long before Danielle E. Shipley was a fantasy novelist and short story scribe, she was a picture-book author. Her (or rather, “my”, since narration in the third-person ends now) first literary projects, painstakingly crafted via children’s PC writing software, were only minimally about words, and might even never include any beyond the title. An actual story was all very well, but I was really just in it for the pictures.

            Obviously, things have changed. Nowadays, I’ll typically put out a few ten-thousand words before I create so much as a piece of fan art. My primary concern is to take what’s in my head and reproduce in yours via description and dialogue and something else that begins with a “D”, because I like alliterative lists of three. As the poet said, “I should be painting this masterpiece with words / Creating colors from adjectives and verbs / Every brushstroke should be a keystroke / Make you feel that you’re seeing what you’ve heard.” (The poet being me, the complete poem to be found here.) I am a writer, first and foremost.

           But I’m a visual artist, too.

            I’ve entertained brief fantasies of being an author/creator of “visual matter used to clarify or decorate a text” – a phenomenon most often seen in children’s books, but by no means always.

“The Plucker”, written and illustrated by Brom, is about the last thing you’d want to read to your little ones at bedtime. I read it in my young-adulthood, and the scars have yet to fade.

Quite honestly, though, I’m not sure how well Author Me and Illustrator Me would get along together. Author Me sees her work a certain way – a way that would take superior skill to render to her satisfaction. And Illustrator Me, though talented within her own style, is no Brom, Brett Helquist, or some other illustrator whose name begins with “Br”.

            So I’d more or less given up on ever illustrating a published book. And apparently, I’d given up a wee bit early.

            “A Cuppa and an Armchair” – which, you may recall, totally rocked my world by including a short story of mine in their December 2011 publication – has another set of stories scheduled to go up for sale any day now. One of these stories will have been written by me. Another will have been illustrated by me. I guess the sample of work in my Deviant Art gallery was less than entirely off-putting, because I was tapped to put together some images for one of my fellow “Cuppa/Armchair” writers, and I got the impression that she was pleased with my offering.

            I’ll be sure to let you all know when my words and pictures launch – which will just go to illustrate that even largely abandoned dreams may yet come true.

6 thoughts on ““Illustration” or “A Couple Thousand Words are Worth Some Pictures”

    • Thanks! Ooh, wow — it’s only just hit me that some little kid out there may get the story I illustrated read to them and love gazing at the pictures. ^^ How absolutely amazing would that be? (:

      • Fabulous! Maybe you’ll even get fan mail! My son and I have been known to send an encouraging letter or two. My mentality is, that if you’ve actually got something nice to say, you might as well say it!

  1. I met Meg Medina (children’s and picture book author) at a conference once. Her class on how to craft picture books taught me that it takes a special talent to do that well. Congrats on your success!!

    • Thank you very much! It was a unique challenge, putting together a series of cohesive images to go with someone else’s vision. I’m looking forward to reader feedback. 🙂

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