I have admired the work of Jochen Gerner for a while now. His style is pure cartooning — taking the complex, and abstracting it into something simple. This minimalist, geometric approach to drawing is not limited to just the design of characters and objects, but also to the layout of the illustrations themselves. The illustrations become diagrams, allowing the viewer to take in a lot of information at a glance.
Looking through his sketchbooks reveals the mind of an artist constantly honing his illustrative shorthand, and his own cartooning vocabulary.
His experiments in abstraction and subtraction is no more evident than in a series of modified IKEA catalogue pages:
When I visited the Owlkids booth at TCAF this year, I was pleased to see that their publishing imprint had released a fun book of drawing activities for kids called ARTastic!: 200+ Art Smart Activities. It’s a colouring book with puzzles, challenges, and creativity-sparking activities all drawn in Gerner’s simple, chunky, kid-friendly lines.
It’s quite similar to Japanese artist Taro Gomi’s equally awesome and art-smart Scribbles, Doodles, and Squiggles drawing books for kids — books that encourage creativity and thinking by requiring one to colour outside the lines.
One of my favourite scores from TCAF this year was a copy of Becky Dreistadt and Frank Gibson‘s Tigerbuttah book. Printed like a vintage Golden Book, the story follows the perfect retro-styled adventures of young Tigerbuttah rediscovering his imagination. The printing for the book was done by the Golden Books people themselves, so it looks and feels just like the real deal. In fact, its silver foil spine (the gold spine is copyrighted) is the only giveaway that this book is slightly different, and kind of special.
Tigerbuttah is available through the fine folks at Topatoco.
Don’t forget to visit Tiny Kitten Teeth for more Tigerbuttah adventures and comics.
Do check out this new blog by the very prolific artist, Kagan Mcleod, focusing on his favourite musicians (above = Freestyle Fellowship). Says Kagan,
This is just a random collection of fan art, mostly done in the hour before I go to bed, for fun. My tastes are pretty wide so I hope there will be something for everyone — I’d say my favourites are almost everything ’50s, ’60s and early-’70s, along with ’80s and ’90s rap and R & B, and a scant helping of more recent stuff.
For anyone interested in children’s book illustration, this month is a milestone because Picturing Canada: A History of Children’s Illustrated Books and Publishing has finally been released by the University of Toronto Press.
It’s the fruit of 11 years of research by Gail Edwards and Judith Saltman, plus their hordes of graduate students from the University of British Columbia. While there are about 60 reproductions of illustrations in this book, it is a scholarly study rather than a coffee-table book – but it is very readable and not boring in the least if you’re at all interested in the topic. They use extensive quotes from interviews with well over 100 people – illustrators, authors, publishers, librarians, critics – about all aspects of the production, selling, politics and reception of kids’ books. It is truly mandatory reading for anyone whose work is intended for Canadian children, whether you work in books, animation, toys, or theatre.
In the course of this research, the team at UBC in Vancouver have also put together excellent online resources like this bibliography, and guide; and there is also an exhibition of children’s book illustration.
The official launch is today, Thursday May 27, at 5 p.m. at Ben McNally Books in Toronto.
At TCAF I snagged a copy of Phil McAndrew‘s latest minicomic Feral Pizza. That Feral Pizza cartoon. Oh man. I chuckle every time I look at it. Phil’s non sequitur sense of humour and inky illustration style are like some unlikely combination of B. Kliban and Ronald Searle, two of my heroes. Cartoons from Feral Pizza can be seen at Phil’s Flickr page, along with countless others.
Phil also plugs away each month at Picture Book Report, illustrating scenese from From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
3 X 3 Magazine, a very important publication in the field of contemporary illustration, is putting on a conference. Called Nuts and Bolts, it is designed to give students a leg up. Editor and organizer Charles Hively writes,
One of the reasons I want to do this conference is that I don’t believe young illustrators get off on the right foot. No school has time to adequately prepare a student illustrator—or designer or fine artist for that matter—for the real world and as a result the illustration industry remains static. Fees haven’t changed in forty years. Illustration has lost much of the respect it once had among art directors, editors and advertisers. But I feel that can change if we provide young illustrators with a better set of tools and that’s why this conference is so important.
If you happen to be near Northampton, MA this upcoming Sunday, you should swing by the Academy of Music for a special afternoon of Mo Willems’ animated shorts, benefiting the Forbes Library’s Children’s Department.
If you’re in the Northampton, MA area this Sunday at 2pm, please join me at the fantastic Academy of Music downtown for
Cartoon-A-Palooza!, an afternoon of my animated cartoons to benefit the Forbes Library.
It’ll be a fun afternoon of Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, & Cartoon Network shorts, plus the full library of animated versions of my books: Leonardo the Terrible Monster, Knuffle Bunny, Knuffle Bunny Too, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and the world premier of The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!
These are seldom seen shorts that have won 2 Carnegie Medals, Best in Show at the NY International Children’s Film Fest, multiple ASIFA-East awards, & more!
Tickets are available at the box office, the Library, or on-line. Every penny will go to much needed repairs in the children’s and youth section of the library.
After the show, I’ll be on hand to sign special edition Elephant and Piggie posters featuring the books of 40 local authors such as Norton Juster, Holly Black, Julius Lester, Tony DiTerlizzi, and Jane Yolen.
For more information or to buy tickets online, visit the Forbes Library website.