Around the beginning of summer I did a few concept drawings for three original fairy tales for children by a Bulgarian author. It was an exciting project and I quite enjoyed doing the artwork for it as the stories were so rich in characters. I hadn’t done anything so focused in a long time, I always try to add meaning and ideas of my own, so to me it was all about going back to that point of drawing from visual imagination – what we see in our heads when we read a story.
I tried to come up with original ideas with traditional tools, so to speak. I looked up a lot of old illustrations to fairy tales like Arthur Rackham, Virginia Sterrett, Tōshi Yoshida, and Cicely Mary Barker, but also a lot of contemporary ones like Angela Barrett, Chiaki Okada, Isabelle Arsenault, and the concept art for Tangled and Enchanted. It was incredible to look up all those illustrators I had glimpses of when I was younger, they were the most beautiful and magical things I’d seen and in a way they made me fall in love with illustration. So I wanted with this project to inspire the same thing but at the same time, not simplify it as much as a lot of illustrators today seem to do for children’s books.
So what I came up with as initial sketches were these…
I really enjoyed working on the stories even though I wasn’t sure what exactly I was aiming for in terms of a visual pattern, specific style or touch. That started becoming much clearer once I started working on the coloured images.