Sunday, July 18, 2010

We like it, but we don't.

A while back I got a very exciting email from a schoolbook publisher asking me whether I would like to do some illustrations for them. I agreed to draw a couple of sketches for them to judge. I know, you're not supposed to do work for someone without getting paid, even if it's just previews. Thing is, I really really wanted this job. Illustrating schoolbooks, can you imagine? So many children would grow up with my drawings.

The publisher emailed me sample poems and texts from the future schoolbook. Unfortunately, after I sent in my first proposition, they replied with a list of changes which would require me to start over completely (at the same time, they said they liked the drawing very much. It just wasn't quite right, and could I try another style, and perhaps change the colours, and not have so many lines in it?).

With two jobs, I don't exactly have time right now to draw something over and over again when I'm not getting paid for it. But I had an idea for another poem from the batch, and since the publisher left me the choice of trying a new illustration instead of redoing the first one, I did just that.

I sent in a rough sketch (as per their directions). The reply was a laconic and worrying: "It's very nice." I sent in the finished illustration a couple of days later.

That was two weeks ago. I didn't get a reply, and I don't think I should expect one. Therefore, here are the rejected illustrations.

The mine


It's a funny thing. Many of their comments to the first illustration were about how dark it was, how the colours were sad and not bright enough.* I had a vivid flashback to an art class some twenty years ago, when the teacher looked at my painting of 'Summer' and asked "But why is everything so sad?"

I tried twice more to paint something 'happier'. Couldn't do it. Of course, that was also the same teacher who claimed real artists never made pencil sketches first, so what did he know, huh?

Either way my self-esteem isn't quite sure what to do with itself right now.

* It's supposed to be a drawing of a mysterious and legendary mine. I was purposely staying as far away as possible from rainbow glows and sparkly lanterns, which would have annoyed Seven-Year-Old-Me to no end, but I suppose that was a mistake.


  1. I can see why the cave image is considered 'sad':
    The cave image is very droopy and covered in snow, which is cold and makes most people miserable. The stalactites resemble frozen tears, given the overall cold-ness of the picture. The timbers are not at square angles denoting either erecting in haste or left to neglect. Overall the amount of 'negative emotion' visuals is larger than the number of 'positive emotion' visuals resulting in a 'sad' picture.

    Personally I like the picture, but I can understand why people think it is sad.

  2. That's fine, but it's supposed to be a picture of an underground place- a dark salt mine. How happy can that be?

    I thought it was mysterious rather than sad, but that's just me.


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