Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Sunday 29 September 2019

CBCA 2019 Awards Acceptance speech - Daniel Gray-Barnett

I know I speak for many Tasmanians when I say how thrilled we are when our local residents are recognised for their talents. This week Daniel Gray-Barnett, recipient of the 2019 CBCA Award for New Illustration, shares his recent acceptance speech and a couple of lovely photos taken during the Awards presentation.

Daniel’s talents were recognised for the delightful Grandma Z – the sort of a grandmother that sings to the imaginative, dare devil and adventurous spirit hidden within every child. If you have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Grandma Z watch this preview courtesy of Storybox Library.

Now to Daniel’s acceptance speech…

Daniel Gray-Barnett with his award winning book and medallion

I’d like to thank the Children’s Book Council of Australia as well as the judges for this incredible honour.

A big thank you to my publisher, Miriam Rosenbloom and the team at Scribble Kids for their faith in my work and giving me the opportunity to bring Grandma Z to life. It’s probably fitting that this book didn’t start with a manuscript at all, but with some illustrations of the characters that I did just for fun. I posted them to my Instagram and thought that would be the end of it.

Miriam saw them and convinced me that these characters had a really good story to tell. So we did. I’m very grateful, Miri, for your vision - working on Grandma Z has opened up doors in my career.

My earliest memory of falling in love with books was in Grade 2, when my teacher Ms Wootton, was reading to us The BFG. Of course, there is no question that Roald Dahl’s stories are captivating, but for me, the thing that really hooked me onto this book thing, was Quentin Blake’s illustrations.

Something about his scratchy drawings of a big-eared giant sparked my imagination. It was magical and I was (and still am really) in love. It was a stepping stone to imagining the rest of that world for myself. So for me, and I imagine a lot of other kids, illustration was and is an equally powerful way of connecting with stories and growing a love of books.

To all the teachers, librarians and booksellers who champion illustration and visual literacy with their students and kids - thank you so much, what you do makes a difference.

Daniel Gray-Barnett with Bob Graham at the
2019 CBCA Awards event
I’d like to commend the other artists and their terrific work - what they each do is so unique, skilful and difficult - and it’s important work too. I’m very proud to be in such a talented group.

Lastly, I just want to thank my husband, without his support I would find it very hard to do what I do.

Thank you everyone.

Daniel Gray-Barnett
W: https://danielgraybarnett.com/

Editor’s note: Daniel is the guest speaker at the CBCA Tasmania AGM at 11.00 am on the 2 November 2019 at Hadley’s Hotel. RSVP tas@cbca.org.au
Visit https://www.cbcatas.org/ for details.

Saturday 21 September 2019

Consistency in a series from an illustrator’s perspective

Alyssa Bermudez, Hobart based illustrator, shares illustrator's insights into the challenges of representing characters that appear over multiple stories. Discover two very different characters in Amelia Chamelia and Lucia the Luchadora.

As an illustrator, it is my job to create the images that help enrich books for children. When I first receive the text for a story, my initial process involves reading it over and over again. I sit, lay, walk and drive with the text in my mind for a period of time to start putting together a visual narrative. This visual narrative is inspired by the text of course, but it also goes beyond that. It is a non verbal language that adds another layer to the story that the text doesn’t explicitly say. This perfect combination of text and additional visual narrative is the great achievement that any children’s illustrator strives for. 

After the initial stage, I start imagining the characters and the world they live in. For the Lucia the Luchadora series, their family heritage was front and centre for me as I began the process of their visual depiction. I set out to find cultural references and colours to inspire their world. For the Amelia Chamelia series, I tried to figure out how to make her stand out yet also be relatable to other eight-year-old Australian girls. Before any pencils hit paper, a lot of research and thought was involved. I feel as though I truly know the characters before I start to draw them.

To provide consistency to these characters across multiple pages and books is also a unique challenge. While they need to look like the same person with the same proportions, their body language and emotional range needs to be as diverse as the readers themselves. Amelia Chamelia faces a huge challenge of public speaking when she is assigned the role of narrator in the school play. Her best friend Willow also faces a fear of heights during the school swimming test. Portraying these very real emotions in visual form can help engage early readers along the journey. 

Creating consistency in style can be an interesting challenge too, especially when illustrating a series. Lucia the Luchadora set the style for the sequel, but I still tried to introduce new colours and characters into the culturally rich world they live in. Amelia Chamelia is simple black and white interior illustrations, so even though the artistic style doesn’t change throughout, the characters and expressions are diverse. 

Each book is an exciting opportunity to explore style, consistency and nuance of character for visual storytelling. An illustrator’s work is never over! Stay tuned for more of my illustrated books coming soon including My Singing Nana! 

Alyssa Bermudez
Children’s and commercial illustrator
T: @bermudezbahama