You may remember that I’ve done some illustration work for the online fiction magazine Fictive Dream. I love working for editor Laura Black and I also love being involved in the world of short fiction in this way. I’ve found the process of reading a story and turning it to something visual to be really satisfying in a way I can’t quite describe – there’s the challenge of “seeing” what the words say and then conveying it that I love.
Recently Laura asked me if I would illustrate an upcoming story for the magazine. I was happy to do so. The story, Lebruchio & Father, Movers, by Louis Gallo, appears today at Fictive Dream.
I used a variety of materials and techniques in these images. For Image 1, I collaged painted magazine papers to make the house against an acrylic-painted background (the grass with a few pieces of paper thrown in). I drew the truck in basic form on a sheet of paper, to serve as a pattern (my intention was to use the same truck in both pictures).
I then drew the truck’s details, minus the logo, and adhered it to the image.
For Image 2, I used a brush dip pen and India ink to draw the image – in this picture, the truck was drawn on the paper along with everything else, using the truck pattern. I filled in the details, minus the logo, and then used acrylic inks to color the picture.
To make the logo for the truck took some research time. It’s the most prominent part of the picture (I think when you include print in an art image it always attracts the first glance, which is why you have to be careful with adding words to art). I reviewed various typefaces and chose one with elements I liked. I used Word to arrange it in a circle shape. Then, not tracing it but using it as a reference and modifying it as I liked, I drew the logo. I scanned it, then cut each one out, put it on a black background so that it would have a border, and adhered them to the images.
Many times the fun of illustration is choosing the mediums and techniques that I think will best represent the text (unless the medium is specified by the commissioning party, of course, in which case my challenge is to work with that added parameter).
Here are the images. Go to Fictive Dream and read the story – see which one Laura chose and how it fits the story…
Now that you’ve viewed the art, here’s more info if you are interested in seeing past works of illustration for Fictive Dream – I’ve given a few links and if you want to know more, search my blog under the topic: Fictive Dream.
And…here are links to the events at the magazine’s site, Fictive Dream.
That is a sad story. And I do like the clear illustration better.
But clearly the author hasn’t actually moved lately. The unrealistic aspect of that really bothered me. My last move took 5 hours and 3 people, and it was mostly boxes. One able-bodied person could never manage moving a house full of furniture no matter how much equipment he had.
Yes, it’s interesting, when I read this story, I envisioned it as a stage play, and so there would be no actual moving van and the house was sparsely furnished, sort of just enough to symbolize moving, and the characters were the main focus, not the action. I think I did this because I thought the same thing. Even moving a kid to college takes up a van, no way a house could be cleared by two people. Anyway, this required me to revise my mental images when I illustrated the story because it was clear the moving van would best accompany the story. An interesting challenge for me since for once the vision I had of the story, is not the thing I submitted.
It would work much better as the drama you envisioned. The balance of the relationship is a compelling idea.
That story was unexpectedly poignant. There was a line that made me think it was going to go in a different direction with a different theme and message and then it veered off into very sad territory. Like memadtwo, I was also bothered by the lack of realism to ground the story. As someone who has moved a heck of a lot, I know what is really involved in such ventures.
Anyway, I really like both illustrations. I probably prefer the collage as a work of art, maybe because the darker colours frame the white van in a more striking way, but I think the second image probably suits the story more. There is something about the trees in that second image in particular that struck me as apt, something about life cycles and them being in a stage where they could be shedding the leaves or showing new growth.
Thank you. As I said to Kerfe, when I read this story I envisioned it as a stage play with minimal props and so on. In that way I could arrange it so the focus was on the characters and the relationships and not on the trying to get reality to jive with the action in the story (because like you I have moved and there is no way a whole house can get cleared in this manner. Not to mention you can just call up a mover and he comes right over). In doing the illustration I needed to figure out how to convey an image that would accompany the story but not explain it, and the best way was the moving van, even though it really had nothing to do with what the story was focusing on, it did symbolize the passage of life. I had hoped the story would go differently myself, too. As for the illustrations, I like the collage better, it’s a better artwork, I think, but the other one does the illustration job better, I think.
I love your illustration. But I was hoping the story would have a more uplifting ending/message.
Thank you. I totally agree with you about the story’s ending. I felt uncomfortable with the way the father was dismissed as useless and everyone sort of denigrated him. It has unpleasant overtones of who is useful to society and it’s clear here, the old don’t count for much. Being a person not so young, I just thought – wait until the son has his kid working with him and the kid puts him in this place…
I appreciate your explanation of how you did the illustrations. Both turned out so well. The story was excellent and full of feeling, including humor.
Thank you. It’s always fun and enlightening to illustrate a story and try to get the essence of it into a picture.
You’re welcome. Update on my collage: I’m about halfway done with it. I’m using a small pair of scissors to cut and a glue stick to adhere. My plan is to cover the whole thing with a matte finish afterwards. If you would be so kind as to tell me what materials you use for cutting and adhering?
I use scissors (whatever is around, I usually use cheap ones since I tend to get glue or paint on them) or else I tear the paper, for two different kinds of edge effects. For adhesive, I mostly use acrylic matte medium or gel medium. It dries clear, holds well, and is archivally friendly. I also sometimes use PVA glue or even Elmer’s permanent glue (not washable). With glue sticks, if you use the usual kind found in craft stores, they may not hold permanently. I believe there are glue sticks that are permanent but I haven’t really looked into it. I use the brush on matte medium as a finish as well, though I also sometimes spray them instead (especially if I used non-waterproof inks in drawings on the collage) or a gloss medium if I want them to be shiny. Hope this helps!
Yes it does, very much, thank you!
Some interesting comments about this story. I think it’s important to remember that, as Claudia, says, the scene is symbolic of moving rather than a realistic account of moving house. I liked both illustrations but the second one had the edge for me. I preferred the palette and the inclusion of trees in the background. All in all, the chosen image is more vibrant. Thank you, Claudia.
It was clear to me upfront that this story was not a realistic story of moving, and for me the solution in reading it was to imagine it as a play, where obviously the cast is limited (I imagined the other moving men). It focuses you on the message of the story, which I am not sure I like much and I think current events have brought the conflict between generations into a different light (which the author could not know at the time of writing the story). I wonder how it would have been if this story had been set as two generations of lawyers, for instance, also. Anyway, I think the story is thought provoking and in the end, that’s what counts. Illustrating it was a pleasure – I love drawing trucks!