Challenges of the week give artists the opportunity to create new and fantastic art based on a weekly theme set by the challenge moderators. They are also a great place to develop core skills.
Being featured on ConceptArt.org can get your artwork viewed by millions of artists a month including big industry leaders.
|Color and Light||1.1||Do Assignment|
|Color and Light||1.2||Do Assignment||1.3 | 1.4|
|Illusion of Space and Atmosphere||1||Do Assignment|
|Personal Art||1.1||Do Assignment|
There are picture books for adults in the sense that:
-they're meant for children, but they're good for adults, too. (Ex: Shaun Tan's Lost and Found)
-they look like they're for kids, but they're actually for adults because they're too inappropriate. (Ex: Adam Mansbach's Go the F**k to Sleep)
-they're graphic novels or comic books.
I dislike the notion that 'pictures are for kids'.
What about picture books for adults because...they're meant for adults? Like the way you wouldn't give a book like Passage to India to a 6-year-old (that is, it's for adults because of its sensibilities and complexity of understanding, rather than obscenity). I'm talking about picture books as a (hypothical) genre that is as broad as the fiction/fantasy/sci-fi/historical/romance/classic/etc. genres. I'm talking about books with the format of a children's picture book (creatively integrated text, illustration/graphic design-heavy, generally non-sequential) combined with the complexity of both fine art and a novel like Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. (Not talking about graphic novels, though. No comic sans font, bolded words for emphasis, panels of sequential art... Not that genre.)
It could be like a children's book, except without the usual constraints (does it have any inappropriate themes, does it educate or inspire in a way that is socially acceptable, are the words simple enough, are there too many pages...).
Imagine this conversation in a parallel universe where there is no public notion of 'pictures are for kids':
"Hey, have you heard about _______ [title of some hypothetical adult picture book]? It's been getting a lot of reviews. Haven't read it myself yet. I'm still on ______ [title of another adult picture book]."
"Yyyes, I have. Kind of. I read it quickly on the first read, then went back and ended up spending, like, fifteen minutes on each page, trying to analyze the picture, then the text, then the picture and the text in relation to each other, then the symbols, and the overarching themes...yeah. I'm still kind of thinking about it. I gotta say, this one's a doozy for me. At one point, (you don't mind mild spoilers, right? Right.) there's this squint-or-you'll-miss-it bit of text in a specific part of the illustration that might or might not have been text, or even intended at all, and if you take it seriously it changes the entire book. Seriously. I was looking from my tarot deck to the book to the tarot deck again and I was like...'what is the difference.'"
"Wow. I have a friend who beat you, though--"
"--The attic guy who spends his whole time in the attic on one book at a time?"
"Yes. Stop calling him that. Anyway, he's got you beat. I told you he usually goes through books really fast, right? I talked to him last Tuesday, and he said he took the whole month this time to get through and move on from ________."
(Note: Conversation I made up off the top of my head; I hope you don't mind that I'm expounding unnecessarily on this. I've been thinking about this idly for awhile now, and there are just so many scenarios and possibilities bouncing around in my head...)
And what I think would be the cherry on top: writer and illustrator finding each other organically, working together through the whole process like two close collaborators, rather than being uncommunicative and match-made by a publishing company; the picture book equivalent of today's indie game developers.
I expect that there are already people out there who are two steps ahead of me and already published such books, but I have no idea who they are or whether they are many or few. Am I living under a rock and they've been there this whole time? Is there a demand for this kind of picture book? Would it be a foolish pursuit to produce such a book? How unrealistic is any of what I've said above? Am I missing something? Because right now I wish this actually existed and I could walk to Barnes & Noble and find that half the store is picture books, divided into sub-genres.
Last edited by Kuroyue; August 16th, 2012 at 05:48 AM.
I just have to wonder how much would those cost to print, especially if the pictures are large, coloured and there's lots of pages. I mean I don't know the differences in prints between countries but I can't expect that to be exactly cheap, and thus might require a more safer base of buyers to lift so that books like that would be available more widely.
Though I do have a feeling I've seen a book like that somewhere but I can't remember what it was..
It wouldn't necessarily have to be longer; that would completely depend on the story. It'd just have to be...not targeted at kids. A story fit into a picture book format, normal page count, could still be as complex as any book, but it would have to depend on the quality and interpretability of the writing and illustration, and maybe the use of subtle cues and symbolic imagery, rather than tons of action and plot twists. Basically, denser. Anyway, don't children's book writers do that already? They don't have the luxury of spanning three paragraphs on one page, so every word counts a lot. It'd be the same thing, except broader in scope.
And if you remember what that book is called, I'll gladly look it up.
Last edited by Kuroyue; August 16th, 2012 at 06:50 AM.
There is a great market for picture books in your first category, the ones that work for both children and adults. You already mentioned Shaun Tan, and there are many others who have been able to pull this off, such as Maurice Sendak, John Muth, John Klassen, Peter Sis, etc.
When you get into the second category, the problem is simply that the market is much smaller. Most adults are not looking for picture books for themselves. I have a friend, Tim Decker, who does some pretty nice picture books mainly aimed at adults, and despite lots of great reviews, his sales are pretty anemic. The only 'hits' in this category are the ones that capture mass media attention based on a clever concept, such as "Go the **** to sleep" which you mentioned. Peter Sis just did a stunning book, "Conference of the Birds", which is not for kids. I think it will do okay based on his name, but it won't sell the kind of numbers his actual kids' books do.
So, the genre exists, there are publishers who occasionally step into that area, but it is not mainstream. We can wish it were otherwise, but there it is. If you have a strong enough concept, go for it. You may be able to make it work for you. But IMO you're better off if you can hit the sweet spot where it's appropriate for both kids and adults.
I will also add that I think you're optimistic about being able to pack something really sophisticated into 32 pages. I have some standard-length picture books I love for the sophistication of the *art*(most of them are by Russians; my fav is probably "The Brave Little Tailor" by Olga Dugina and Andrej Dugin)-- but the *stories* in that format feel too short. You don't need 100 pages, but I think you need to go beyond 32. All the examples I can think of with good stories for adults are at least 64 pages. Which is a perfectly reasonable picture book length, except that it pretty much doubles the printing, shipping and storage costs and make it that much riskier of a bet for the publisher.
Other titles worth checking out
The Tasks of Tantalon (Stephen Lavis)
The Casket of Souls (Iain Mccaig)
The Ultimate Alphabet (Milk Wilks) This is one of the most incredible books I
have ever seen. Each page is a letter of the alphabet and contains a scene
filled with objects only beginning with that letter.
The Butterfly Ball (Alan Aldridge)
The Lions Cavalcade (Aldrige)
I own all these. Incredible art and incredible inspiration.
Some are out of print but can be found quite easily and cheaply
online. There are others in print circulation as well worth looking up.
Faeries by Froud and Lee, Goblins of Labyrinth by Froud and Miles Teves...
The examples I listed are a good combo of containing both adult and kid elements. Interestingly enough
The Butterfly Ball is actually quite a dark book with a lot of sinister stuff going on in it.
The Ultimate Alphabet has quite a bit of tasteful nudity as well.
Last edited by Star Eater; August 16th, 2012 at 08:13 PM.
They are out there but hard to find. Most are not marketable on a large scale so they just don't get seen.
Versions like Broms "Child Thief" still have a lot of text but more pics than we are used to in a novel. Peter Sis has done many of the first kind of book you are talking about but also did "Conference of the Birds" but it is really only marketable to those who like his work and the idea of owning a book as object. I have something called "The Exquisite Book" which is a collaboration between many artists dealing with a continuing theme but no real story.
And for me that's what it comes down to. How many people are willing to spend money on something to own as a beautiful object because there are relatively few of us who genuinely know how or want to read pictures.
In a way what you are describing can be put in the graphic novel arena.
Well, there's the obvious one, Dinotopia by James Gurney. Legend of Steel Bashaw by Petar Mezeldzija is also really good.
Other than that I know there's this guy who was on kickstarter a while ago who was making this whole fantasy world thing... Forgot his name though. :/
Nick Bantock's Griffin and Sabine books were bestsellers in the early '90s.
**Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial
Crash Course for Artists, Illustrators, and Cartoonists, NYC, the 2013 Edition!
"Work is more fun than fun."
"Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
Thanks for all the namedrops, guys! Am going to check them out...
@mickeymao: I realize I am pretty optimistic about picture books as a sophisticated storytelling medium, but I think it's true that this is a format that has quite a lot of potential, but has been underexplored because it's always been restricted to the kiddy genre.
Also, I'm pretty sure we adults can appreciate simple stories, too. For example, if this comic strip was a little more polished and published as a picture book I would be sorely tempted to buy it:
(Source: Lalage/Tongari/Hwei Lim @ Tumblr)
(Pssst, check out that blog. It is a good blog.)
Back in the seventies and eighties there were a whole bunch, especially after "Gnomes" came out and kicked off a trend of fantasy reference books... I remember "Gnomes", the sequel to "Gnomes", "Faeries", "Giants", "Witches"... There was one for dragons, too, and one for unicorns, and I'm pretty sure one for mermaids...
And there were a lot of oddball adult/all ages picture books floating around, I snap them up when I find them in used book stores. Here's some I have, not counting graphic novels, comics, manga, BD, or compilations of cartoons:
Everything by Edward Gorey
"After Man", Dougal Dixon
Michael Moorcock and Rodney Matthews, "Elric at the End of Time"
"Barlowes Guide to Extraterrestrials", Wayne Barlowe (also have his later "Guide to Fantasy")
Peter Dickinson, "The Flight of Dragons"
Alan Lee, "Castles"
"Pile" by Brian W. Aldiss and Mike Wilks
Ralph Steadman, "Sigmund Freud"
Ralph Steadman and Hunter S. Thompson, "The Curse of Lono"
Kit Williams, "Masquerade" and the untitled bee book
"World Tales" by Idries Shah
"Orestes and the Art of Smiling", Domenico Gnoli
Tomi Ungerer's "Eroticon" (don't have this yet, but I've seen it and want it, it's friggin' massive...)
And two that were in my library when I was a kid that I don't have but really really want are "The Elegant Beast" and "The Peacock Party"...
Some more modern ones that I have:
"Plucker" by Brom
"The Last Hero", Terry Pratchett and Paul Kidby
"Mind Fields", Harlan Ellison and Jacek Yerka
Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, "Stardust"
Dinotopia and the sequel, James Gurney
"Opus" and "Opus 2" by Barry Windsor Smith
"Robota", Doug Chiang and Orson Scott Card
"Barlowes Inferno" and "Expedition", by Wayne Barlowe
A bunch of books by Amano...
And quite a lot of books by Brian Froud...
I also have a ton of illustrated classics, including eight different copies of the Rubaiyat; some are so heavily illustrated they may as well be picture books.
And there's some older oddments out there, if you can find them. Like Max Ernst's collage books, or Burne Jones' flower book...
Last edited by QueenGwenevere; August 16th, 2012 at 11:18 PM.
I can add Shaun Tan's "The Arrival" to this list. The best glimpse of emigrant's perspective ever, told without a single word.
Also, Brian Froud's "Good faeries / Bad faeries".
And Terryl Whitlatch's gorgeous "The Katurran Odyssey".