When we think about children’s books we think about faraway lands, magical adventures and swashbuckling pirates. The attraction of kid’s books is clear for everybody to see, and JJ Rowling and JRR Tolkein took a children’s concept and made it accessible to everybody.
So, which up-and-coming writer/illustrator would not want to get involved with such a literary world as this. Today publishing children’s books is booming and just in the UK the children’s book market grew nearly 10 percent in 2016.
This market is tough to crack, and many artists/writers find it hard to break into initially. To prove this point even the great Theodor Seuss Geisel the creator of Dr. Seuss had thirty rejections from publishers before getting his first book published.
So just how do you become a children’s book illustrator?
Encourage Your Imagination
The imagination of a child has no boundaries, and as an illustrator neither should yours. Encourage the avant-garde side of your imagination be it if you are writing and illustrating or illustrating somebody else’s text. You need to create highly imaginative, original and inspired work.
Use lots of color to bring out your illustrations, nothing grabs a child’s attention more than shocking pink dinosaurs, or yellow and black spotted whales. Be passionate about your vision and develop your own personal style.
Be Prepared to Work Hard
There is plenty of rejection in the literary world, both for writers and illustrators but once your work is accepted then prepare to work very hard indeed. Johnny Duddle is a world famous illustrator, he has created two covers for books by JK Rowling and also worked on the jacket covers for Bloomberg Publishing’s Harry Potter series. Duddle says that stamina is important, and the work always takes longer than you first think. So maintaining your passion and imagination over long periods of time is probably the hardest thing an illustrator has to face.
Don’t Expect it to be Easy
Many illustrators and writers try to enter the world of children’s books as they are under a misapprehension that it is easier than other forms of literature, but this is far from the truth. Children’s books is a highly competitive market, and it is almost like a completely different language both in word and drawings.
It is not about making something pretty, it heavily relies on a good story, strong emotions, and vivid colors, and of course a wild imagination. Learning to be a children’s book illustrator can be highly challenging both from a technical point of view and a practical one.
Children’s books have a baffling array of genres, and caters for a wide audience, from babies to teenagers, parents to grandparents. Kids tales can be about family, folklore, fairy tales and just about anything you can think of.
Do not expect this field of literature to be easy, it is anything but, and in some way is far harder than adult literature to create. As an adult you are creating something for an age group that is not your own, and therefore have to embrace fully your imagination.