Children’s book are always filled with art and illustration. According to illustrators like Brendan Wetzel, this is due to the fact that it speaks more to them, particularly since they cannot read yet. Through the art of illustration, characters get personalities and emotions can shine through. They say a picture paints a thousand words, and that is true for children as well.
Brendan Wetzel on Why Children Need Illustrations
Children are notoriously impatient and they often struggle with keeping their attention on a single page for long periods of time. They prefer having a glance and making up their own mind about a story. If an author writes a children’s book, or a magazine targeted at children, therefore, they must enter into a solid partnership with their illustrator if they are to be successful. Hence, they must also know where to find good illustrators and familiarize themselves with their work.
A good artist will be able to immerse a child in their images in a way that captivates them. In the world of children’s literature, this is actually a two way street. For instance, an author could write a book and ask an artist to come up with images, and any images that are not chosen can inspire the author to write another story. Sometimes, illustrators become so skilled at what they do, that they start to write their own stories to accompany the images that they have made. These are the ones who can create true magic, using both images and words to tell stories.
There is a very big difference between the illustrations needed for medical writings, journals, articles, and regular literature. Those that are created for children are truly unique, because they enable to tell a story in a single image for those who cannot read. For adult writings, images are a point of reference, rather than the story in its own right. Good artists also understand the visual processing capabilities of young children, sticking to simple shapes and primary colors for the very young, and going more in depth as the child ages. They also use a range of different mediums, such as paper cut illustrations and acrylics, and different types of inks, such as pastels, water colors, color pencils, dark markers, oil paints, and so on. A good artist is able to adapt their personal style to the theme that they are working on, creating something that is both unique and fit for purpose.
Some children’s illustrators have become global sensations. Interestingly, many of these came from the Netherlands. For instance, the recently deceased Dick Bruna created the Nijntje (commonly known as Miffy) character, made solely from simple shapes and primary colors. Anton Piek, meanwhile, worked on the Brothers Grimm stories and his drawings were eternalized in the creation of an entire theme park with a magical forest in which children can literally immerse themselves in Piek’s drawings. While many of us remember authors, it is perhaps time that we started to remember illustrators as well.