Sunday, July 9, 2017

Raul Colon: Picture Book Panel

Raul Col贸n was born in New York City, went to school for art in Puerto Rico, has illustrated over 30 children's books as well as done public art for New York and his work has appeared in numerous illustrious editorial publications.

Laurent Linn calls him a LEGEND, and if you know his work, you know you can spot his pieces out of any crowd. Laurent had the pleasure of art directing DRAW! (among other luminous titles) for Raul.

Raul jokingly says the original text for the DRAW! dummy was so good, that his editor Paula Wiseman said to cut it. Truly, the images stand alone without text, so they did decide to turn it into a wordless picture book. Raul says many teachers and librarians use the book as a creative writing exercise, asking students to write stories to accompany the images (and Raul thinks sometimes those are even better than what he had written!)

Laurent asks what a typical day is like:

"I get up early in the morning, have to have coffee, toast, take my time, hear NPR for a little bit (which hasn't been good news for the last six months...) and then I go to my studio, which has papers and books everywhere...

I sit there at my desk and the way I approach the book, after I've read the manuscript, I have to come up with the sketches. When I see a manuscript and I say yes to it, before that, during the first reading, I've got to have visions for the book come to me as I start reading, otherwise I can't say yes to it.

Then I turn on some music. Could be rock 'n' roll, could be Rachmaninoff. Doesn't matter, I get lost, especially when I get into the color/painting time. Many times I don't do more than three sketches per illustration. Usually I start with thumbnails, and then I make the larger sketch..."

Laurent asks how does Raul start an idea?

Gregory Colbert photos
DRAW! came about after Raul went to a Gregory Colbert photography exhibit of big, beautiful prints of animals. The exhibit included videos of Colbert in action. It blew Raul away. He'd been illustrating a lot of biographies, but Raul really wanted his next book to have animals in it. As a kid, Raul was very sick and indoors a lot drawing, so he put all of those elements together for DRAW!

Laurent asks what is Raul's revision/working process like?

Raul does NOT like to do color sketches before he gets to the final art, he wants to keep everything loose until the final. Because when he starts to do final art he wants to be free to change things, which keeps the energy up and the art fresh and allows him to go in the directions that best serve the art and book.


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