PLANET KINDERGARTEN (part 01)
Not to long ago, I received a call out of the blue from Chronicle Books. They told me about a new picture book project by author Sue Ganz Schmitt that they were interested in having me illustrate. The book was titled PLANET KINDERGARTEN ,and it equated a child’s first day of kindergarten to an astronaut preparing for, and visiting, an alien world. I loved the concept as soon as I heard it, and when I read the manuscript I knew I wanted to be involved. I related directly to a character being anxious about his first day of anything, and I instantly had a slew of visual ideas inspired by the story as well. I quickly pitched my concepts to Chronicle and they liked my thinking on it all, so my mission to PLANET KINDERGARTEN was launched.
Inspired by Sue's story, and working with my incredible team at Chronicle, I started researching, exploring, and planning my visual concepts VERY quickly. As I did, I made it clear to everyone involved that I do not design or create anything without first considering the story. I never have a set “style” for illustrating or designing a thing. Instead, I believe very strongly that the story should inspire, define, and drive the look of whatever I am designing. As every story should have its own identity, so should that story’s visuals.
What is the tone of the story you are designing? Where does it take place? When does it take place? Is it a frenetic/abstract concept, or is it a more naturalistic, grounded thing? Comedy? Drama? Horror? Dramedy?….etc. All of these questions, and much more, should be taken into consideration when creating the look of anything. (I'll share more on this soon).
From development to final illustrations, the entire visual process for PLANET KINDERGARTEN was quick, but a lot of fun. How do you tell a visual story about an astronaut visiting an alien planet, without literally showing an astronaut visiting an alien planet? That was both the challenge and the fun of PLANET KINDERGARTEN. To elude or make reference to themes of space travel and science fiction while still being grounded in the world we all know.
Over the next several weeks I'll share a bit about my process and experience on PLANET KINDERGARTEN while also sharing images and accounts from the many exciting events surrounding the book…such as PLANET KINDERGARTEN being chosen as the featured book (and myself the featured illustrator) of the 2014 San Francisco Public Library's Summer Read event. Lots going on, and lots more to share.
PLANET KINDERGARTEN is now available for pre-order, and will be released May 20th 2014.