A Bunch of Five

HERE ARE this afternoon’s little bunch of illustrations. The problem with drawing this schoolmaster’s breakfast (another of the odd subjects that I need for my book), is that at this scale – a scale sufficient to make a plate of bacon and eggs recognisable – the characters begin to take over. Well, the schoolboy is reasonably bland but the schoolmaster seems to be taking on a personality of his own. All that is needed here is an archetypal Victorian teacher.

‘What did he (or she) eat for breakfast?’ is one of the questions a novelist is supposed to be able to answer when creating a character. In this case the breakfast is the subject and anything else is a distraction.

I could have drawn this tangle of wool (left) just by itself but to make it appear truly knotty, I decided to include a figure trying to unravel it.

On the other hand this split-pin latch is distinctive enough not to need the help of a cartoon character to demonstrate it.

Crunchy wheat-cakes are next on the menu and they too are sufficiently self-explanatory . . . or do I need an ear of two of wheat lying beside them to distinguish them from oatcakes?

Finally, here’s one of those long benches from a traditional ale-house. This definitely requires the addition of a group of drinkers because otherwise it might look like a church pew.

Of the illustrations that I’ve produced so far, this comes nearest to the look that I want for my book. I’ve established my characters without letting them take over the cartoon, the balance of line and tone seems about right and should be suitable for the method of printing and I’m beginning to build up a homely and somehow familiar Victorian world, which suits my theme.

On the strength of this afternoon’s illustrations, I could reasonably expect to turn out ten illustrations a day . . . if, indeed, I ever get a day when I don’t have some other errand to run.

In the Dragon’s Den

In this week’s Dragon’s Den (BBC2 television) there were a couple of twins with a background in the fashion industry who were seeking a large investment in ‘Brat and Suzie’, a distinctive fashion label they’d recently launched. The quirky originality of their range depends mainly on the specially commissioned illustrations printed on each garment of animals engaged in various activities (for example, a raccoon riding a bicycle).

The ‘Dragons’ asked for some financial details;

“What are you paying for your illustrations?”

“Oh. It’s quite small; we pay for each illustrator a £20 flat fee. We blog about them and help them out as much as we can.”

“So they see it as a way of getting their illustrations around.”

Yes, a business that depends so much on the skill of the illustrators, with a turnover of a hundred thousand pounds and the illustrator walks away with enough money to buy him or herself a pizza and a glass of wine.

That sounds like a good business plan.

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