Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Voice not style

You can whisper or shout, hum or sing, but we'll recognize your voice  - unless you're a perfect mimic.  It's that simple, I tell my students who often fret about 'style'.  I tell them the style's not what matters...any style could work as long as they are sure about what they're doing, the content that they're talking about - as long as they have a voice.

But not everyone's voice is  confident and clear, especially when you're having to prove yourself, do a test piece for a competition or hook a publisher.
It's just like walking onto a stage. You become self-conscious and then shaky.
It's only when you forget about yourself and you think of the message you want to get across, then your voice takes off.

The metaphor works for me, at least, especially as I've often played with styles - and worried in the past, about having different styles.   It wasn't until Bayard Jeunesse 'found me out'  a few years ago, that I started to relax about my different styles.  Bayard had used my bold graphic style in games for their magazines and posters for toddlers,  which culminated in this, the Big Book for Little Hands....

which was first published in France in 2006 and then in the UK and elsewhere (and was one  of the first  'doodle books'  of many following in the wake of Taro Gomi's books for older children)
By that time, they had already tumbled other styles I used for other books in other countries, discovering this

  at the 2003  Bologna Book Fair and later this

"But my Kiss, kiss! style is so different from what you know of me! " I  told my Bayard art director.   "Yes is it",  she said,  "but  it has the same voice".
Funny thing is, you can't quite hear your own voice as it sounds to others.   And most people, including me, don't like listening to their own recorded voices.  So you can't be self-conscious about it.  It just IS!

And here today is Anthony Browne, master of the picture book  and British Children's Laureate  saying the same thing about voice, at  the end of this video. What a wide variety of voices were chosen for this years UK Best New Illustrators awards!
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