I'm so glad I braved the wintry evening to Liverpool Street Station and the train (only 30 min. after all!) to a warm paradise for kids book lovers in Chelmsford. I'm just back now and very grateful to Nikki Gamble of Just Imagine for setting this up, and to Ian Beck for coming from Richmond, even further afield than me and Sue Eves.
|records of the evening: the elegant and animated Ian Beck rapidly squeezed into my sketchbook and a signed copy of his latest chapter book|
He began by showing us some of his earliest illustrations for The Radio Times and covers for Bowie and Elton John (alias Elsie) - including the famous album cover to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. We were given tantalizing glimpses of several rare private press books he had illustrated including The Summer House, inspired by an extraordinary Lutyens house in Varengeville, which in turned inspired Jeannette Winterson to write a novella, The Dreaming House. Ian Beck's own blog shows the house, and many more goodies besides.
Ian shared some of his sources of inspiration - how the series of picture books starting with Home before Dark started from wheeling his child home one windy evening.
He talked about all kinds of collaborations, including with a certain David Fickling when he was starting out as a young unknown editor, with Philip Pullman and his vision of a cover for Puss in Boots, and more recently Ian talked of how he had used Photoshop to create misty layers behind the silhouettes in Pullman's retelling of Aladdin and his Lamp.
Ian talked of dispiriting rejections too and going back to the drawing board and cutting out key characters, and having to restitch everything.
Applying his imagination to different media from illustration to novel writing and poetry, his persistance is inspiring. He doesn't shirk the re-writes and refinements that come from working with editors and art directors as precious mediators.
A tremendous tonic - thank you again Ian Beck!