Having a love of illustration means that you’re constantly looking at other people’s work. One thing you notice is that pretty much everybody’s style evolves over time. There are very few artists whose style is fully formed at the start of their careers. A good example of this is one of my heroes, Charles Schultz. Charlie Brown and Snoopy in the seventies look very different to how they originally appeared two decades before. Peanuts was a great success in the fifties so why did Schultz change the way he drew these already popular characters? Evolution!
My first children’s book Elsie Clarke And The Vampire Hairdresser has just been published. It’s really exciting to have this finally out in the world and I love the way the illustrations look on the page. But it hasn’t stopped me playing around with the way I draw. Here’s an old cartoon of mine- I think it was the first one I got published.
Notice the huge bulbous noses and the eyes that float outside the line of the face. Also that clumsy shading on the jester. Now here’s a sketch of Captain Stan and the McKaws for my next book Meet The McKaws.
Even though it’s a sketch, it’s a lot more loose and confident. The eyes are still dots but that’s pretty much the only similarity. Actually, speaking of eyes and staying with the subject, here’s a character sketch for a new story I’m working on. I’m starting to think I want to do my eyes differently. So my style continues to change in small ways.
Here’s a character evolving over the course of writing a book. Boris Lazzario started out in a waistcoat with spiky hair but eventually became more foppish with a 60s style mop.
I’ve also been experimenting with what I use to draw my illustrations and how I colour them. Here’s Elsie Clarke in pencil and coloured inks.
I’d really love to do a whole book like this.
Ideas can evolve into other ideas too. Here’s a character from a very early version of Elsie Clarke And The Vampire Hairdresser.
She was an evil salon owner called Miss Littlebottom. She was quite good fun but her part took the story off on too much of a tangent so I had to cut. However, when I came to develop the character of Mrs McKaw for Meet The McKaws, I used Miss Littlebottom’s glasses. So this idea lives on but in a different form.
So a monster eventually becomes a bird. Just like the dinosaurs. That’s evolution for you!
Ged Adamson Website|Facebook|Twitter
Ged Adamson is a children’s writer and illustrator. His cartoons have been published in magazines, in books and appeared on film and TV. He’s been a storyboard artist and a caricaturist. Big influences on his work are Quentin Blake, Ronald Searle and James Gillray. He also works as a music composer.
He’s a London history enthusiast. He lives in Greenwich with his partner Helen and their son Rex. His first picture book, Elsie Clarke And The Vampire Hairdresser is published by Sky Pony Press. His second, Meet The McKaws, is out in 2014.