A few days ago I saw a new hashtag that was trending among writers on Twitter – #PicturesMeanBusiness. It is a new campaign to encourage us to take more notice of book illustrators and cover designers, the people who take our stories and weave them together with paint and art and produce beautiful pictures to clothe them.
Think of your favourite book. The one that caught your eye when you passed it on the shelf, the one that makes you pause before opening because you want to turn it over in your hands and marvel at how beautiful it is. The one you sometimes pick up just to look at the pictures one more time. Can you name the illustrator? Most of the time I confess I will have to say ‘no’. The PicturesMeanBusiness hashtag attempts to change that by making us more aware of the talented people who contribute to the creation of the books we love and who capture the ideas and words of writers, sometimes into a single image for the cover.
I was especially lucky when Arthur and Me was chosen by Firefly Press, because they teamed me up with Peter Stevenson. Peter is an artist I have long admired for his intricate and yet bold style. A friend commissioned a painting by him as a wedding present for me and my husband and its one of our prized possessions – choosing a place to hang it involved much testing of where sunlight was least likely to fall in our flat to make sure it wouldn’t get damaged.
Peter has a phenomenal list of publications behind him. He is also a fantastic storyteller, able to hold an audience spellbound. I’ve learned a lot about reading in public just from watching him. And he knows more about Arthurian legend than anyone else I know.
Basically, I lucked out!
Peter’s illustrations brought my book to life. When I first saw them I almost cried with happiness. Every character looked exactly as I had imagined them. The tiny details that he included were a delight, and every scene had such energy and movement.
Peter added so much to Arthur and Me, turning it into a book that is a joy to look at, with illustrations that make people laugh and smile. I feel so grateful to have had his talent and creativity be a part of Arthur and Me (and I am still completely in love with the cover). So I’m going to learn from this and take time to find out about the people who illustrate the books I enjoy.
If you want to learn more about the PicturesMeanBusiness campaign to get us all celebrating and recognising illustrators there is lots of information here –
And to marvel at more of Peter’s glorious work – here is his website.