April is was a pretty active (& awesome, yet stressful!) month for me after the our dance performances earlier this month I got ready for another performance of sorts--a book launch @ Stanford University!
About two years ago my boss Mary Maniery (at my day job PAR Environmental Services), approached me about illustrating for their book on Chinese railroad workers. Since the book was aimed at the public they wanted a way to bring people in and allow them to connect with the book and events of the railroad-AWESOME! Its been a long road but its finally complete,published and ready to go! Last weekend we were able to launch the book at the CRRW 2016 Conference @ Standford University! It was an excellent day with some really interesting talks & good food! Even though I'm not an archaeologist I really enjoyed being there and learning more on the topic (and having a captive audience of people to draw--shhh!)
Our book "Hidden Voices of the Chinese Railroad Worker" Sold out at the conference and was very well received! We were able to introduce the book and thank our contributors as well as receive recognition for our work. We ran out of time for questions from the audience which I was sort of happy about but also sort of disappointed (because I love talking about animation & illustration!!)
This was my first time working on a project with creative illustration for a client. It was definitely a learning experience but I think the process of revisions and feedback we went through to produce work that was both entertaining and cultural sensitive significantly improved my illustrations and gave me lots of think about in terms of illustration and representing different cultures and traditions.
Here are a few things that I learned along the way:
- Create characters using specific historic reference (For this book I used immigration photos, lithographs and other historic photos to craft individual characters).
- Everyone has an opinion! (We had several people from different backgrounds reviewing our book and providing valuable feedback, sometimes elements were loved by some reviewers and not quite so loved by others--we tried very hard to address all concerns while being true to our work but ultimately you can't please everyone 100% of the time. I think its best to understand that each person comes to the project with a different perspective and not take these comments personally).
- The first time you're told to completely revise or change something, it will hurt--but the end result will be MUCH better--keep going!
- You might have to explain your process a bit. (Academic work doesn't typically use creative illustration to communicate ideas but since our book is meant for the general public we thought creative illustration would be the best way to engage the public while helping them imagine and connect with the history. I provided an artist statement at the beginning of the book to help explain this and the purpose of my illustrations. While as an illustrator I thought that was obvious, academic reviewers were more wary of including creative illustration until we explained the process and implications of it bit).
Again, this was my first chance to illustrate creatively for another person & it was a challenge! But I think the end result came out so much better than my initial ideas and I learned so much about the process of illustrating a book as well as my own process in illustration and I can't wait for another chance to illustrate like this!
For anyone interested book can be purchased through the SHA Lulu site.