Recently I realized that it has been too long since I last sent out a round of postcards and emails to art directors. However, I had barely any new work in my portfolio for the AD's to look at. It's not that I haven't been drawing, but that most of what I've been drawing has been cozy mystery covers and Bible scenes (which I already have in my portfolio), or things under NDA. It was time to whip up some personal work.
I started out by visiting Barnes & Noble and browsing the children's book section for inspiration. As much as I want to love picture books, I am always, always drawn to the covers of middle-grade books. They just look so cool. I want to draw them all.
I started thinking about what I was doing when I was at the "middle-grade" age, and mostly what I remember is lots and lots of ballet. So I started drawing ballerinas.
But I just wasn't satisfied with drawing pretty ballerinas in front of pretty stage sets. I never feel satisfied until I have a drawing that suggests a story, and has some unique element or some tension in it. So I started drawing a circus ballerina standing on an elephant. Then I introduced a boy character, although I couldn't decide on exactly who he was. I laid in bed at night thinking about it - which always happens when I'm excited about a drawing.
Next I was browsing vintage circus photos on Pinterest and I came across photos of people on stilts. This gave me the idea for a bad guy - and suddenly I had my story.
Next I plan to create some black-and-white drawings of this story, as if it was a real book with interior illustrations. I'm not yet sure what those scenes are going to be, although I have a few ideas. So stay tuned for more adventures with Jez and Arielle and the Midnight Circus.