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Involving Students

Student Contributions

"Illustrating: Giving a Face to Words", by Shannon Goetze

As the illustrator of Norna or, the Witch's Curse, Pockets Full of Stars, and My Angria and the Angrians, I've welcomed the opportunity to bring to life early works written by famous literary figures.

I have found the creative process of illustration requires the careful examination of the text, and then the selection of appropriate passages to illustrate which best animate and express the written material.

Having had the opportunity to illustrate three different texts, I have noted a challenging aspect of illustration is being flexible enough to alter my personal style as an artist to best suit the text.

I especially enjoyed illustrating the poems of Pockets Full of Stars by Alison White. Since the subject matter of the poems changes from page to page, so must my vision as an illustrator: particular creativity is demanded in the search for visual embellishment. I was able to give free reign to my imagination and play with the imagery specific to each individual poem.

Furthermore, researching the authors' eras was an intriguing and informative experience for me. It allowed me to step into their times, and to illustrate the text in a historically accurate fashion.

In addition, I enjoyed playing with the illuminated capitals adorning My Angria and the Angrians. Most of the embellished initials were as detailed and time-consuming as the full-page illustrations, and I was sorry to witness their reduction. Besides the challenge of being content-specific to the chapter divisions, I found the placement of the initial relative to the picture required my attention and special care positioning the initial in the least obvious fashion, not too isolated from the picture; you want to be a little clever and innovative with the initials.

Some letters were more malleable and easily manipulated than others. I remember being frustrated with the "R" of the second chapter. Although the figures were relatively simple to illustrate, I had trouble positioning the prostrated man and the gentleman riding the horse in relation to the initial.

Generally, the initials were used in four different ways. In the case of "R" and "W," the initials functioned as frames for the pictures. For other illuminated capitals, the initials were simply placed alongside the pictures, as in the case of the "I". Thirdly, the initials were incorporated into the picture in some instances. For example, the "Y" served as a tree and the "F" as part of a feather. Finally, the initial can simply be visually embellished as in the case of the "T".

I derive a great deal of satisfaction from the thought that my colleagues, peers, and the general public enjoy my illustrations. It is also satisfying to note my own improvement as an illustrator from book to book: there is nothing like staring at the finished product and liking it.

I feel honoured to have made my contribution to the deserving and long-overdue resurrection of early works written by great writers.

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