Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Illustration Inspiration, part II - the process!

This story was shared by Graphic Designer Valerie-Haggerty Silva, the “art director” of Illustration Inspiration.

I really enjoyed having the opportunity to help oversee this exciting project. I have always loved children’s books and illustration. In fact, Illustration was my major at RISD many years ago.

We started by getting the ramp box creators together to introduce the project, set guidelines for the dimensions of the boxes and deadline for installation, and also to generate some excitement. We shared our favorite books and talked about possible ideas. It was our time to begin thinking “outside of the box!”

The next step was for everyone to develop a proposal to share. It was fun to listen to each person’s ideas, their reason for choosing a particular illustrator and what medium they thought they’d try working in. It’s always a pleasure to problem-solve and brainstorm together, and peek into a person’s creative process. We talked about the materials that would be best to work with. The atrium is very bright, so we wanted to be sure to use non-fading paper and adhesives that would hold up over time. Then we had about three and a half weeks to complete our constructions.

I chose David Macaulay and had every intention of using my drawing skills to create a box based on his love of architecture and his highly detailed renderings of mechanical parts from “How Things Work.” Instead, I found I was inspired by his love of and interest in process. The show of his work at the RISD Museum this winter revealed how his memories of making things as a child and seeing his parents making things with their hands really influenced him. He was encouraged to play outdoors, spend time in nature, mess around and be creative, and all of that helps develop the ability to notice, to wonder, to ask questions, to build – to take apart…
I had fun gathering and arranging the kinds of things that, to me, seemed a part of his world. I’m used to working two-dimensionally, so it was challenging to think in this more sculptural 3-D way. But once I got going it was addictive and I had a great time tinkering around and rearranging my elements.

Like any project, there are questions that come up and unexpected things to consider. Arielle Ascrizzi (Experience Coordinator) was a tremendous help in thinking about how these individual projects would fit together as one body of work. We thought about placement, order, what boxes needed to be viewed up higher or which needed to be peered into from above. I think we came up with a good arrangement that flows well and works nicely in the overall space.

It’s always important to think about context. Now that the ramp boxes are installed, the quilts are hanging on the nearby walls, and we have placed some books in that space, I think we have created a warm and welcoming environment where visitors can reflect on their favorite illustrators, or perhaps be reminded of a particular scene from a book they read as a child. Who knows, we might inspire one of our visitors to make an Illustration Inspiration of their very own!
Join special programs celebrating art and stories this weekend: Story Cloths on Saturday 4/4 and Illustrators Workshop: Collage Art on Sunday 4/5, both from 1:00 - 4:00 PM.

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