To Collaborate or Not to Collaborate–When Should a Writer and Artist Work as a Team?

I read Penguins Can’t Fly twice at the day care yesterday. Both the 3s and 4s and the 5 and over set took to the story of the friendship between the gull and the penguin. Besides the story itself, which is utterly charming, Richard Byrne marries his text and pictures SO effectively.

For example, ” . . . they remained the best of friends” is illustrated by three pictures of a gift exchange near the beginning, and the gifted hat and scarf figure prominently throughout the rest of the story. A little crab provides background, mostly wordless, commentary as the kind little penguin morphs from loser to hero.

And the Berenstain Bears books must be among the best in writer-artist collaboration.

But the writer and illustrator often don’t know each other if they’re not the same person.

In Writing Picture Books, Ann Whitford Paul tells us to “trust the creativity of the artist.” None of her books came out the way she imagined they would; they all came out better (for not collaborating with the artist)!

Traditional publishers not only don’t usually consult with the writer about the artwork, they often don’t even allow the writer to see it until the book is done. So–are Coralie and I doing the right thing by working together?

Somehow I think we are, maybe because this is the first children’s book for both of us. And if we weren’t working together, how would she know that the Slicers and Dicers who wreak havoc in Neat and Tidyland are clueless rather than malicious? And how could she have suggested replacing sawdust with downed kites and helped me sort out the ill-fated spaghettis?

Yes, Coralie and I need to work together no matter what others do.

Categories: Journey | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “To Collaborate or Not to Collaborate–When Should a Writer and Artist Work as a Team?

  1. Coralie

    I agree Margaret! At this point I can’t imagine illustrating without working with the author. But I have a lot to learn.

  2. Me too. But imagine the fun we’d miss if we didn’t sort out spaghettis on the dining room table while reprinting, rearranging, regluing, and restapling the book dummy!

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