Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Illustrations by Masters

The first job is always to write the book.

The next job is to publish the book.

This involves editing, copy-editing, font and format selection, front and back matter, cover design, cover art, producing the final, and interior illustrations.

I've been working on interior illustrations for Book Two: Chasing Dreams.

With the help of my Editor Extraordinaire, I have been visiting museums around the world to find traditional Japanese woodblock prints that will illustrate The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow Boy Book Two: Chasing Dreams.  

I have virtually visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Chazen Museum at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and -- treasure trove -- the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.  So many of these prints were advertising for theaters and actors, for sumo wrestlers and courtesans (orin); or were erotica; or as souvenirs or even travel guides for those traveling along popular routes or seeing important sights,  and there was even political commentary.

They were mass-produced, and the same prints have found their way into many collections -- including mine.  Famous prints have been reproduced, either as actual woodblock prints, pulled from the same blocks, or from new blocks painstakingly carved based on the original prints, or by a variety of "modern" methods that lack the depth and richness of the originals.   Many, sadly, have been lost.

Thousands and thousands remain.  They are "public domain," which means they can be used freely, though a particular reproduction of a famous piece, like Hokusai's Great Wave, can be copyrighted.

Paintings, like Hiroshige's, and preparatory documents, like the Hokusai sketchbook -- new to me and an absolute delight -- will, I hope, thrill the readers of Chasing Dreams with contemporary visions of Japanese life as much as they do me.



This is by Hiroshige Ando, printed in 1856.  The people in Hiroshige's landscapes are remarkably individual and usually remarkably alive with a sense of fun.

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