Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Interview with illustratus

The duo behind ghost is a new creative outfit called illustratus - also know as Kit and Jeff Turley. Illustratus is a design company focusing on quality products such as illustrated books and more. They have worked several years in the animation industry and have noticed that the kind of talent and passion of our peers can have a lasting impression on audiences.

From reviewing their debut book I wanted to find out the inspiration behind it and how it came to be crowdfunded on Kickstarter.

BWB: What inspired you and Jeff to put ghost together?

KT: The idea really came about between Jeff and Chris Sasaki. They were two artists who admired each others work and wanted to collaborate on something. One day they were talking about how they loved scary stories and how there didn't seem to be new scary stories that we grew up with- like Goosebumps, Sideway stories, etc.- stories that had that classic, timeless feel about them. They were imagining spooky stories that would be read around a campfire and remembered forever. 

For me, what inspired me to actually pursue this project was the memory of my mom reading my sisters and I stories before bed. She'd do the voices and play all the parts, and it was memories like that that made me want to create something that could provide similar childhood memories for kids. 

BWB: Did you approach any publishers before deciding on the crowdfunding route?

KT: We did not. Right from the idea of Ghost, we knew we wanted to be in control of the publishing.

BWB: You both work for huge animation companies. Did you find it hard to fit in the crowdfunding responsibilities around your busy work schedules?

KT: It is hard working a full time demanding job and also trying to pursue your own projects. But, what was great about the Ghost production schedule was that we all took turns in having our busy times. For example, at the head of production I was somewhat busy in plotting out the production and crowdfunding schedule. But, this was only for a couple weeks. Then our writers, Blaise and Jesse, were super busy in drafting/writing/editing all 13 stories for the next 6ish months. Next up was Jeff and Chris' crunch time, illustrating the whole book in six months. And then back to me, for going public with the crowdfunding and making sure we got the funds and managed all the book fulfillment. Because we each had moments of rest between times of business, it made it completely manageable. 

BWB: The Kickstarter for the book was over double your original goal. Did this response surprise you?

KT: It completely surprised us. We had not idea how the kickstarter was going to go- I had all sorts of advertisement contingency plans to hopefully gain more support, but it ended up not being needed. We were truly blown away. But more importantly, the kickstarter response was really encouraging and inspiring- it showed us that people were really on board with the idea of Ghost, that we weren't just making something for the heck of it.

BWB: You collaborate with several other creatives for ghost. How did you select who to work with?

KT: The team was carefully selected based on people we knew would be just as excited to work on a personal, outside work project as we were. At the time, Jeff was working with both Blaise and Jesse. He knew that they were talented writes who had good intentions when it came to creating- not out for stardom or fame, but interested in creating something special for audiences.

BWB: What is your favourite part of the book? 

KT: My favorite part of the book are the poems. I love poetry and seeing them alongside the prose pieces provides nice break ups. For Jeff, he really enjoyed the richness in the writing, the book offers a classic tone of storytelling complete with cleaver twists and top quality suspense. By far his favorite part of the book is the way the stories are told separately but are coherently harmonized with a witty Prologue and Epilogue.

 Is there anything you would change if you made this book again?

KT: We always say we'd love more time. This book is like a gigantic compilation of art, both written and verbal, and as artists we always see things that we wish we could fix/change.

BWB: Any plans for a follow up?

KT: There are plans for a Ghost II- slowly in the works, but definitely something the team wants to pursue based on how well Ghost was received.

Thanks to Kit and Jeff for taking the time to answer my questions. ghost is available to buy now from the illustratus online shop here.



An original Illustratus book

Happy Halloween, folks! 

I've wanted to share this book for a while and now is the perfect time - GHOST is a collection of 13 original poems and short stories, written by Blaise Hemingway and Jesse Reffsin and illustrated by Chris Sasaki and Jeff Turley, very talented people that work in the film industry in Los Angelus.  

These original tales have a classic feel, with the stories featuring tales of ghosts that don't know that they're ghosts, strange noises of wailing, a doll that replaces a little girl's mother and children lost forever. These are perfect stories to tell around a camp fire or to share at Halloween. Or if you have the braver, older child who enjoys a good scare, they will relish in these terrifying timeless tales. 

I've always found that a good ghost story are the ones that stick in your mind, the ones you seem to recall when home alone or out and about in the dark! And these scary tales are no exception, I won't be forgetting these in a hurry - a collection of ghost tales for a new generation, both written and illustrated in a classic, timeless style.  

For more information about the creators and the book, please check out their website here.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Hortense and the Shadow

Hortense and the Shadow

Written by Natalia O'Hara
Illustrated by Lauren O'Hara
Published by Puffin

When I received this book through the post, it felt like receiving a little bit of magic; with its gold foiled title, beautiful illustrations, and a dark fairy tale feel, it truly is a magical book that will remind you of fables you read as a child.

Meet Hortense, a small girl who lives in a big wood. Hortense is sad because she hates her shadow; it went everywhere she went and when night would fall it would become tall and dark and crooked. So Hortense decides she wants to hide it, behind columns and in holes but it grew worse until one evening, Hortense is able to outrun her shadow and cut it off with a sash window. Her shadow is now lost and Hortense seems happy until one night the door shook with knocks. In the dark, Hortense goes to check outside and finds herself surrounded by bandits. But with a terrible flash, shadows appear in the window which scare away the bandits - Its Hortense's shadow to the rescue and Hortense knows she must win her shadow back.

This is a stunning debut book by an exciting new author and illustrator pairing, sisters Natalia and Lauren O'Hara. You can see their inspiration is classic picture books and fables with a touch of eastern European. The book is beautiful and has a classic feel about it with a strong message of embracing all sides of yourself.

I think I'll be keeping this beautiful book for myself! 

Forest Life and Woodland Creatures

Forest Life and Woodland Creatures

Published by DK Ltd

I received this little gem back in summer time, along with  Sharks and Other Sea Creatures, which I talked about on my Instagram feed. But with Aoife now at nursery and going on regular walks to a nearby wood, we have been talking a lot more about leaves, seasons and woodland animals which is discussed and explored within Forest Life - making this a great book to refer to.

Contents include: What is a forest, bugs, nests and birds, forest food and animals that may live underground or only come out at night. Filled with lots of different facts, which adults could bring up on their walks, and a range of crafts to keep children busy, these books offer a lot for little ones. I especially like the pages that show how a seed grows into tree and the examples shown for the seasons and what happens to the trees.

A nice range of books to engage and support the development of little ones minds. For more information, check out the DK website here.

Below: Aoife getting crafty and making an egg box ocean from Sharks and Other Sea Creatures.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide

Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide

Written and Illustrated by Emma Yarlett
Published by Little Tiger Press

This is currently one of my daughter's favourite books at the moment which we like to read during the day and will often end up re-reading its predecessor, Nibbles: The Book Monster alongside it - we'll often re-read it a few times in one sitting! We enjoy lifting flaps and looking through holes, on the look out for Nibbles who is a very naughty monster who likes to chew through books and is always getting himself into a lot of trouble...

This time we find that Nibbles has nibbled, or should I say chomped, his way into a dinosaur guide book and readers must try and prevent Nibbles from falling prey to a set of ferocious jaws. There's hot-headed Triceratops, greedy Diplodocus' and scary Velociraptors among a few others. Filled with nibbled peep holes, lift-the-flaps, funny jokes and dinosaur facts, this book can be enjoyed by children ages 3 - 6 years.

This book is very funny and one that can be explored and enjoyed over and over again. Jam packed with entertaining illustrations, has Nibbles met his match when he ends up meeting the most terrible dinosaur of all - the T-Rex? Well I won't ruin the ending for you, you'll just have to catch up with this little monster yourself!

For more information on Nibbles, check out the link here
And below, Aoife pretending to be Nibbles - my cheeky little monster!

I Thought I Saw a Lion!

I Thought I Saw a Lion!

Illustrated by Lydia Nichols
Published by Templar Publishing

If looking for some chunky and interactive board books for very little ones, then I recommend checking out Lydia Nichols illustrated board book series, I Thought I Saw a Lion! and I Thought I Saw a Dinosaur! Published by Templar.

I Thought I Saw a Lion! is a beautifully illustrated small board book with sturdy sliders to reveal a cheeky lion hiding in every scene. What a naughty lion; he's in the library, at the hair dressers and even at a restaurant. 'I thought I saw a lion..' is repeated on each spread followed by 'Is it in the....' allows children to join in. Featuring a lovely warm colour palette with a screen printed effect and some nice character design, it also has a nice retro feel. 

For ages 0 - 3 years, little ones will love trying to spot this cheeky lion. 

100 Christmas Colouring Book

100 Christmas Colouring Book

Illustrations by Dominka Lipniewska
Published by Tate Publishing

Is it too early to be reviewing a Christmas themed book? Well yes, it probably is but I love all things Christmassy, much to the disgust of my husband (bah humbug to him!). So I was rather excited to receive this large Christmas themed colouring book from Tate Publishing.

This fun and festive book is filled with Dominka Lipniewska's bold graphic style. Featuring double page spreads jam packed with lots of Christmas characters, festive animals, festive food, decorations and a whole lot more.
With chunky outlined shapes, it would make good practice for little fingers to practice colouring within the lines - I have yet to test that with my 3 year old! Or good for tracing.
There is also a page at the back which suggests activities for children, such as spotting and counting  items within the book.

This would make a great little stocking filler or to keep small and big people busy when the cold and dark winter nights roll in. Hopefully I'll get a look in and Aoife won't hog it!
Link to Tate Publishing, is here

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Colours and Animals

Colours and Animals

Illustrations by Britta Teckentrup
Published by Templar Publishing

Templar Publishing have recently released a beautiful series of board books, featuring retro-styled illustrations by Britta Teckentrup. The series also includes Opposites, First Words, Animal 123 and Animal Spots and Stripes.

Colours includes gentle rhyming text which asks the child to spot a coloured item on the opposite page. The text page is the colour of the selected colour to spot and this 'colour' word is also printed larger and in bold. The opposite pages have a screen printed effect and large, evenly spread out illustrations on. Aimed at children, 2 years and up, they will be able to spot butterflies, teddy bears, fish, pencils, tractors and lizards all in a beautiful range of colours.

Animals is presented in a similar format with text on one side and screen printed illustrations on the opposite. Each page spread introduces a mummy animal and asks children to find her baby on the other side. The animals are beautifully illustrated and clear in what they are. I love the colour palettes for both books, which makes them stand out from other board books with similar themes. 

At the end of both books there is an additional question, which ask the child to either spot something that they've not seen before or which mummy has the most babies - this is a nice way to end the book on. 
A beautiful, colourful and bold, board book series featuring cute animal characters - what more is there not to love!!

Jon Burgerman's Daily Doodle

Jon Burgerman's Daily Doodle

By Jon Burgerman
Published by Laurence King Publishing

For young budding artists out there, great pieces of art can often start from just a doodle! Jon Burgerman has recently released a daily doodle book to encourage everyone to have fun drawing and to remember that it's not important to be perfect - this is a starting point for your own discoveries.

He provides instructions and tips to create your own super doodles from food, animals, robots, people, transport to some really random subjects. The book consists of mostly black and white pages but in the middle, there's a selection of subjects with brightly coloured examples and a few neon colours that makes the doodles pop from the page. 

Daily Doodle is inspired by Jon's popular Snapchat Daily Doodle - He encourages you to share your doodles online with #dailydoodlebook. You can also find stickers at the back. There's a crazy collection of ideas, but it looks super fun and I think you'll find yourself wanting to join in!