Jim Harris Talks About Illustrating...
The Bible ABC
The Bible ABC is a fun introduction to a lot of different Bible characters, from Balaam, who had a chat with his donkey, to Noah, who “built a great boat, before it had water in which to float!”
As usual, it was my job to create suitably light-hearted art for The Bible ABC…
and since I’m a great fan of the Bible and of the God who wrote it… it was a very enjoyable task. And there were a few people who helped make it even more enjoyable. Namely, the folks at the publishing company.
Whenever you illustrate a new book, you work with a lot of different people. There’s the author of course, the art director at the publishing company, and usually the editor and the sales team at the publisher, as well.
At some publishers, the editor has the final say on how the artwork should look. At other publishers, it’s the art director who makes those decisions. And if you happen to be working on a pop-up or other novelty book, a paper engineer will be in on the decision-making process, too. Basically, a paper engineer’s job is to make sure that the illustrations can be turned into pops and flaps that work in real life.
The dummies made by paper engineers for pop-up books are marvels of creative ingenuity. Here’s one for a book called Gruesome Stew.
But back to The Bible ABC…
The editor for this particular book was very helpful in all the normal ways -- she offered lots of great suggestions on the sketches, gave helpful advice on references and resources, and so on and so forth, but… most important of all … at Christmas time she sent a whole cookie tin full of chocolate chip cookies. This resulted in her receiving a unanimous vote for Editor-of-the-Year from my family (and my gaining about 5 pounds in the space of one week.)
I actually still have that cookie tin. I think we use it for holding spare sewing supplies in the costume department. All of us illustrators have “costume departments.” It really means… the person in our family who loves us enough to stitch up realistic costumes for fairy-tale creatures and Bible-characters and medieval princesses, based on nothing more than the illustrator’s vague descriptions… and usually on only a few hours’ notice before the photo-shoot. (Artists are not generally long-term advance schedulers.) These costume departments deserve a lot of credit for how some of our illustrations turn out, believe me!
Well, with a lot of help from the “costume department” at my house and the editor at Tommy Nelson Publishing, I finally got all the Bible characters in their final silly poses for The Bible ABC… and I think it’s a really fun book for finding out more about some famous -- and some not-so-famous -- people in the Bible.
I don’t think The Bible ABC is in print any more. But if you find it in a library, you might want to read it. I hope it gives you a few grins.
Images and Text © 2009 Jim Harris. All Rights Reserved