Friday, September 3, 2010

The story so far

I originally approached this project with a little to say about Finnegans Wake and a lot to learn about illustration. In a few months I’ll have been working on this project for a year, and although I still haven’t even finished chapter one, it feels like a good time to clarify some of my thoughts about the book (and, by extension, the project), and to reflect on what I’ve learnt through illustrating it.

The main reason I began this project was that I desperately needed something to force me to draw, and hopefully to improve. I chose this book because it seemed like something I could bring a unique perspective to: although there are certainly many better illustrators than me, the number of them that have read Finnegans Wake is probably quite small.

What I’ve managed so far is certainly far from perfect, but there are a few that I’m proud of, and I like to think that nearly all of them at least have the potential to be good, if I work on them for a while at some imagined time in the future. Most importantly, I’ve made a dedicated effort to minimise my use of filters, textures and other cheap tricks that disguise crappy work in much the same way that wood shavings cover up vomit at a funfair.
I’ve also started to home in a style that combines both what I think the project requires and what I actually enjoy doing. When I started, I told myself that jumping madly from style to style was the best way to serve the text — which isn’t entirely false, since chapter one leaps just as madly from one subject to another — but really, it was what I felt like doing at the time.

But at this point, I’m quite keen to work on developing just one style as best I can. So that’s what I intend to do as soon as I start work on chapter two (I probably won’t wait until chapter one is completely finished). Since chapters two to four follow basically the same story in more or less the same setting, I can convince myself again that a decision based on caprice is really the best way to honour the book.

Well, that's probably enough for now — I’ll save my thoughts about the book for another post. That about sums up how I feel about the way things are going, but I’d love to get some feedback to see what other people think!