Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How James Joyce taught me to draw

Portrait of Leopold Bloom by Mr. Joyce
When I started this project at the end of 2009, I had drawn almost nothing at all since being thrown out of my art A-level 10 years previously (it’s a long story). You can really tell in the early pages that I would do anything to avoid having to make a mark of my own on paper. That fear of actually drawing anything played a large part in defining the style of the first chapter, as you can see from the collage and tracing and big cut-out-looking shapes.

But I didn’t want to keep doing that. I can’t say I’m proud of every illustration on this site, but I am proud of how hard I pushed myself. Over the course of chapter one I tried lots of different things. When I got to chapter two, I decided I’d draw the whole thing in a kind of vintage cartoon style that was well beyond my abilities at the time. Generally, I’d just start to feel like I was getting confident in one style by the time I reached the end of the chapter, and then I had to choose another one. Some of my experiments worked and some of them didn’t, but even if some of them make me cringe now, I gained something from all of them. Or, even if I didn’t gain anything, I’m pretty sure they did me make me any worse.

It’s probably a bad sign if you can’t see any flaws in your own work. I can often perhaps be a little too critical (my wife says I get “a touch of the English”). But I’m really pleased with how these illustrations for Dubliners have turned out, and I can’t wait to share them all with you. To coincide with the crowdfunding campaign for the first edition, I’m going to start posting them here every couple of days. I hope you like them.
The tracing period
Getting comfortable...
...and getting deeply uncomfortable
Just get back on that horse!
And it “only” took five years...


Ignacio said...

What you have done is amazing. Thanks for sharing your gift. Cheers from Argentina

Stephen Crowe said...

Thank you, that means a lot to me!