Oliver Jeffers is an artist, illustrator and writer from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He graduated from the University of Ulster in 2001 and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. His work has been exhibited all over the world from London to Sydney. He has numerous successful children’s picture books published by HarperCollins UK and Penguin US. Books include How to Catch a Star (2004) and Lost and Found (2005); he has created books that have been entered in and won a large number of awards. Working as a freelance illustrator, Jeffers worked for clients such as Orange UK, Sony PSP, Starbucks, New York Times, The Telegraph and many others. His book Lost and Found was made into an animation by London based ‘Studio AKA’, it premiered on Tv, Channel 4, on Christmas Eve 2008; and even on Australian TV a year later in 2009 on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
His child-like art style may be inspiration for myself when I’m creating characters and story line styles, because I decided to create an idea for a children’s book, his art style is what I’d imagine to be best for a child to look at and relate to because it looks like something the child could possibly create.
One of Jeffers books, The Day the Crayons Quit, is one that I quite like especially because it displays a child-like style in the drawing of the crayons and the other aspects of the pages in the book, but he has also played with graphic devices such as pictorial space, especially on the crayons; he has added highlights to the crayons – something a child would not understand to do when drawing for themselves. The highlight and shadowing on the crayons is only done on the actual crayon parts and not on the parts where the paper covering is. The way he has coloured in the crayons makes them a more focal part of the pages , where the rest 0f the drawings on the page are done with only the crayon and do not have as much detail. The crayons are also, to a certain extent, in proportion – not too thin or thick and not too short or tall. A good example of all I’ve been describing here is the image below, this is a page from the book, and shows a rough idea of the general composition of the rest of pages within the book; there would be a coloured crayon and a drawing mainly using the colour of that crayon. The green crayon here you can see has the detail of a drawing done by someone who understands pictorial space and tonal changes, then the drawing around it of the dinosaur and crocodiles that looks like they were done by a child, this is evident because of the lack of pictorial space, however if you look closer you can see there is evidence of shading and changes in tone, most prominent on the tree and and smaller characters underneath the dinosaur.
Another aspect of Jeffers work that I could take note of is the writing, the font, he used in The Day the Crayons Quit. As the story is about crayons, so naturally Jeffers used a crayon to write out the words that tell the story. One thing about the text is that it is also relatable to children, the font or style of writing, is also child-like. I think the child reading the story would enjoy looking at words and pictures that look like they created it, because it may inspire them to copy it and in turn making them feel proud of themselves. To take inspiration for my own children’s book, I could use the idea that children like to see handwriting similar to their own and attempt to recreate the words in my book using a childish font. Upon thinking this idea through, I could recreate this idea using my left hand to write, as this would create a rough, quick drawn look – similar to that of a child’s handwriting; it is also a nice twist to add to a children’s book rather than the usual generic, solid, black text.