My brief for my final major project is to explore Russian fairy tales and to look into new ways that I can retell them to a new audience in an effective way. By looking at what is relevant and current in the publishing world and how storytelling has changed, I can explore how to illustrate and format these fairy tales in a new and engaging way. I really want to tell these stories in a contemporary way to a modern audience who weren't brought up with them - I'm excited to to try and inspire and educate a new audience with these narratives.
This week I have been researching the way narratives have been explored and illustrated by artists effectively. As I am eager to do narrative illustration again myself and attempt to illustrate one or more Russian fairy tales, I need to research narrative illustration and what has been successful in the past and why. As I want to tell these tales in a new and engaging way, I've been looking at contemporary illustrators and new techniques that they have been using. I started by looking at artists who experiment with paper cut outs, origami and pop ups.
(Yusuke Oono's '360°Book')
I began by looking at 3D books as this something I'm really interested in as a new and exciting way to illustrate a narrative. Yusuke Oono's initial idea of a 360 degree book is 'expressing one scene of story in a 3 dimensional way using a whole page of a book.' It is an experience for the reader who sees a seemingly normal book but when you open it it changes into something completely different, and the reader is surprised by the dramatic transformation. I love Oono's work as he has made books that can be read and interpreted in an entirely new way - I love the idea of having a normal book transform into something 3D and more interactive.
Above is another book I came across of a landscape image seperated by different elements on each page - but when you assemble the pages the scene comes together. I'm not sure how this could work for a narrative, but I think the idea is a wonderful way to illustrate a location in a book format.
('Pop-up' by Hilary Judd)
I've been researching pop-up books and the different ways they have been explored by artists. Hilary Judd is an experimental artist who plays around with paper and origami - she made a series of pop-up books of a grand scale and with beautiful intricate details. I love the juxtaposition of the boldly shaped tree structure and the finely drawn detailing and think it works very well. I think it works so well due to effective use of detail and scale; using the element of surprise can be an effective tactic.
Continuing with the idea of telling a story in 3D, The Column of Marcus Aurelius is a Roman victory column in Rome that tells a story. The spiral picture relief tells the story of Marcus Aurelius's life, but there are recent disputes between theorists that there may be two different stories being told. This idea allows the viewer to participate by walking around the object to understand the story. I love the idea of involving the audience and allowing them to participate to read the narrative.
While I am eager to explore new ways to tell stories, I think it would also be apt to research artists who have successfully illustrated stories in books, as this is the most common form of storytelling.
Madalina Andronic is an illustrator who has created artwork for many books including fairy tale books. The pictures above and right are from a storybook about characters from a Romanian fairy tale adapted for a modern audience, the characters now appear as superheroes with a double identity. What I admire about Andronic's work is her ability to utilise a double page spread in exciting ways - she always manages to fill the space expertly with an illustration and a simple matching block of text.
(Danish illustrator Svend Otto S. 'The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids' 1975)
While Svend Otto S. is not a contemporary illustrator, I think his ideas for narrative illustration are brilliant and are not commonly used in storytelling. In Otto S's fairy tale books he gives each sentence of the story an illustration of its own - this allows the illustrator to become the storyteller, and the illustrations become an integral part of the narrative. I think the interplay between the text and the pictures is very successful and beautifully executed.
Something I have also been looking into in my research is the idea of interactive storytelling. Above is an example of an interactive story map and all the different ways the story can turn out. The blue dots represent decision points made by the reader and the red dots are all alternative endings. I love the idea of a constantly changing story that is different depending on the decisions that the person reading it is making. As there are so many different versions of the same fairy tale, I think it could potentially be an idea to create an interactive story that can lead many different ways depending on the reader's decisions, and the different endings are merely the differing versions of the same tale from hundreds of years of variations.
(Yours for the Telling by Raymond Queneau)