Think of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” or “Matilda” and what springs to mind are the quirky, cartoonish illustrations that brought the book characters to life. The magic of these books lay in the perfect collaboration between the author Roald Dahl and the illustrator Quentin Blake. In fact, as an illustrator of over 250 books, Blake was just as widely loved by the readers.
When it comes to iconic literary characters, it is difficult to overemphasise the contribution of the illustrators to the success of the book. Winnie the Pooh, Cat in the Hat, Franklin the Turtle – these are all products of the illustrator’s imagination and these book visuals helped immensely in immortalising these characters in the hearts of the young readers. Creating memorable characters is important to the success of children’s books and professional illustrators are critical to getting it right.
Whether it is the book cover or the illustrations inside, eye-catching designs are important in getting the attention of young readers. This is even truer of the very young reader, who has not yet learnt to read. It is the colorful illustrations that will hold her interest and help her to visualise the story that is being read to her. Very young readers are also more likely to spend time with books that have attractive illustrations, thus speeding up the learning process with respect to their reading ability. Since illustrations are what grab the attention of the readers browsing in the bookstore, a good illustrator has a huge impact on the book sales.
In a children’s book, the illustrations are not just pretty pictures that liven up the pages. Illustrations are visual aids that bring the story to life and help to move the narrative ahead. Images that are conceptualised well help the children to comprehend the written text and relate to the characters in the story. It has rightly been said that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’.
In the publishing circles today, the role of a professional book illustrator has become so important that it is almost impossible to find a children’s book without illustration. Since illustrations are so important in a children’s book, neither the publisher nor the author is willing to compromise when it comes to the book illustrator. Publishing houses usually have professional illustrators of their own and authors who are unwilling to work with them often look at alternate ways of publishing their manuscript. Many authors take on the onus of self-publishing since they will only work with illustrators of their choice.