Sometimes you’re just minding your own business, trudging along and doin’ your work, when lo and behold, an email from an aspiring illustrator appears in your in-box. And then, after reading the friendly email, you click on the illustrator’s site. And you say to yourself when you see the art work at said site, holy wow. This guy is going places.
And then you think, after seeing this exciting, new artwork: THIS. This is a large part of why I blog. Getting to see, and subsequently share, artwork like this from illustrators of the future [future ... future]. (In brackets is the echo, which you yourself can provide, unless you’re reading this at work in a quiet library, in which case you should probably just provide the echo in your head alone, lest you disturb your patrons.) And then you think: If only I were all-powerful and ran the world, dang, I’d get this guy an agent and a book deal already.
Or at least this happens if you’re me and you get an email from art student Ethan Aldridge. Alas and alack, I am not all-powerful (blast it), but I can at least show you his artwork and see if any of you want to ooh! and ahh! along with me, ’cause I sense some serious potential here. Here’s part of what Ethan wrote in his initial email to me:
I am working on becoming a children’s book illustrator. It is a career I have been interested in ever since the age of five (so my mother tells me). Some of my fondest childhood memories are of sitting in my backyard, pouring over Peter Sís’s illustrations in Jack Prelutsky’s The Dragons are Singing Tonight, totally enchanted. Ever since, I have wanted to create such beautiful books (apart from a brief stint where I wanted to become a stage magician). The college I am currently attending, while having a wonderful art department, is fairly small and lacks programs that focus on illustration. As a result, I have had to self-teach myself much of the art of picture books.
I’ll try not to say dang again. Ah, forget it: DANG, you all, he is mostly self-taught!
I don’t know about you, but I really like what I see, and I hope to goodness we see his artwork in picture books or in middle-grade books or on middle-grade covers or YA covers (whew, did I get them all?) one day.
What I’m sharing here today in this post is nothing you can’t see at his site, though there are some more sketches and a couple of illustrations over there I’m not including here. Here’s Ethan, too, to say a bit more about his work, and more illustrations are below. I thank him for visiting 7-Imp — and for emailing me out of the blue in the first place.
Ethan: I’ve always loved stories. I think most everyone does. Stories, especially ones geared toward children, make up an essential part of who we are and how we view the world. As we age, life seems to get more complicated. We have to worry about taxes and paying bills. However, the problems we face throughout our lives seem to stay rooted in base emotions we felt as children and continue to feel today: fear, displacement, uncertainty, and the like. Picture books simplify those problems down to the base emotions, make them playful, easier to swallow.
When I was little, I was fascinated by the pictures in books and the power they had to spark one’s imagination. (Of course, I didn’t articulate it like that back then. It was more like, “that dragon is awesome!”) As I’ve grown older, those same books have continued to help and inspire me — and provide useful exercise for my imagination.
I try to create images like the ones that inspire me, pictures that encourage a viewer’s imagination, leading them to fill in the gaps and create their own parts of the story. I feel this makes the work more applicable to them. As they give something of themselves to creating the stories, the stories become a part of who they are.
I generally like to work with ink. I find it to be an endlessly versatile medium, and it’s one that I’ve really responded to. There is something powerful in the simplicity of the line. Of course, variety is the spice of life, so I like to play around with most everything I can get my hands on. Except pottery. I’m useless with pottery.
In the end, I want to make pictures and stories that interest people. Hopefully, they will inspire others.
Or at least look pretty on a bookshelf. That’d be allright, too.
All illustrations are © 2012 by Ethan Aldridge.