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Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Thrill of Collaboration

The first time a visual artist interpreted my written work occurred way back in high school, when Russell Wiesener illustrated the "Sever Heroes," superheroes I created based on our garage band personas. A few years later, Mike Gushue drew the "Earl's Amazing Mad Science Adventures" comic strip, which I scripted.

In each case I was delighted and fascinated by how other creative minds interpreted my words.  Each artist seemed to have a near-telepathic ability to capture the visions I'd imagined while adding their own distinctive stamp to the work, little details that turned my poor prose into something greater.

That's never been more true than of my friend Jeff Shyluk, who over the years has illustrated, using a variety of techniques, several of my comic strips, short stories and random ideas. His latest is called Woods Hole, based on the short story I submitted to CBC's Canada Writes competition. Jeff's vision doesn't exactly match my own, but that's not the point - I think he's improved on it with shadings and textures and, again, significant details that inform and reinterpret my original intent. I think it's marvellous, and I'm very moved that Jeff chose to do this. Frankly, I'm more excited by this than I would be if I had won the contest! I hope my readers will check it out at Jeff Shyluk's Visual Blog.

1 comment:

"Dr. Heckle And Mr. Jeff" said...

Thank you for the very kind words, Earl. According to the metrics, My Name Is Earl (J. Woods) is the biggest source of hits for JSVB, apart from search engines and spambots.

Although I can take some credit for putting the image together, the real talent is coming up with ideas that can be explored so fully. Any artist will try to "draw what they see in their head". The art comes from translating that internal image into hand movements on paper or canvas.

Normally, the link between what the inner eye sees and the hand draws tends to be fuzzy rather than clear. Years of practise can make for refined hand movements, but I am not sure there is anything that can improve upon the distance an idea will have to travel from the imagination to rendered reality. Either you are born with the ability or you just get used to the fuzziness. Mostly, I just go with fuzzy and hope for the best.

Every once in a while, though, I get an idea that's so perfectly clear that it seems impossible to miss. I guess that's the definition of inspiration. I don't get it on my own very often, but I do get it from other people. Earl is one of the most inspirational people I know, and so is my wife. There are a few others, as well. Like Earl says, it's like I can see what they have in their mind and can draw it.

From my view, it's just drawing from educated guesses. However, with people like Earl, I can be very confident that my guess will hit close to the mark. I'd say that's more Earl's talent than mine, since I see him doing that for other people as well.

I suppose that's why a fair amount of my work is Earl-based, and I absolutely do not apologize for that.