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Rob Dunlavey
Illustrations for Bayard Presse
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Last November I attended the Salon du Livre et de le presse jeunesse in Montreuil, a suburb of Paris. It's one of the larger European book fairs devoted to children's books and bande dessinée. I had gotten encouragement from my friend and colleague Maral Sassouni, an illustrator based in Paris.
With Maral's enthusiastic help and extensive knowledge of European children's publishing, I learned that there were many children's book publishers in Paris and that the book fair would be a great opportunity to see their new books and meet editors and creative directors. I met with ten different "maison d'éditions" while I was there.  I prepared by analyzing publisher's on-line catalogues and sending out postcards, samples and carefully worded emails and letters.

At the fair I finally met Pascale Guyon-Galet, an art director for Bayard Jeunesse who had shown enthusiasm for my sketchbook work. Over a delicious lunch, she showed me a manuscript for a story that would be printed in "Tralalire" one of Bayard's children's magazines. It was written by Didier Zanon and art directed by Marie Hélène Gros. Through last spring and into the summer I sketched while they tweaked the text and design. I ftp'd the final twelve paintings in mid-summer. The story will not be published until November 2011 but I can show a few details. It's about a bear cub who can't sleep and decides to take a moonlight walk in the snowy forest.
top left: title page sketch
top right: another sketch in monochrome wash
bottom: final illustration (detail) watercolor, mixed media

spread illustration: baby bear takes off while Mom snoozes.

Following this effort, I was asked to submit sketches for a new series of stories for "Les Belles Histoires" another Bayard Jeunesse magazine. Guyon-Galet, who art directs Les Belles Histoires had seen this illustration (left) from an unpublished story in my portfolio and wanted something similar for "Rififi and Azimut": animal characters in a darkened forest setting in grayscale with limited color.  The new story features two animal-like characters in a very intimate and fantastic natural world. Rififi is the urchin-like child and his older sidekick Azimut provides a parental nurturing role. Here are a few samples from the first "petite histoire" which debuts this December. The story is called "Le Gros Pot de Bonheur" and in it, Rififi wakes up feeling sad one morning. Azimut does his best to comfort him by suggesting they fill a big pot with good things and happy memories. It works and Rififi is happy again. End of story!
an assortment of character studies and preliminary sketches for "Le Gros Pot de Bonheur"

The pot gets larger as they think of things to add to. In the final layout, the text swirls and undulates on top of the glowing jar. (watercolor, mixed media and digital color)

The latest installment will be published in February 2011: It's now winter and the pair wake up to a fresh snow and decide to play outdoors and make snow angels.
The paintings are grayscale watercolor paintings with digital. For the illustration accountants out there, the inspirations in these pictures are too numerous to mention but who comes immediately to mind would probably include Astrid Lindgren, Sven Nordqvist, Gustav Tenggren, Peter de Seve, Rembrandt…you name it: the kitchen sink!

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