Wednesday 11 November 2015

Hide and Seek with David Barrow

'Have You Seen Elephant?’ 
Published by Gecko Press 
£10.99 HB  

Here, right before your eyes (not hiding at all) is a bonefide pitch perfect laugh out loud picture book for all ages. Debut author David Barrow has created a brilliant celebration of the limitless nature of a child’s imagination wrapped up in a deliciously sophisticated and accessible package. 

A joyful simple text perfectly compliments moments of complete hysteria in the accompanying illustrations. Beautifully immersive full page pictures draw the reader into the game of hide and seek played between a young boy and a cumbersome pachyderm.  Little readers will quite possibly burst at the seams desperately trying to help the young boy find the elephant on each page and the story’s punch line is a complete delight and the characters are utterly beguiling.  

I do hope you enjoy this picture book as much as I have and will do for years to come. Have You Seen Elephant? is a must have for every pre-school and home library and the perfect gift for little Book Sniffers this Christmas (and any other season for that matter) 

Promotes – Inclusivity / imagination play / friendship  

By some stroke of fantastical luck and the help of a dear friend David agreed to spend a little time answering some questions for us - here's the result!  

How long did it take for the initial concept for the book to become a real book? And did the idea change much along the way? 

I came up with the concept of the book as one of my projects when I was studying for my Children’s Book Illustration MA at Anglia Ruskin Uni and I developed a first draft dummy over one semester. Julia from Gecko was visiting the course one week and saw the image of Elephant under the standard lamp. Thankfully she liked it, asked to see some more and subsequently gave me the opportunity to develop the project into a “real-life” proper book! Pretty much all the hiding places I’d initially drawn stayed. We introduced the dog character and really worked on the look of Elephant (I looked back at my original Elephant the other day and he looked positively threatening!) Working with publishers and art directors is an amazing process as all everybody wants is to make the most of a book at the end of a day. All in all it was about a year before a box of lovely new books arrived on my doorstep. And boy did they smell good! 

Are there any authors or illustrators you would  like to collaborate with? 

I’d love to work with Jon Klassen and/or Benji Davies. Not so much to collaborate with them; more to sit behind them and nick their ideas. I’m a big fan of Gerry Turley’s work and I reckon he could teach me a thing or two about screen-printing. 
Also I’d gladly do a two way writing/illustrating swap with fellow Anglia Ruskin alumni (and thoroughly nice bloke) Steve Anthony! 

Do you work digitally or physically or a mixture of both?

 I create all my artwork and textures physically with ink, paints, pastels, pencils... whatever’s to hand really. Then I scan it all in and composite everything digitally. That way, you get both the spontaneity and energy of physical mark-making, and the control offered by working digitally. Most things I do are a result of accidents happening during both stages!

Which is your favourite spread?

Hmmm... I have a love/hate relationship with most of the spreads! I know you shouldn’t laugh at your own jokes but Elephant behind the TV still makes me chuckle (only a bit, and then I remember how long I battled with it and I shed a little tear). I guess an honourable mention to “Elephant under standard lamp” has to be made as that’s the image that ultimately led to the book actually happening.However, I can tell you exactly what piece of music I was listening to with every part of every image. I bet a lot of illustrators possess that skill!

Are the characters in the book inspired by people you know? Are there any special details we should look out for?

Elephant is actually inspired by my nieces’ hide and seek skills. Pretty much all of Elephant’s hiding places have been adopted by one or both of them at some point. Obviously, I’ve ever so slightly exaggerated the situations. Things to look out for; the dog plays a fairly significant role, cat makes a couple of appearances, the tortoise is hiding in a couple of spreads. Oh and Edward Lear’s in there somewhere.

You have kindly let us have a peek inside your beautiful sketch book (below)– If you could snoop in someone else's sketch book who would you choose?  

Whilst on the MA course, I’ve been lucky enough to have sneaky peeks in some fairly astounding sketchbooks over the last couple of years. Highlights include Axel Scheffler, Alexis Deacon, Jim Kay, Ronald Searle, Helen Stephens and Pam Smy. I find sketchbooks phenomenally exhilarating to behold and will gladly look through anybody’s!

What will you be working on next?

I’m very lucky in that I’ve got a few projects on the go. Due to the secretive nature of the publishing industry I can’t say too much, however I’m writing and illustrating my next book with Hodder which is massively exciting (also a development of a Uni project). I’ll be illustrating for some other authors as well. 

Can you recommend a good hiding place? 

A good hiding place? I can’t reveal my best one as then everybody will know where to find me!

Visit Davids website HERE ...
Follow David on Twitter @DaveBarrow3 

With Thanks to 
Bounce Marketing, 
Pip Johnson, Laura Smythe, 
Gecko Press and David!

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