Welcome to my blog , The Hare Illustratère. I'll be posting about my art process and journey as an illustrator/author here. To find out more about my whimsical & elegant illustrations on nifty things you can buy, please Visit my other blog, The Art Hare's Wares.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Animals with or without clothes

I recently showed my portfolio to an art director of a medium sized trade children's book publisher . Her comments in general were good but she did have a thing about animals wearing clothes. In her opinion animals should not wear too much clothes. It made them too human and a wee bit creepy. She also felt that the totally dressed animal was a mass market look.

This comment made me realize that the majority of my animals are dressed. Few are au naturalle. I should also add this was the first time I've heard that trade pubs prefer naked animals. I have had comments that my animals should dress in more trendy garb as opposed to a classic look. Now I suppose I should make sure I have more naked animals.

Which brings me to my next thought - why do most of my animals wear clothes? My decision is based on the text - are the animals really stand ins for people characters or are they behaving like real wild animals? I also like to use clothing as a prop to further enhance the character. And of course it's just plain fun to design patterns and outfits for my characters. Take my Ox or Rat, Game 5 of my Which Would You Rather Be? blog, their robes enhance their character. I guess my next project should be something that calls for animals behaving like animals.


Ginger*:) said...

I really like your animals with clothes, but perhaps you would want to consider having just a few of them hang up their clothes. I have heard the same thing from a few publishers and editors. They don't seem to want to give those human characteristics to animals and that includes conversations as well. That being said, it isn't true of all publishers.

Your characters have great charm and I don't consider them mass market at all. They invite children to come along on their adventure and isn't that what it's all about.

Tara McClendon said...

Balance is good, but so is listening to your creative muse. If the clothes add to the character, why not use them. That being said, if you want to work with this company, follow its guidelines. Otherwise, find the company that loves your work as is.

Ginger*:) said...

I just thought I would add this one... the last rejection I got not only included NO animals that talk but NO animals that talk in rhyme. But sometimes that really works!

And come to think of it... who knows if they really DO talk in rhyme. *:)

Ginger*:) said...

Hi Diana,
I have awarded you a trophy, please accept it and go to my blog to retrieve the image.

Here is a link to the post:

Just copy the image to your blog, if you aren't able to do that I will email it to you.

Amy Spaulding said...

stritHi, Diana,

I love your work!

Re: Animals and clothes

I recently heard a Waldorf-inspired educator/lecturer mention that she did not like picture books with clothed animals. Even Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit was a no-no for her -- (where Peter's little blue jacket is crucial to the plot line!).

The educator wanted the children in her school to have the sense and understanding that animals found in the wild are indeed wild and not human/anthropomorphized.

I think a nice example of this (my example, not hers) are the animals in Elsa Beskow's books -- see CHILDREN OF THE FOREST. The gnomes and fairies are "human" in persona, but the animals that surround them are quite natural looking and beautiful. I think Jan Brett also does a nice job -- ex. THE MITTEN.

One of my all-time favorite examples of animals with personality who are natural looking (and unclothed) is Helen Ward's THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE. Check her out if you aren't familiar with her.

I understand that a story or fable using animals as the central character poses a challenge for the illustrator. I personally loved Stuart Little and his little matchbox bed and toy car as a kid-- but I did find him a bit creepy.

Good luck! Your animals are gorgeous and the spirit of your work speaks volumes.