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Once Upon a Time: The Story of Children's Book Illustration

Updated: Jul 27, 2023


Video from pete beard


"500 years of children's book illustration in just over 14 minutes' from video introduction


Once Upon a Time: The Story of Children's Book Illustration

From cave paintings to Maurice Sendak, a look at the masters of the form

Back in the fifteenth century, Leonardo da Vinci made the following remark about visual storytelling:

"And you who wish to represent by words the form of man and all the aspects of his membrification, relinquish that idea. For the more minutely you describe the more you will confine the mind of the reader, and the more you will keep him from the knowledge of the thing described. And so it is necessary to draw and to describe."


Artwork for Ajubel's Robinson Crusoe.
Artwork for Ajubel's Robinson Crusoe.

Finished artwork for Ajubel's Robinson Crusoe. From very early on, we both intuit and learn the language of pictorial representation, and most modern adults, the picturebook was our first dictionary of this visual vocabulary. Yet the picturebook -- defined by its narrative framework of sequential imagery and minimalist text to convey meaning or tell a story, and different from the illustrated book in which pictures play a secondary narrative part, enhancing and decorating the narrative -- is a surprisingly nascent medium. In Children's Picturebooks: The Art of Visual Storytelling, illustrator Martin Salisbury and children's literature scholar Morag Styles trace the fascinating evolution of the picturebook as a storytelling medium and a cultural agent, and peer into the future to see where the medium might be going next, with case studies of seminal works, a survey of artistic techniques, and peeks inside the sketchbooks and creative process of prominent illustrators adding dimension to this thoughtful and visually engrossing journey.." from the article: A Brief History of Children's Picture Books and the Art of Visual Storytelling


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