Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It was Stevyn Colgan in the Library with the Lead Pencil

I've just illustrated a couple of bookplates - one based on an older pirate picture and one spanking new bogie picker - for the My Home Library website. The site provides hundreds of unique copyright-free bookplates and bookmarks, in colour and black and white, for you to print off and personalise your children's books with. Among the artists I'm joining are such luminaries as Quentin Blake, Jan Pienkowski, Corky Paul, Posy Simmons, Raymond Briggs, Nick Butterworth, Michael Foreman, Helen Oxenbury and Tony Ross.

The site is the brainchild of author Anne Fine who was the Children's Laureate 2001-2003. It's all about encouraging children and their families to build a home library of favourite books. The site includes reviews, tips and tricks, competitions and puzzles, and great ideas for book sharing, book clubs etc. There are also links to books in Braille and special 'feelie' bookplates and bookmarks are available by post. Top authors like Terry Pratchett, J K Rowling, Jacqueline Wilson and Philip Pullman have all donated time and money to help to make the site as open to the visually-impaired as it is to sighted children.

As Anne herself explains on the site:

'Some people print (the bookplates) onto sticky labels; others print on paper, then use scissors and glue. (Don't forget you can always print out the black and white plates on coloured paper. Some look remarkably different against a fresh background.) We know a lot of teachers who use our bookplates for rewards. (You can keep your computer-mad pupils happy printing them out for you). Mothers stick them in their babies' first picture books. And babysitters tell us that some of the black and white ones are perfect for "colouring in before bedtime".

'If you have to get a present for your brother, sister or best friend, and you're not feeling rich, then think about using one of our bookplates to personalise the perfect choice of book from a charity shop or second-hand book shop. They're brilliant for blotting out the last person's name. (In fact, they're so good that more and more bookshops are giving them out free - or is it in the hope customers will buy more books just to have something to stick them in?

Everyone needs a Home Library. Make sure that yours keeps growing. Don't forget that books furnish the mind, and unfurnished minds are EMPTY and TIRESOME.'

So go visit, pick out some of the gorgeous bookplates and enjoy. The site is here.

17 comments:

Lisa said...

Wow! You are one talented dude!! I envy you being able to draw. I can't draw for toffee. I'll have to check this out. I'm putting in an application for DigiBytes and one of the things I have to do is mock up a movie poster. So they say you don't have to be a great artist just give an idea of what it should look like but I'm so anal I have to get it right even though I'm pants at artwork. It's trying to be sure...

Lisa

Stevyn Colgan said...

Lisa - You're too kind. But listen ... it's an open forum here and a big bunch of talented arty-farty types regularly clock in to abuse me. And quite rightly so. I'm sure we'll all do our best to help you out with ideas, suggestions, etc. About the only thing we can't do is the artwork for you. But even then, we may be able to suggest some shortcuts and cheats to help.

Lisa said...

Thanks Stevyn. I've put one together using stock photos. I was trying to illustrate a theme of conflict and struggle. So I've tried to juxtapose images of say Martin Luther King with a burning cross and the FBI poster of the missing activist from Milburn or Kurdish rebels and the toppling of Saddam's statue.

Any help/thoughts would be much appreciated.

You're a star...

Lisa

Roger Cornwell said...

Anne Fine's asked me to post this comment:
----------------------------------------------------
Dear Steve,
I just wanted to thank you for the delightful bookplates. That's really generous of you. And then this morning I got to see what you had put up on your site about myhomelibrary, and I want to thank you for that as well. I love the way this really simple idea, which was a huge amount of work at the beginning, now seems to have discovered the skill of perpetual motion all by itself and just rolls along with a little bit of help from Roger.
Anyhow, none of it could have been achieved without the skills and good nature of artists like yourself. It is important to have fresh bookplates popping up on site, and so once again, thank you so much for yours.
With my very best wishes, Anne
-----------------------------------------------------
Let me add my thanks to Anne's. It may take a few days to get your bookplates onto the My Home Library site because of pressure of work, so please be patient.
Roger

Stevyn Colgan said...

Lisa - As it's a film poster, I guess other particularly memorable images of 'struggle' and 'conflict' could include the student standing in front of the Chinese tank in Tiananmen Square, or picketing miners during the 1980s NUM strike, or the Vietnam Napalm Girl photo by Nick Ut. On a slightly quirkier note, you could have a fly trapped in a web as the spider approaches, a lion bringing down a gazelle, or a parent and teenager squabbling. The poster could look torn in half or fragmented. Or the poster could be seen lying on the ground on a battlefield, or clutched in the hand of someone lying in a puddle of blood or inside a white chalk outline ...

There. A one minute brainstorm. Any more ideas out there in the Blogsphere?

Stevyn Colgan said...

Roger (and Anne) - Thank you for the kind words. I'm a great believer in the old adages of 'The more you give, the more that comes back to you' and 'Share what you have'. And there are few causes more worthy than getting kids reading and learning. Glad I could, in some small way, help.

Janet said...

Oh my - that bogie-picker is a classic! I may have to print out some of those for OUR books!

What a terrific idea for encouraging families to build up their own libraries. I grew up around books, and I just can't imagine what (or where) I'd be without the stimulation they gave to the imagination of this little girl from Tulsa.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Janet - It's great isn't it? All credit to Anne and Roger.

Lisa said...

Great ideas Stevyn. Thanks.

Lisa

Protege said...

I guess it is now my turn to be impressed.;) I like your style. As a child, when I was bored doing homework, I always illustrated all the boring text in our school books. Seeing this brought back that memory.;)

Stevyn Colgan said...

Protege - Thanks! However, I still maintain that you showed a prodigious talent for a 17 year old.

I too used to doodle all over my school books. I scored quite poorly in Art exams because I got bored of still life drawing. I once got a C grade for, if I say so myself, a beautiful pencil drawing of a cabbage. Problem was, I also drew a little demon with boobies peking out from behind a leaf ...

Protege said...

Stevyn, that just proves how little teachers know, right? Don't you just wish they could see you now?
They should have realized that what was peaking from behind the cabbage was demonstration of a great sense of humour.:P
And thank you for thinking me talented, the art schoold did not.;)

willow said...

These bookplates are SO you!!! And, BTW, I am TAGGING you. It's a fun and easy game, I promise! Come on over for the details. You're IT!!! :D

Stevyn Colgan said...

Protege - To be fair, my art teachers were fantastic - very encouraging and creative. The problem was that they had to teach us to pass examinations and, back in the 1970s, that meant you all had to paint and draw the same. And I didn't. These days, assessment is far more flexible. When I did art as a subject it was all oils and pencils; now anything goes and quite rightly so. Art is supposed to be an expression of what you feel inside not what someone expects of you.

Saying that, your teachers were obviously idiots. Or blind. Or both. (If you want to see Protege's first painting, click here.)

Stevyn Colgan said...

Willow - How can I refuse such a demand? Be right over ...

Planet Me said...

I have been tagged? How? I must be losing my marbles...

Stevyn Colgan said...

Planet Me - All is revealed in the next post ...