Sunday, April 25, 2010

Memories of Art Directing and how I got there.

Long ago when a I was a twenty-something I lived in poverty in NYC. It was a nice poverty tho. Why? Because I lived in a pre-war sixteen story elevator building on the Upper West Side right off of Central Park West. (Fanny Brice lived in my building...cooowilll). Right off of Central Park. It was my side yard.

I was quite lucky to find this apartment, and came very close to living in the YMCA (which I can tell you is a good incentive to keep looking for an apartment). I found this apartment through an advert at FIT. FIT was where I was to begin post-grad work in fashion design (it should have been fashion illustration as that was where I excelled). I snatched it up on the spot. Location, location, location. I loved and still love that area to pieces.

But I needed a job to live there and did not want to be a poor student.

Fast forward....

I was not cut out for fashion design. And illustration was at best a limited endeavor.

So I changed gears and moved from the fashion world to the advertising world. I liked it... especially the art and copy part.
I went to night school while I worked as an assistant for a big ad firm. I studied and created art campaigns and learned copy writing.

And I could walk to work!!

Eventually, I made my way up to art directing. But what I didn't realize is that art directing is not simply coming up with images and matching them with the art. NO, THE REAL JOB is stated below.

What much of it is is quality control which brings the final art to production for print/film.

This involves checking and fixing and finalizing proofs for :

Text Placement
Type with Image Choice
Copy Proofing

Now, imagine doing this on several different projects at once. And imagine the client saying they want changes and more changes and more changes and it is due tomorrow at the 9:00 AM meeting. Because the client is in town and is leaving the next day at 10:00. The big client.

And the typesetter (this is before computers) is all flustered with the little window he has to get the job done. And the printer can't possibly squeeze your most important job in this week.

No one appreciates the art director.

But without them you get no results. Or poor ones at best.

And who wants poor results?

Not I.

I miss those days. Central Park at my feet, walking to work, working as an art director. Making things happen.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

It takes one to know one

(An artist I mean)

Sent to me by an artist friend:

Can an artist with multiple personality disorders have a one-woman show?

(We'll have to think about it and get back to you.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

PB word count and my angst

I visited one of my town's two bookstores (yes, we have two and they are still kicking) to check out the picture book section which is in the back of this lovely, classy, galley store. The shelves for pbs are broken up by non-fic, concept, toddler and classic/new. There are also shelves for new titles, topical titles, themed titles, puzzle books, fairy/folk tales etc...

I focused on the new/classic...the largest shelf. Because I wanted to see what I see as a classic and what I see as a hip and fun pb. There is a difference. And today's hip and fun could become a classic I suppose.

(My teenager is nagging at me saying, " I need to go home do to my mountains of homework," interspersed with, "I LOVE WHERE'S WALDO.")

"So do I Emily... who doesn't... in a minute..."

I perused about twenty books. Mostly new titles I've heard about or googled beforehand.

But I came back to two books that always leave me laughing/amazed and a wee bit sentimental... those being Lily and her Plastic Purse and Skippy Jon Jones. These books are not short (in any aspect)... and they have everything... everything. They are rich and they linger, and I LOVE THEM. They really touched me and they still do. And the writing is good and the plotting is good and they have enormous heart with a touch of humor. They capture real child emotions and situations and adults relate.

I want to beef up my writing to match their's but with all this 'keep thine short...what is a writer to do....?' Grrrr. I want to add add add.

Minor beef...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

Today I watched Irving Berlin's Easter Parade with Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. I grew up on old dancy musicals and I still adore them. And I love those two so much. So much. Class acts.

Then I watched a tribute to Henry Fonda. And cried.

Then I spent two hours working on a pb query. It is still not done... not quite right. And I won't rush it. I've learned that every little step you make has complete impact on the outcome. Every little thing.

Happy Easter

Friday, April 2, 2010

Why I love Log Lines

This is kind of a first for me but I feel like I stumbled onto something great... because log lines can get you on track when you are stuck. When you don't know what direction you are going in. Log lines are one sentence (maybe cheating with two) premises of your stories.

It took me all of fifteen minutes today to write up nine of my book log lines. But that doesn't mean it took fifteen minutes period. This has been a process. But the more you do it the better you will get. For the reader it is an understanding of what a stranger's book is about. For the writer it is a way to know that you know what your book is about, and if there is conflict (if necessary). It is also a way to know if you are writing too many stories in one manuscript. Or if your book plot may be convoluted/too slight or too nonsensical. Basically it tells you where you are going with plot and resolution.

So why am I so happy? Because I finally figured out (with one of these log lines) how to rewrite a picture book that I have been working on for YEARS. What was initially wrong with it and where to take it. I got rid of one of the things that originally intrigued me which took the plot in another direction. (But I can make up for that in the art because it has to do with color.)
Which speaks for itself. I want to make this a gorgeous book with happiness and sadness (and not in that order) and joy.

And it speaks to children and has lots of emotion. And that stays.

I simplified and streamlined it. Now I have to rewrite and dummy it. But it shouldn't be as hard now.

So don't give up on something if you love, love, love it and have for years. Just write up a log line to get you on track and write it from there.