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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

A Call for Submissions: Re-Seussify Seuss

cathat A Call for Submissions: Re Seussify SeussHow does an artist learn to find their own style?  By copying the masters, of course.  Could the same be true of children’s illustrators?  Haven’t a clue.  But it gave me a crazy notion the other day that I’m hankering to try out.

During the release of the Where the Wild Things Are movie a blog was begun called Terrible Yellow Eyes.  At that site different artists offered their interpretations of Maurice Sendak’s classic.  There have been similar derivations in the comics world as well.  Comics Should Be Good, for example, has a series called The Line It Is Drawn (and the children’s books meet comics series was particularly nice).  Similarly there’s the site Hey, Oscar Wilde! It’s Clobbering Time! All cool ideas, but what if you went a different route?  What if, for example, you interpreted someone’s art but in the style of another artist?

So I have a crazy notion.  Some of you are artists with perhaps a moment to spare.  Here’s my challenge to you: Reinterpret a famous scene from any Dr. Seuss book in the style of another famous children’s picture book artist. Perhaps you’d like to do The Cat in the Hat ala Clement Hurd’s Goodnight Moon or Green Eggs and Ham in the note of Ludwig Bemelmans.  Whatever you prefer, if you think this is a fun notion send me a scan of your idea and I’ll cull together a post filled with some of the different submissions.  Maybe it’s not as freeing as Terrible Yellow Eyes, but what’s life without a bit of a challenge?  And if you want to do it in the style of someone living (Mo Willems, Kevin Henkes, etc.) it could be fun but let it be on your head.

All submissions must be received at Fusenumber8@gmail.com by February 29th.

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Elizabeth Bird About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently New York Public Library's Youth Materials Collections Specialist. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of NYPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

Comments

  1. Jim Randolph says:

    Great idea. I’ve heard similar things on NPR with music. They’ll do fun things like The Simpson’s theme song in the style of Mozart or something. It’s always interesting. I want to see an Arthur Rackham-styled Cat in the Hat. And maybe a creepy Barry Moser woodcut-style Lorax. Ooh, a Wocket In My Pocket done Edward Gorey-style! This is gonna be a hoot!

  2. I can’t wait to see what comes in! Thanks for sharing the blog Terrible Yellow Eyes. Amazing to see the gorgeously different interpretations.

  3. Deadline, Betsy?

  4. Oooo, this sounds like fun. I echo Elizabeth: what’s the timeframe?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Hmm. Timeframe, eh? Let’s give it a month. Till the end of February, say. That should be plenty of time to see if anyone took an interest.

  5. Nathan Hale says:

    Oh boy! Illustration game! I’m so excited!

  6. Patti says:

    What fun! I wish I was an artist – can’t wait to see what folks come up with!

  7. AZ says:

    I just drew Seuss’s “Nerd” for AlphaBeasts… Should be fun to do the same thing but with another style – Great challenge! http://ow.ly/8M7l0

  8. Diandra Mae says:

    To clarify, you’re asking illustrators to reinterpret a Seuss scene in another illustrator’s style? ie: Ezra Jack Keats, Beatrix Potter, etc.? That should be interesting!

  9. LV says:

    Can we do it in our own style?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I might save illustrating it in your own style for a different post, so in this particular case we’re going to go with illustrating with someone else’s style (just as you suggested, Diandra). Makes it a little more difficult but fun (and the submissions I’ve already received are, I’ve gotta say, a hoot).

  10. It’s on our own heads? But what if Elephant & Piggie really, really, hear a Who?

  11. Ah, Betsy, you know I love you. (And I know you like my Ellie McDoodle books. And also Mo Willems)
    I’m going to take a risk here ::pausing to put on kevlar underwear:: and state openly why some of my artist pals might be wringing their paintbrushes re: this challenge.
    Everyone knows you have huge readership, getting noticed = the fastest way to get contracts, and art on your site *will* get noticed. But –
    - Illustrators copy the masters until they come up with their own style (usually in high school), at which point copying is generally bad unless you’re trying to learn a specific technique. Occasionally an “in the style of” piece is fun and satiric, like for an editorial cartoon, but both copying someone else’s style and also drawing Seuss’s work is derivative of *two* illustrators, leaving very little room for one’s own voice.
    - Most of us have been asked by art directors (not necessarily of kids’ books) to copy someone else’s style for a piece because they can’t afford the famous guy. Abhorrent practice crossing ethical boundaries.
    I know this is all in fun, a visual joke, an early April Fool’s art prank; for many illustrators it’ll be tough to take time from deadlines for something they can’t put in their portfolios.
    When you ask people to re-envision Seuss but in their own style, you will get inundated with art. :)

  12. Ryan Hipp says:

    Hi Betsy,

    I want to echo Ruth’s points as well. I am sure you had no idea when you put this out that it would be looked at as controversial, and some have even suggested I am over-thinking this – but I have seen enough similar responses that have made me think perhaps I am not the only one feeling this way – There are many illustrators in the online community right now discussing this contest and the very things that Ruth has pointed out. Some more well-known illustrators I already know have submitted to you, which you probably are thinking has validated the challenge. But for most of us, especially the mid-listed, we look at emulating someone else’s style as negating our own. Now, if someone like Mo Willems or Jarrett K submit to this, you will get a fun triple effect – “Someone famous drawing someone famous just like someone famous”. I can see why they would see the charm in that. But I think I speak for the majority of my peers when I ask, why not let our own style’s shine with a Seuss theme? I would much rather see Ruth Barshaw draw Fox in Sox the way Ruth Barshaw would – not how she would if she was trying (unsuccessfully) to be Chris Van Allsberg.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Excellent points one and all. Let me see if I can address them in some manner.

      Of course it first occurred to me to ask folks to illustrate classic picture book artists in their own style. This is hardly a new challenge, of course. A cursory Google search will reveal that many artists have done this for years. More interesting to me is the idea of mixing and matching the masters. Carle as Seuss. Waber as Rey.

      Your posts, however, have shown me where I made my mistake. I shouldn’t have mentioned that I’d link to an artist’s website. Far more interesting would be if this were entirely anonymous. That way no one is getting “credit” for imitating someone else. So though it’s after the fact, I’ve gotten few enough submissions to change the rules ENTIRELY! Ha ha! So that’s what I’m doing.

      Now yes, I’d get a lot more submissions if I asked you to do a famous artist in your own style. But, as I say, that’s a different challenge entirely. And I’ve no interest in promoting “someone famous drawing someone famous like someone famous” as you say. I’m interested in the mash-up effect. And to a certain extent I’m interested in knowing if one classic artist had done the images for another artist’s book, would it have been as popular in the end?

      Obviously no one is obligated to enter this. It’s just for fun. I ask no one to take time from deadlines “for something they can’t put in their portfolios”. I am appealing to those folks with time to kill who want to do something for amusement’s sake alone. I think we’ve enough room on this little old internet of ours for that kind of challenge too. If another blogger wants to do the challenge that you mention, that’s fantastic. All power to them!

  13. Ryan Hipp says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful response, Betsy. I think that sounds much better, and I think I have an idea already…

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      No problem. Only after thinking about it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to give zero credit at all. After all, some folks might be really proud of their work. So I think what I’ll do is in the post itself I’ll thank all the contributors at the end, rather than next to their images. That way you can guess who did what (which, in keeping with the theme, is more fun anyway).

Trackbacks

  1. [...] last month, in what was probably a coincidence, Fuse #8 issued a challenge for folks to re-imagine scenes from Dr. Seuss books in the style of yet another famous illustrator [...]