Hi Math is Everywhere readers,
Today’s special guest is my talented illustrator friend Victoria Marble. She was lucky enough to be selected to re-create a classic, and she’s here today to tell us all about it!
Victoria Marble is an illustrator specializing in character & narrative design, with a particular emphasis on children, animals, insects, & floral designs.
She holds a general studies associate of arts degree with an emphasis on arts & humanities, as well as an associate of science in electronic game art & design. She became an executive board member of the Simi Valley Art Association at the beginning of 2015, where she quickly gained local recognition for her uniquely stylized pen-and-ink illustrations. Victoria helps edit and coordinate the association’s monthly newsletter in addition to attending meetings and art demos, and participating in art shows, galleries, and contests. Her work in the association has won various awards.
As a member of SCBWI, Victoria has participated in critique groups, Sketch Crawls, the Ventura County regional chapter Traveling Sketchbook, and the monthly DrawThis! challenge.
Victoria adores creating art that emphasizes the beauty of nature- and particularly birds, fish, insects, and floral designs, along with cute children and animal characters.
Take it away Victoria!
Hi, Kaitlyn! I can’t thank you enough for letting me come here to discuss a bit about what I’ve learned. This has certainly been a fascinating experience!
Public Domain Projects: Fitting a Re-printed Classic Into the Culture of New-Book-Buzz
Illustrating a classic has been a dream-come-true for me. I adore fairy-tales, classic films, folktales- all narrative styles and genres with a history behind them. When asked to create a new edition of Wizard of Oz, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I would get to relive the classic story in its original form, but put my own spin on the characters and settings. Not only that, but this would be my illustration debut! Wow! I am honored to have had the experience.
Low-key, though, I had to question the prospect of promoting a book that has seen literally hundreds of editions, iterations, and re-prints. Where exactly in the whirl of new-book-buzz does a freshly-illustrated classic belong? While the glitz-and-glam culture of release parties, book signings, giveaways, and new-release contests is generally associated with the release of a new book, I’m left to wonder: What if the book you have worked on isn’t new? (What if it’s in fact 120 years old 😮)
Shortly after the October 2019 release of Wizard of Oz, I attended an SCBWI event locally where a few colleagues agreed this could be an interesting topic of conversation. With new books typically being the primary focus at these events, I wanted to bring up the question of public domain works, and see if I could, at the very least, begin a conversation on the pros and cons of working with and promoting such material.
The public domain is described as consisting of any creative materials unprotected by intellectual property laws such as copyright or trademark, either because they have expired or don’t apply. In other words, anyone is free to use or interpret the material however they may. That’s why very often it’s advised that aspiring illustrators use classic fairy tales as portfolio pieces- because they’re allowed to, without running into copyright issues.
So what happens if something like this gets published? Is it considered a “new” book? That depends. A derivative work based on a classic (such as Moldilocks and the Three Scares by Lynne Marie and illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo) offers all new material and is considered a retelling. A reprint, such as Wizard of Oz, does not- and that’s why it therefore likely won’t shouldn’t be considered in new-book contests or awards, which usually require that the book be in its first run.
So what can be done with a reprint?
Though it may seem counter-intuitive, many of these books are still in high demand. In fact, there are really actually several pros to working with this type of material, particularly for illustrators.
There is typically a demand for special and collectors editions of some of these books, for example. With Wizard of Oz, the text was reprinted in a specially-designed font intended to make reading easier for Dyslexic readers. And so, the publisher (specializing in Dyslexic font), and myself were then able to promote the book to an audience that may otherwise have been previously inaccessible. The point is, finding a way to make the book stand out from previous prints is key for promoting a reprint along the same lines as promoting any new book (there are boundless resources on marketing and book promotion- start by checking out KidLit411!).
If an illustrator has been approached to reinterpret a classic, the images alone may serve as selling-point of interest for the book- as fans (in some cases collectors) are are often excited to see fresh takes on traditional characters and settings. This of course may depend upon the renown of the illustrator, the general demand of the book, the renown of the publishing house, and other such factors. And, because the images themselves are new (even if the text is not), the illustrator will now likely maintain at least some of the artistic rights to those images- though, remember that will depend on what rights are outlined in the contract with the publishing house.
Another benefit of working (particularly as an illustrator) with public domain material is that the illustrator will *likely* get a larger portion of royalties as there is no credit to be shared with an author.
Ultimately, simply because the book has been celebrated before- (and in many cases continually celebrated!)- does not mean that a new reiteration of the story should not be lauded in its own right. I would, in fact, argue the opposite! A favorite classic not only lends itself perfectly to themed events (such as book release parties and signings) but will also present the opportunity to find and embrace what makes the book unique, and to promote accordingly to that niche. Again, there are many numerous resources on marketing and book promotion, and it’s all about being creative. With that, I’d like to welcome any readers out there who have had experience working with classics and other public domain material, to please share your experience in the comments on this blog post. Thanks again, Kaitlyn!
Kaitlyn: Thank you so much for such wonderful insight and sharing your beautiful art, Victoria!
To connect with Victoria:
Victoria has graciously offered a giveaway for TWO winners! One winner will receive a book bundle of her book and a color book and another winner will receive a Picture Book Manuscript Critique.
To enter, you may
- Leave a comment on this blog post
- Retweet this tweet about the blog post
- Let us know in the comments that you ordered one of Victoria’s books (you can earn an entry for each book)
Thank you all so much for reading and learning about such a cool project for illustrators with me!
Remember, if you’re interested in the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest, make sure to subscribe to my blog and Ciara’s blog, too! Haven’t heard of Spring Fling Kidlit yet? Come check it out here. Want to know which of our 18 prize donors have been revealed? Check them out here and here.
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez