Having designed books for publishers for 25 years, it was unusual to receive a picture book brief from a mattress company. However, after some thought, it made sense. Children’s books are synonymous with bedtime so it occurred to me that it was a natural partnership.
My husband was asked to write the text, and working with him was also a first. Having three boys of our own, the subject was something we could easily relate to! We both love our sleep and know only too well the importance of a good night’s sleep for parents and children alike. We would both openly confess to being ‘grouchy’ as a result of even the shortest of night-time or early morning disturbances.
I loved the text straight away (OK I might be biased) so my first challenge was to find an illustrator that would do it justice. The brief from eve was for someone contemporary and a style that would compliment the brand. After considering a number of illustrators and lots of to-ing and fro-ing of emails, we agreed upon Mark Beech. We all loved his work and in particular the covers he had illustrated for Terry Pratchett and Enid Blyton.
We began by asking Mark to sketch the characters to make sure his interpretation matched with everyone else’s. Mark captured the characters’ personalities almost immediately, so from there it was full steam ahead. I designed and supplied an illustration brief for each spread and Mark just flew with it.
I played with the typography to reflect what was going on in the story. Changing the size of the type to put emphasis on the speech and mood.
The challenge for me was to make the book look like an eve product, whilst still maintaining the integrity of a good quality picture book. The brand has a strict colour pallet and it was difficult to imagine how the book would work with such tight restrictions. As we progressed it became clear that the best way forward was to allow Mark the freedom to illustrate the book, in his wonderful freehand pen and ink style without imposing any restrictions on him and we would deal with colour.
Once Mark had completed the line art, it was scanned and then I painted in the colour digitally using photoshop. Adding the colour was a slow meticulous process. I am so used to having the choice of any possible colour within the four colour printing process, but it forced me to think a bit harder about my colour choices. The Grouch changed colour a few times before we decided that yellow was the best colour for him. But once that was decided, the other elements fell into place. At first I worried whether the contrast of the two styles of artworks would work together. However, I need not have worried, now, the book is finished I am thrilled with the result. I think the colour pallet makes it look retro. It reminds me of the Dr Suess books which I loved as a child and still enjoy with my children.
The creative process from the birth of Grouchy Grouch to the completed ‘Goodnight Grouchy Grouch’ picture book was very much an eve team effort. Everyone in the team had some input, no matter how small, in its production, and we are all very proud of our first baby. Who knows maybe there will be more to come……
Goodnight Little Grouch…?