Edmund Unravels: The superb adventure book any kids should have
Long-time followers of Kuvva blog would know that we’re in great love with the neat art of Andrew Kolb. The clearly defined shapes and vivid colours of his illustrations always draw us in and make us feel really happy. Another remarkable thing about Andrew’s artwork is that it always tells interesting stories. Every detail has so much to say that you’d never get bored looking at the illustration over and over again. That’s why when we heard he’s having his first picture book underway, we couldn’t help jumping up in the air and clapping our feet together. At least mentally. Because this book, called “Edmund Unravels”, is the perfect combination of the zestful artwork, positive vibe and a heartwarming story that kids would be delighted to read and be read to. We reached out to Andrew again, and luckily had him share his very own amazing adventure behind the scene.
Hi Andrew, you have been illustrating for a while. How did you come to writing a picture book?
I keep a daily journal so I suppose I’ve always been writing. Transitioning that to a picture book was just a case of finding the right story to tell!
How did the story of “Edmund Unravels” come about? Is it a personal story?
“Edmund Unravels” is definitely a personal story. Part of my schooling was abroad (Brisbane, Australia) and it was the farthest and longest I’d been away from my family and friends. It can be tough living in that sort of isolation and I found that something as simple as an email or phone call was important to keep me motivated. I certainly wasn’t thinking about this lifestyle as a foundation for a story while I was living it, but it was definitely something that stuck with me.
Please tell us the process of illustrating “Edmund Unravels”!
The process for this may or may not be like other picture books (as this is my first one)! I started with sketches for Edmund and that changed a lot. There were a few versions where he had a body and arms and legs. As I refined the story it made more sense for him to be strictly a ball of yarn (with his hat and backpack, of course!) so that stuck around the longest.
From there I started doing rough sketches for the whole book to get a feel for how many single and double pages there would be. I wanted lots of variety so that you didn’t get bored as you were reading it. The same applies to pages with backgrounds and pages that focus on the characters. Sometimes it’s important to see the setting and sometimes you need to focus on the emotion; that’s where it also needed to be evenly paced.
As the sketches got refined, so did the story, and they really came together around the same time. From pencil sketches I moved on to doing rough colour studies on the computer. Again, I knew Edmund’s design first and then everything built off of that. His parents needed to be similar tones and his friends would be contrasting hues so they could only be determined once Edmund was finalized. After colours and sketches were done, it was time to proceed to the final artwork! This took a while but not nearly as long as the sketches. I spend lots of time on the rough work to ensure that there’s no guessing when it comes to the final image.
Apart from the illustration, how did you find the publisher and how was it working with an editor and an art director?
I met the publisher through my literary agent and they have all been a blast to work with! Both Nancy (editor) and Cecilia (art director) have excellent taste and were great at giving direction without telling me exactly what to do. We spent a lot of time figuring out problems and then they both trusted me to sort out the best solution. Going about it this way ensured the pictures and words were still in my voice. I consider myself very lucky to have such great mentors.
Is there any part of the book that came about unexpectedly at the end?
I think the cover was the biggest surprise! I originally had something very simple in my mind but through talking about it I learned it didn’t really tell any of the story. There are themes of adventure and travel and family and with so much to do I figured it’d be better to keep it simple. I couldn’t find anything that really worked but then I focused on travel and the idea of classic postcards came to mind and it all sorta fell into place. Each letter shows a location from the book and it’s a subtle way to tell the journey of Edmund while not being toooooooo obvious. Or at least I hope it’s not too obvious. Outside of that, I try to keep everything organized enough that surprises get worked into the design at an early stage!
Great work Andrew! Thank you for the chat!
“Edmund Unravels” is rolling everywhere around the globe now! Get yours at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo or IndieBound!