Sunday, April 23, 2017

Places To Be Creative

We have a lot to celebrate in the coming months, Renata has several new books including the brand new Places To Be, an exciting collaboration with writer Mack Barnett! We've also been lucky to have the opportunity to be included in a new creative incubator called cSPACE King Edward. It is a historical sandstone school house built in 1912 that has been painstakingly rejuvenated to be a home to artists and cultural organizations. In May I am hoping to combine these creative endeavours with an exhibition and open house at the studio in this wonderful building. We've named our studio The Principles Office inspired by the fact that it was the Principals Office starting around the 1950's. I am hoping The Principles Office will truly be a place to be creative, for ourselves and others. Our goal is it will be a place to celebrate and collaborate creativity in illustration, design and the like.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Renata was very excited to see a post from Marsha Diane Arnold talking about their shared book Waiting for Snow on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She is a big fan of the blog so it was a special treat. In it Marsha mentions that Renata had asked her to change the animal species of one of the characters, the Dormouse. It is interesting to read the emotional adjustment that Marsha had to make, which Renata super appreciated. (plus the replacement character turned out to be one of Renata's new favourite characters!)

Further to that, I thought it would be fun to discuss why Renata asked for the casting change? And it's an excellent segue to introducing Renata's next book, Dormouse Dreams written by Karma Wilson. By the title you can perhaps see Renata was worried about having the same character in two unrelated books in a row. In truth, Renata's characters are like her own little shakespearean acting troupe with the same cast of rogues appearing in different roles for each of her books. But because Dormouse, actually Dormice, are the stars of this newest book she was worried about overlap.

Interestingly this is not the only parallel between the books. Waiting for Snow's central theme is patience, and everyone involved in this project had to show a little patience in it's development process. Dormouse was actually started before Waiting for Snow. This delay worked out in one way because the two books also have a seasonal parallel. Waiting for Snow involves waiting for snow and the anticipation of the winter season. While Dormouse has a background narrative, that literally, is the transition from winter to spring, and the anticipation of spring.

I've noticed each of Renata's books have it's own unique character. Little Panda has a formal and classical feeling that reflects its asian art influences, The Quiet Book has a simplified and minimalist style that reflects the frankness of the narrative. Once Upon a Memory's art is more refined with an exactness to detail that works well with it's crisp poetic style of writing, and the art for Waiting for Snow has a playfulness that builds on the playful tone of the text. So what about Dormouse Dreams? Dreamy obviously, but I would say Karma Wilson's are some of lushest and loveliest words Renata has drawn from. The result is some of the most lush and lovely illustrations by  Renata.

The challenge with Dormouse Dreams was to parallel the real world and dream world and based on the reviews Renata has been able to accomplish this, something which can be potentially tricky to communicate to young viewers. You can check out one of the reviews below and very soon the book which comes out officially February 7th!

A review of Dormouse Dreams published by Disney/Hyperion, written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Renata Liwska