Illustrated Imagination

Most folks value illustrations in kids' books either as children or as the parents of children. Once people make it through childhood, they tend to forget the importance of those illustrations. When I was in school there was one professor who was especially known for her children's lit. class. I was never able to take the course, but something about children's literature being established as a college level class allowed me to give myself permission to love the craft of children's literature and illustrations as an adult.

Professor Amy Sonheim, "Be the Witch." Video taken from Carla Sonheim.

 There are so many things I love about Susanna Clarke's novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (it remains one my top favorites). Clarke's writing is amazing, but what adds that extra oomph to her work are Portia Rosenberg's charcoal illustrations. Rosenberg's illustrations are the first illustrations that I'd ever seen in a work of fiction for adults. They pushed my imagination to visually create the world of Norrell and Strange in a way that I couldn't have without them.

Portia Rosenberg, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell 10. Image taken from Portia Rosenberg.

Adults like to think of themselves as being "adult" and generally take themselves seriously, even in comedy;  it's got to be serious to have worth. Wayne White talks about the seriousness of art in the film Beauty Is Embarrassing. I wish every person who's ever created anything would watch this movie. When we take art and ourselves so seriously, it's too easy to get out of balance. Books for adults don't have illustrations because for some reason we see illustrations as being childish and not something that's valuable in itself.

Wayne White, I Ain't Crazy. Image taken from Wayne White.

Why can't a book for adults have illustrations? Adults can appreciate art as well as children. Do an internet search for your favorite book, and you'll likely find that artists from all over have created their own illustrations for that book. I've made illustrations of my favorite books since childhood. There's a need to bring to life something to share with others, something more than just a good book recommendation. I'm going to keep illustrating, and maybe some time soon we'll start seeing more illustrated books for adults.

Iker Spozio, Black Magic and Its Expose. An internet image search for my favorite book, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, always brings up amazing results. Spozio loves the book so much that an entire project came from it. Image taken from Iker Spozio.


  1. This warms my heart. I loved Dr. Sonheim's children's lit class. My favorite fairy tale we read was George MacDonald's The Light Princess.


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