Sunday, March 7, 2010

Illustrations and Illustrators; Part 2

Firefly Cave

Mew at the Firefly Cave

For my second book, Phra Jan, I needed an artist skilled in traditional Thai art. The story is set far in the past in Kanchanaburi; a mountainous province bordering Burma. Serendipity played a big part in my finding such an artist. The well known Thai artists are very expensive even by western standards, so I needed somebody who hasn't been "discovered".
While I was teaching at a Thai high school I went to the art department and my wife checked at her school as well. Some of the kids were very good but not quite what I wanted. I asked at every chance everybody I knew, but no luck. I had even considered printing my book sans illustrations.
About 6 months ago I accompanied my wife into Bangkok for her annual physical at Siriraj Hospital and an ex-student of hers who worked there led us through the maze of departments. We took her to lunch and in the course of the conversation my wife told her I write books and gave her a copy of my first one. I told her I wanted to publish my second book but couldn't find an artist.
"My boyfriend is an artist",  said Koi.
Koi e-mailed me some examples of his work; it knocked my socks off, so to speak.
Longer story short, her boyfriend is indeed an artist and exactly what I was looking for. He works professionally painting murals in Buddhist Temples. I printed out a copy of the story, Koi read it and translated it to her boyfriend Aek. Koi said she absolutely loved the story and couldn't put it down, which of course put a big smile on my face.  He's done 8 sketches and I now have one completed picture and it's gorgeous, as you can see, above.
Unfortunately he is very slow and I'm going to see if things can be sped up a bit, because at the rate he's going, it'll be years before he's finished. I hate to push a true artist so I'll have to be very diplomatic, LOL.

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