news and works in progress from Shaun Tan
I just saw some of the sculptures of the Grimm book on the Frankfurt book fair! So great! Are they made of soap stone?
No, but I'm glad you thought so - I tried to make them look that way. They are made of papier mache and DAS (an air-drying clay), then painted with acrylic and other media to have the appearance of stone or metal. Much quicker than carving the real thing - and a lot lighter too.
Thank you for the answer. You definitely succeeded in making them appear so! I put them in my blog and I will wish to get this great book for christmas :D
Oo, exciting news! And I see one of the great mysteries of our time has been solved (it was the crow on grassy knoll).
Ha, well spotted!
Dear Shaun,When a new release of yours arrives in bookstores it feels like a little miracle has appeared before me. And I entered Newtown's Better Read than Dead thinking, "I wonder if there'll be anything special today..." I'm trying to wade through my own first illustration projects. I love pouring over your works, alternating between hopelessness: 'I'll never be a fraction as good as Shaun tan!!' to energetically inspired: 'I've just got to draw before i burst!' Your work has enriched my life and countless others, profoundly. THANKYOU!
That's certainly as much praise as anyone can hope for! Thanks so much. I also feel it's a small miracle whenever I get a project finished, ha ha (this one only took a couple of years, so not too bad). If it's any consolation, I spend a lot of time looking at other artists' works and feeling the same thing: 'I'll never be that good!' A feeling that never diminishes but also keeps you on your toes, and ultimately inspired to do work. Eventually you realise the comparison is irrelevant, but only after you've gotten where you need to go.
I feel this need to express my own feelings about your great work. Me and my friends found one of your books - The Arrival, in the book museum in Antwerp. We were so impressed by it, that my friends bought it couple of days after. We became your truly fans. Every single illustration is so special, so beautiful and full of emotions, that it blows me away anytime I open some book with your illustrations. The way you are drawing and painting is absolutely incredible and I really wanted to thank you for sharing your extraordinary talent with all of us. I am from little country in Europe - Czech Republic, but I am living in Antwerp - Belgium, at the moment. Sometimes I feel some kind of a connection between your figures and me. I am also writing my thesis now - which is about textile creatures I am making. For some reason they remind me of your beautiful creatures. So I hope that you do not mind that I am writing about your work in my thesis:) I really think more people should now your excellent books. Thank you, Shaun! Looking through your books makes me feel happy and motivates me to continue working on my own art...You are an awesome artist, that is for sure! Greetings from Antwerp, xxx Judy :)
Thanks Judita, much appreciated, and I'm certainly happy if anyone decides to include my work in their thesis (having written one in my uni days, I know how much work and attention it requires... never imagined I'd be the subject of one though). I feel a strong affinity with work by Czech artists actually, such as the illustrator Peter Sis, and I worked briefly with a terrific Czech puppet maker, Jiri Zmitko, in Western Australia once, and also have a Czech publisher now. Anyway, thanks very much for your message and I look forward to visiting Antwerp one day.
looking forward to the release of this book here in the states later this year...your work has always been a great inspiration to me shaun. i appreciate it much.
Thanks Brian, very pleased to hear that. I'll post when the book comes out in the US, it should not be too far off.
I received Rules of Summer for Christmas - What a simply beautiful piece. It made me think of my own adventures in the school hols along the Swan river and Summers in the seventies! Thank you for that.
Yes, not unlike my own holidays; I think it's something people of our generation who come from Perth might particularly find familiar.
dear Shaun,after a long wait i received "rules of summer"... i think that you have caught the view of the summer through children's eyes... i appreciate a lot "never wait for an aplogize".... but the entire work it is a flashback into my childhood... and a journey into a fantastic universe...congratulations,a really masterpiece ..greetings from Italy EW
Dear Shaun, I am a secondary English teacher and I use your books all the time in the classroom. I use them with year 7s to year 12s, I use them for all areas of learning, I use them to assist students with literacy issues and for gifted students who need something meatier to tackle. Mostly I use them for students to marvel at. Last year I had a small group of 14 year old boys who wanted to hang off the ceiling fans and resisted any form of learning. One day I casually placed a selection of your books in front of them and said, 'Check these out - this guy's quite dark'. That comment got them in, of course, but they were mesmerised and - I still sit in amazement at the sheer improbability of this - they took turns reading a page each. So thank you for giving me such wonderful tools to be a good teacher. If you have time, I have a burning question. My students always ask me why the 'stole our children' page in The Rabbits features a bright blue sky. We look at each double page spread in terms of the concepts it presents, and colour obviously features strongly. I have several opinions about the page, but have always wondered what your thinking was when creating it. Cheers, Melinda (PS, We love your new book!)
Hi Melinda. That's a great anecdote, and interestingly I hear lots of similar stories from teachers getting close to their wit's end with an unruly zoo of teenage boys; they leave some of my books out, being careful not to say anything positive about them, and the boys get right in. Maybe part of it is that I go to great effort not to lecture about anything in my books, I'm more interested in the reader's take on things. I also feel the real world is quite a strange and disorienting place, and maybe your students appreciate that viewpoint too.To answer your rabbits question: colour is a very intuitive thing for me, not easy to explain, but it has to feel 'right'. The blueness of the sky in this sad scene somehow makes it even sadder: I imagined beautiful weather with something terrible going on. This was the last page I completed for the book, being unsure of how to approach it, the subject is difficult. Eventually I had a mental image of falling snow in central Australia (an impossibility) and when you look closer, the snow is actually thousands of kites with baby animals in them. This seemed to best illustrate the feeling of separation from parent animals - the babies can never be reached. The white of the kites is like the white of paper documents, it's the power of the law overriding the power of family, or even conscience.
Dear Shaun Tan,We love your pictures that you draw and this picture looks so amazing innfact so amazing I thought it was photograph. Room 11 loves the rabbits and the illustartions that you have done. We love the lost thing illustrations that you have done.From Will & Praful