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20 October 2016

Bomi Park's FIRST SNOW

We're getting a bit frosty before it's time, but I have to share this fabulous debut picture book by Bomi Park. All the way from Seoul, South Korea, she stopped by to discuss it with us...
e: What is your creative process, can you walk us through it?
Bomi: Out of the many possible subject matters, I’m always observing and keenly thinking about certain images, topics, or short words that might become seeds for my stories. If a seed has the potential to sprout, I save them up no matter what it is. Out of those seeds, I draw a thumbnail sketch which gives me a general idea of the story’s plot or allows me to examine whether the seed provides the framework to become a long story or not. Then I flesh it out.
      However, one slight difference I had from other authors was that I went from drawing a thumbnail to the original picture directly without sketching for three of my picture books (including books not yet published). You could say that it is like a composer who directly recorded a song through improvisation without making sheet music.
      The fact that this process was possible with three of my picture books was in a way really fortunate for me. It was because I was able to complete the books without much trouble or difficulty. However, I decided to change my method after experiencing a great slump from relying on intuition. After much trial and error, currently I’m sketching out all of the pictures and coloring them after some corrections. I don’t think that my first method of relying on intuition is wrong. This is because each author has his or her own way.
      I’m not sure how my process will change in the future. The biggest charm and appeal of drawing a picture book is changing my methods every time I run into difficulty and uncertainty.
e: What is your medium?
Bomi: It is hard to choose just one material among those that I’m familiar with.
      If it’s a material that best corresponds to the feeling of the subject, I don’t limit myself to one material or several materials. Instead I try to use everything that is on hand.
      I don’t really differentiate the process of sketching and coloring. I also don’t prefer planning out the process either.
      The main materials for “First Snow” were pencils, acrylic paint, oil pastel, ink sticks, digital work and others. However, the most important material was “paper” that had a rich texture. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to express white snow on white paper.
      The solution to that was using a paper with grain thick enough to hold slightly heavier paint and crayon. I wanted to express the warm and tender feeling of snow.

e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of this story?
Bomi: “First Snow” was a picture that I painted to complete my course at an illustration school.
      While taking courses for several months, I put a lot of effort into making a three dimensional miniature house for an exhibition with the topic of “season” and “house.” However, less than one month before the exhibition I realized that my plan and image concept was wrong. I was devastated.
      However, I didn’t want to give up on the exhibition and after a lot of thinking I came up with a new plan called “First Snow.”
      I didn’t have much time, so I thought of the clearest image inside me and that image was of “A child rolling a snowball on a snowy day.”
      This was because I had worked for 6 years as a Christmas card designer before I became a picture book author. So it wasn’t difficult for me to think of winter and in a way it was the most natural thought I could come up with.
      It was only during the publish process that text was added. In other words, until the exhibition the book had been a picture book without text. Since the picture book didn’t have any text, each reading of the book had its own interpretation. This was amazing and very interesting. There were those who interpreted the book as a fantasy of a boy who couldn’t walk. Even now, after the picture book was published with the text, I think how it would have been like if it didn’t have the text.
      Although at the time I was bewildered from having illustrated the book in such a short amount of time, now I realize that it was the picture book that most reflected compared to other books I spent more time on. It is said that each author has his or her own breathing rate. I think my breathing rate must be very short.
      (I’m currently working on a nonfiction picture book with 100 pages and it’s just exhausting.)
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Bomi:
When I was little, I was the only child in a large extended family made up of adults. Although I received a lot of love and attention as the only child in the house, I was always lonely. Living under a quiet and serious atmosphere and being unable to play carefree as a child should, I spent most of time alone imagining trivial things and thinking of fantasies. Rather, I grew up as a mature child who hid her feelings to understand the adults.
      That may have been the reason, that even though I grew up to become an adult, I still developed a mentality of wanting to receive compensation for my childhood. This might have provided me with the motivation to become a picture book author.
      I want to live in an exciting story whenever possible and I also want to create “a world where children create for themselves” in which children can live without interference or attention of adults.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
Bomi:
I’m currently working on a story about Korea’s lunar calendar seasons (subdivisions of the seasons) which are very distinct. The content is also very wide in scope and the book is quite long as well.
      Although it includes the fictional story of one child who lives in different animal’s houses every two months for one year and has various adventures and experiences of the past, it is true that the book is overall nonfiction, so it has many points to study, and requires a lot of energy and patience to create.
      If I complete the book, it will become a very rewarding journey for me. The book is very natural, and I’m continually surprised of my ancestors’ wisdom of dealing with 24 distinct seasons that only occur in the East. Therefore, I hope to introduce the book all over the world.
      Other than that, I always dream of freely imagining myself flying around in my stories.
Check out Bomi's work space...
e: Thank you Bomi! Learn more at the Chronicle Books website.

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