|Dan Yaccarino is an acclaimed illustrator/author/producer whose work has spanned books, newspapers, magazines and television—as well as exhibited large-scale paintings and sculptures around the world.
He opened up the illustrator intensive with a presentation focusing on the theme of the day: Beyond Books.
A lot of talk within the industry has been about digital media for books: E-Readers, enhacnced readers, Apps, etc.
"It's just the next step in the way that people will be experiencing your characters and stories," Dan said. "We’re lucky to be at the beginning of this."
He also talked about all the other avenues ‘beyond books’ such as TV, film, toys etc. as ways for illustrators to see the possibilites of taking their art and reaching a wider audience.
So, think about essence. It all started with the spoken word. Story telling and since time began. The art of good storytelling has always been about great stories with compelling characters.
"It’s about the ability to tell a story."
(Dan gaves a brief history of technology)
"I don’t think books will ever die," Dan said. "This [digital media] is just another way for us to experience reading books."
He then added thathe thought the next step was the e-helmet-haha!!! (Showed a slide of Darwin's ape-to-man wearing a space-type helmet)
When Dan first saw a clip of how Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, with John Tenniel's illustrations worked on an iPad, he panicked slightly. Think of the movie The Shining (shower scene—ee,ee,ee!). At first he admitted he felt it was a little scary and overwhelming.
"But only because it was something new and unknown," he said. "We just need to still be concerned with story and character."
Dan added that these functions aren’t going to make a bad book better. The function is to help the story move forward and enhance character. But it's great to see how technology can work for the classics!
"I don’t think reading is going to go away," Dan said. "There is an experience there that we have with a book or e-reader that’s so satisfying, I don’t think it ever will go away."
Dan then presented a few ways that one can take illustration beyond picture books to reach a wider audeience:
"All these things are after thoughts when the picture books perform really well [in the marketplace]," Dan said. "It’s the next step."
(Intermission. Dan shows musical visual interlude of puppies and kittens - hahahah! Dan built a great sense of humor into his presentation...)
"There were some changes made to Oswald," Dan said. "But all-in-all, the transition went very well." Dan is also a producer and was involved with every stage of creating the TV show for Oswald.
(He shared a montage of the different characters from the show)
Dan then talked about Willa’s Wild Life, which started as a book about a little girl who brought an octopus home. He felt it was right to have a little girl living with her father, there is no mother present in Willa’s life. She is a little girl who can talk to animals.
Then he moved on to Unlovable. And how folks were interested in creating a TV show. "When I did this book, I didn’t think about a TV show," he said. Dan then gave the audience a sneak peak at a trailer which he is currently looking for a US network to pick up.
"I have seen how graphic novels have affected picture books but I see how TV has, too," he said.
He continued the breakdown ...
(Dan also suggested sandwich boards and pizza boxes to promote yourself, and his ultimate piece of humor: befriend a celebrity!)
"Think about function," he said. "Simple is key. Have your Website reflect the tone of your work."
Other ways to help promote your work include: Blogs; Cafe Press; Social Media - Facebook, Twitter, etc. These are also good ways to connect with readers.
(Dan showed his Jacques Cousteau book trailer created in iMovie. You can view it here.)
Dan wrapped up his session by giving a quick recap to the hour:
In a nutshell, it doesn't matter about how it makes its way into the world—as long as it is a great story with compelling characters—that 'book' will get read.
If you are a NJ member of SCBWI, you might know Ame Dyckman. Her debut book is coming out next year with Alfred A. Knopf (an imprint of Random House) and guess who is illustrating the book—Dan Yaccarino! Congrats to both of them. Expect to see Boy and Bot hitting shelves next year and keep an eye out at NJ SCBWi— Dan will be giving the keynote presentation at the 2012 NJ SCBWI Annual Conference in June.
Visit Dan's Website, click here.