The Children’s Book Review | March 20, 2018
David Litchfield is the creator of the award-winning The Bear and the Piano and the illustrator of several other books for young readers, including When Paul Met Artie: The Story of Simon & Garfunkel. He lives in the United Kingdom.
Inside David Litchfield’ Studio
Currently I work in my attic from home. It’s a really nice attic with windows and heating etc. It’s a space where I can immerse myself in a project, and I’m surrounded by books and artwork to help inspire me. I also have all my tools and sketchbooks nearby so I’m always ready to go.
Also, my wife sometimes works with me in the attic, which is lovely. She’s a wig maker and makes wigs on a wooden head on a desk. My oldest son is five and he’s just now realised that it is quite unusual that his mum and dad work upstairs in the attic surrounded by bear drawings and wooden heads.
I love working from home but there are a few distractions, especially when my kids are at home. I still think my dream studio would be a cabin in the woods surrounded by nature. That would be very cool. Maybe one day who knows.
Most mornings I go out on a ‘fake commute’ to work, where I will go for a walk or a bike ride just before starting work. It might sound odd but those 20 minutes or so ‘commuting’ really helps me have a transition from home life to working. Even though all I’m really doing is coming back to my house.
Here in Bedford we have a great multi-cultural community and my house is not far from some brilliant coffee shops and a fantastic Italian deli. So I do get to leave the attic and have little breaks and connect with humanity outside from time to time. This is important I think otherwise I might turn into a total hermit.
David Litchfield’s Creative Process
For most projects I will read through the manuscript a few times before making little thumbnail sketches on the side of the paper. These thumbnails I then work up into slightly more detailed-although still super scruffy- sketches in my sketchbook. And then I’ll create one more round of these sketches, tidying and developing as I go. This is then the first draft I’ll send off to the publishers. They will then give me feedback and their ideas and input and I’ll create another rough based on this. This early part of the process is really exciting for me as it’s when the project really develops and starts evolving into something more than just words on a page. It’s like we are molding this idea out of clay and you can start to see it form and take shape.
I also like to research the subject of the book as much as possible during this stage. As you can imagine a book like ‘When Paul Met Artie’ was a dream to research with all of that great music and culture of the time. The time period the book is mainly set in is such an interesting period of recent history.
Once I am ready to create final artwork I will start experimenting with lots of different textures. I have a box full of water colour washes and acrylic paint experiments that I can scan in to my computer and play around with. I also use a lot of photographs as overlays just to get the right feel and atmosphere for an image. I collect textures in fact. I can sometimes drive my family crazy as we might be walking in the park and I will need to stop to get a close up photograph of some bark on a tree or some concrete, just in case I need to use it in a project one day.
I try to create new textures for each book I do so that they have a different feel and look. Once I have got my textures ready for my project It generally takes me 2 or 3 days to create each spread. Again this is a hugely enjoyable part of the process and it’s so rewarding to see all the hard work coming together.
Written by G. Neri
Illustrated by David Litchfield
Publisher’s Synopsis: From childhood friendship to brief teenage stardom, from early failures to musical greatness — the incredible story of how Simon & Garfunkel became a cherished voice of their generation.
Long before they became one of the most beloved and successful duos of all time, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were just two kids growing up in Queens, New York — best friends who met in a sixth-grade production of Alice in Wonderland and bonded over girls, baseball, and rock ’n’ roll. As teens, they practiced singing into a tape recorder, building harmonies that blended their now-famous voices until they sounded just right. They wrote songs together, pursued big-time music producers, and dreamed of becoming stars, never imagining how far their music would take them. Against a backdrop of street-corner doo-wop gangs, the electrifying beginnings of rock ’n’ roll, and the rise of the counterculture folk music scene, G. Neri and David Litchfield chronicle the path that led two young boys from Queens to teenage stardom and back to obscurity, before finding their own true voices and captivating the world with their talent. Back matter includes an afterword, a discography, a bibliography, and a fascinating list of song influences.
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Candlewick | 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0763681746
Discover more books like “When Paul Met Artie: The Story of Simon & Garfunkel,” written by G. Neri and illustrated by David Litchfield, on The Children’s Book Review by following along with our articles tagged with Biographies, David Litchfield, G. Neri, Non-Fiction, and Picture Book. And be sure to check out more authors and illustrators featured in our Inside the Studio column.