Illustrator Spotlight: Dave McKean

A few months ago, when I reviewed Varjak Paw by S.F.Said, I said that I would do an illustrator spotlight on Dave McKean and as usual, I forgot I’d said that until now! Revisiting his artwork in that book made me realise just how much I love his work and I think that sometimes illustrators are not as well known as they should be for their involvement in books so I wanted to include Dave McKean in this series to draw attention to his work!

Dave’s artwork in Varjak Paw was the first experience I had as a child of illustrations in books that weren’t all just cutesy and whimsical, quite the opposite. His illustrations have a rawness  with ink splats and a scratchy line quality that just makes them seem organic and fluid.

IMG_7192 In Varjak Paw (which is where I took these images from – I apologise for the poor quality but holding a book open whilst trying not to break the spine and trying to take a photograph with the other hand can be quite difficult!) the images are so important to the telling of the story for me. Although the writing and the story itself would be wonderful on its own I just think that the illustrations really bring the characters to life and make each one a little more individual.

IMG_7197I also like that in some cases the illustrations effect the layout of the pages and add to the dynamic nature of the images so not only does the writing flow beautifully, but the images really add to this fluidity.

As well as Varjak Paw, Dave McKean has illustrated lots of other books including Coraline and Mr.Punch by Neil Gaiman.

 There is something dark yet intriguing about Dave McKean’s work that translates well into both adult and children’s books that proves him to be a versatile and expressive illustrator. Reading Coraline, even as an adult, the illustrations were creepy and added to the atmosphere and scariness of the book (and I’m sure if I had been a child reading that book, I would have been even more frightened….it’s the buttons for eyes things  that’s scary, and even scarier in the illustrations!).

I urge you to look at more work by Dave McKean and as a reader pay more attention to the importance of artwork in the books you are reading. Maybe it is my personal interest in illustration that makes me so fascinated in the artwork  that is created for fictional books, but I think that to some degree, the illustrator can be just as important as the author in the creation of a book. While the writer creates the world and the characters, threading them into a fantastical story, the illustrator is left with the job of visualising that and bringing it to life on the page. I really love Dave McKean’s work and can’t wait for his full website to be up and running so I can check out more!

Interesting Links and Details!

The Making Great Illustration Article

Twitter: @DaveMcKean, @whatSFSaid

S.F.Said’s blog

If you’d like to purchase any of the book’s mentioned I would be grateful if you used my affiliate link for the Book Depository here: The Book Depository Thank you! =)



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