Vic Bosson and Another Digital Picture Book Release


Thanks to Crow Cottage Publishing The Magic Ear is now available in a digital and audio enhanced form. The talented Vic Bosson did the art for this picture book, which was originally released in 1995, as well as the art for The Fox’s Kettle. Both books are Japanese-inspired folk tales and Vic’s beautiful art played a significant role in their initial success.  The Magic Ear can be purchased here:

Since illustrators don’t get nearly the credit they deserve I asked Vic to take the spotlight on this week’s blog.

Vic, you’ve been fascinated by Japan for many years. Why?

VicIt started in childhood. My mother collected small Japanese sculptural pieces that were always on the mantle. I’d look at them and imagine who these characters were, and I’d invent stories around them.  When I got to Art College I realized the sculptures that had interested me earlier were showing up in reference books. I was also exposed to European artists of the 19th century whose work reflected some of the Japanese wood block prints being imported around that time. All of these things influenced my work and it evolved into a blend of Japanese and Western art. I travelled to Japan three times too and that inspired me further.

The Fox’s Kettle was the first of the two Japanese folk tales to be released digitally. What was your first reaction when you were approached to release it as an e book?

I thought what a perfect way to expose a new group of people to the story. And because the art for The Fox’s Kettle was originally designed on the computer, it had a different light quality, almost like a stained glass window effect, that you don’t get in a traditional book. I thought it would reproduce in e form beautifully.

So were the files ready to go when you got the call?

FRONT COVERNo. Because it was produced originally in a traditional form, the proportions were markedly different and sat on the page differently. I had to rescale everything and fit it on the page size specified. Same for the text. We treated it as another graphic element.  So even though the images existed prior to the e book, there was an incredibly large amount of work to do changing from traditional to electronic form.

The Magic Ear was a completely different experience in that it was originally done by hand. How did you go about readying it for digital form?

The images for that book were originally water color and pencil crayon on water color paper. And there were borders for each page too – hand cut from Japanese washi paper and meticulously glued together.   Readying the digital version was extremely time-consuming.  I went with the published book images but because they’d been done originally as four color separations, I had to go back in and repaint all the images digitally. Then, when I tried to scan the borders from the book, they looked mushy so I had to go in and redo all of those electronically too. There was a huge time commitment going from print to digital on The Magic Ear but I like having a hands on approach and I wanted the finished product to be as good as it can be.

Almost all of your art is produced digitally now. Do you see this as the natural evolution of art or do you think there is a place for multiple methods?

I strongly believe that digital creation is a tool in the same way that a brush or a pencil is a tool. Whether you’re creating with a pencil or with a computer, the tool doesn’t do the job for you. People sometimes forget that. They seem to think if something is generated on a computer, the computer does all the work. It can’t do that anymore than a brush can paint a picture. The artist does the work.

In terms of traditional versus digital art, I think there will always be room for both. There are limitations in traditional materials and also in electronic form. In electronic, it’s scale – it’s hard to produce a digital piece that’s twenty feet long. You have to rethink what you’ll do with the image and what venue you’ll show it in. Trying to blow up a regular digital image to say, twenty feet, would look terrible. On the other hand, if you have a large, complex painting and you shrink it down, you lose detail. So there are pros and cons for both.

When a book is produced to be released as an e book only, do you think it makes more sense to do the art in digital form from the get go?

I personally think so, but on the other hand, there aren’t many artists doing digital work. It’s very rare that illustrators or artists concentrate on doing things electronically.

What are you working on now?

I’m working with a 3-d modelling illustration program.  It’s like making a movie – you create the characters, whether they’re human or not, create a landscape, houses, that kind of thing.  You model it all three dimensionally. You have a choice of how you light it too, and it can be produced as a painting or you can utilize a series of stills that can make up an animated film.

It sounds amazing.

It is, but it’s a real time suck and the learning curve is fairly steep. But because I was a sculpture major, the idea of creating with this level of depth is wonderful. It’s like being God.  I’ve done two pieces that I turned out as 2D work and I had a great time and people enjoyed them so that’s encouraging.

If someone tells you they’re going to follow their passion and be an artist full time for life what three pieces of advice would you give them?

Spend ten thousand hours and learn how to draw.

Develop your skills so that you stand out in the crowd in your chosen field of art.

After many years of developing skills in several disciplines, make sure you know what field of art you’re suited to.

If you hadn’t been an artist, what would you have been?

I like design and sculpture so I think I would have gone into architecture or automotive design, not just cars but things that move.

Your family has an opportunity to describe you for a profile piece. What six words would they say describe you best?

Digital artist who loves satire and folklore.

Thank you, Vic!

Vic Bosson is a graduate of the Alberta College of Art and has been making innovative artworks for over 40 years.  In 1984, Bosson’s deep interest in design and narrative art motivated him to utilize state-of-the-art computer systems to execute new ideas in art making.  To see more of Victor’s work, visit his site on ETSY:

New Life for an Old Favorite

FRONT COVER   I’m delighted to announce that The Fox’s Kettle is now available in digital format with an audio component.  This picture book, which was shortlisted for a Governor General’s award for illustration, has been unavailable in print for some time.  We decided to see how it would translate to digital and the results are stellar.   Vic Bosson’s illustrations come to life even more vividly in this format, and I was lucky enough to voice the audio which gives a fresh component to an old favorite.  Thanks to Crow Cottage Publishing and Stephen McCallum for doing the legwork, adding some wonderful sound effects into the mix and pulling the whole project together.

It’s funny how stories come to be.  A number of years ago, I worked with Vic Bosson on another project, also a picture book.  As we neared the end of that story, Vic showed me some drawings he’d done of Japanese inspired foxes. I was enthralled by the detail, the color and the overall evocative nature of his art.  I had to write a tale that would highlight the foxes, I told Vic.  And so The Fox’s Kettle was born.  We hope you enjoy it on your tablet or computer.  And don’t forget to push the kettle on the bottom of each page to hear the audio!


The Sound of Silence


153157136 (1) I’ve been thinking about sound lately. The digital version of The Fox’s Kettle will available through iTunes any day now and it’s coming out with audio. I did the recording and the publisher mixed in a few sound effects too: coins jangling in a silk purse, bird song, a collective gasp, some wonderful music. It was great fun!

As much as I love sound, however, I also love silence. I realized that when my computer motherboard died a month ago. It was a noisy old thing but I got used to its thrum and groan as it struggled under old age and limited capacity. Now that it’s gone, my office is blissfully quiet. And I like it that way.

Only this morning – a lovely, sunny summer morning – it’s not quiet at all. I hear the two resident hummingbirds making their unique buzz-whistle-chip sound as they dive bomb the flower border in an effort to establish territory. That’s a sound I like.  But the bullet-like rhythm of an air gun as my neighbour gets a new roof put on his house . . .  the pounding on a set of drums as the teen in the house on the other side practices . . . the frustrated bray of the beagle that lives a few houses to the south and is alone yet again?  Not so much. I have work to do; I need to concentrate. Even with the window shut  (and I don’t want to shut the window; summer will be over soon enough) the sounds are loud enough to leach through.

It’s making me cranky. If my mother-in-law were here right now she’d be able to concentrate. She’s close to deaf and doesn’t wear a hearing aide. But that means she doesn’t hear the fire alarm going off in her building (a neighbour has to bang on the door to alert her) or the hummingbirds, and she didn’t hear the pigeon fly through her bedroom window last week either. She only noticed him when he walked across the floor in front of her (thankfully heading for the open patio door). She misses a lot. I wouldn’t like that.  In fact, when I stop to think about it, there are many things I’d miss hearing if I were deaf:



A cork popping (such a happy sound)


Bacon sizzling

Wind chimes


Crickets chirping

Toast jumping

A cat purring

Typing on a keyboard


Children giggling

A New Zealand accent (such a sexy sound)


My kids saying I love you

Corn popping

The engine of a plane


Birdsong at dawn

Church bells

The phone

The whoosh of skis on snow

Fizzy bubbles

Dog nails clicking on the floor

A fire cracking

The symphony

A bee buzzing

Wind rustling leaves

A heartbeat

My husband’s soft breath in the middle of the night


After a minute or two of thinking, my crankiness dissolved. And I opened the window wider.