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: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-magic-ear/id766073187?ls=1&mt=11
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?
It 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?
No. 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: http://www.etsy.com/shop/galleryartlife