Just before Christmas 2013 I received an email from Viv Grant, director of Integrity Coaching, regarding illustrations for her premier book Staying Ahead. She was in the process of finalising written proofs and adding the finishing touches to her book, aimed at mentoring and helping headteachers manage the trials and joys of their profession.
Viv was looking for an illustrator to accurately capture the humanity in her writing and illustrate points made in her writing with humour and to help make it more relatable. Viv definitely had a vision of what the finished product would look like in terms of aesthetic, and found my style of illustration complemented that vision quite well. We opened a dialogue and began discussing her needs. The brief included information about the images that she needed along with corresponding passages from the book. Some were clearly defined with descriptions of images Viv had already created in her mind, and others offered the passage from the book as a suggestion and left me to interpret that with an image that best represents the point being made.
I really appreciated this freedom to create. I sensed Viv didn’t have much experience commissioning illustrators, but the whole process was a collaborative effort and I could see from working with her that her innate ability to put peoples mind at rest was not restricted to coaching teaching professionals, but her manner in dealing with bumps in the road and creative blocks was so positive as to be inspiring. Her vision was clear and her wording from excepts from the book gave me plenty to work from.
Viv wanted grey scale comic-like illustrations. Some were metaphoric in nature to get across the point being made, and others were diagrammatic. With all the work, the undertone was to humanise, and use my unique brand of humour in bringing the information to life. It was all done digitally, working over a period of two months and signing off chunks of work at a time before moving on. It was a clear and concise brief, with any portions I was unsure about being settled with a simple phone call to Viv. The project was signed off in early March 2014.
Later that year, I was lucky enough to attend the book launch event in London by invitation from Viv. This would be the first time we’d met face to face, as the whole project was managed via email and over the phone. I consider the event a huge success for me, in that the Viv Grant I met at the event was even more lovely and inspiring in person. The event was filled with other industry professionals and people who’d received coaching from Viv. To hear them talk about her with such reverence only bolstered my pride in helping her vision come to fruition in the book itself.
It was an absolute pleasure working on this project, and I wish Viv, her company and her fantastic book all the success they deserve.
“Sye was an absolute pleasure to work with! It was very important to me that I worked with an illustrator who could add both humour and a human perspective to potentially heavy subject matter, and Sye was able to do just that! His illustrations were perfect and have added warmth, depth and a touch of humanity to the topics discussed in my book. I would highly recommend Sye to any author who is looking for an illustrator with the ability to add additional meaning and life to their manuscript.”
Author – Director