創意手牽手 搭乘想像冒險去

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2017 / 6月

文‧張瀞文 圖‧林旻萱 翻譯‧Darryl Sterk


翻閱童書,你先看圖還是看字?

在邏輯與文字主導的世界裡,多數人閱讀故事習慣先看文字,眼裡才瞥見書頁旁的插圖。如今有更多繪本創作者以圖「畫」故事,讓插畫不再只是配角,繪出台灣原創力。


 

「我們在網路展覽看見他的作品,覺得這個插畫家的光線抓得好棒,畫好細緻,約了他見面。當天,辦公室門口卻出現一個高大的男生,『是男生!』大家都嚇了一跳。」本名蕭景蓮的「貓小小」是童書出版社「巴巴文化」的主編,說起初見插畫家「六十九」那天的景況,咯咯地笑起來:「那畫風,我以為是個細膩的女孩啊。」

插畫家「六十九」是《大象大象去郊遊》一書繪者,這本書獲得2014年度「好書大家讀」的年度優秀好書,六十九也獲選當年度優秀插畫家。

如同「六十九」一般,貓小小致力挖掘本土繪本作者,個個風格獨特而鮮明。有人是「想很多,願意交出來的畫都是私下畫過好多個版本的」;有人是「畫畫很憑直覺,畫草圖簡直要他的命」;也有人「總是可以在文字之外提出更多想法」……。

創立6年,在童書市場小、品項多,出版社都卯足力氣控制成本的大環境下,巴巴文化卻投入時間與人力為插畫家創造舞台,讓插畫從配角變主角,說自己的故事。

巴巴文化
讓插畫不只是文字的插圖

「我們不把圖當成是文字的『插圖』,好的插畫是會帶動整本書的氣氛的。」貓小小說,巴巴文化不僅在每一本書的出版過程,重視插畫家的想法與風格,今年更推出「腦星球」書系,由插畫家提案,文字與圖都是插畫家原創,目前出版了《一直一直躺著睡》、《拉拉的皇冠》、《小班》3本作品。

不少童書插畫家都希望可以在巴巴文化出版書籍,「不知道為什麼,許多插畫家的畫在巴巴文化出版,個人風格就出來了。」從事童書編輯工作六年的Emily觀察。

巴巴文化何以有此獨特魔力?貓小小對作者精準的「識人」功夫,恐怕是最好的解答。

「一個好的插畫家要會思考、能讀懂文字,」貓小小說,巴巴文化在選擇插畫家時不思考是不是科班出身、不在意有沒有純熟技法,重點在會說故事,「喜歡畫畫、會畫畫的人很多,但你如何獨特?你能不能讀懂文字裡的文學性?你有沒有思考與理解、詮釋文字的能力?你能不能畫出文字沒有提出的感覺?無論是插畫還是文字,就是選擇不同的方式說話而已。」

但是光找到會思考、懂得閱讀文字、詮釋能力強、充滿個人風格的插畫家還不夠,許多創作者一開始只是「璞石」,需要專業編輯慧眼獨具,將「璞石」變為「寶玉」。

由作者李憶婷所繪製的《再玩一下下嘛!》前後就磨了三年才在今年出版。這原本是一隻不愛睡覺的小熊的故事,小熊到了冬眠時間還不想睡,一直喊著:「為什麼一定要睡覺?我就不想睡啊!」快入睡的熊媽媽被吵到受不了,從睡夢中跳起來查詢熊為什麼要冬眠的資料,查著查著,終於查到了,結果,小熊也睡著了。

故事的原型貓小小很喜歡,但是關於不睡覺主題的書太多了,作繪者李憶婷也同意修改,但是修到後來大家都卡關,這故事擺放了很久。有一天,貓小小再問李憶婷:「要不要試試我們再一起努力,先不要畫,我們先把故事順好?」李憶婷點頭答應,打定主意無論如何都要修好故事情節,最後寫出的版本,成了一隻小熊一直玩一直玩。

「看草圖時,她和我都超緊張的,但是看的時候覺得『哇好棒,我們終於改出來了!』故事對了、節奏對了、畫面設計也對了,把故事改出來了!」貓小小回憶這段過程,開心表露在聲音裡。

貓小小說,每個插畫家有自己的風格、對作品詮釋的方式,所以她從來不要求作者模擬他人畫風;當畫家交來的作品跟原先設定不同,編輯也不會直接退稿或馬上溝通希望的方向,而是先問畫家「為什麼要這樣做?」

「重點不是我們的想法?我們要你改什麼?而是你的想法。」和插畫家一起挖掘創作的中心想法,是巴巴文化一直努力的目標。

巴巴文化堅持不做翻譯書,每一本書都從無到有親手打造,總編輯郭冠群在創辦時就期待巴巴文化不僅是出版好書的出版社,更是提供本土作繪者創作的平台,「自製書非常非常辛苦,但這是必要的,對台灣的編輯力會有幫助。」聽巴巴文化的編輯「說書」,少少員工的小小辦公室裡,盈滿了對文化的熱血和每一本書的熱愛。

格林文化        
讓插畫家站上國際舞台

巴巴文化發掘國內新銳插畫家,而童書老品牌格林文化則讓台灣的童書站上國際舞台,國內插畫家也因此被國際看見。

發行人郝廣才認為,童書在台灣市場小、人才少,走向世界,生產國際題材才是格林的出路。

的確,格林文化每年的獲利,超過一半是銷售國際版權,版圖遍及美國、英國、日本、法國、德國、韓國、西班牙、中國大陸等,出版二十五種不同語言版本書籍。格林文化優秀的繪本企劃與編輯能力,讓他們在國際繪本市場佔有一席之地,更曾經獲得2014年波隆那兒童書展「最佳童書出版社」的肯定。

繪畫跨越了不同語言的鴻溝,插畫家的國籍並非格林文化抉擇的主因。「重點是他的作品好不好。」發行人郝廣才強調,品質才是選擇插繪家的考量,無關乎國籍。

目前和格林合作的插畫家遍及全球32個國家、近四百位插畫家。國際知名插畫家義大利籍的朱里安諾,他的第一本繪本就是和格林合作的繪本《一片披薩一塊錢》。

郝廣才認為,好的插畫家作品是有結構的、有自己獨特風格,格林文化賣出最多版權的台灣插畫家王家珠和幾米都是這樣的創作者。

郝廣才現在思考成立一所插畫家技藝學校的可能性,收亞洲學生,培養插畫人才。「我還是希望能為台灣插畫家做一些『基本土壤』,讓插畫家有專業的養成。」成立24年的格林文化,除了成為世界看見台灣繪本的窗口外,更希望從教育扎根,創造更好的插畫環境。

插畫經紀人 創作者的大內總管

目前國內插畫家多是獨自接案工作,不只畫插畫,還有許多「非關藝術創作」的雜事得處理,偏偏許多藝術家性格的插畫家,擅長畫出精彩作品,卻不懂得和業主議價、協商合約,厭煩於處理行政瑣事、交際應對,也因此有了「插畫經紀」的角色。

插畫家「25度」,今年25歲,去年為「親子天下」童書「神秘圖書館偵探」系列創作插畫,畫下了第一批作品。出版社與「25度」的合作,就是靠著「狐狸蟲行銷團隊」擔任插畫經紀的林裕啟促成。創作邁入第2年,25度對外合作案就交由林裕啟洽談細節,25度只要專心創作即可。

插畫經紀人可以為插畫家做的事情比想像的更多。

林裕啟入行插畫家經紀一年多,除了幫忙插畫家和業主談合作內容外,也處理過插畫家開課的課程行政,包括場地、收費、材料等等。

去年,林裕啟和25度到新加坡參加當地插畫協會舉辦的插畫展,帶了許多台灣插畫家的作品去,在當地大受好評,回來和插畫家分享他對海外市場的觀察,以及當地對其作品的反應。也曾為插畫家林士棻上募資平台募得80萬,出版繪本《心的樣貌》。

林裕啟喜歡畫插畫、買繪本,最終沒走上插畫家一途,卻成為專業插畫家的「保姆」──插畫經紀人,林裕啟期待,能夠讓好的插畫作品被更多人看見、讓插畫家有更合理的創作環境。

近年來插畫家可發揮的舞台多了、願意投入繪本的畫家也變多了,但是台灣的插畫家要被看見,光是好的作品還不夠,還必須要有編輯協助、出版社及插畫經紀一同搭建橋梁。翻開繪本,這繽紛的每一頁,都是眾人努力的成果。

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近期文章

EN

Hand in Hand for Creativity: Adventures of the Imagination

Chang Ching-wen /photos courtesy of Lin Min-hsuan /tr. by Darryl Sterk

When reading a picture story­book for children, do you first read the words, or look at the pictures?

In a world controlled by logic and language, most people read the words before checking out the illustrations. But in recent children’s literature from Taiwan the pictures are no longer playing a supporting role, but have become the main means by which the story is told.


 

“When we saw the illustrations in an online exhibition,” explains ­Hsiao ­Ching-lien, editor at Papa Publishing House, “we felt the artist had a good sense of light and line, that the art displayed great delicacy. So we invited ‘Sixty-Nine’ to come over for a visit. But when a big, tall figure appeared in the doorway we cried: it’s a boy! We had assumed that, with that style, he must be a girl.”

Ms. ­Hsiao strives to discover local talent like Sixty-Nine: artists with fresh, distinctive styles.

Founded six years ago in Taiwan’s small, diversified, cost-­conscious children’s book market, Papa has gone its own way by investing time and energy to build a stage for Taiwan’s illustrators. Because of Papa, illustrators are now telling the stories, not just embellishing the texts.

Papa Publishing House:

No longer second fiddle

“The visuals are central, because they set the mood for the entire book,” ­Hsiao explains.

“A good illustrator is also a thoughtful, sensitive reader.” In seeking out new talent, Papa doesn’t factor educational background or technical mastery as highly as the ability to tell a story, and to tell a story you have to be a good reader. “You need to have a feel for literature, to intuit the feelings that remained implicit in the text. Actually, the visual and the verbal are simply two approaches to storytelling.”

Many illustrators are diamonds in the rough that an editor has to have the discernment to recognize and the skill to polish until they shine.

Lee Yi­ting’s Let Me Play a Bit Longer had been in the works for three years before publication this year. It started out as the story of a bear cub that doesn’t want to go to sleep, even when it comes time to hibernate. The sleepy Momma Bear has had enough. She goes online to find out why bears need to hibernate, but by the time she’s discovered the answer the cub has drifted off.

Hsiao liked the premise, but felt there were too many books about sleep aversion. Lee was willing to revise, but pretty soon they both got stuck in the revision process. One day ­Hsiao asked Lee to put the visuals aside and focus on the story. Lee agreed, and the story they ended up writing was about a cub that didn’t want to put away its toys.

“Reading the draft we were both anxious, but also excited: we felt we’d finally gotten everything just right—the story, the pacing, and the visual design.” ­Hsiao’s face fairly glows as she recounts the magic moment when the revision came together.

Hsiao never asks artists to imitate. When they deliver something different from the original design, she won’t immediately reject it or tell the artist what to do next. The first question is always: “Why’d you do it this way?”

Papa is all about helping the illustrator find the core creative idea.

Papa refuses to do translations. Every book is crafted from scratch. Editor-in-chief Barkley Kuo has hoped since Papa’s founding not just to create good books but to offer local illustrators a stage, a platform. “It’s not easy to do it all yourself, but it’s necessary if you want to take Taiwan’s editorial game to the next level.”

Grimm Press:

An international stage

While Papa Publishing House discovers sharp young illustrators, Grimm Press aims to increase the international visibility of Taiwan’s children’s literature.

Hao ­Kuang-tsai, the publisher at Grimm, thinks that given the size of the children’s book market and the talent pool in Taiwan, the only way forward for Grimm is to go international.

Indeed, over half of Grimm’s annual profits come from the sale of international rights in the United States, Britain, Japan, France, Germany, and other countries. With outstanding artistic design and marketing savvy, Grimm has made a name for itself in the international market, winning the Best Children’s Publisher of the Year award at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in 2014.

Given the universality of the language of art, the nationality of the artist isn’t the main consideration for Grimm. Publisher Hao stresses that quality is the top priority, not where they’re from. Hao has worked with almost 400 illustrators from 32 countries around the world, illustrators like the internationally renowned Italian Giuliano Ferri, whose first book, One Penny, One Pizza, was a Grimm collaboration.

In addition to a distinctive style, a good illustrator has what Hao calls “structure.” He’s thinking of illustrators like Eva Wang and Jimmy Liao, for whose works Grimm has sold the most foreign rights.

Hao is thinking about setting up an art school for illustrators from Asia. “I want to make some ‘soil’ for Taiwan’s illustrators to grow in, to give them a place to go to get a professional training.” Twenty-four years after its founding, Grimm is not only a window on Taiwan for the world but also an aspiring educator. Hao is doing all he can to improve the environment for illustrators.

Creative division of labor

The illustrator 25Degrees is 25 years old. Last year he did his first batch of work for the “Mystery Library Detective” series of Commonwealth Education Media & Publishing. The matchmaker for this collaboration was Archi Lin, an agent for illustrators at Foxy­bug. With their fruitful collaboration now in its second year, 25Degrees leaves the business side of things up to Lin, so he can focus on being creative.

Lin has been an agent for over a year. In addition to talking business and doing deals, he provides administrative support, including space rental, fee collection, and handouts, for classes that illustrators like 25Degrees are teaching.

Last year, Lin and 25Degrees took a number of works by Taiwanese illustrators to the Illustration Arts Fest 2016 in Singapore, put on annually by the local illustrators’ association. Back in Taiwan, Lin brought the illustrators he represents up to speed on international trends and brought back encouraging news: the very positive reception illustrated works from Taiwan got at the IAF.

Lin likes to draw, but never became a professional illustrator. Instead, he became a “nanny” to other illustrators. As their agent, Lin hopes to find a wider audience for their works, creating a better environment for them to create in.

In sum, to raise the profile of illustrated books from Taiwan, talented illustrators need the help of editors, publishers, and agents, the people who build bridges between Taiwan and the world.

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