I have decided as part of my research that i would undertake primary research by asking existing children’s book illustrators their view on the issue and also what they feel they can do as an illustrator when tasked with representing gender. It’s because my aim is not to look at gender stereotyping in children’s books as a moral issue, but in an objective manner that allows me to find out what an illustrator can and cannot do when trying to alleviate this issue. It will help me in my own practice by giving me a practical insight into how an illustrator combines their own beliefs with that of a client, to create illustrative work that is suitable for a child’s book. It will also allow me to learn more about client/illustrator relationships and the freedoms/ restrictions you have as an illustrator for children’s literature. It will help me to determine where I want to go in my practice, as i have strong feelings about this issue i’d like to learn more about how to help as an illustrator, if i can at all.
I emailed 6 existing illustrators, most of which whom i have discovered during my research because they have created illustrations that represent gender fairly, or as fairly as possible for that story. I’ve asked people on this side of the argument because i’d like to know what got them thinking about gender representation as an issue itself, and what experiences they have had in using it in their work/ commissions. I’ve unfortunately already had a reply from Quentin Blake’s offices saying he is too busy at this time to answer me, but i had expected as much from such a reknowned illustrator.