Have you ever read something that was written in the first-person, but you haven't been told the age or gender of the narrator? Does it bug you? It bugs me. I think it's difficult to concentrate on the story when I don't even know whom the voice of the storyteller belongs to.
Not being able to “see” the person leaves you with a person-shaped hole in your mind. But readers will fill in the missing information with their own imaginations. We can't not visualize something when we are trying to understand it. It's in our nature.
This roundabout way of storytelling is the exact opposite of how I approach my illustrations. If you were to go through my sketchbook, you would see pages upon pages of faces, expressions and characters, but very few backgrounds or compositions surrounding them. Characters first, context second. Maybe it's not the right way to embark on a drawing. In fact, many would argue that it's completely backwards, like reading a book from the end to the start. But it's how I explore my train of thought. I might begin by drawing a person laughing, but I don't know why yet. Maybe I'll continue and draw a dead animal in their hands. Now we have a different sort of picture, a different sort of story. Now I have to answer my own question – what just happened here?
To me, it is much more satisfying to invent an explanation for something I'm shown than to strain to picture something that I wish I could see.
I illustrate, because sometimes you just need to see it to understand it.
Stephanie Harlow is a Philadelphia- based illustrator.
She holds a combined degree in Illustration and Animation from Laguna College of Art and Design. She eagerly hopes to work with others who wish to to develop storyboards, character designs, sequential comics or book illustrations.
"As an illustrator, my goal is to communicate and entertain. I like to caricature life in my art through awkwardness or touching moments, with just a bit of off-color humor thrown in here and there. My studies in animation have honed my storytelling skills and twisted my sense of humor in all the best ways.
I am always on the lookout for new and amazing artwork; perhaps you are hunting for the same thing. I thank you for visiting my page in your aesthetic search, and I hope you enjoy what you find!"