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Gary Taxali
The Story of Silliness
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A few years ago, I was contacted by David Saylor, the VP and Creative Director at Scholastic Press in NYC.  He had recently juried the Society of Illustrators show and was impressed with my work (that was my first SI medal).  He asked me if I would be interested in illustrating chidren's books.  I replied, "Yes, but only my own.  I have a story I wrote that I would love to show you."  He asked me to send it along and a short time later, called me to tell me that Scholastic wanted to publish my story. 
 
My story had an early beginning.  I had a horrible slew of teachers growing up and one in particular, would also tell me to "Stop being silly".  At home, I had the opposite reaction from my mother who would laugh and encourage my silly behaviour.  I remember how much fun it was to make my mother giggle and to draw silly pictures.  This always stuck with me for it was the confidence of my mom's love and encouragement that made me feel OK to make zany and funny pictures, and of course, eventually pursue a professional career.  As a result, I wrote a book which I wanted to be a license for kid's to have fun and just be silly.  This was my story.
 
What then began was a wonderful relationship with Scholastic.  It was an instant click.  Early on, working on the book was a slow project for me.  I started and stopped (much to the shagrin of my publisher!) because I was working on very large solo shows every year.  After much back and forth, and absolutely amazing editing from David Saylor and Adam Rau and art directing from Phil Falco, my book was completed.  The three really understood my work and vision, which makes me still think today how lucky I am.  It was a career highlight.  Both David and Adam helped me tremendously with the early story drafts which were filled with holes - many holes!  After wonderfully pointed questions concerning how a child would follow the story, I made revisions and many spreads changed and came to life.  This Is Silly! was born. 
 
After that, the art.  The artwork was traditionally screen-printed.  I'm talking 17 colours here!  In some spreads, upwards of 11 screens were burned. The original art measures 10" x 20" (the same size as the book's spreads).  After that, the AD Phil took over and man, there are art directors who get me and there are art directors who REALLY get me.  Phil breathed life into my spreads with beautiful type treatments.  He sent me text that I would screen print to keep the consistency.
 
My book was just released and I am getting really nice reviews.  People are reacting well to it but my favourite comments are ones I hear from kid's.  The book is, of course, dedicated to my mom.
 
Next week, on Wednesday, September 22nd, the official book launch party/signing will be in Toronto at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) from 6-9 pm.  Everyone is invited!  If you are in Toronto, I'd love to see you there!  Everyone is welcome.  I'll post photos after the event too.
 
Here is the book's web site and Facebook page.




Here are a few tight pencil sketches from the book.  (I have changed the text from what you see below.)

After that, I ink it and introduce halftone where needed.  From there, I can map out the colours which is the fun AND hard part!

All the above images are © 2010 Gary Taxali   ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


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