This morning, I finished a third round of revisions for Ron, a picture book. I'm thankful for my editor's and art director's diligence.
Originally, they were drawn to the style I used for the book Black All Around! But I felt the story and subject matter demanded something less...cartoony. This story is more serious and heart-felt, not whimsical. So I slipped on my Magic Kadir Nelson Drawing Goggles, and I tried to emulate his more figurative style. I submitted a test painting along with my finished sketches and waited for a response, half expecting a rejection. I mean, it wasn't what they'd asked for. Their comments were numerous and didn't include the words, I love it! I love it! I love it! I was overwhelmed. I panicked, thinking they hated my sketches. I decided to re-sketch the entire book using the original style they'd asked for, completely changing most of the compositions.
I re-submitted my sketches and was surprised by their response — they loved my original sketches! "We were expecting one thing," my editor said. "But you gave us something even better. You out-did yourself, why did you change?" I didn't explain my need for copious praise.
I didn't mind making more revisions — even extensive revisions — but I really did not want to completely re-sketch this book, so we compromised by using my second set of sketches, while adding back the more figurative look of the first.
Confused? Understandably. But there's one more thing: They didn't want me to change or revise my sample painting to match the rest of the book. "We like that painting! Don't touch it!"
I'm not sure how I'm gonna work this one out. I'll probably go ahead and revise it to match the rest of the book, and submit both paintings. Let them choose. But I think they'll agree in the end that Ron on page 6 needs to look the same kid on the other 31 pages.