The Story of My Book: Yellow Dress Day
Last year, Sophie Norsa illustrated a picture book before she’d even finished Year 12. Here she tells us about the experience.
When I was first asked to illustrate Yellow Dress Day by Michelle Worthington, I couldn’t believe my luck. At age seventeen, this was my first step into the world of publishing, and I have to admit that at times I was just playing it by ear and taking each step as it came.
Being so young and never having illustrated professionally, I really wanted to produce something unique and attention-grabbing, so I put a lot of thought into the detail of each illustration. To me, the most important part of Yellow Dress Day was colour. It had to be sunny and bright, and by the end of it my pink watercolour became severely depleted! The story was created by Michelle with the intent of raising funds for the International Rhett’s Syndrome Foundation, which supports a degenerative condition that has great impact on those who suffer it. I wanted to inject some light into this somber topic, to remind the readers that even the hardest things in life can be overcome with joy.
While colour became important to the mood of the book, movement was integral to the story. I wanted to create a dynamic narrative which reflected Michelle’s transition through the seasons. The most prominent motif became the swirl of colour, to show wind and wildness and how life can be unpredictable. I also became fond of drawing a small white puppy, who moved through the story with the main character and with a sub-plot of his own.
The most difficult part about illustrating Yellow Dress Day was not the creative aspect, but the timing. The project came to me while I was in the middle of my HSC year. I remember some mornings waking up at 6am to paint at my attic work station, before going to school, coming home and doing homework and finally finishing the day by completing the illustration I’d started in the morning. It was a tiring process, but I was having so much fun.
Through this first project, I’ve learned so much and been ingrained with a passion for illustration that I know will continue. As it was such a welcome opportunity, I would have been happy had it remained a self-published product but to have it picked up by a publishing house (New Frontier) is the icing on the cake. And now, here I am, reflecting on the whole whirl-wind process, itching to get started on something new.