It is very important to UK publishers that their picture books work for the American market: a US co-edition is, more often that not, the key to the financial success of a project.
Unfortunately there are many small ways in which our worlds look different and an illustrator is usually asked to change their work to fit the American model.
In this original illustration of Smudge’s birthday party from Miriam Moss’s ‘I’ll be your Friend, Smudge’, I drew plates of cute, triangular sandwiches. It was not until my artwork was finished that my publisher discovered Americans don’t eat sandwiches. I had to draw a little, pastel drawing ‘patch’ of some bread rolls, which I carefully pasted into the illustration digitally, using Photoshop. Once upon a time, it would have meant starting the whole illustration again! Take a look in the printed book to see the difference.
A similar fate befell the traditional, round teapot I originally drew in the illustration above, from the first book in the Smudge and Stripe series, ‘A New House for Smudge’. A teapot felt far more in keeping with cottage life than this rather posh coffee pot, but American’s don’t drink tea either. At least this anomaly was spotted at an earlier stage, before I began the final artwork.
(Illustrations from I’ll Be Your Friend, Smudge and A New House For Smudge published by Gullane Children’s Books)