I got excited when I first read that the theme for this year's PBBY Prizes is on poetry. I've always wanted to illustrate a full children's book of poems, though I have illustrated stories in verse form. There are only a few materials locally and new titles could be an interesting addition. So, exhilarated by the theme, I couldn't wait to create my entry for the Alcala Illustrators Prize this year.
My strategy was to make an illustration entirely different from what I have done previously. I thought it was time to level it up by creating three-dimensional works. I got inspiration from amazing sculptural illustrators, including my fellow INKies Liza Flores and Pergylene Acuna who create delightful illustrations with layers of textured papers. Then the concept just fell everything into place: I wanted to make a visual that is encased within a box. There is something nostalgic and a childhood sense of curiosity that draws me in about boxes.
Personally, poetry for me is a paradox of precise arrangement of words limited by the syntax of a language and yet can create multiple interpretations in indefinite ways. That is exactly the effect I want to capture in my visual. So I made simple illustrations, stripped down to their essential forms and juxtapose them within a surreal composition to emit endless possible meanings. The figures, color scheme are greatly influenced by Pablo Picasso's theatrical mural composition, Guernica. I was moved by the painter's lyrical visual language and the mural's haunting meaning. Having the illustrations enclosed in a box is a visual metaphor for poetry's literal precision. It's like reading poetry, when you "open" it's meaning, either leave you perplexed or liberated. The meaning is left at the interpreter.
I wanted to introduce that concept of poetry to children, though I admit it was too much for their comprehension.
After seeing all the winners, I have to agree with the judges' pick for the top prize. Aldy Aguirre's winning colorful and whimsical interpretation precisely balanced the rhythmical tones of the poems. The visual elements are fluid and gently moving, as if dancing within the space. It was neither too deep nor too literal to grasp what's going on within the scene. Aldy's illustrations are just perfect to catch a child's interest in getting a head start into the wonderful genre of poetry.
My entry reaped an Honorable Mention at the 2010 PBBY Alcala Prize. I'm also happy that all of the winners are fellow INK members: Rommel Joson and Zeus Bascon's works are also commendable, each have their own unique vision. And I couldn't be happier that the awarding ceremony was filled with nicest friends and acquaintances.