I’m Shelley, a children’s book illustrator based in the North West of England.
My Master’s project focused on whether in a growing digital age, picture books can cultivate creativity and a sense of wonder for the real world.
From my own experience as an early years professional, I found that creativity is not always nurtured in educational settings. The limited time allocated for creativity usually consists of children churning out identical finished pictures conforming to standards set by the adult and therefore this can devalue the process of creation and original ideas. Paired with this, reduced time outdoors due to technological temptations go hand in hand with limited creative opportunities for children.
A starting point for this project considered the very first things that children discover about their immediate and natural world. I developed the story text around a creative journey with a curious ring-necked parakeet as the main character. I considered types of explorative movement and focused on the act of wandering, slowing down, noticing, appreciating and how that could be explored with wondering and imagining.
The purpose of the picture book is to be an educational tool for promoting the importance of creativity. Allowing children to be free, curious and exploratory in their environments, and intended to equally inspire adults to facilitate those creative opportunities.
A story that acts as a catalyst for creativity away from technological distractions and encourages children to take a closer look at their own, nearby world. The book is designed for children to have their own ideas about where the parakeet is going and where he came from.
The illustrations throughout are all hand drawn using coloured pencil, gouache, crayon and hand printed collage to compliment the books overarching creative concept.
‘Wander’ is aimed at 4-6 year old children. Alongside this, I created a public art element in the form of paper parakeets that can be used as an outdoor activity or prop for storytelling.
The end papers in the picture book set the scene and introduce Parakeet’s journey.
Textless, abstract pages feature within the book to allow for imagination and individual interpretations to form
The rainforest becomes more and more prominent as the urban world disappears completely.
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