Curious George

Happy New Year to one and all!

Here’s one reason I’ve been looking forward to 2008….

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One of the drawbacks of freelancing is that, for legal reasons, you often can’t publicly display the artwork you do for a client until the client gives you permission. Such is the case with these Curious George illustrations.

Way back in August of 2006 I was contacted by Houghton Mifflin, a publishing company that owns the rights to Curious George. The animated Curious George movie had been released earlier in the year, and Houghton-Mifflin was now preparing a project that would feature several new illustrations of Curious George and his adventures visiting a farm. They wanted to steer away from the slick animated movie version of the character and go back to the charming hand-drawn style of the original books illustrated by H. A. Rey. Rey’s illustrations were simple charcoal drawings with watercolor splashed in, and they wanted an artist who could replicate his low-tech technique.

Several artists were being considered for the project, including me. We were each asked to do some sample illustrations of Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat, and told the client would ultimately choose one of us to work on the project (a common practice when dealing with licensed characters). To mimic Rey’s style I did the line drawings with a china marker on copy paper. Then I scanned in the drawings and colored them using various watercolor and charcoal brushes in Photoshop.

Ultimately another artist was chosen, but it was still a thrill to be considered for the project.

I was paid for my efforts, but our contract stated that Houghton Mifflin owned all of the artwork and that I wasn’t allowed to display it publicly until January 1 of the year of publication, and even then only for my own self-promotion purposes. (I consider this blog to be an extension of my promotional campaign, since I use it primarily to raise awareness of me and my work.) Since the curriculum was set to be published in 2008, I can now finally display these samples!

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3 thoughts on “Curious George

  1. Cedric,

    These samples are right on the money. Nice job. I used to do a lot of licensing and remeber very well the difficulties in trying to mimic the original illustrators style. I think the one I had the most difficulty with was the Berenstain Bears. It took me almost twice as long as I thought it would to illustrate two simple 8 page readers.
    Again excellent work.

    Bob O
    Bob Ostrom Studio

  2. These are great! I thought they were from the original books. You really captured the style correctly, I’m glad they finally let you share them with us (and I wish you had been picked).

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