Tuesday, 18 September, 2007

Thomas Taylor where are you?

The ‘fresher vs. experienced’ debate

Anybody heard about Thomas Taylor? No way! Because, even I didn’t knew about him until one day I discovered him inside the covers of a favorite book of mine. For those who still haven’t got an idea Thomas Taylor is an illustrator.

You must be thinking why I’m so concerned about this unknown person. Well I’m nobody to have concerns for him but I simply wonder where he has disappeared? I have already told you that I discovered him inside the covers of a favorite book of mine. And that book is none other than the first book written by J.K.Rowling. Yes! You guessed it right -- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Thomas Taylor was the person who did the cover illustration for the U.K. edition of this book. A book, which brought fortunes for J.K.Rowling and heralded a new era in children’s book publishing. An interesting piece of fact is that this illustration which he did for Bloomsbury was his first ever commissioned work too. A first time writer Rowling and a first time illustrator Thomas, both worked on a book which became famous later. What happened next? While J.K.Rowling became a celebrity writer with her book, what happened to Thomas Taylor? Why didn’t Bloomsbury commission him to illustrate for their next Potter books?

In order to find out some facts I searched on the web. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find much about him but I did found info about other illustrators who worked on the later books in the Harry Potter series. I was really intrigued by this I searched again. All I could gather was a short bio of him on www.pfd.co.uk (Update 17/dec/07: This link used to automatically lead to Thomas's Bio which now asks you to download a file with python extention. Strange!!). One day I stumbled upon an article in Wikipedia about Cliff Wright, the illustrator who did the illustration for the second and third book of the series. Here I found the reason why Thomas Taylor was not offered the work for other books. Bloomsbury wanted an experienced illustrator instead of a fresher just coming out of an Art School.(update 17/dec/07: I recently found an old article which appeared on books.guardian.co.uk. It says,"Thomas Taylor, the young graduate artist who decided what Harry Potter ought to look like, made only two or three hundred pounds for his first drawing of the boy hero in 1997....Taylor's foot-square picture showed the Hogwarts Express bearing down on Harry, but was his only work for the books. He had just graduated from art college and was paid a flat fee for his first publishing commission. Publishers Bloomsbury dropped Taylor after the first book in favour of a more experienced artist, Cliff Wright, who drew the covers for the second novel, The Chamber Of Secrets, and the third, The Prisoner Of Azkaban." )

I’m quite amazed by this reason. If Thomas was inexperienced so was Rowling. Why didn’t they commission a new and experienced writer to write further? And how could one call Thomas fresher when he had already done paid work for them ? Interestingly, the U.S. publishers of this book Scholastic Inc. had made Mary Grand Pre to do the covers all throughout the series. That's commendable though!

Intriguing as ever is the ‘fresher vs. experienced’ debate. As a freelancer and a fresher I’m indeed concerned about the way service buyers decide on commissioning designers and artists.

If you were a service buyer what you would choose ‘fresher’ or ‘experienced’ designer? And why?

Do comment.


Vinodh said...

fresher!because his thoughts would be fresh!:)

grafic7... said...

Hmm....intelligent comment. But do you think experienced folks dont have fresh ideas?

Anonymous said...

Interesting thing I found this post, because the same happend to me: I saw Thomas Taylor's name on the cover of the book, searched in internet and found very little!! I find it werd, too, that Thomas doesn't have an own Homepage with his own portfolio (I WOULD if I had worked at such an important cover).
Regarding your question: I would choose an illustrator whose work I like. I would just ask for some sample work of different artists I am interested in and choose what I like best, no matter if fresher or experienced. As simple as that.

Anonymous said...

I can assure you all that Thomas is alive and well and has written and illustrated several fine books for younger children. He's a really nice guy and recently started his own blog.

rshmi said...

Glad to receive comments on such an old post. And more glad to know that there are people who recognise the artist behind the first ever harry potter illustration!

Anonymous said...

Thomas Taylor is one of the finest illustrators of childrens books who is now branching out at a writer. Our children love his books, such as The Loudest Roar. Just had the pleasure of his company this week.
A very talented artist and a gentleman.

rshmi said...

It's really interesting to note that this old post of mine is still generating comments from all of you. Well! thanks for the updates and info about the artist.