I Commend to you The Society of Visual Storytelling

I need to gush effusively about a new resource I recently discovered, called “Society of Visual Storytelling”. I’ve found my interwebs soul-mate (that’s not a thing but maybe it should be).

If you want to skip the back-story scroll on down to The Society of Visual Storytelling heading. For the rest of you who enjoy a good ramble, this year I had an epiphany. I had an epiphany about where I want to take my art and I’ve been working towards it ever since. I decided that I want to be a picture book author-illustrator when I grow up. On a side note, I remember having this epiphany as a child when I decided to set up a publishing operation with a friend who was to write the stories which I would illustrate. I even loaned her my typewriter. Yes, a typewriter. I don’t know why she needed a typewriter to write stores but I guess it just seemed more professional that way. As an adult I shied away from this notion for a long time because of some prejudices I held about the type of art suited to children’s picture books. The first chink of light which penetrated this thinking was learning about picture books for adults – namely Shaun Tan’s (who I met a couple of weeks ago!). I became seduced by the possibility of creating picture books for adults. I still am but the more I learned about children’s picture books the more nuanced my understanding of them became.

Shaun Tan The Singing Bones Exhibition

Shaun Tan (and me!), The Singing Bones Exhibition

What I thought were my too-dark-for-children notions for picture book stories pale in comparison to Maurice Sendak’s “Outside Over There”, in which Ida’s baby brother is kidnapped by goblins and replaced with a horrifying ice replica, which begins to melt in a delightfully gruesome way. Incidentally, this story is recognised as inspiring my favourite movie of all time, “The Labyrinth”.

Outside over there Maurice Sendak 02

Maurice Sendak, Outside Over There

I also used to be under the impression that only bright, happy, primary colours were aloud when creating for children but then I discovered a huge amount of children’s books rendered in sophisticated muted colors, such as the work of Renata Liwska in “The Quiet Book”

Renata Liwska Color Scheme

Renata Liwska, The Quiet Book

What finally gave me the extra nudge to begin pursuing this newfound passion was when every other person at my open studio weekend last April asked me if I’d ever illustrated a children’s picture book. I took this as a sign that maybe, just maybe I could do this. So I took the advice of an editor of a local art-scene magazine and did a children’s book writing course. Then I decided to do an illustrating for children’s book course and now I’ve discovered the Society of Visual Storytelling!

Society of Visual Storytelling

The Society of Visual Storytelling, is a veritable treasure trove of tutorials, courses, and critiques for anyone who wants to weave a visual narrative. Not just for folks who want to illustrate picture books, it’s great for graphic novelists, comic book artists, and chapter book illustrators. There are two things that I’m especially excited about…

Subscription Based Courses

You can purchase individual courses but what I’m really excited about is the subscription option – starting at $12.50 per month you get access to all of their courses! Some of those courses are valued at $300! I cannot wait to have time to subscribe and get started. I know, I sound like an advertisement or something, but I’m really not getting paid for this. I’m just so happy. Some of the courses I’m especially interested in are:

Society of Visual Storytelling - painting techniques


The guys do this thing they call “3rd Thursday” where you can submit work which illustrates a prompt of their choosing and the top 5 get a critique and the top 3 win free courses. These critiques are incredibly in depth and super interesting to watch. Anyone can enter a piece of art to be critiqued – you don’t have to be a subscriber and anyone can watch the critiques as well. I’ve been binge watching them since I discovered them a couple of days ago.

That was disgustingly gushy for a service I haven’t even used yet. But seriously, you can’t not think this is the bee’s knees. Next post I’ll be sure to show you what I’m working on at the moment.

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