Here follows a field report from Ministry Illustrator Anna Saunders. We think she did a jolly good job. The Chief.
Zinguola Cuda Cuda, created by Year 6, Burbage Primary School and illustrated by Ben Newman.
Creating a Monster isn’t easy. There are so many things to think about, and a whole design from top to toe that needs a lot of thought and attention. Come early October, we found ourselves in need of some monsters because we are, after all, opening a monster shop. With an aim to produce lots of individual products for the shelves of the shop, we decided to commission five or six portraits of our favourite kind of clientele. Schools were already expressing an interest in workshops so we decided to involve them in the monster making process. With the shop still under construction, it seemed the perfect time to take the workshops to the schools and work with the children to build up some character profiles.
The sessions were a great success. At about 2 hours long, they gave just the right amount of time for a group to work on the characteristics of their monster, and to establish a name, habitat, and catalogue of personality traits. There was even time for a quick monster mash in the middle! We were really impressed with the imaginative ideas that came up, and the use of similes to create an image that was totally tangible. A designated MoS secretary took notes during all our sessions, and we came away with 6 very detailed profiles of some very scary monsters.So then we had them, Mrs Flabbergastic, Blushball and Lairious Nefarious (to name but a few) were all coming steadily to life. The next stage in the process, now we had all the raw material, was to get some Illustrators on board to create images from the descriptions we had taken. Matt Roden and I hit the web, searching for Illustrators far and wide who could help us with our quest. We found some corkers, and a couple of weeks later we had secured a dream team of professionals ready to pen our monsters.
So now we had all of the elements in place, we just needed to find the right printing process to do our monsters justice. Matt did a lot of research and spoke to NoBrow about printing techniques and a colour palette. The portraits of the monsters would be printed as a limited edition, and sold in the shop alongside cans of tinned fear and that old favourite, ‘A Vague Sense of Unease’. With the Illustrators on board, the printing process set (silk screen with a 3 colour palette, very stylish) and of course the brilliant monster profiles created by the children, we were ready to go. And that brings us here, to the present day, with Hoxton Street Monster Supplies about to open its doors. As I write, the monsters are being printed, with a limited edition of 40 for each character. It’s a very exciting time, and they are sure to look fantastic in the shop and on the walls of those who invest in one. This was monsters in the making with the Ministry of Stories; the first in a very long line of successful writing workshops which are yet to come.