A Winning Team: Talking With Illustrators Chantelle & Burgen Thorne

A Winning Team: Talking With Illustrators Chantelle & Burgen Thorne

We are excited to start up the GRP blog again in 2022 with more interviews featuring our creative talent. Next up is a short Q&A with Chantelle and Burgen Thorne, the amazing illustration team for Catherine Ciocchi’s Science, Matter & the Baseball Park.

They are also busy illustrating Candace Spizzirri's Finley: A Moose on the Caboose, but more on that later! Keep reading to learn a bit about their experience and creative process.

Our Conversation with the Thornes:

GRP: First, we want to say thank you to Chantelle and Burgen for stopping by today. What a treat it is to have you here. Would you mind telling us what grabbed your attention as illustrators and made you want to work on this story, and how that has come out in your illustrations so far?

CBT: We just LOVE the combination of science and rhyme - it's so clever and original. Catherine has done something wonderful here and we were very excited to see how we could make this concept work in the illustrations. We've connected the idea of showing molecules with the comic book technique of the half tone screen, where dots are used to make up colours. We're using different densities of dots to show the different kinds of matter - solids, liquids and gases. This combined with the action of the baseball game, makes for a truly ATOMIC picture book!

GRP: Being able to “show science” in the context of an action-packed baseball game is no easy task, but you two have an extraordinary set of skills which make it look effortless. What tips do you have for illustrators with challenges similar to those presented in What's the Matter at the Ballpark?

CBT: Lateral thinking helps - so doing research on both science and baseball in this case, triggered how we could get them to work together visually and also symbolically 'show' molecular structures. Coming to this from a graphic design background, we are familiar with a variety of different print processes, which gave us a clue of how we could tackle this topic. In the same way as the lithographic printing method uses dot screens to create a range of colours using only 4 base inks, all matter is made up of one base unit - the atom. So it was thinking metaphorically that helped us figure out a way to show this visually!

GRP: It's been a pleasure seeing how your artwork adds new layers to the text and transforms this story in unexpected and wonderful ways. You must have at least one favorite page or spread from the book. What is it? And do you mind sharing a sneak peek of your work for our curious readers?

CBT: It's always fun to add a little something extra to the story in the pictures. Even though this book is already crammed with easy-to-understand science and the action-packed excitement of a baseball game, we've added a little humour to some of the pages and characters too! We laugh at the boy ducking as the ball whooshes overhead and chuckle at the pitcher squinting as he throws the ball, but we also love the spread with the player sweeping his bat right across the page for its graphic simplicity. We hope everyone will find lots to love in this book!

As a sneak peek, we'd like to introduce two of the key characters with a hint of the half tone screen. Just wait ‘til you see how this progresses!

GRP: We can’t wait for readers to discover for themselves all that What's the Matter at the Ballpark? has to offer. Thanks for stepping up to the plate and sharing your part of this adventure with us!


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