AIB Illustration Alumni Ryan Maguire '98 launched the GUTS Community Art Program to to engage and inspire participants to share their emotions through visual communication and narrative.
A few weeks ago the students from the Broad Rock Elementary School (RI) participated in GUTS Imagination exercises, directed by Robin Wildman.
The Broad Rock Elementary students made art and asked questions!
Why did you make this book?
GUTS was written and illustrated during my first contact period at the University of Hartford, Hartford Art School MFA in Illustration Program. GUTS is an original story about facing the feelings that live inside all of us. Acknowledging and coping with one’s emotions can be difficult for children and adults. The GUTS story helps to engage the reader to think about their feelings and the impact they have on their lives and environment. I had recieved a AIB Faculty Grant to independently publish the first edition of books. "GUTS, the story of You" is now avaible as an eBook on iTunes.
Why did you choose these feelings?
Like many people have experienced, my parents went through a divorce. As a child, it was an extremely difficult time for me to understand the emotions that I was feeling towards my parents and the impact they had on my family. Anger became a dominant emotion that was difficult to control, often leading to self abuse, negative behavior, fights, and bullying.
Inspired by my own childhood and the difficulties of controlling my emotions, I wanted to tell a story that all ages could read and associate with. GUTS is the story of a small black dot who encounters various feelings, we all share, for the first time.
Preview the Guts story here
How come the feelings and emotions look the way they do? Why did you choose to draw them that way?
The illustrations made for GUTS were inspired by Paleolithic cave paintings by primitive humans and CDB!, a children’s book written and illustrated by William Steig.
Primitive cave painting told the stories of early life on earth through mark making on cave walls. Painted with mineral pigments or scratched directly onto surface, the artists illustrated human figures, animals, and abstract signs. Through mark-making and cave painting, some of the earliest activities and thoughts of mankind are depicted.
Inspired by primitive techniques, the GUTS character illustrations were explored using ink and spit on paper. Various value structures and surface textures were achieved by drawing marks with ink and then licking my finger to rub and distort the medium, resulting in a minimal graphic aesthetic that simplifies complex human emotions into bold and unique expressions.
Why didn't you use color in the pictures?
The final illustrations capture the essence of each emotion, in black and white, creating unique characters that are open for personal interpretation and transcend across time, language, and culture.
William Steig’s book CDB! was shown in our children’s book course as a published example by program faculty Dennis Nolan. CDB! is a illustrated children’s book by Willaim Steig, published in 1968 by Simon & Schuster. Each illustration in CDB! is accompanied by a cryptic caption that uses individual letters that hint to the reader what the illustration represents. The title of the book “CDB!” thus translates to “See (CEE) The (DEE) Bee (BEE)!”
Steig’s creative decision to simplify the picture’s caption to only single letter combinations challenges the reader to use their imagination to figure out what the text and illustration were depicting. Steig’s contrast between type and image generates a unique reading experience that is entertaining and educational.
Steig’s unorthodox storytelling inspired me to write a narrative that was simple and direct in contrast to characters that were abstract and cryptic. The GUTS story challenges the reader to interpret abstract illustrations, representing core human emotions we all share and experience, and inspire the reader to imagine what their own feelings may look like.
Why is YOU the smallest character?
I wouldn't say YOU is small, but rather a symbol of strength and balance. YOU illustrates the core inside us all. No matter what life throws at us, balance is a big part of finding peace and making progress. So despite size, YOU can make the biggest impact of them all!
Thanks to the Faculty and Students of the Broad Rock Elementary School for making art and showing their GUTS: Growth, Unity, Tolerance and Strength!
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