by Glen Downey, Comics in Education, www.comicsineducation.com
This is how an artist should travel...
If you haven't read Florent Chavouet's Tokyo on Foot, then you've been missing out on a uniquely rewarding experience. Imagine you're an artist with a gift for sharing your own unique perspective on things, and you find yourself in Tokyo with time on your hands and art materials at your disposal. If you're Chavouet, you end up drawing Tokyo.
But not the stereotypical, Western view of Tokyo as a city of bright lights, Buddhist temples and Karaoke bars....
Instead, imagine that you draw the real Tokyo.
By recording what he sees, from the profound to the mundane, Chavouet does what so many great graphic travel writers do. As with my post the other day on Guy Delisle, Chavouet presents us with an honest, insightful look at the sights and sounds of the place he is visiting, perhaps without even realizing at the time what a profound effect these sights and sounds--and his recording of them--will have on his development as an artist.
You see, it's precisely because Chavouet records everything (i.e. that he doesn't make a judgment or shape Tokyo into merely what he wants or expects it to be) that he is so successful in Tokyo on Foot.
This is precisely the idea we should encourage with our students when they are trying to put their ideas down onto paper in front of them. Tell them that you want to see what they are thinking...really see it. They might just end up giving you something like this.
Thank you, Florent Chavouet.
Dr. Glen Downey is an award-winning children's author, educator, and academic from Oakville, Ontario. He works as a children's writer for Rubicon Publishing, a reviewer for PW Comics World, an editor for the Sequart Organization, and serves as the Chair of English and Drama at The York School in Toronto.
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