About the illustrators: Portia Rosenberg and Charles Vess
Portia Rosenberg was born in Manchester in 1962, and grew up thoroughly immersed in Jewish schools, community and family. She has worked in lots of jobs offices, healthfood shops, post delivery, childcare and currently works in the children's section of a bookshop. She came to take up illustration late at the age of 30 having studied English Literature first time around. Both courses were at Anglia Polytechnic University. In the two summers following her illustration degree, she showed her work at home as part of Cambridge Open Studios, and as a result was invited to produce and exhibit work in a year-long artist's residency at Cambridge Arts Theatre, making drawings from memory rather than during the performances.
She says: "Amazingly, it was also through visiting my open studio that Susanna Clarke came to invite me about 8 years later to do the illustrations for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell."
She has had two drawings shortlisted for the Garrick/Milne Prize Competition and last year completed the first year of a part-time MA in Children's Book Illustration. Her previous (self-initiated) work includes drawings for Oliver Twist, 'Cinderella', 'Red Riding Hood', Edgar Allen Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination and Alexander Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo. She also likes writing and illustrating nonsense poetry.
Questions and Answers...
Your illustrations for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell are extremely atmospheric. Which aspects of Susanna Clarke's writing were you drawing on when you set about creating the drawings for the book?
Charles Vess was born a Gemini in 1951 in Lynchburg, Va. and has been drawing ever since he could hold a crayon. He drew his first full-length comic when he was 10 and called it "Atomic Man." Minimalist in nature, it required no drawing of hands, feet or heads ("they just glowed"). Since then, he has painstakingly drawn thousands of hands, feet, and heads in great detail.
Charles graduated with a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, and worked in commercial animation for Candy Apple Productions in Richmond, Va., before moving to New York City in 1976. It was there that he became a freelance illustrator, working for many publications including Heavy Metal, Klutz Press, and National Lampoon.
In the past his award-winning work has graced the covers and pages of numerous comic book publishers including Marvel (Spiderman, Raven Banner), DC (Books of Magic, Swamp Thing, Sandman) and Darkhorse. His recent work is found more in book illustration and he continues to win accolades and praise in his development of fine illustration.
He has been featured in several gallery and museum exhibitions across the nation, including the first major exhibition of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art at the New Britain Museum of American Art (1980). Other exhibits include: "Dreamweavers" (William King Regional Arts Center, traveling, 1994-95), ?Introducing Stardust? the Museum of Cartoon Art (San Francisco, 2000), ?Ancient Spirit, Modern Voice: the Mythic Journeys Art Exhibition, (DeFoor Art Centre, Atlanta, 2004), and ?Harvesting the Myth? at the New Light Gallery (Abingdon, VA, 2004). Two exhibitions in New York City featured his work in 2005: ?Modern Fairy Tales? with Michael Kaluta at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, and ?Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art? at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators.
The Ink Pot Award For Excellence in Comic Art was bestowed upon Charles in 1990. He shared the prestigious World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story with Neil Gaiman in 1991 for their collaboration on Sandman #19 (DC Comics). In the summer of 1997, Charles won the Will Eisner Comic Industry Award for Best Penciler/Inker for his work on his self-published ?The Book of Ballads and Sagas? as well as DC?s Sandman #75. In 1999, ?Stardust,? a novel written by Neil Gaiman with over 175 lavish illustrations, won him the World Fantasy Award (Best Artist) as well as the Mythopoeic Award for Best Adult Literature for both Vess and Gaiman.
In 2002 Charles won a second Will Eisner award, this time as Best Painter for his work on Rose, a 130-page epic fantasy saga written by Cartoon Books' Jeff Smith. That year continued to be busy for Charles with the publica