Guest Post: Illustrator Ned Gannon on Time To Pray

By Ned Gannon

When I was approached to do a second book, one of the things that entered my mind was that I didn’t want to accept the job unless I could improve on the first book I did with Maha Addasi and Boyds Mills Press, White Nights of Ramadan (2008).

I decided to strive for an even stronger and more consistent atmosphere, which led to the construction of the design elements and the page backgrounds intended to lend warmth and vibrancy.

A lot of research went into the patterns and designs. I tried for a sense of history and a contemporary liveliness combined together.

I have to admit, I found the philosophy behind some of the Islamic geometry so interesting I had to keep myself from being distracted.

One trick for all illustrators is to balance what they imagine when they read a story (their artistic tendencies and preferences) with what they perceive as a faithfulness to the author’s text. This creates a little anxiety for any illustrator, but I think particularly when an ethnic culture is involved. On the one hand, I didn’t want to seem to take it lightly by creating caricatures; on the other hand, I didn’t want to make it stale and boring.

Maha diligently aided my process by making suggestions when I didn’t quite grasp the cultural setting or situation. For example, Maha clued me in as to when the grandmother might have her head covered and when she might have her hair down—or where Yasmin and her grandmother might pray within the mosque—or how the grandmother would position herself during prayer.

Visual research proved critical. I have not been to the Persian Gulf. So I perused books, magazines, blogs, and photos to construct the setting, architecture, and environments in the book. The most anxious moments for me, as an illustrator, are between the sketch submissions and the paintings.

And of course, there are always some revisions (sometimes even after the paintings are submitted), but all of that is part of a collaborative effort between author, editor, art director, and illustrator.

In the end, I am very happy to have made the connections I have made while sharing in the production of this book.

Thanks to Cynthia for maintaining this forum for writers and illustrators and fans of literature.

Thanks also to Maha for all her gracious help on the book’s details and her promotion of the book now it is released. And finally, thanks to Boyds Mills Press (Larry and Tim) for taking on the subject, and thanks to readers and buyers for supporting the book.

Cynsational Notes

See also a Cynsations interview with Maha about Time To Pray.