From searching for whales in sub-zero temperatures to transporting people on a magic journey, we go behind-the-scenes with the author of our latest book.
From the euphoria of getting a glimpse of a whale to the mysterious landscape of a polar region that makes you question what planet you are on, British illustrator Daniel Frost left Greenland mesmerized. The author of our of cinematic The Children and the Whale book talks to us about his trip, the source of inspiration for the book, and bringing people together through tales.
The ability to create a new universe and share it with people as an illustrator is what pulled him into his practice. Daniel would draw and create stories as a child with his brothers, "It was all about making each other laugh through funny characters", he explained. He was galvanized by Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake books growing up and is still inspired by them to this day. Daniel told us, "For me, they represent something which I strive for in my own work, which is to make work that feels alive and has a heart".
Telling stories is at the center of Daniel's creative compass, no matter how big or small, he wants to transport people on believable and exciting journeys through his illustrations and books.
After building an established commercial portfolio for himself over the years, working with the likes of Colette, Nike, The New York Times, and Norse Projects to name a few, Daniel has found his feet as an author effortlessly. As an artist fixated by odd people and strange situations, Daniel's work takes you on a quirky and otherworldly experience.
Daniel is fascinated by the world and traveling. David Attenborough and the National Geographic left him longing for new adventures growing up, a desire to explore the vast wilderness. Having previously worked on projects in Thailand and Switzerland, Daniel was eager to experience something completely unique and jumped at the opportunity of going to Greenland.
A habitat where only a few humans and animals can survive, Greenland and its polar region are among some of the world's intriguing environments. Invited by a friend a few years back, they roamed the white blanket mountains of snow during three hours of daylight. The long October nights left him with plenty of time to bubble up ideas and paint the landscape he photographed during the day.
Due to the extreme weather, trees and plants can't survive in Greenland. The limited amount of daylight created a strange quality of light with long shadows and orange/pink skies that made the whole place seem mysterious. Daniel said it often felt strange and gave the place a "very otherworldly feel". With this in mind, he experimented with Gouache for the book.
"I wanted to use Gouache for this story as it suited the subject and the themes so well. Gouache has a very interesting quality that allows it to be watered down (and used in washy kind of way) and is very bold and opaque while retaining the brilliant color", he explained to us. Gouache allowed him to recreate the beautiful icy landscapes and bold characters. Most of his work on the Greenland trip was made in Gouache because it was perfectly suited to the landscape. Daniel said it felt like a natural choice for this book.
We asked Daniel how he developed the story and narrative for the book, he told us, "I really wanted to make a story that captured this landscape and took you on a journey through it, to show how it changes throughout the day and night, and how it could act as the main character in a book". The dramatic landscape and various types of light together created different atmospheres throughout the day.
After completing a series of painting in Greenland, Daniel began working on ways to link his work together. He asked questions like, how you might get from one scene to another or how a character got to this situation, or what they might do next and slowly the story began to evolve.
The books main characters, Cuno and Aia, go on a tale of adventure, beauty, and kinship around the magic arctic circle. We asked him what inspired him to create the characters and the tale of the whale, to which he replied:
"One of the many reasons for me going to Greenland was to hopefully see some whales, I had a friend who had been there a few months before and had seen many, so I was hoping we might be lucky. But in fact, I never saw any, which sounds disappointing, but in fact, I didn't really think about it. The whole place was too captivating to dwell on it! We saw the Northern Lights every night, giant icebergs, mountains of snow and ice, and abandoned villages. As you can imagine, I wasn't disappointed. This is where the inspiration and the theme developed from, this idea that the destination is not always the most important (part), it's the journey and the experience that is the most significant".
We talked more about the stunning cinematic feel to it, how it manages to create a fantasy and believable setting at the same time. He hopes the book gives readers a sense of "wonderment and beauty" that he got from Greenland. Just as he was curious and interested in the world growing up, he hopes that this book will inspire a new generation of explorers eager to see what the rest of the world can offer them.
Curious about the book and traveling like Daniel is, find out more about The Children and the Whale on our site.