前進波隆那 直擊台灣現場

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2017 / 6月

文‧陳群芳 圖‧林格立 翻譯‧Phil Newell


深具國際指標的義大利波隆那兒童書展,自1967年開始舉辦插畫展,致力找尋富有創意與故事性的優秀作品,吸引全球頂尖出版社及插畫人才聚集,展現一流之作。

自1989年,台灣插畫家徐素霞以《水牛與稻草人》入選以來,至今已累積56人次。幾乎每年皆有繪本作者以各式題材入圍波隆那插畫展,將台灣的創作能量傳遞至國際。


 

2016年台灣7位創作者入選波隆那插畫展,占全球77名入圍者的十分之一,創下歷年新高。2015年孫心瑜以繪本《北京遊》開啟台灣插畫家獲得波隆那兒童書展「拉加茲獎」的首例。去年蔡兆倫的《看不見》、今年鄒駿昇的《禮物》也都獲得拉加茲獎的肯定。台灣入選的插畫作品題材多元,有抒發情感如鄧彧《回家》詮釋歸屬感、也有王書曼的《火燒厝》描繪台灣傳統紙紮技藝等。

這背後不僅顯示台灣插畫家及繪本豐富的創造力,更有出版界及許多幕後推手的支持,將台灣插畫作品與國際接軌。

台灣繪本美術館驚艷波隆那

長年籌畫波隆那兒童書展台灣館的台北書展基金會,今年雖未獲得台灣館參展機會,但考量至此兩年對於台灣出版界的未來至關重要,在台北書展基金會董事郝明義的邀集下,提出由民間自辦參展的想法。看似瘋狂又無利益可言的決定,獲得基金會及民間團體的支持,募集資金,並成功向波隆那主辦方申請到展位。

在歐美出版界包夾下,台北書展基金會決定請來曾四度入選波隆那插畫展的插畫家鄒駿昇擔任策展人。鄒駿昇以自身多次參展的經驗出發,將此次參展定調為「台灣繪本美術館」。他表示,「波隆那以版權交易為主,插畫作品往往被當作附屬,即使入選插畫展,也只是占據眾多場館及展位的其中一角,能見度並不高。」

台灣有很多優秀的插畫作品,雖不像圖畫書具強而有力的敘事結構,也不全然都是出版品,但創意、表現手法都極具潛力。此次台灣繪本美術館徵選原創性的插畫,許多從事設計、廣告等非繪本創作的台灣插畫家,因此有了登上國際舞台的機會。

台灣繪本美術館顛覆以往劃分八大區域的展覽方式,集中火力,將展位設計為「Publishers出版社區」、「Illustrators插畫家區」及「Meeting Place會議區」3大部分。以藝廊的概念,將台灣30位創作者136件精采的作品,仔細裝裱,製作成一面美麗的插畫牆。

館位中央也設計成一個彷彿諮詢櫃台的圓環,擺放具有國際版權銷售潛力的出版品。綠色森林的視覺意向,搭配柔美的光線,在商業氣息濃厚的書展中,呈現獨立而寧靜的氛圍,吸引許多人駐足欣賞,國際媒體競相報導,波隆那兒童書展主辦單位還同步開啟臉書直播向全球介紹,成功讓台灣在國際間亮相。

此次展覽結束後,書展基金會更將展示的台灣畫作捐贈至波隆那,著重當代文化收藏的Salaborsa 公共圖書館,將台灣的插畫繼續留在義大利散發光芒。

成功吸引國際目光後,下一步呢?

面向國際,扎穩馬步

豐子愷兒童圖畫書獎顧問、台灣繪本美術館共同策展人柯倩華觀察,相較於其他國際大型書展有展售書籍,「波隆那兒童書展最初的設定就是版權交易會,是出版者、插畫創作者談生意的地方。」而台灣的童書出版翻譯書多於自製書,就版權交易市場來看,像個剛進場的玩家,如何吸引國際市場注意,就是首要之務。

綜觀台灣出版市場,翻譯書與自製繪本的比重失衡,翻譯繪本占了8成以上,自製繪本要如何進入國際市場競爭?加上近年台灣繪本出版看似蓬勃發展,但主題、類型仍限縮於教育類別。反觀波隆那兒童書展眾多作品題材大膽、不拘,舉凡同志、生死都是創作主題,但同類素材卻鮮少在國內出現。加上繪本出版面對行銷不易、印刷成本高等因素,也侷限繪本題材。

格林文化發行人郝廣才表示,台灣教育長期追求升學,在選書時往往先考量教育性,尤其國中以後,圖像便逐漸淡出孩子們的視野,造成斷層。但圖像的視覺傳達本身就是種藝術美學的培養,若沒有從小接觸,給予刺激,要如何期待多年後能栽培出相關產業如電影、攝影、插畫等藝術創作人才。繪本的閱讀應該不分年齡,不再將其當作成人書的附屬,讓大人小孩都能從中獲得閱讀樂趣。

翻譯繪本製作時程短又已有市場保證,對比台灣原創繪本的製作,從文本、繪圖到編排出版,從零開始,短則數月,長則1~3年。雖然製作期程長,相較於文字的閱讀門檻,以圖像為主的作品,其流通性高及跨文化門檻低,加上台灣備受國際肯定的插畫水準,更應該將自製繪本推向國際市場。

醞釀台灣插畫創造力

除了嘗試多元題材,專業的編輯團隊也是台灣繪本出版不可或缺的一環。創作雖是天馬行空的想像,但也是需要將技法用色、敘事結構、個人風格等基本功練穩,有了工夫才有機會發揮創造力。在插畫家個人的創作外,編輯就像是教練。

鄒駿昇以自身與國際出版社合作的經驗為例。在國外,會分別由文字編輯與圖像編輯對文字及插畫的作者分頭聯繫,以確保提供專業意見,專業的圖像編輯如同藝術指導,能提供插畫家精闢的見解,雙方討論時更能激盪火花。

為提升國內童書的國際競爭力,取經國際出版專家的編輯能力顯得十分重要。因此,台灣繪本美術館特別規劃了「國際出版品計畫」,邀請國際顧問針對3本進行中的作品,當面座談諮詢,給予創作者及編輯建議。不僅讓規劃中的出版品與國際接軌,更希望提供台灣編輯人才觀摩的機會。

柯倩華表示,幾次的諮詢也發現台灣創作者的侷限,其一即是目標讀者不明確。若以國際讀者為出發,有時本土性過高的作品便不容易獲得國際市場青睞。柯倩華認為,好的出版品應具備下列三種條件之一,「要有文化特色,但不要文化障礙」、「原創的藝術性」、「用新角度詮釋舊主題」。

柯倩華以插畫家林小杯的作品《喀噠喀噠喀噠》為例,小女孩請奶奶用裁縫車為她縫製表演服,裁縫車卻在表演前一天壞了,小女孩傷心地哭,結果奶奶連夜手縫趕製,讓女孩能穿上演出。一般故事只到這裡就結束,但林小杯延續了情節,讓小女孩跟著爸爸秘密計畫,將奶奶的裁縫車,改裝成桌子,繪本的結局留在小女孩與奶奶開心的在新桌子上喝午茶的畫面。

林小杯以模仿兒童繪畫的筆觸,展現女孩的天真活力,透過文字與圖畫來表現裁縫車縫製的聲音,且鼓勵兒童珍惜舊物、發揮想像力,因而容易獲得國際共鳴。

又或是今年波隆那兒童書展拉加茲獎文學類首獎的作品《A Child of Books》,創作者用40部經典名著的英文句子,去拼湊大海、高山等圖案,直接將文字寓意於圖像的表現手法,讓讀者每翻一頁都有不同驚喜,以全新的創意表現徜徉書本的閱讀樂趣,令人眼睛為之一亮。

繪本創作儘管故事簡單,也可以暗藏深厚的人生哲理,鄒駿昇今年獲得拉加茲獎的作品《禮物》其創作背景來自英國藝評家約翰‧伯格的著作《觀看的方式》,以繪本來表現藝術欣賞的無限可能性,放眼國際皆準的題材,已有多家國際出版社與他接洽版權。

鄒駿昇回憶2008年第一次參加波隆那兒童書展,當時插畫生涯剛起步,抱著觀摩的心態,他認知到自己只是眾多插畫創作者的一個小點,受到激勵而更努力。創作至今已邁入第10年,鄒駿昇認為自己的作品尚未成熟,還在多方嘗試各種藝術表現。他以自身經驗分享,一次得獎並非一定能在插畫領域順利發展。他鼓勵創作者多參加國際比賽,例如美國3×3、AI、CA、英國AOI等國際插畫家協會或藝術雜誌舉辦的比賽,必須磨練自己,打開國際視野,不斷累積實力,才有機會被看見。

自28年前台灣創作者首度出現於波隆那插畫展,歷年來都有繪本創作者持續投入,努力站上國際舞台。而今從創作者到出版者,若有更多人投入繪本創作行列,定會為台灣插畫持續注入源源不絕的生命力。

英文

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair: Drawing the Best Out of Taiwan’s Illustrators

Chen Chun-fang /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Phil Newell

The annual Bologna Children’s Book Fair is an international trendsetter, and since an Illustrators Exhibition was added to the show in 1967 it has sought out the most creative and outstanding works of illustration, attracting the world’s top publishers and ­illustrators.

The first time that a Taiwanese illustrator was invited to participate came in 1989, with the selection of Hsu Su-hsia for Water ­Buffalo and Straw Man (originally published in 1986). Since then, 45 Taiwanese have participated a cumulative total of 56 times. Virtually every year illustrated works from Taiwan, on a wide variety of topics, have been included, showcasing Taiwan’s creative capabilities to the world.


 

In 2016, a record seven illustrators from Taiwan were chosen for inclusion in the Bologna Illustrators Exhibition, accounting for one out of every 11 of the 77 participants from around the world. The year before, 2015, had marked the first time that a Taiwanese illustrator was recognized in the coveted Ra­gazzi Awards, when Sun Hsin-yu was given a special mention in the Non-Fiction category for One Day in Beijing. This set a precedent that was duplicated in 2016, when Tsai Chao-lun garnered a special mention in the Disability category for I Can’t See, and again this year, with Page Tsou getting a special mention in the Art Books category for The Gift.

Exhibited entries from Taiwan are very diverse, covering everything from emotive works like Teng Yu’s The Way Home to the depiction of the traditional craft of paper-folding by Wang Amann in Paper House Effigy. These are prime examples of the creativity of Taiwanese illustrators, but less well known is that they also represent the fruits of a great deal of behind-the-scenes support that has helped illustration from Taiwan get to and stay at the global level.

Museum of the Fantastic

For many years the Taipei Book Fair Foundation has been able to set up a “Taiwan Pavilion” at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, but they did not get the chance to do so in 2017. Instead, the TBFF’s Rex How came up with the idea of having private-sector actors mount their own exhibit. With the support of the TBFF and non-governmental groups, money was collected to apply to the Bologna organizers for a booth.

Faced with competition from European and American publishers, the TBFF asked Page Tsou to be the curator. Based on his own extensive experience—he has been included in the Illustrators Exhibition four times—Tsou chose the theme “Museum of the Fantastic.”

In the search for innovative and groundbreaking illustration ideas, the “Museum” incorporated works not only from mainstream illustrators but also from people on the outside such as designers and advertising artists, giving them their chance to strut their stuff on the international stage.

The Museum was divided into three sections, one for publishers, one for illustrators, and one called the “Meeting Place.” The basic concept was to create the feel of an art gallery, with 136 elite works from 30 Taiwanese artists hanging on the walls.

At the center of the Museum was a circular counter, like an information desk, displaying works with high potential for international copyright sales. The overall visual effect was of a green forest with soft lighting, creating a unique and tranquil space in the center of what was, after all, a competitive commercial fair for businesspeople. The ambience alone attracted quite a few visitors to stop in.

At the end of the book fair, the TBFF donated all the works ­exhibited at the Museum to the Salaborsa public library in Bologna, ensuring that Taiwanese illustration will continue to shine in Italy.

Getting into the global market

While many major international publishing fairs focus on the exhibition and sale of books themselves, the original purpose behind the Bologna event was the licensing of copyrights—creating a place where publishers and illustrators could talk business. Taiwan is a relative newcomer to the copyright licensing market, and the primary task at this point is to raise Taiwan’s profile with international buyers, observes Sarah Ko, a consultant for the Feng Zi­kai Chinese Children’s Picture Book Award and co-curator of the Museum of the Fantastic exhibit.

Looking at the big picture in Taiwan’s publishing industry, translated books make up more than 80% of the titles on the market. If domestically produced illustrated books can’t even win in the local market, how can they compete internationally? This is especially the case given that while Taiwan’s picture-book sector appears to have flourished in recent years, in fact most of the material has been in the educational category. When you look, on the other hand, at the Bologna event, you see that internationally picture books cover a much wider range of topics, even including homosexuality and death. You rarely see such themes in Taiwan, partly because the market for illustrated books is limited and printing costs are quite high, so that taking on non-mainstream subjects is quite risky.

Grimm Press publisher Hao ­Kuang-tsai remarks that for a long time now the emphasis in Taiwanese education has been on passing exams to test into better schools at the next level. Especially once students leave middle school (7th through 9th grade) they are exposed to more text and fewer images. But the visual sense needed for illustration and graphics is an aesthetic sense that should be cultivated from a young age. Otherwise, how can Taiwan develop the creative talent of the future for movies, photography, illustration, and other art forms?

The production lead time for translated foreign picture books is short and they find a ready market. In contrast, the lead time for domestic products in Taiwan is longer, from several months up to a few years. But illustrated books do have certain advantages, in that they are easily accessible to readers and present low cultural barriers. Considering that Taiwan is already ­internationally recognized for the quality of its illustrators, more should be done to push locally ­produced picture books into the international market.

An industry on the rise

Besides expanding subject matter for illustrated works, another area in which Taiwan cannot afford to lag behind is that of professional editorial teams.

Page Tsou points to his own experience of cooperation with international publishers. Overseas, there are editors separately responsible for the text and the illustrations, staying in contact with the writer and illustrator respectively. Specialized illustration editors are like guides, and can provide extremely insightful ideas and opinions to illustrators, while direct conversations between the two can often lead to exciting new inspirations.

In order to upgrade the international competitiveness of Taiwan’s children’s books, it is obviously very important to learn from the experience of foreign publishing specialists with editorial skills and experience. This is the reason why the Museum of the Fantastic organized a special session in which international consultants were asked to make suggestions to the creators and editors of three books currently in preparation. This not only helped raise the quality of the books themselves, but was an invaluable opportunity for Taiwanese editors to observe and learn.

Sarah Ko suggests that any book likely to sell well internationally has to meet one or more of three criteria: it reflects the special features of its culture of origin, but not to the extent these become barriers to understanding; it is original and creative in artistic terms; or it can take an old topic and shed new light on it, or examine it from a fresh angle.

For instance, says Ko, look at the work Granny’s Favourite Toy, written and illustrated by Bei Lynn. A young girl asks her grandmother, who has a sewing machine, to make a costume for a performance. The day before the performance the sewing machine breaks down, leaving the girl in tears, so the grandmother stays up all night sewing the costume by hand, allowing the girl to give her performance as scheduled. Most stories would end right there, but Lynn extended the plot. She had the girl and her father hatch a secret plan to transform the sewing machine into a table. The book ends with an image of the girl and her grandmother happily having tea at the newly made table.

Lynn adopts a first-person point of view, so the writing and the drawings are done the way a child would do them, evoking the naïve energy of a young girl. Especially interesting is the way that Lynn, through text and pictures, expresses the sound—the voice, one might say—of the sewing machine. The book encourages children to treasure old artifacts and to use their imaginations, things that an international audience can readily identify with.

Although the stories in picture books are simple, they can have hidden depth and be informed by a profound idea or philosophy of life. The background for Page Tsou’s The Gift was the influential book Ways of Seeing (1972) by John Berger. Tsou adapted the form of an illustrated book to express the limitless possibilities for art appreciation. By focusing on subject matter that transcends borders, Tsou has already attracted attention from numerous overseas publishers anxious to negotiate for the rights.

Based on his own experience, Tsou warns young illustrators that making a career in the field is not easy, even if you win a celebrated prize. He encourages them to enter as many international competitions as possible, such as those sponsored by illustrators’ associations in the US and the UK or by arts publications. Young people must, he says, expand their horizons to a global level, and continually search for and refine their strengths—that’s the only way to get noticed.

Since the first Taiwanese illustrator to participate in the Bologna Children’s Book Fair did so 28 years ago, illustrators have come a long way in Taiwan and have done great things. What will the future hold? So long as creative new minds keep entering the field, the dynamism of this art form in Taiwan promises to be inexhaustible.

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