Thursday, July 31, 2008

FAQ & Stewardship - our Claire Wendling connection

I am convinced that the success of Stuart Ng Books has very little to do with us, and everything to do with Claire Wendling. Her art needed to reach a US audience and that propelled Stuart into becoming her ambassador.

Stuart discovered the work of Claire Wendling via her sketchbook Desk back in 2000. Stuart’s French friend Claude would send European art books he thought Stuart might be interested in. I remember when Stuart first put Desk in my hands and asked “what do you think of this?” I was blown away… and got even more excited when I realized these powerful images were the work of a woman artist.

With our initial order of Desk, Stuart became the first US bookseller to import Claire’s books. Despite the mythos in the animation community surrounding Claire’s year at Warner Bros Animation in the 1990s, she was virtually unknown in the states. Stuart’s hand-selling of Desk to influential artists, industry professionals and academics launched the Claire Wendling phenomenon in the US.

We quickly sold of out all the copies of Desk we were able to obtain. This set the stage for the success of Iguana Bay 2.0 and Drawers 1.0 and 2.0. Soon other US distributors and book sellers started importing Wendling books. Claire's work now inspires leading artists across the globe in the fields of illustration, animation, gaming, comics and commerical art.

Desk initiated the ongoing relationship between Stuart Ng Books and Claire Wendling. We could not imagine back then that we would end up publishing the US version of Desk in 2006 in order to bring our favorite Wendling book back into print. In spite of the odds, the answer with Wendling issues is often “yes, it is possible.”

Yes, Stuart knows Claire. Yes, he sees her every year. Yes, I have met her too. Yes, she is even more amazing in person than on the page. Yes, I adore her.

With certain people, you might have an expectation of what it would be like to meet them. You hope they meet the expectation, but often the experience falls short. Meeting Claire exceeds your expectations. She is brilliant, funny, luminous, and magical. Meeting Claire is like meeting a unicorn.

Claire doesn’t see herself as famous and influential. She is not a recluse, but she doesn’t seek attention. We are honored to know her. By sharing what I can about her on this blog, I hope to share this message with her fans:

Enjoy the work. Be inspired by it. Be respectful of it and the artist. Appreciate the gifts. We all want more, of course. But Claire is only one person. That old rumor that, due to the range of styles produced under the name, “Wendling” was the name for a team of artists working together: it isn't true . Give things time to happen.

We are always hopeful that Claire will have a chance to visit the US again someday… she has some good memories of her year in Los Angeles, and she has open invitations from colleagues and art schools (and us of course!)… but at present there are no set plans for Claire to travel to the US.

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