The Snow Witch – finding those illustrations

Some of you may know that a little while ago I completed writing a novel called “The Snow Witch”. I’m currently in the throes of laying it out, and have been hoping to get some illustrations to head up each part of the book.

I was at something of a loss. The story is allegorical, quite beautiful (I think, anyway!) and tells the story of a young woman who comes from a mystery tradition separate from Judaeo-Christianity, and yet connected to it.

One of my other jobs is dealing in rare books. About 15 years ago I bought a pair of stunning, extremely heavy 18th Century volumes filled with luscious copperplate engravings. Last night, I decided to dig those books out from my collection. And, well, I think I have what I want.

Here are the images I’ve chosen.

This is for Part 1 – this section includes reminiscences of the central character’s childhood, in which she was trained in in herblore by her mother.

Part 2 includes a section in which a wild wolf runs loose. This image seemed appropriate:

Part 3 comes to the crux of the story, and includes a narrative about the ancient archetype Lilith, who in Jewish mythology was Adam’s first wife before the unfortunate Eve. This seemed perfect:

Finally, we have an Epilogue. The image of the Phoenix from the bible seemed appropriate enough!

Scanning the 250 year 0ld images has been quite an education. Only once you start to manipulate the image and blow it up, do you see the extraordinary detail of the original craftsman, who scratched the image in reverse on to a copper plate with a steel stylus. The physical strength, endurance and patience it took is humbling for a 21st Century man who often ends up cursing Adobe Photoshop.

We sit on the shoulders of giants.

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6 Responses to The Snow Witch – finding those illustrations

  1. Thanks for a really fascinating article. The images are beautiful, as you say, it’s amazing what you can see when you really look.

  2. Matt says:

    Thank you Carol. I now need to find an image for the cover. Interesting stuff!

  3. Joy Lennick says:

    All most interesting. We do, indeed, sit on the shoulders of giants… (love that!) Every success with your book THE SNOW WITCH.

    My eldest son is a natural artist but hasn’t travelled the path maybe he could have. (I say ‘could’ as ‘should’ doesn’t apply…) Through him, though, I learned a lot about art, which is an endlessly fascinating subject. Best wishes. Joy Lennick

  4. Matt says:

    Thanks for the comment joy – and thanks for the good wishes about The Snow Witch. Let’s see!

  5. Helen says:

    My son is an artist and has done some illustrations for pamphlets in the past. He once drew a picture of small girl dressed as a nurse for a publication my mother was putting together. Unfortunately we didn’t think of copyrighting it as we should have. Over the years I have seen that image he created used in a variety of ways.

  6. Matt says:

    Hello Helen,

    If you are in the UK, then under UK law, anything you produce is copyright. Copyright expires 70 years after the death of the creator.

    You therefore do not need to copyright it, it is already copyright. You should speak to a copyright lawyer to see if there is any value in pursuing this further.

    The way the law works in the UK is that you are not necessarily entitled to damages, but you are entitled to a share of the profits from copyright infringement. If, say, the picture was used to promote a blockbuster novel, then your son would be eligible for recompense on that, unless he at some point signed away his copyright.

    I don’t know about the commissioned work of a “jobbing artist” and whether there is any special case there regarding waiving copyright. Once again, speak to a lawyer to assess whether it is worth pursuing.

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