Illustrating for the Common Good

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Abstract

The demand for children’s reading materials that are representative of the diverse population of South Africa and that address language and affordability issues has given rise to several book creation initiatives by local nonprofits. Illustration often plays an essential part in the creation of such reading materials. To expand the impact of their work, certain initiatives employ open licensing strategies. This article explores how illustrators perceive their role in the creation of books for South African readers through book creation initiatives and investigates their views of open licensing. An online questionnaire was used to collect information pertaining to the experiences of book creation initiatives and illustrators’ views on open licensing. Data was gathered from thirty-two illustrators and thematically analyzed. Participating illustrators were generally aware of the value of their contribution to such projects, and individual social responsibility and personal value seemed to mitigate concerns over licensing, adaptation, or remuneration. Illustrators aligned themselves with the mission and vision of the initiatives, and responses indicated that a deliberate value exchange occurred in initiatives through the methodologies used in the creation of the books and the resulting artifacts. However, findings also indicated that such models may not be a financially viable option for extended participation.