Logo for Gunvor Handmade Illustration


Back to school. Sort of.

High season is over, and the workload for my studio shop at Bryggen will slowly be replaced by what I’m supposed to do this autumn. September and October will be filled with writing and research for “Vestland”, the working title of a series of fantasy books. In addition to writing, I’m attending a writing course at Institute of Continuing Education at Cambridge University. The first course lasts six weeks and starts in a few days, and then I’m going over the pond in January to write some more while staying at ICE’s beautiful campus at Madingly Hall in Cambridge.

I love research, and doing research for “Vestland” has been such an inspiring boom of ideas. The first book I’m writing is set in Norwegian bronze age and early middle ages in the west coast (insert -ish about here) with my research for the moment being on textiles, clothing, jewellery, language, trade, laws, and everyday life. The visual design, maps and palaeography, is of couse at the base of it all. And I might have spent some time studying heraldry, even if it doesn’t apply directly to what I’m doing.

It’s easy to get lost in Research Forest, with new species popping up everywhere, and braches sprouting new leaves making it quite dense. But for the moment Research Forest is glowing and teeming with life, with me popping up from the canopys from time to time, taking some fresh air and destilling the research into dialogue. I might be crawling around on the forest floor sidetracked by a certain kind of beetle too long, and I won’t know if the piece of research it was lugging was important for my book or not. What I will know, is that a person who designs Coat of Arms is called a King of Arms, and that their terminology while working is in Norman French. “Gules” is the heraldry trade’s name for the color red. I don’t know if this is important for my text, but at least it will give me something to start a conversation with at parties.

Research is a never ending part of being an illustrator, and quite probably one of the reasons I love my job. It’s not often recognized in comissions since you never know how many hours you need, but I do it all the same.

Now, off to Research Forest, I’m having a second go at the Paleography Thicket today.