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Pencil sketches of the boy and his father watching television © Passion Pictures Australia
  • Storytelling

    Part of the Shaun Tan Education Resource.


    Shaun Tan, like many artists, draws all the time, exploring ideas that may come to nothing or, alternatively, form the basis for a story. The story of The Lost Thing emerged from a small sketch, a drawing of a tiny man talking to a huge crab on a beach.

    An insight into storytelling techniques

    Shaun Tan talks about the origin of The Lost Thing and the development between the characters within the story.

    In this module: Respond  |  Reflect  |  Explore  |  Create


    • Shaun Tan’s discussion of his creative process as a picture book writer and illustrator is illuminating and engaging.
      • What aspects of Shaun Tan’s creative process stand out for you?
    Shaun Tan on writing technique

    Shaun Tan speaks about the challenges of writing fiction and connecting with audiences.

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    Shaun Tan comments that when he first begins a project, he starts off with very small sketches: ‘The reason they are so small, and often done with just a pencil on copy paper or even a biro is that the moment that I start thinking I’m creating a significant work of art it becomes terrible.’Early sketches of The Lost Thing

    © Passion Pictures Australia

    • Starting a project, particularly a creative project can be hard and people have different ways of working creatively and different techniques for getting started.
    • How do you begin a new project?
      • If you are wanting to be creative, what techniques do you use?
      • Do you use the same strategies each time, or do the strategies you use depend on the nature of the project you are working on?

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    • Focus on an artist, writer, filmmaker or musician whose work you admire.
      • Try to find out more about the way s/he develops ideas for a new project.

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    • It is amazing to think that The Lost Thing was inspired by a single tiny drawing of a boy sitting on the beach talking to a large crab. 
      • Find an image that sparks your imagination and create an artwork or piece of writing inspired by this single image.

    Asking Around Create Feature Image

    © Passion Pictures Australia and Screen Australia

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    Lost Thing Boy