Friday, October 3, 2014

Interview with new SCBWI mentee, Suzanne Kaufman

Suzanne Kaufman was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2014 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Suzanne to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the Mentorship experience and about what she is up to these days.


Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration? Are there any specific examples you can share? 

The mentors confirmed I was headed in the right direction and that was great to hear.  I was shocked that almost all of their feedback and critique were pretty much saying the same thing.  So I focused my questions on how they would approach revising.  It was great to hear how all these great artists would attack the same problems.

I attended the New York conference and was lucky to get an impromptu critique at the bar by the kind Giuseppe Castellano, Art Director at Penguin.  Coming from an animation background there was a ton I didn’t know.  He was so nice to let me ask a ton of questions. After we chatted I madly ran to the bathroom to write down the notes.  The big thing I got out of that and applied to my LA portfolio is only put in your portfolio work you still want to do.  I had some old pieces I kept because they were published, but since then my style had grown.  So I gutted my portfolio and only made new pieces that were for current book dummies.  I also attended Steve Malk’s Saturday morning session on portfolio and had my portfolio reviewed by conference roommate Andy Musser who helped me rearrange it starting with color and then ending with black and white.



What kind of projects are you working on now? 

I am revising a picture story for a publisher, revising my portfolio based on the mentor’s feedback, and cross your fingers I will be illustrating a book for a great publishing house this winter.  Thanks to Priscilla Burris I will continue to do a sketch of the day.  I am using daily paintings to try techniques and refine story ideas.


Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future? 

I live and breathe picture books so that is my first love.  I saw a great talk by Laurent Linn on middle grade and left inspired that this would be a great area to pursue in addition to picture books.  I'm hugely inspired by what my daughters read, so I love the idea of doing both as they are moving from picture books into middle grade in the next few years. 

  
Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration? Any one piece of bad advice? 

Ok, this is so hard.  I've received so much great advice that I created a word document on my inspiration board.  But the one that I use the most is from Cecilia Yung, the Art Director and Vice President at Penguin Books for Young Readers.  She wanted me to think about these three things as I grow as an illustrator: action, reaction and interaction.  She jokingly recommended getting it tattooed on my wrist but I actually write it on my hand every day before I work. 

  
What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference? 

In Steve Malk’s portfolio presentation he kept on saying “Just slow down” and talked about giving yourself time to grow.  I left his talk feeling like it was ok to take your time to hone your craft.  Another great quote by my big inspiration, Judy Schachner, was “Creative Procrastination”.   This referred to her amazing process of creating these gorgeous character bibles for all her books.  I just started my own character bibles to “Creative Procrastination”.   They are simply brilliant.


What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid? 

I was a huge Curious George and Golden Books fan.  I still have a lot of my original books and look at them for illustration reference.  As I got older I still collected vintage Golden Books and exchanged picture books as presents with my then boyfriend, now husband.  He made me a big fan of Bill Peet and P.D. Eastman. 

Where can we find you online?   

You can find me at these different locations: 
 Twitter: @lilmonkeydraws
 Instagram: @suzannekaufman
 Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you around!

  
Best, 
Suzanne


Thanks, Suzanne!



Monday, September 29, 2014

Interview with new SCBWI mentee, Ana Aranda

Ana Aranda was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2014 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Ana to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the Mentorship experience and about what she is up to these days.


Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration?  Are there any specific examples you can share? 

The feedback that I received confirmed that the pieces that I liked the most and had the most fun at creating were the strongest ones.

Some mentors pointed out that some of my individual illustrations had a potential story in them. This helped me to realize that many of my illustrations already had a great untold story that I would love to tell. My mind was bursting with them! This left me completely inspired and ready to work in new and exciting projects! I came back home, reopened my writing book and started looking for inspiration.

I am very grateful for all the meaningful critiques and for all the inspiration that I got from them!


What kind of projects are you working on now? 

Right now I am focusing in creating new pieces for my portfolio and new stories thanks to the Mentors’ suggestions. I’m also working on a picture book about a tree written by the poetic voice of Julia Billet for the French editor Éditions du Jasmin. I am very excited about this book since I’ve been working on it for a long time and I am very fond of the story. Julia’s metaphors and stories are beautiful to illustrate! I’m also getting ready for the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco where I will be sharing a booth with my super talented friend Jean Kim on October 4-5th. If you are reading this and you live in San Francisco, come visit us, we’ll be happy to see you! 

Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?

I would love to continue creating picture books and create playful board books. I would also love to create graphic novels about childhood memories.

 

Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration?  Any one piece of bad advice? 

The best piece of advice I’ve received has been from my family, who have always encouraged me to follow my dreams, as crazy as they may seem. A good friend told me once “Art is one of the few places where liberty still prevails”. That made me feel that as long as I create some art, I would feel free doing something that is completely mine to play and dream with.


What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference? 

My favorite quote in the conference and the one that gave me the most goosebumps (the good kind of goosebumps) was when Judy Blume said: “Do not let anyone discourage you. If they do, get angry, not depressed.”

Also I loved Tomie DePaola’s quote which inspired my whole day: “Courage!”


What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid? 

When I was a kid, I loved reading the books from “Barco de Vapor” (Steamboat) collection in Mexico, which had beautiful stories for kids; from world exploring in fantastical places, to the beauty of the everyday life for a child.

I loved exploring magazines and encyclopedias for kids. My favorite book for a while was Rod Ruth’s “Album of Prehistoric Animals”.

Later on, some of my favorite books were “Little Women” and “Hamlet”.


Where can we find you online?  

You can find me at these different locations:
 
Website: www.anaranda.com

Twitter: @anaranda2


Instagram: @Anarandaillustration


Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you around!

 Thanks, Ana!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Interview with new SCBWI mentee, Kathryn Ault Noble

Kathryn Ault Noble was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2014 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Kathryn to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the Mentorship experience and about what she is up to these days.




Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration?

Confirm! And change. It confirmed that the piece I thought was the strongest was the one everyone wanted me to do more of. So I am removing pieces that aren't quite in that zone, redoing some pieces, and making new ones based on the critiques.

I had also paid for an individual critique with Laurent Linn which happened before the mentor critiques. Laurent looked through my portfolio and said, "You have a unique voice." That is the part where I struggled to sit still and act professional, but inside I was jumping up and down like a giddy school girl. He pointed out one piece in particular as being the most successful which was also the last one I had done. He tapped on it and indicated I should do more like that one. 



I asked him which piece he would remove as the weakest, and he said he would not remove anything, that I had a "strong portfolio." I smiled thanked him for his time, walked out into the hallway and literally exploded into a happy dance. . . portfolio held high. Of course people wanted to know what had just happened and I told them I had just received the critique I had been working towards since joining SCBWI five years before. It was one of those moments where a thousand pounds of doubt was suddenly lifted from my shoulders and I floated through the rest of the day. That evening when I heard my name called as winning a mentor award, I had a flash thought that I could die happy. But quickly realized it was only a marker in my journey, not the end, but a powerful place where in epic adventures the hero makes a pile of stones to remember what happened there. And now I find that I am not plodding as I work towards my goals, I am running. Skipping even. The positive affirmation from a group of mentors that includes Caldecott Medal Winners was a pot of black coffee to my energy levels.

Are there any specific examples you can share?

This is a crop of an area that was pointed to a couple of times by various mentors as being a direction stylistically for me to pursue. It has outlines, but they are variable and disappear in some areas. Although I had been working at removing strong outlines from my sketches, there were still a couple of pieces in the portfolio that had them, but this particular piece had more areas of loose pencil work.



Also pointed out was just a wee bit of having fun with my pencil. . . a scribble instead of cross-hatch or other tight dashes with the page full of tumbling baby chicks. This is an enlarged crop to show the tiny bit of a loose scribble. What?! How dare I have fun with my pencil?


I put up a companion blog post to go along with this interview that has other close-ups of the tight rendering that I will be moving away from just a bit. One mentor told me I can have two styles, so one will be tighter pencil work with full backgrounds, and the other will be looser strokes with just the characters, no backgrounds. That was also a suggestion from another mentor, that to take the age level down to picture books I should include illustrations with just the characters.

What kind of projects are you working on now?

I am working on characters for a couple of stories which I am taking to dummy stage as soon as possible. I pitched one of the stories to a mentor and received a thumbs up so I'm pretty excited about it's potential. Some of the character work is showing up on my process blog with much looser pencil work. I've been slipping back into my cut paper addiction as well, which seems to happen every Fall. I think it is because I did hand-made holiday crafts for so many years my brain just prompts me to start cutting and pasting when the weather changes.



Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you're hoping for in the near future?

Picture books of course, but I had done educational illustrations back in the early 90s when I was represented by Susan Trimpe and plan to get back into that eventually. I enjoyed producing some of the classroom materials for teachers, actually illustrations that were printed on film and used on opaque projectors. Hard to believe that was just 20 years ago. I am particularly interested in creating stories that not only entertain, but uplift, encourage and guide children as they navigate unknown and often troubled waters.

Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you've gotten since pursuing illustration?

"Don't let go! Don't you dare let go!" Actually that was from Lord of the Rings, but something similar happened when I attended my first SCBWI conference in Seattle when Arree Chung did an intervention as I was crashing and burning. I had been teaching digital painting and concept art for animation and games so my portfolio was only marginally close to something that would appear in a children's book. I had signed up for a personal critique and was not actually feeling nervous. Apparently I should have been, because I quickly realized everything I had in my portfolio was not applicable to the children's book industry. For one thing, I was used to the idea of working with teams. I had worked with a bunch of grads on an animation and very much enjoyed the specialization. I did backgrounds, someone else designed characters, someone else did the pencil test, etc. So I had a portfolio that included pieces that were produced by myself and a friend, one of the grads who did brilliant characters work. Bottom line was I left my first SCBWI critique literally in tears and was thinking about leaving the conference. About that time I ran into Arree Chung. He understood completely the idea of team work but also shook his head, no, not for children's books. I wailed that I was not a character artist, that I am a digital painter and graphic designer. He said, but you can! He basically told me that I was fully capable of doing my own characters and to start as soon as the conference was over. So I stayed. And his words would ring in my head from time to time as I stumbled towards viable character design.



After the conference I began to dabble with characters. . . so stiff, so awkward, soooo boring! I kept working with the grad on some commercial projects, not wanting to dissolve our fun collaborations, but gradually it became apparent that I had to cut the apron strings and stand on my own two feet. I copied page after page of Vilpuu and Bridgman. Although I frequently attended the open life drawing sessions at school where I taught, I had never done character work, not even as a kid. When I was a kid I looked at the backgrounds on the Disney animations and tried to draw the trees and vegetation, but not the characters. I can't remember drawing any "cartoon" characters as a kid.

So I copied Preston Blair's book and anything else I could get my hands on that had character development for kids. I looked online for character styles that caught my eye and copied them. I studied and drew, copied, cried, studied, researched, cried and went back each year to the Seattle conference. I signed up each year for a critique and the master class and over the years I received critiques from Dan Santat, Melissa Sweet, Sophie Blackall, Patti Ann Harris, Lucy Ruth Cummins, Scott Magoon, Richard Jesse Watson, Craig Orback. . .and I took notes and made changes, took notes and made changes. One year both Richard Jesse Watson and Melissa Sweet each pointed to one particular illustration and said, "cover of the New Yorker". I was pretty blown away that two people independently said the same thing, but I realized that the cover of the New Yorker was not what I was aiming for. The style was probably inspired by Al Hirschfeld's fluid ink work which I enjoyed but was not really "me". So I went back to the drawing board. I continued to quest through digital graphic styles, cut paper (which I adore), pastels, watercolor, pencil. . .then it hit. Last January I suddenly realized I simply love to draw with a REAL pencil so I began to noodle and cross-hatch my way towards a new portfolio drawn traditionally and painted digitally, which is what I took to LA. Now I am working with all REAL media due to one of the mentors encouraging me to go back to watercolor and other materials I used pre digital.


What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference?

So many brilliant people, it's hard to chose a favorite. I was gobsmacked with Judy Schachner who kindly let me hang out and have dinner with her and her husband. There were so many things she said that I was like a little kid going "me, too!" If we were in the third grade she would have been my new best friend, which is apparently a common response to meeting Judy!

Generally I found the illustrator intensive on Monday to be the time that jelled so many ideas together for me. I loved the presentation by Nick Clark, curator of the Eric Carle Museum. He showed many examples of work done by the children's book greats of the early part of the last century then showed how current illustrators were studying and adapting those styles into their own unique voices. Quite a few of the illustrators he showed had worked for Disney or in animation in the early days, such as Mary Blair. Fortunately because I had lectured so many times on the history of animation, I was familiar with most of the illustrators. But the idea that he was encouraging us to study, copy and adapt was quite a revelation. . .he was giving us permission to not only admit but cultivate the idea that we were heavily influenced by this or that illustrator(s). And that it was OK for their style to be showing through in our own work. Then Peter Brown talked about his influences, such as Mary Blair, and Judy Schachner mentioned Evaline Ness who illustrated a couple of books I have, and of course Alice and Martin Provensen. Back in my studio, I look through a stack of their books on a regular basis, drinking in every little stroke, nuance, color, texture and shape.

What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?

I doubt anyone has heard of this one, but it was called Cry Baby Calf by Helen and Alf Evers.
http://s231.photobucket.com/user/churchlady_faith/media/100_2600.mp4.html

I don't remember much about any other books until a librarian turned me on to A Wrinkle in Time in sixth grade. She had seen my art that had won a prize and was hanging in the library, so she had a hunch I might like the fantasy romp. After that I devoured every book in the library that had anything to do with science fiction or fantasy, which pretty much remained my diet for many years. I managed to have not read any of the books that girls my age were reading but I could tell you all about Robert E. Howard books, or J.R.R. Tolkien, Frank Herbert, and Isaac Asimov. :) So when my sons were young, I began to explore children's books in a way that probably other people my age had done when they were young. I soon realized I was buying children's books for ME! 


Where can we find you online?

I enjoy a "process" blog where I often show the steps I used, or the materials, etc., because after teaching 14 years, it's in my blood to help people move along towards their goals, just as people have helped me with mine. I took a break from blogging while I was building a new portfolio earlier this year, but I am working my way back to posting weekly.


http://kathrynaultnoble.wordpress.com/

I am building out a new website for my portfolio that will include a blog devoted mostly to news and book reviews.
http://kathrynaultnoble.com/
http://kathrynaultnoble.com/blog/

And I dabble in a variety of other social media sites from Dribbble to Twitter to Google+ and recently started a Pinterest page that I will be adding to soon.
https://dribbble.com/kathryn-noble
https://twitter.com/katkankan
http://www.pinterest.com/katkankan/
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kathryn-ault-noble/14/378/385
http://www.scbwi.org/members-public/kathryn-ault-noble
https://plus.google.com/u/0/101162422003291025757/posts/p/pub

But mostly I post on Facebook on my personal page, my illustrator page, and course all the different kidlit FB groups.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kathryn-Ault-Noble-Illustrations/278265028895971

Here are a couple of interviews
http://www.kidlit411.com/2014/02/Kathryn-Ault-Noble-Illustrator-Spotlight.html
http://joannamarple.com/2014/09/illustrator-interview-kathryn-ault-noble/
And keep an eye out for an upcoming interview at
http://authorturf.com/


Thanks, Kathryn!
 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Interview with new SCBWI mentee, Robin Rosenthal

Robin Rosenthal was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2014 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Robin to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the Mentorship experience and about what she is up to these days.




Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration? Are there any specific examples you can share?

The mentors confirmed I was headed in the right direction and that was great to hear. Before the conference I had pulled out five older gouache pieces that I no longer felt strongly about and added three new pieces. (And after Steven Malk’s Saturday morning talk about building the perfect portfolio I rearranged the order of my book right before I handed it in for the showcase.)

Across the board, the mentors noted that I needed more pieces that felt like they were part of a story and that emotionally connected with the reader. To paraphrase one mentor, a great children’s book illustration has “three elements: emotion, narrative, and anticipation.”

One of my favorite pieces of advice came from two different mentors, said in slightly different ways. Each suggested that I start with illustrating episodes or scenes as opposed to trying to create a whole story, and to not worry about the words yet. This was a breakthrough thought for me and took a lot of pressure off.

In general the mentors loved my color marker pieces, like the rooster, but were more divided on my block prints. Some felt that they belonged in the fine art world and some saw them working in children’s books. I am going to be exploring that technique more over the next few months and see how it plays out.



What kind of projects are you working on now?

Right now I am focusing on incorporating the feedback I’ve received from the mentors. I walked out of the critiques with a concrete list of next steps that I am very excited about. There are a few pieces in my portfolio that I want to develop further and some new pieces I want to create. I also have an idea for a children’s book I’d like to write and illustrate but I want to shore up my portfolio, technique, and visual storytelling skills first.



Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?

I would love to illustrate a picture book and continue to do editorial pieces. I’ve also been really into wordless comics lately, especially those in the Nobrow series, so I may try creating some of those in the near future. I love incorporating typography in my work and would like to do more of that as well.

Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration? Any one piece of bad advice?
 
I was very moved by Kate Messner’s keynote speech at the 2014 NY Winter SCBWI conference. She talked about learning to be okay with failure. She noted that athletes and engineers expect to experience a lot of failure before they get it right. Another quote from that same speech that I love: “You learn to make your work by making your work.” 



What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference? 

I loved Meg Rosoff’s keynote and her breakout session on the power of the unconscious mind. In her keynote she said, “Don’t be afraid to engage in the difficult parts of yourself,” and that stuck with me (as a person who has some difficult parts of herself.)

I also found Steven Malk’s talk, Building the Perfect Portfolio, immensely helpful. He began with emphasizing the importance of the portfolio. “These pieces can change your life. An art director or agent can look at [your portfolio] and decide they want to work with you…. Commit to slowing down…. Your portfolio deserves your complete undivided attention.”



What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?

These were the books that I went back to again and again as a child:
The Seamstress of Salzburg by Anita Lobel. (I wrote about it here: http://penandoink.com/2013/01/09/the-seamstress-of-salzburg-by-anita-lobel/ )
The Giant Jam Sandwich illustrations and story by John Vernon, verses Janet Lord Burroway
The Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.
Nobody is Perfick by Bernard Waber
Sometimes I’m Afraid by Jane Werner Watson, illustrated by Hilde Hoffman
The Big Tidy Up by Norah Smaridge, illustrated Les Gray
The Practical Princess and other Liberating Fairy Tales by Jay Williams, illustrated by Rick Schreiter
Barbapapa’s Ark by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor
One Fine Day by Nonny Hogrogian
Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban
Draw Me a Triangle and Draw Me a Circle by Robyn Supraner, illustrations by Evelyn Kelbish



Where can we find you online?

You can see my work at robinrosenthal.com and follow me on twitter: @robinarosenthal. I am also one of the bloggers at penandoink.com, a blog about children’s book illustration (@penandoink).

 Thanks, Robin!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Interview with new SCBWI illustration mentee, Dorothia Rohner

Dorothia Rohner was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2014 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Dorothia to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the Mentorship experience and about what she is up to these days.
 
Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration?  Are there any specific examples you can share?

Each mentor confirmed to me that the strongest, most successful portfolio pieces were the ones that were created from a place of joy, without over-thinking the process or outcome. 
Their specific input on composition, focus, developing characters, body language, emotion, motion and narrative storytelling helped me to see my work in a different light.  I am so grateful to have this information to integrate into my new illustrations and stories. I feel that I have a clearer idea on what is working and what needs to change.  A huge thank you to all the mentors!  



What kind of projects are you working on now?
 
Currently I am working on picture book illustrations.  After returning from such an inspiring experience, I feel that I have a new vision of where I need to go with my work.  Besides that, I am writing stories, painting, drawing and sketching every day. I browse my old sketchbooks hoping to see if anything might jump out and grab my attention. 

Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?

In the past, I’ve done many types of illustration including; scientific, computer games, licensing, educational, graphic design and technical drafting. However, I have always had a burning desire to do children’s stories. Life is short and I plan to spend my time doing what I love—reading and creating illustrations for children's books.



Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration?  Any one piece of bad advice?

I’m fortunate to have been blessed with many supportive people in my life that have encouraged me in my art.  My husband told me years ago. “Each painting you do is a stepping stone. Where you are tomorrow will not be where you are today.” That always helped me when I wasn’t completely satisfied with my work.

The worst piece of advice on illustration I received was, “Chase the trends.”



What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference? 

It’s so hard to pick just one. Here are a few favorites that I jotted down.

“Find the story no one else can tell.”
“The most powerful tool you have is your unconscious mind.” ~Meg Rossoff

“Live in the world of memory and imagination.” ~Megan McDonald

“Being an artist is always a way to live your life. Everywhere must have beauty.” ~Tomie Depaola

“Do not let anyone discourage you—if they do, get angry, not depressed.”~ Judy Blume

Last but not least, Judy Schrachner’s talk on how to get to know your character by creating a character bible. From knowing her characters so well, the plot unfolds.  



What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?

My favorite childhood memories of books were fairytales. I really liked Rumpelstiltskin and always felt sorry for him. I spent a lot of time looking at the illustrations and re-reading the poems in the big orange Child Craft books.  I loved the old favorites: Are You My Mother? Go, Dog, Go, Sam & the Firefly, (any PD Eastman or  Beatrix Potter Books),  Make Way for Ducklings, Frog & Toad,  A Kiss for Little Bear,  Trumpet of the Swan, The Secret Garden, Mouse and the Motorcycle. When our boys were young, I read them many books and discovered Graeme Base, Kit Williams, William Joyce and so many more. 




Where can we find you online? 

You can find me online in the following locations:

Website: www.dorothiarohner.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/dorothiarohnerillustration
Blog: dorothiasketchblog.wordpress.com
Twitter: @dorothiar  
 Thank you, Dorothia!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Interview with new SCBWI illustration mentee, Jeslyn Kate


Jeslyn Kate was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2014 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Jeslyn to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the Mentorship experience and about what she is up to these days.


Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration?  Are there any specific examples you can share?

The feedback that I received confirmed the direction that I was going in. Earlier this year, I bit the bullet (so to speak) and re-designed my entire portfolio with a completely new style that I had only been dabbling in before.

When the mentors sat down with me, they really liked my style and urged me to push it even further. I definitely have a lot to keep working on, but it was really exciting to know that I am headed in the right direction for me.


What kind of projects are you working on now?

Currently, I am working to further improve my portfolio based on the amazing feedback that I received. I am also creating characters for my own story right now and hope to move into the storyboarding/dummy-making phase soon. 




Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?

I would really love to illustrate picture books! Eventually, I would like to write and illustrate a picture book.


Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration?  Any one piece of bad advice?

My Momma has always told me, “You should follow your heart and do what you love to do. If you do this, you will never work a day in your life.” Those words have stuck with me throughout my life. They have made me brave, determined, and willing to take the exciting risks that have gotten me where I am today.

In terms of bad advice…well, we have all had some of that, I think. My favorite piece of bad advice was this:

“What do you mean you are going to ‘clown school’ (I had just been accepted to Ringling College of Art and Design) to be an artist? You should have a plan B!”

I still giggle a little bit when I think about that conversation.




What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference? 

There were so many gems that I feel I took away from that conference that it is difficult to choose only one lesson or quote as a favorite. I really enjoyed what Meg Rosoff had to say about stories. They can change the world and help anyone in any field. I also loved what Maggie Steifvater had to say about stealing the essence, the soul, the truth, the “why” of your observations to create richer stories. However, if I had to choose only one lesson, it would be what Tomie DePaola said to us on that last day. “Courage is the secret to a lifelong career.”  It does take a lot of courage to face a blank, white page and be ready to tackle the adventure of creating. 



What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?

I was a huge fan of fairy tales when I was a kid. Honestly, they are still some of my favorite stories to read. I have this book (which is officially held together with layers of clear tape because it has been read so many times) called “The Children’s Bedtime Book”. The book was a gift for my first birthday. It is filled with Mother Goose rhymes and the most popular fairy tales (the nice versions, of course). I remember being fascinated by the images long before I could read the words on my own. I used to try to copy the pictures from the book over and over again. When I learned to read, this was one of the books that I insisted on learning first.

I also loved “Mirette On The High Wire”, “Oh The Places You’ll Go”, and “The Very Quiet Cricket”.

 
Where can we find you online? 

You can find me online in the following locations:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jeslynkateart
Twitter: @JeslynKate


Thanks, Jeslyn!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Illustrator Studies -by Eliza Wheeler

At the recent SCBWI LA Summer conference there was a lot of discussion about where a strong authorial or illustrative voice comes from. Great artists don't find their voice in a vacuum -- they study the masters that came before them. I loved hearing that Hunter S.Thompson re-typed 'The Great Gatsby' in its entirety to feel what it's like to write a great novel. Art Students are required to sit in museums and sketch off the work of painters and sculptors.

Study of Ernest Shepard, india ink

A similar practice that I use involves creating copies of illustrations that I love, using my own ink and watercolor process. Using the materials that I feel committed to gives me a chance to feel what it's like to make the artist's image with the marks of my own hand. I find this to be an incredibly clarifying (as well as meditative) process. I get glimpses of an elevated voice that I'm always reaching for.

Study of Lisbeth Zwerger, india ink and watercolor

Study of Lisbeth Zwerger, ink and watercolor

Study of Rebecca Dautremer, india ink and watercolor (special thanks to Lisa Anchin for introducing Rebecca's beautiful work to me)

It should go without saying that these are for study purposes only -- you cannot sell them, or claim that these works are yours (don't display them in your portfolio).

I hope you decide to try this process out and learn something for yourself!

~Eliza Wheeler
Author/Illustrator of NYT Bestseller 'Miss Maples Seeds'
Illustrator of Holly Black's Newbery Honor book, 'Doll Bones'
Illustrator of 'The Grudge Keeper', by Mara Rockliff
See her work online at Wheelerstudio.com