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I'm a freelance illustrator in New York. I post experimental and work pieces, thoughts and ideas, experiences and opinions on illustration.
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Happy Spring, everyone! I received an enthusiastic tag from Leeza Hernandez, the ever-so-talented and delightful writer and illustrator of one our household's night time reading faves, Dog Gone! Her new book, Cat Napped!, a follow up to her successful first title, is in the works now. The tag signifies The Next Big Thing Blog Tour, a blog campaign that started in Australia promoting the awareness of current children's book authors and illustrators around the world. I'm honored to take part in it, albeit, a little late in posting. Can I blame (US) tax season?
I was asked to answer ten questions. Here we go:
1) What is the title of your latest book?
No Dogs Allowed! by Linda Ashman2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
I am the illustrator of the book, so it came from the writer, Linda Ashman, by way of our editor, as a wordless picture book.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
Children's picture book
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
For the main players, Max Records for the part of the boy, Sasha Baron Cohen, as Alberto, and Ellen Page as the lemonade vendor. Total indie vibe.
5) What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Alberto turns away many a potential clientele at his City Lights Restaurant, be it furry, winged, or scaly, only to find he would rather win them back to gain a friendlier, more festive, bustling bistro.
6) Who published your book?
Sterling Children's Books
7) How long did it take you to illustrate the manuscript?
Nearly a year. The manuscript was originally conceived to be an entirely wordless series of spreads, with the exception of the chalkboard sign outside the restaurant. Through many thoughtful revisions, we devised a way to make the story flow better and reworked a panel to panel storytelling format, not unlike The Red Book and The Snowman. The complexity of the pages contributed to the lengthy timespan.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Red Book and The Snowman
9) Who or what inspired you when illustrating this book?
I'm inspired by those who have influenced my work through the years, as well as current artists and story tellers whose inspired work helped to move me along whenever I got stuck with a composition, namely Lane Smith, Jon Klassen, Ezra Jack Keats, Barbara Lehman, Raymond Briggs, and Evaline Ness.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
All the activity that happens among the animals in the background are fun for children to discover. The best part about (nearly) wordless picture books like this one, is that you can come up with your own dialogue and characterization. Also, I'm happy to add that No Dogs Allowed! was selected to be a part of the prestigious Society of Illustrators' 2012 Original Art Show, which showcases a select group of stand out children's book illustration. Currently, the show is on a tour around the country!
That's it! Thank you, Leeza, for the tag! The following talented author and illustrators are next up. Please click on their links to continue the tour and discover their awesome work! (more links to come...!)
Westchester New York's finest independent children's book store in Larchmont, The Voracious Reader, will be welcoming all Groundhog Day enthusiasts to a story time with me and my book Groundhog Weather School, this Saturday, February 2! Afterwards, children are invited to participate in making their very own groundhog sock puppet. Just bring your own sock in any color or pattern. In fact, the more interesting the pattern, the more fun the result. Stay for tea! Recommended for children 4-7 years of age.
THE VORACIOUS READER INVITES YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN
Date Saturday, Feb 2, 2013, Groundhog Day!
Place The Voracious Reader
1997 Palmer Avenue
Larchmont, NY 10538
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) will be holding a Holiday Ebay auction of Children's Art by notable illustrators (click here for their press release
). One of my signed giclée prints (shown below) from "Groundhog Weather School" will be among the works auctioned.
Update: The auction is on now and goes through December 3, 2012. Click here
or on the logo above to bid on wonderful children's art, or for the direct link to my piece click on "Reasons for Seasons."
Thank you for your support!
Certainly a departure from the regular creative routine, I had the opportunity to participate in this year's drink & draw event, which was brought about to promote illustrators, watch illustrators work, drink, and witness a spectacle of the sideshow sort, all in the name of art education. It was held at the Art Directors Club in NYC, a really lively venue on the ground floor, where people from the streets could witness the scantily clad models and sometimes live reptiles in action through the floor to ceiling windows. We sketched and sketched to our hearts' content and posted our creations on a wall to be sold to charity. It left me wanting more...drawing from life of course!
I had a wonderful time at the very crowded and very inspired Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators. My piece hung just above the drink station. I thought it wonderfully appropriate. Tomie dePaola was the guest of honor, receiving a lifetime achievement award for his work. The granddaughter of the late Richard Scarry also accepted a posthumous award for his body of work.
The events, the names read, the honors brought to light all the esteemed illustrators whose works have graced the Society's walls and inspired generations of children and artists alike. I had to pinch myself, as my work was now recognized to be among them. What an honor indeed.
The show will be up until December 22. Too many wonderful pieces to mention. Go see it!
The esteemed placement
I just received the general announcement for the opening of The Original Art Show for the Society of Illustrators in New York later this month. Did you? Here's a shot of it so maybe you might like to attend. Look for me and my piece from No Dogs Allowed!
Hope to see you there!
After all the prep work of designing and making our Superhero costumes, updating my book, and illustrating the superhero page, I was ready to go to the Annual Highlights Illustrators' Party. Sort of. On the day of departure, my daughter was getting over a nasty bug, my sister was suffering from a nasty bug, and I was turning into a nasty bug after a good, long, 3.5 hour night sleep, and I saw that my lovely weekend was quickly fading into a lovely dream. My Plan B for help in the child-care department, my illustrator friend, and her husband, who was also to attend, was sick.
So Plan C was in motion. Now post lunchtime, daughter was doing well, no symptoms, energized and playful. There was still hope. I called Highlights to find out what other options there might be for an attendee with a little one. "Why not bring her to the conference?" The idea was ludicrous to me, but it was like an official stamp of approval, and I thought, "what's the worse that could happen? If she decides to have a meltdown, I could just leave." I had nothing to lose. So I geared up.
Simultaneously, I put a call in to my friend via voicemail, at the off-chance I might still get some help. I offered the opportunity for a getaway, but with a childcare clause in the deal. By some miracle, my friend called back just in time with an "OK!" That's when everything fell right into place.
When I and the little one arrived in Honesdale, we headed straight to our assigned quarters: the cabins at Beach Lake. It was perfect—two bedrooms and a living room—home away from home. We had the trademark, homegrown, gourmet dinner at The Barn that evening, on the Boyds Mills farm. I caught up with an old friend and wonderful illustrator Laura Jacques, and headed back to the cabin to await my friend's arrival. Thanks to the separate rooms, the little one got to sleep while I waited to greet my friend.
At the conference in The Barn on Saturday, we were presented with the company's rich history as a family company, philosophy, and plans for growth by Editor-in-Chief, Chris Cully, and a few of Highlights' Editors and Art Directors. They proposed numerous opportunities for work and made us Illustrators feel pretty special. We did a bit of sketching for auction, portfolio sharing, greeted more familiar faces, all of us gushing over each others' work. The food was stellar as usual (truly one of the biggest selling points of the weekend, not that they really have to sell us on an all expenses weekend).
The little one and my friend were off at a local farm enjoying chickens and songs and painting pumpkins. She was so exhausted by nap time, she didn't nap. So she burned that overtired energy as a superhero, having a blast kicking around in her boots, flapping her cape, and running every which way. The day was concluded by dinner and the traditional square dance. And dance we did.
Sunday brought a horse-drawn carriage ride, another glorious meal, and more delightful conversations. By the end of the weekend, the nasty bugs were history and I was motivated to work. We came away receiving a refreshing, optimistic message, from a company worth cheering for in a downturn economy. After years of enthusiastically cheering us on, we thank you, Superhero of Illustrators and children everywhere!
It is always a big treat to be a part of the Annual Highlights Illustrators' Party. Going requires a bit of prep work, like making costumes for the selected theme, and updating portfolios. This year the theme was Superheroes, and this time, Highlights decided to compile a sketchbook based on our chosen characters.
It meant a bit of drawing and conceptualizing our ideas on paper using a template they provided for us. I called my superhero Queen of Diamonds (impossible strength), my daughter was Queen of Hearts (power to melt hearts), and my sister, who was to attend with us, was Queen of Clubs (luck was her power). Together we made "Three of a Kind!" Dum dum dah!
On paper, it was a challenge to do, especially because time was short and I happened to be swamped with regular deadlines, but the project was fun. The compilation was an amusing look into the creative minds of other fellow Highlights Illustrators.
It's been a while since I've carried a business card. Shows just how business savvy I am! So I thought it was time to update my card and start carrying again. In matte finish, double-sided, rounded corners, these babies are not your standard business card.
The Society of Illustrators posted the list of artists for the Original Art Show
opening in October. I discovered a bevy of respected artists I have admired from afar, and now I am in their company. Before reading the list I felt confident, and now my heart's a-flutter and the nerves are going. I hope many of them will be there so I can exchange words of gratitude and gush. I've posted the same list below. The one's highlighted are medal winners. Go to the links above for images and more information.
My Dog Thinks I'm a Genius
The Brothers Hilts
Creep and Flutter
The Last Apprentice:
Grimalkin the Witch Assassin
Amy June Bates
The Delicious Story of
Julia Child and Her Cat
A Perfect Day
The Story of Artist Henri Matisse
The Boy Who Cried Alien!
Everything Goes, In the Air
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny–
Are You Awake?
Maudie and Bear
George Washington's Birthday:
A Mostly True Tale
My Snake Blake
Snowed Under and Other Christmas Confusions
East Dragon, West Dragon
Heroes of the Surf
Happy Like Soccer
It's a Small World
Fabulous! A Portrait of Andy Warhol
R. Gregory Christie
It Je's Happened:
When Bill Traylor Started to Draw
I, Too, Am America
Fifty Cents and a Dream:
Young Booker T. Washington
Annie and Helen
and Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops
If You Were a Chocolate Mustache
A Hero for Wondla
Monsieur Marceau: Actor Without Words
Chris Van Dusen
If I Built a House
John S. Dykes
F is for Fenway
The Monster Who Lost His Mean
Marty McGuire Digs Worms!
Those Rebels, John & Tom
Boot & Shoe
Day By Day
The Giant Seed
Now I am Big!
Chasing the Great White Whale
Domenica More Gordon
The Orphan of Awkward Falls
Wolf Won't Bite!
Baby Penguins Everywhere!
The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau
Bon Appétit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child
and How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum
C. R. Mudgeon
Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship
A Boy Called Dickens
Lady Hahn and Her Seven Friends
Bear in Love
Here Come the Girl Scouts!
Levi Strauss Gets A Bright Idea:
A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants
Song of the Stars
This Moose Belongs to Me
The Beetle Book
Magritte's Marvelous Hat
William Joyce and Joe Bluhm
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozy
Looking at Lincoln
G. Brian Karas
Lemonade in Winter:
A Book About Two Kids Counting Money
This is Not My Hat
House Held Up By Trees
The Carpenter's Gift
If You Lived Here: Houses of the World
Huy Voun Lee
Red, White and Boom!
Under the Baobab Tree
The Christmas Quiet Book
Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic
Scribbles and Ink
Machines Go to Work in the City
Meet Me at the Moon
Twelve Kinds of Ice
and Leave Your Sleep
The Monster's Monster
Mario Makes a Move
One Time Square,
A Century of Change
at the Crossroads of the World
In the Sea
Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic
If You Spent A Day with
Thoreau at Walden Pond
Secrets at Sea
Jon J. Muth
Blowin' in the Wind
Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind
The High Skies Adventures
of Blue Jay the Pirate
I Have a Dream
Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always
Eight Days Gone
Based on a (Partially) True Story
Cecil the Pet Glacier
Otter and Odder: A Love Story
Chloe and the Lion
Harlem's Little Blackbird
Making a Friend
The Roller Coaster Kid
Brothers at Bat:
The True Story of an
Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team
Oh No! Not Again!
and Bawk & Roll
One Cool Friend
Tons of Trucks
Alex the Parrot
Water Signs Blue
Ladybug Girl and Bingo
No Dogs Allowed!
Don't Squish the Sasquatch!
Look! Another Book!
Red Knit Cap Girl
Simms Taback's Dinosaurs
There Goes Ted Williams
the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived
Chris Van Dusen
Randy Riley's Really Big Hit
Baby Bear Sees Blue
Wong Herbert Yee
Summer Days and Nights
Breaking Stalin's Nose
You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses
Tua and the Elephant
Mom, It's My First Day of Kindergarten!
Sleep Like a Tiger
Paul O. Zelinsky
Earwig and the Witch
After a summer slumber in blogland, I thought I'd wake things up a bit with a happy announcement. The Society of Illustrators in New York will be hosting their 32nd Annual Original Art Show this October. For those who do not know, here's a bit about the juried show from the SI website:
"Founded by Dilys Evans in 1980, the show celebrates the fine art of children’s book illustration. It has been sponsored by the Society of Illustrators for the past twenty-two years. The selection process will be by a jury of outstanding illustrators, art directors, editors, and experts in the field of children’s publishing."
With that, I'm pleased to announce that my latest picture book, No Dogs Allowed
, by Linda Ashman (2011, Sterling Children's Books)
, made the cut! After years of submissions, this has become the title that brings a whole other level of validation to my work. ...pat on the back to me...
I am so proud of it, and still I strive to want to do better. For now, I will bask in its success, show you a few pieces from its interior pages, and let you know that the Original Art Show
opens Oct. 24 and runs through Dec. 22, 2012. I'll post more news about it as the date approaches!
The NESCBWI (or the North Eastern Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators...phew!), a regional division of the SCBWI, is hosting the 2012 "Keeping It Real
" Conference in Springfield, MA. The weekend-long series of workshops
is for beginning to advanced writers and artists, striving to work in children's books. It starts next Friday, April 20, through Sunday, April 22. So many talented guest lecturers will be there, as well as yours truly. I'll be teaching a workshop called "Creating Traditional Illustration Digitally." I hope attendees will come away from it with a renewed creative vigor, and at the very least, get their money's worth!
In addition, I was invited to also be a part of the Advanced Illustrator Academy faculty which includes two other notable guests I humbly call very distinguished colleagues—Martha Rago, Assoc. Creative Director for Harper Collins Children's Books, and internationally acclaimed writer/illustrator, Dan Yaccarino. How I deserved to be among them is beyond me, but I take my role seriously and hope to impart a lot of useful creative and practical knowledge. Thank you, Casey Girard
Click on any of the links above for more information. You can also click on the image for a jump to the conference site. Hope to see you all there!
For the past couple days, I had been receiving delivery attempt notices from UPS, for a package from Highlights which required my signature. I couldn't imagine what it could be since most packages from Highlights are delivered via regular snail mail. When I finally received it, it was clear that it wasn't tear sheets, nor was it my birthday. Much to my complete surprise and delight, it was a pewter plate inscribed with my name, and the words "Puzzle Poem of the Year." Of the year. That's pretty significant. In addition, there was a letter from the editor conveying her appreciation on behalf of Highlights High Five. I was so elated it took me a few minutes to figure out which piece deserved such an honor. Thank you, Highlights! It's truly an honor and a privilege.
Well of course it is. February 2, 2012 marks another Groundhog Day. Here's hoping spring will arrive early, though it seems the wish has come prematurely. February 1, here in New York, was downright balmy. Well enjoy it until spring is really
here and don't forget to enjoy your copy of Groundhog Weather School
, by Joan Holub, illustrated by moi!
In addition to my latest DI ad is my latest in Picture Book. This year's directory reflects the downturn in children's book publishing. The book is about half the size it was last year. Good news is, I'm happy with how the ad turned out. Let's see if it bears any returns.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Et Voila! Thank you, Grace Bonney! Check out the other winners
Design Sponge's Grace Bonney was hosting a book giveaway for a free personalized copy of "Design Sponge at Home," their summer newspaper and some of the ribbons flowers featured in the book. It's one of my favorite inspiration sites so I had to enter, even just for fun. I simply had to take a photo of the spot where the book would be placed, or where I would read it. This is my entry.
A ballet where the prima ballerina is a cat, the admiring audience a dog, an orchestra pit full of piggies, and you have my latest Color Me Puzzle
from Mudpuppy! This one's unique because it's double-sided. On one side you get the full-color illustration, on the other, a black and white version of the same image, so that once you've assembled the piece you can color it. You even get a nice set a of fat wipe-off crayons to boot! How can you not be a fan of Mudpuppy?
I had the honor of illustrating a poster for a fundraising event on Fire Island featuring Martha Wash, best known for singing "It's Raining Men" and the voice behind The Weather Girls. An icon for the gay community, the assignment serendipitously coincided with the legalizing of gay marriage here in New York. I almost felt a part of history! The poster was art directed by Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez of Somos Arte
. It was a departure from my usual projects and a welcome change. I enjoyed doing work for the "adult" world and hope to do more in the future.
I meant to post this months ago, but I figured better late than never. I think it was their sense of humor combined with the execution, but I had to post a pic of what I found at a Westchester NY Anthrolpologie store display. Anthrolopologie never seems to be short on ideas, but this one lends itself to our child-like sensibilities. I think they're rather charming.
With this latest Picture Book ad, what this story might entail is up to the viewer.
If you haven't been yet, go to your local B&N store and take a peek at the children's book wall. I believe you will find my latest book, No Dogs Allowed
, proudly displayed. As for me, I'm bringing my camera, folding chair and giant foam #1 hand to watch it perform. In the meantime, if you're stuck behind your computer, which you must be if you're reading this, check out Jenn Bertman's interview with me in my work lair on her blog: From the Mixed Up Files of Jennifer Bertman
It's always fun making a departure from my usual genre and into the world of comics—especially dark, devilish ones. Todd Stashwick and Dennis Calero have created a weekly comic strip called Devil Inside
, which just celebrated its year-long run at San Diego Comic Con. I was asked to illustrate a dream sequence for one of the main characters, Sophie. The result is a cool juxtaposition of styles. Take a look and if you like what you see, click on the RSS feed. You won't be disappointed!
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...but my book hasn't! Well, you can still find it online
, and as of now, I'm not sure it's still on B&N shelves. But in case you missed it, here's what it looked like.