Add a Comment
It is official, I got the word last night, I have been accepted in as an iStock contributor for vector illustration. This achievement took longer than I had anticipated because all vector files must be submitted as .eps version 10 files. What's the problem with that you ask. Well Adobe came out with transparency in color stops inside gradients with CS4 (I think), so if any vector elements contained a gradient with transparency then in the conversion to .eps v. 10 those elements rasterized. Ugh! I love using transparency within gradients, it is a fast, easy way to get soft edges and seamless flowing blends. Believe me I tried everything to stop the rasterization.
Finally I went to my "zig-zag" style of art, which I developed when my client's T-shirt printer could not work with files containing gradients or transparency. That's when "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" was born, followed by this one "Hello Hatchling." Yes, she is very pink, but her brother is coming out of his shell soon and he'll be blue.
Here are two new funny additions to add to my earlier post, Picture Book Roundup - new or coming soon!
We were reading these at work the other night. All you could hear were laughs, chuckles, and "awww"s.
I love it when Stuart irons his work shirts, it makes the flat smell all cosy.
Part of me thought this weekend that I needed to spend every moment working toward my book deadline. But I am turning into a creaky old lady, and I've been overdosing on biscuits in the studio, so exercise is very much in order. Stuart took me on a good hard cycle ride along the Thames and we stopped for coffee at one of our favourite cafes, Teapod. (It's also where my Jampires co-author David O'Connell and I used to meet up, when he lived around the corner.)
We also popped out today for a drink with artists John Aggs and Nana Li. (Look out for John's graphic novel adaptation of Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses.) Star Cat creator James Turner brought along his triplet brothers, ALL IN MATCHING JUMPERS.
Title: The Sculptor Author: Scott McCloud Publisher: First Second Publication Date: February 3, 2015 ISBN-13: 978-1596435735 496 pp. ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley Comic book authority Scott McCloud wrote and illustrated the graphic novel The Sculptor, his first work of fiction in over 20 years. The fact that it's already in development for a film should give you a clue that it's aAdd a Comment
Discover the work of Louis Fratino, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!Add a Comment
Believe it or not making art for your own enjoyment actually has its benefits to both your mind and body. We often spend our weeks rushing around focusing on our everyday commitments whether its your job, looking after kids, school or ticking off daily errands, that we never really get the chance to relax.
When you’re overwhelmed with the stresses of a busy lifestyle, actually embracing your creativity can actually reduce anxieties and stresses to clear your mind making you feel better. So art itself is extremely theraputic and to fill you in abit more as to why doodling, colouring or painting should become apart of your weekly schedule here’s 3 reasons why art is good for you!
1. Helps you to slow down - During the week we’re all on the go and so being a little creative whether it’s drawing, colouring, painting or snapping a photo with your camera actually helps you to physically and mentally slow down. Rushing around doesn’t do our bodies internally any good and so making time to do something artistic that you enjoy is healthy to both your body and mind.
2. You embrace a side of yourself you might not usually - Not all of us work a creative job but this doesn’t mean if you’re an accountant for example you can get inky and doodle away! You may even surprise yourself with the things you create and through that feel a sense of achievement in the things you make which builds up your positivity in mind.
3. Self expression and letting out your emotions – Much like music and drama making art in whichever form, helps you to express a side of yourself you might find hard to do otherwise. Like musicians who infuse emotion into the music they write, you can place emotions into the art pieces you make. In turn this helps you to acknowledge your inner feelings and let out things you might not find the words to say which you are can through a brush or ink for example.
Featured illustration is by Oana Befort and you can find out more about her work here.
What not to do when using social media.
No, it’s not a robin, I’ve seen a few of those already.
I’ve been starting new flats of seeds every week since the end of February and they are all coming along nicely. The onion sprouts were the first and they are getting tall. The peppers came next. Those take a long time to even sprout and just this last week a few little pops of green gave me relief that something was actually happening. Last week was tomatoes and cabbage. Tomatoes take a bit of time but the cabbage has started coming up. Today was marigolds and parsley.
Was it last week I mentioned the cover to the mini greenhouse was no longer functional? One of the zippers was broken and the plastic has become brittle. It turns out you can order new covers without having to buy the whole set up. Thank goodness. I ordered a new cover Monday and, fingers crossed, it will be here in the next day or two. I now have four flats of sprouting pots that are getting difficult to manage and being able to use the greenhouse will solve all my problems.
The weather this weekend has been chilly. This morning we had rain and now it is sunny but so blustery the house is creaking. Of course the forecast for the coming week is gorgeous when I will have to be at work and indoors. Sigh. Tuesday night Bookman and I are signed up for a class at the bike shop to learn how to fix a flat tire. I can change a flat on a car but I have no idea how to fix a flat on my bike. Oh, and my new bike, she has a name now: Astrid. Bookman gives me odd looks when I talk about Astrid but I really don’t care!
I know real honest to goodness spring will be here soon because the Friends School Plant Sale catalog arrived in my mailbox Friday. I wasn’t expecting it until this week so it was a surprise. I was only going to look through the herbs in the first section of the catalog and save the rest for casual browsing throughout the weekend, but I was kidding myself. I couldn’t put it down and devoured the whole thing, gleefully marking off plants. I’ll take this and this and oh, doesn’t this sound nice? And yes, definitely one of those. And that, a must. And, hmm, where could I put one of these? Want to know what a happy Stef looks like? That was her reading and marking up the catalog.
All year long I keep lists of plants as I learn about them that I think I might like to try in the garden. So Saturday I got out all my lists and scraps of paper and sat down with the catalog again and marked things from my lists. There were quite a few items on my lists that are not in the catalog but that’s okay, there are also plenty of plants that were.
Then, of course, I had to think about the chickens and the chicken garden area where their coop is going to be. A friend of mine recommended a very good book called Free-range Chicken Gardens. It has lots of helpful advice in it. I had been wanting to plant elderberries and serviceberries in the garden but couldn’t figure out where I could plant these large-sized shrubs. Well, they make good hedges and places for chickens to take cover it turns out so now I have a place and a reason for them. Yay! Also, I have an excuse for a wild rose bush and more gooseberries, more prairie grasses and all sorts of other plants. All these I have dutifully marked in the plant catalog.
Now I just need to win the lottery jackpot so I can afford them all!
And poor Bookman. He says he knows nothing about gardening and asks I just point to where I want him to dig and tell him what to put there. He’s going to be doing a lot of digging.
It’s a great time to be a comics fan.
There are loads of amazing ones coming out right now. The Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz committees all recognized graphic novels as honor books this year. People are starting to sit up and pay attention to the world of comics and graphic novels, so I am here with a list for your kids (AND YOU!). Happy reading! And welcome to the comics life.
Lumberjanes is by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen. It’s published by Boom studies in single-issue format, but the first trade paperback (collecting issues 1-4) is out on April 7th. Y’all, this one is so incredible. Feminist, funny, and constantly focused on friendship, this series is set at a summer camp and shouldn’t be missed.
PrinceLess by Jeremy Whitley has been a relatively new find for me and I’m obsessed. Princess Adrienne is tired of sitting around in her tower waiting for a prince to slay her dragon and rescue her. So she and her dragon decide to go do the rescuing themselves. Completely turns sexist and racist tropes on their head, as displayed by this panel:
PrinceLess hasn’t been checked in since we got it. Your kids are gonna love it.
The Explorer books (there are three) are comics anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi, whom your students already know because they adore amulet. This trilogy asks well-known comic artists like Raina Telgemeier, Emily Carroll, and Faith Erin Hicks, to write comic shorts based on a topic. They’re amazing. There’s something for everyone in this series!
Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson. Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager in Jersey City who suddenly and quite accidentally becomes empowered with extraordinary gifts. She has to figure out how to handle being a typical Muslim teenager–who’s now a superhero.
Honestly, when I discovered these (there are two so far), I bought them based solely on the tagline: “Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl.” Basically, that’s enough to sell me, but Mirka is fun and amazing and her religion is shown as something that’s part of her life, not something to be overcome or chafed against. Plus, dragons.
This is just a really small cross-section of all of the wonderful comics for kids that are being published right now. I hope you and your kids love them as much as me and mine do!
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 6 years.
Add a Comment
Barcelona-born Marta Altés is a graduate of one of the most fertile courses in the UK when it comes to producing fabulous illustrators – the MA Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. She originally trained and worked in Spain as a graphic designer before taking the plunge to follow her childhood dreams, move country and retrain as an illustrator. “I think it was the BEST decision I have ever made,” says Marta, and with nine books already to her name and more following later this year (noting Marta graduated only four years ago) her success speaks for itself. Her latest book in English is The King Cat, a lovely story about friendship, negotiations and adjusting to change, especially in families welcoming a new arrival.
I recently caught up with Marta and asked her about The King Cat, her love of dogs, chocolate and more. Here’s how our conversation went:
Playing by the book: I know you sometimes include secret details in your illustrations – images of friends and family for example. Can you share a secret about your new book, ‘The King Cat’ – something we should look out for in the illustrations?
Marta Altés: Yes I do that! But I don’t always do it on purpose… It just happens. I start drawing a character and it ends up looking like somebody I know. In this case, I think, somehow I ended up illustrating the house that I would like to live in. Walls full of different sized frames (not with cat photos!), old and nice furniture, a sofa full of cushions with different patterns…
Also… Even though the story was VERY different when I started it, now it is the story of any person who has a young sibling (including me). My brother is 4 years younger than me, so I guess I was “king cat”. Although I don’t think I had his strong personality (a part from the times he broke my toys… of course)
Another thing that you can look out for in the illustrations is the little joke on the endpapers. On the first one we see a little basket full of wool balls and knitting needles on a table. Check out what’s on the last endpaper Both cat and dog don’t know yet, but they are about to deal with the arrival of a new member to this family.
Playing by the book: I’m guessing you’re quite a dog person given your very funny book No! and your new book – what dog books (for kids) have made you laugh or nod in recognition of your life with dogs?
Marta Altés: You got me! Yes I am! I dogs make me laugh… My mum is taking care of my dog in Barcelona, and I miss him very much. Dog books that have made me laugh recently are:
Also, not a book, but a blog: Mike Smith’s diary is great. He draws lovely everyday life sequences about him and his family, including very funny situations with his dog. Here are a few examples:
Playing by the book: What aspects of being a graphic designer (in an earlier life) have helped in your career as an illustrator?
Marta Altés: I think having been a graphic designer has definitely influenced the way I work as an illustrator. Mostly in the way I use colour (always a very limited palette), the use of white space, the compositions of the illustrations on the page and knowing how to use some software like Photoshop.
I also enjoy hand-lettering quite a lot, and the importance I give to the fonts is probably because of my graphic design background.
I suffered a lot when it came the time to write our final dissertation in the MA, my English wasn’t the best, and it was a big effort. But I learned a lot. I wrote about Graphic Design in Picture Books, and since then, I try to take all the elements that you have in a book to communicate the main idea (Cover, endpapers, title page, font, colour, where the text is placed…).
Playing by the book: What was hard to “unlearn” when moving from graphic design to illustration?
Marta Altés: It was difficult but at the same time one of the most exciting things was to try not to use the computer too much. And another thing was to not be afraid of trying new things, like – for example – watercolours! I hadn’t used them before joining the MA, and I’m so glad our tutors were always encouraging us to try new techniques.
Playing by the book: Do you see differences in illustration styles favoured in the UK as compared to in Spain? If so, what are they?
Marta Altés: I don’t like to generalize and I think each illustrator has a different way of seeing life and working, no matter where they live. There are English illustrators working for Spanish publishers and vice versa.
A couple of years ago at the Bologna Book Fair, I started talking to a Spanish art director that was there seeking talent at the MA Children’s Book illustration stand. And she pointed out how the main characters of many English picture books were animals, and that it is something that usually doesn’t happen there. I thought that it was a very interesting thing!
Playing by the book: What Catalan children’s books do you wish were translated into English so a wider audience could enjoy them?
Marta Altés: Probably all the ones I use to read when I was a kid (although I’ve just checked and many of them have already been translated!). One of my favourite ones is “El Patufet” a very surreal story about a little boy that was veeeeery tiny (and I won’t spoil the ending because is one of the most surreal endings ever!)
There are also many small Spanish publishers doing very interesting things.
Playing by the book: Could you share some of the illustrations you made for the Catalan/Spanish/Galician chapter books/poetry you’ve illustrated?
Marta Altés: I really enjoy working on different projects at the same time as working on picture books. It gives me the opportunity to experiment with new techniques. Illustrating a text that is not yours is lots of fun because you can give your vision of the story through your drawings. But is a completely different approach to when you illustrate your own text. In the latter case, you keep editing text and image to make them work together, almost until the day you send the files to print!
A very challenging project I’ve just illustrated is this Catalan Poetry book for kids (‘Tan Petita i ja saps‘ written by Maria Mercè Marçal). I hadn’t illustrated poetry before, and it was quite difficult. Also, I was told there had to be something that graphically linked together all the pages of the book. That made me go and do some research on the symbology of the author and I ended up using the night, stars and sea as the main elements of the book. The idea of the darkness of the night sky made me try to use brush and black ink. And I coloured things digitally.
The chapter book I’ve just illustrated for a Spanish publisher talks about the story of a little mouse meeting a girl who has just moved into a new house. I thought it would be fun to play with shadows and lights. Something that I’m not very good at but I wanted to give it a try. So I did try, and it was lots of fun. Again it was a mix between digital colouring, pencil and millions of layers of photoshop.
Playing by the book: I believe you work as a part time lecturer in the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. What’s your role on the course?
Marta Altés: Studying in the MA was one of the best experiences ever! I met so many nice people and it was very sad when it was over. So I felt over the moon when Martin Salisbury offered me the opportunity to go back and work there.
What I enjoy the most is working with the students on the sequences, storyboards and story lines of their projects. Each project is very different from the other so going there is very challenging but also very exciting!
I’m so happy to still be involved with the MA. I get to meet lots of lovely people and I’m super lucky to be working there along with amazing illustrators like James Mayhew, David Hughes, Pam Smy, Alexis Deacon, Paula Metcalf and Hannah Webb!
Playing by the book: If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you like to be?
Marta Altés: I’ve been a full time illustrator just for the past 4 years, so this is a difficult question to answer… 5 years ago I was a graphic designer that wanted to be an illustrator (my dream came true). Now… If I weren’t an illustrator, I guess I would like to be a dancer (I know it’s WAY too late). I’ve danced since I was little and it’s something that I love doing.
Playing by the book: I hear you like chocolate. What sort of chocolate is your favourite?
Marta Altés: I loooove chocolate. All sorts of chocolate… But if I had to pick one it would be dark chocolate. Or triple chocolate covered with a layer of double chocolate with chocolate sprinkles to top.
Playing by the book: Many thanks Marta – it’s been great fun interviewing you. I hope you enjoy the virtual chocolate I’ve found for you
Hello, Calling Caldecott readers.
I want to alert you to a post that just went up in Lolly’s Classroom. My students will be holding mock award sessions during our last class on April 9. Come help them discuss these books here.
Since there are nearly 30 students, we have four groups: two Caldecott committees, one Geisel, and one Sibert (concentrating on younger books).
Follow the link above for more information and commenting. Here’s what the four slates look like:
Add a Comment
Pixar's RenderMan software has been used in the creation of all its film, as well as blockbusters like "The Lego Movie," "Guardians of the Galaxy," and "Interstellar."Add a Comment
Did you repaint the office? Did I miss what colors you'd selected? We've got paint chips up in the circulation room of the library, but no consensus yet. One of the orange-y colors was called "Pompeii Clay", which I thought perhaps not in good taste, but I found a nice gray to pair with it (they did not call it "Vesuvius Ashfall"). My coworkers do not agree
The very first thing I wrote in it was a line I heard today while watching the "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" - (to paraphrase): "Everything is going to work out alright in the end. If it is not alright, then it is not the end yet."
"...but of course, the EFI report was bogged down with the AWT--"
"What does EFI mean?" I asked. I already knew the answer to this question.
"Extremely Frigging Important. Then Charlie--"
"Awesome Wonder Team."
"Right. Carry on."
I've just started a new job, and after 23 years at the finished end of the film production chain, going back to the beginning of it has been like learning a new language.
My question for QOTKU, therefore, is: How does blurbing work? How do publishers know they're going to get good reviews from the people they ask to blurb? Do they ever get blurbers write back saying "Sorry, I hated this book. I can't give you a positive blurb." I would like to think so."
I do recall, however, middle-school-me almost refusing to read The Hunger Games when I borrowed it because Stephenie Meyer had blurbed it and I was in a huge anti-Twilight phase.
Is it the job of the publisher or the author to ask for blurbs? Are authors required to pursue them, or are they only asked to do this if they happen to have contact with HPNYTBSAs?
My question is do publishers pay for blurbs? Especially HPNYTBSA?
I've been thinking about something for a while. Many times we woodland creatures worry about nitpicky things like someone stealing our stupendous writing idea if we shared too much of it.
This contest actually proves what we've been told many times in the writing community; "Only you can write your story."
Think about it. We're given five words, and not one of us ever comes close to having a similar story. We might re-use a word or two in the same way (wordsmith, for example) but beyond that, our stories are as diverse as our fingerprints and voices.
.." I've often wondered,(one or two of mine have landed here I think)what it is that makes them not a story for you? I've come to the conclusion it's because in some way, the writer hasn't resolved the MC's situation. I.e. it's left hanging in some way. Am I close?
"There are a lot of places now to publish articles that don't require querying first at all. The danger there is if your writing isn't up to par, you can damage your career pretty easily."
I'm not quite sure what this means. ie: the publication will remember your first sub-par submission and it will prejudice them for future attempts? Or that they might actually publish it and others will see this sub-par quality and make judgments from there? Or...?
How is it different with a short story submission to a mag?
One thing to take away from querying non-fiction magazines: Don't wait until you've finished writing the article to query, unless you want to prove to yourself you can write that article. Non-fiction magazines buy ideas - very unlike fiction magazines - and they'll reject the idea, too. They don't want to see a full article until they commission it, based on your idea. Since you wouldn't sell the same article to two magazines (even similar magazines have different focuses and styles), you'll just be rewriting the article again.
Basically, the difference between fiction and non-fiction magazines is: Fiction magazines buy writing. Non-fiction magazines buy ideas, and they assume you can write the idea. This latter is why it's good to have 'clippings' - articles or other writing you can point to, to tell the magazine 'See? I can write goooood.' Of course, that's where the catch 22 comes in: magazines want you to have previous published pieces, but you can't get those unless a magazine will publish them.
If you feel your non-fiction writing on your chosen topic is professional enough, you could start a blog about it, to get pub credit and followers. I believe it's not difficult to get a blog on io9, and it may attract more readers. Or, if you're able to market your blog, you can do that, too.
a woman who was clearly the sole influence in Eve's decision to eat the apple in the garden of Eden in the first place...
Am I wrong to think "this is the day and age of forever" only applies to free blogs?
Once you put something out on the internet - no matter where - you no longer have control over it. Despite security precautions and content protection, it's out of your hands. (You still have copyright, but you don't have control. Neither does the website it was posted on.)
I heard a Pulitzer-prize winning author speak at a class and tell the story of some good advice she once gave. An editor friend asked her thoughts about a horse book that was going up for auction. This author had a love of horses and dabbled with a few books in the genre.
"Do you think I should bid on it?" the editor asked.
"No, horse books never sell," the author advised.
With this great tip, the editor passed on the chance to bid for Seabiscuit. Amazingly, they're still friends.
How much extra work are books/authors like that? Previously you mentioned/joked that Little, Brown had an entire branch office dedicated to James Patterson. I'm sure an agent can max out on the number of clients she represents. So if, for example, you represented five Lee Child's, or apparently just one James Patterson, would that be all you could handle? Their royalty statements are probably longer, and I imagine you have to field more calls regarding sales of rights [a nice bit of extra work, I'm sure]. But is a mega-selling book/author 10% more work than your “normal” clients, or 25%, or 100%? Inquiring minds [okay, maybe just mine] want to know.
Nothing you have turned down has gone on to big things. I guess that I'm going to have to prove you wrong. I'm sorry, I still love you and have all of the respect in the world for you but that is just how it has to be.
With over 100 queries every week, do you even remember the ones you turn down. I imagine you might remember manuscripts, especially if you read to the end. But do you remember rejected queries?
Last night, I must've had you on my mind too, because - after running across something about "body horror" when researching agents, I ended up having a dream about having scary cysts removed from my body that turned out to be lima beans.
I honestly didn't realize just how much a part of my mental landscape this community is ...
For toddlers and preschoolers, the world is full of new things to discover and learn. One thing young children need to learn is the basic shapes – square, circle, rectangle, and so on.
There are many ways to teach children the basic shapes. Here is a method that is fun and tastes good, too.
Bake a Shape
1. To start, you will need a can of refrigerated biscuit or sugar cookie dough. This is the easiest way if you want to focus on making shapes instead of mixing up a recipe in the kitchen. However, if you prefer, you can always make your own favorite recipe instead.
2. Roll out the biscuit or cookie dough. Be sure you do this somewhere low enough where you child can easily reach it, so you may want to do it on the table instead of the counter. Another option is to have your child stand on a sturdy stool or chair.
3. Find some cookie cutters that represent the shapes you want your child to learn. Show your child how to cut a shape out of the dough with the cutter. Remember to flour the cookie cutter so the dough comes out easily. If your dough gets stuck in the cookie cutter, you could end up with a frustrated toddler or preschooler.
Another alternative is to make the shapes by hand. Have some examples of the shapes nearby so your child can copy them. This could also be done with letters instead of shapes. Children love to see what their name looks like in print, and they will have a lot of fun creating it themselves.
4. When you have enough shapes made, help your child arrange them on the cookie sheet. You can make the shapes even yummier by spreading them with butter, then sprinkling them with sugar and cinnamon for a delicious cinnamon-tasting treat.
5. Put the shapes in the oven to bake, according to the recipe’s instructions. You can add to the fun by watching the shapes bake in the oven together. Children are fascinated by how cookies and biscuits grow and spread while they’re being baked.
6. When the shapes have baked, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. When they’re ready to eat, examine the shapes with your child. Ask if he/she remembers what each shape is called. You may want to play a game – if your child can name the shape, he/she can eat it!
When your child begins to learn the various shapes, he will see them everywhere he looks. A fun activity like this one can help him learn to identify them on his own.
Here are some fun board books that also help children learn the basic shapes.
About the Book
Combining scooped-out die-cuts with raised, shaped elements, two new TouchThinkLearn books offer youngest learners an irresistible opportunity to explore their universe in a hands-on, multisensory way. See the image, trace its shape, say its name: these modes of perception combine in a dynamic way to stimulate understanding of essential concepts. Contemplate a circle by touching the raised surface of an owl hooting at night on one side, and the form of a moon rising on the other. Featuring a format unlike any other, these groundbreaking books translate abstract thought into tangible knowledge.
Grade Level: Preschool and up
Board book: 20 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books; Brdbk edition (May 27, 2014)
About the Book
Can you find what is round? What is square? In this timeless new split-pageboard book, children can find the bottom half of a page that matches the top half. Find the right pairs, and you will learn to identify all kinds of shapes. From dome-shaped ladybugs to diamond- shaped kites, this clever board book makes learning fun.
Age Range: 1 – 3 years
Board book: 20 pages
Publisher: Philomel Books; Brdbk edition (May 19, 2005)
About the Book
From Little Scholastic comes this innovative and interactive shapes concept book for babies and toddlers!
Bold and bright, this tactile board book features everyday objects to name and touch. Review basic shapes with this appealing, hands-on format!
Board book: 10 pages
Publisher: Cartwheel Books (July 1, 2007)