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Hello! I'm Victoria Jamieson, a children's book author and illustrator. My first book as author-illustrator will be published by Bloomsbury in Summer 2009. Additionally, my illustrations appear in "The Gollywhopper Games" (Greenwillow Books, February 2008), and "Grandpa, What's that Sound in the Middle of the Night?" (Trellis Publishing, Fall 2008). By day, I work as a graphic designer at a major children's book publisher.
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Man, I love my job.
And some more images, just because...
Another part of my creative process? Procrastinating work on my new, daunting project by working on OTHER projects! So here's a flier I made over the weekend for my roller derby team, the Break Neck Betties.
It's fun, yet somewhat awkward when I work in a more "grownup" style. Much like how I feel when I have to dress like a grownup in fancy clothes and high heels. Get me back to my jeggings & my Chuck Taylors, please- I'm more comfortable there.
If you're going to be in Portland in March... seriously, the Roller Vixen Revue is an experience NOT to be missed!
Always exciting, always slightly scary. Tonight is the first class for the winter semester for my Continuing Ed class at Pacific Northwest College of Art. The class is writing and illustrating children's books, and it's one of my favorites. Since the class is about taking nebulous wisps of ideas and turning them into concrete stories- I thought I'd share some of my process!
So, I turned in my graphic novel about 2 weeks ago- and I knew during my month or so "break" I'd need to start thinking about my next project. The only problem- I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WANTED TO DO. I had a few ideas, sure... but I wasn't sure which was the right one to pursue. Cue a week of slight depression, grouchy disposition, and lots of naps. And I mean LOTS OF NAPS. I always feel guilty during this time in the process, because to the untrained eye, napping does not look like working. However! I find that my mind is most free while in that sleepy/half awake phase. Slowly, slowly, one idea began to dominate over the others, and I found myself thinking about those characters more and more as I drifted off and woke up. I started doodling more and more, and after a well-timed trip to the library for inspiration... Bingo! I was on my way.
*Something* just clicked. I don't know what that *something* is, but whatever it is, it made me happy, it made me want to draw instead of nap, and it made me giggle when I thought of something new. My "sketches" during this time tend to look something like this:
Basically, like the ramblings of a crazy person. But that's OK, it doesn't seem crazy to ME. When I needed to take a break from crazy rambling, I did some watercolor sketches of the characters- another one of my tricks to free my mind and think about the story.
So, that's where I am now! What does YOUR creative process look like?
Another illustrated excerpt from my 1989 diary. You can see previous entries here
It's been a long time since I've done an Illustration Friday assignment! If you're not familiar, Illustration Friday
is a website that gives a weekly assignment (this week's is "Ocean")- and illustrators then submit their solutions. Since I turned in the first draft of my graphic novel on Tuesday (WHAT??! More on that later!)- I had a little extra time on my hands this week & gave it a go:
I first learned of these books when I was working at HarperCollins, and I was instantly taken by the jacket designed by Christopher Stengel (now with Scholastic. I couldn't find a website for him, but you can read an interview with him here
.) Anyway, they are lovely books about a girl named Sapphire and her brother Conor, and their adventures under the sea with the Mer people. That's a lame summary, but they're really good books. I've read them countless times by now- when I find myself in the position of having finished all of my books from the library (the horror!), I'll reach for this one. Sapphire is a fiesty character, and if I could I'd name my first daughter after her. Unfortunately, this has already been nixed by my husband (and pretty much everyone else I know), saying that Sapphire is a stripper name. Whatever. I'll have to settle for naming my scooter Sapphire.
Sapphy and me
Every 6 months or so, I think to myself, "Vicki, you're poor. Why not try and make your millions on Etsy?" And this sounds like a great idea, and I start picking out the color of the Mini Cooper I will buy with my earnings. And then, eventually, I remember why all of my Etsy Get Rich Quick schemes fail: 1) I hate selling things, and 2) I hate the post office.
My first Esty outing began with my Derby Dolls. They actually sold pretty well! But because of the aforementioned reasons, I never restocked my Etsy shop & still have a big pile in my closet.
Then, this holiday season I thought of a new Get Rich Quick scheme- custom portraits! I used to be a portrait artist on a cruise ship, after all. Since it was the holidays, I made a few portraits for my friends and family members:
Yes, my friends and family DO have exceedingly cute children!
And now, the holidays are over, and there's no reason NOT to try the Etsy thing again... but the truth is, I love making things SO much more than I love selling things. Any of you other creatives struggle with this, too? How do you get around it?
You guessed it- it's to update my blog more often! I've been working working working, and so very thrilled about it. My first draft of my roller derby graphic novel is almost-kinda-sorta completed!!!
Maybe this will be news to you, but guess what? It turns out graphic novels are a TON OF WORK. Who knew? But I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work on a project so near & dear to my heart. I'll post progress reports as the year goes on, as I feel like I'm just making up a ton of stuff as I go. So please- join me in the year 2013- the year of the graphic novel! (for me).
And, just because... some bunnies on a Vespa.
I'm still playing around with watercolors.
Every word on your blog is a word not in your book.
So basically, Sherman Alexie is telling me not to blog, and who am I to argue?
The truth is, I've been doing A LOT of writing recently- and not too much drawing. And me sitting around in my p.j.s creating Word documents does not make for exciting blog posts.
However, I DO have a few visual things to share! I've also been teaching a new illustration class this fall at Pacific Northwest College of Art. Teaching is a challenge, I will say that. I am challenged each week to prepare lesson plans for extremely talented students, and to keep learning myself. One of the (many) benefits of teaching is learning about artists I didn't know much about before. Check out these amazing postcards by Rudolf Kalvach
, an artist working in Vienna in the early 1900s...
OMG, I am IN LOVE with that Leda and the Swan postcard. It makes me happy in my heart every time I look at it.
Along with this new BFA course, I am still teaching a Continuing Education class in children's books
. And it's funny- the same topic has been coming up in both classes, and continues to come up in my own work. How do you keep the freshness & vitality of early sketches when you move into "final" illustrations? One thing I recommend to both classes is to copy (literally) the work of illustrators you admire. I liken it to how, when you're in art school, you spend many hours drawing and painting from masterpieces in museums. For children's books, the big difference is that you get to take these masterpieces home with you, and you can draw from them in the comfort of your p.j.s (p.j.s are a big thing with me, apparently).
This morning I took a little break from writing and decided to put my money where my mouth is. I've been a great admirer of illustrator Julia Denos
for quite a while now- her watercolors are fresh and lively. And, I just so happened to have a copy of DOTTY
out from the library. (It's a wonderful book- written by Erica S. Perl
, one of my favorite authors. Do yourself a favor & read her novel, WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU OJ
So anyway, I recently bought myself some new watercolors, and this morning I picked out two of my favorites from DOTTY, and copied them. (PS- my scanner does NOT do any favors to the original book. I implore you to check out the illustrator's website
for better examples of her work!)
It's a totally fun exercise, and it frees you from worrying about "screwing up"- because it's not really YOUR artwork- who cares if you make a mistake? I always learn something when I do this exercise- in this case, how to be more free and loose when I put down color.
It's fun- give it a try!
I still have to take a break for a while- but hopefully coaching and the occasional practice will get me through. Roller derby, you... complete... me!! (how many other movie cliches can I throw in here? "You had me at sweaty wrist guards!")
Ah, September. The number of back-to-school photos on my friends' Facebook pages really drives home the fact: it's back-to-school time. Classes started this week at Pacific Northwest College of Art
, where I am teaching an illustration course in the BFA program this fall. The class is called Design + Image, and it's a hybrid design/illustration class. Here are the "ice breaker" images I wanted to use on the first day, but my husband wouldn't let me because he said they were too jokey-jokey and unprofessional. So I shall put them here, on my "professional" blog for the whole world to see.
I was worried about teaching a design class because I generally define the word "designer" as "someone cooler than me". This is how I picture myself, a non-designer:
Sloppy, blurry- maybe not so fat and hairy, but on a day-to-day basis, I think "hot mess" is a fair description.
DESIGNERS, on the other hand, look like this:
Sleek haircut, sparse Nordic workspace, chunky glasses.
In this class, the point I want to make is this: Design is for ALL illustrators, not just those of us who have cool glasses & have our lives in order. To make the point about design playing a part in all illustrations, I showed the following images. I took the design principles from a book called PICTURE THIS, by Molly Bang
- a fabulous book on composition that I highly recommend.
For an example, here's a spread from the Caldecott-award-winning A SICK DAY FOR AMOS McGEE
, illustrated by Erin Stead
. This book is a veritable study in horizontal compositions. I think the flat, steady, calming compositions are part of what makes this book feel instantly timeless and classic.
...whereas Marla Frazee
adds a feeling of tension and motion, just by tilting that ground up. Gosh, I love her work.
I'll keep posting some of the lessons I'm learning as I'm teaching the class. Or, you could always sign up for my children's book illustration class
, offered through the Continuing Ed department- that one starts at the end of the month!
I'll admit to you, internet- I don't know how celebs do it. Two weeks of book signings and interviews, and I was pretty much SPENT. Don't get me wrong- it was great getting out and meeting new people, and I love book signings- and I am EXTREMELY appreciative of all of the positive response I've been getting for Olympig. But when push comes to shove- I am an introverted hermit at heart, and attention makes me sweaty. So I've spent the past few weeks hiding in my studio, working off my Olympics hangover, and drawing, drawing, drawing! I have a few exciting projects coming up that I'll share soon! But for now, a few sketches to ease my toes back into the public sphere...
Tonight's the night! Saturday, January 21st, 5:45 pm PST! Check this link
for more information if you're in Portland. And if you DON'T live in Portland, fear not- you can watch the action online here
If you live in Portland and want to witness history in the making, c'mon down to our season opener on January 21st! I can even hook you up with some tickets! More information can be found here
I have been super excited to do these derby comics every week... like, SUPER excited. I'm looking forward to a 2012 filled with more! Happy New Year!
As a little exercise for myself, I'm going to illustrate some excerpts from my childhood diaries (oh, and I had many). Here's the first page of my 1989 diary...
Dear readers, in my last post I mentioned a phrase that I heard at a panel at the Wordstock festival here in Portland, and the phrase was this:
"Take other people's vegetables, but make your own soup."
Now, ever since I posted that, the internet has been abuzz.* What does this phrase actually mean? (*note: this is a lie. The internet, as far as I can tell, is still abuzz about cute cat photos. In which case, may I present to you):
Anyway, the internet maybe did not care, but I sure cared about this new catchphrase of mine. Ask anyone in my current children's book illustration class at PNCA
- I used this phrase A LOT in recent critiques. "Nice vegetables in this one." "Why not take some onions from this painting here and add it to your crockpot of ideas?" "Is anyone else hungry? It's 9 o'clock!" Since I'm so smitten with this analogy, I thought I'd break it down a bit to demonstrate what it means to me.
I am a veritable Peter Rabbit when it comes to stealing vegetables to use in my soup. One of my favorite gardens from which to harvest is, appropriately enough, THE CURIOUS GARDEN
by Peter Brown
(DO YOU SEE WHAT A WONDERFUL ANALOGY THIS IS?!?!)
If you haven't seen this book, I highly recommend checking it out at your local library, or- more likely- buying your own copy, because you may want to refer to it again. And again. And again.
I am absolutely in love with the color in this book, and I don't think I'm exaggerating when I call this book a masterpiece. Now, I myself would like to be a Master of Color, and when I was charged with painting a mural last summer at the Portland Children's Museum, I prepared by packing up my paints, an iPod, and a big ol' bunch of vegetables from the garden of Mr. Peter Brown.
In this color sketch I did for the mural, I took the greens and the red-oranges from Peter Brown to put in my soup. As in, when I was mixing my paints, I literally would put dabs of my paint in my copy of THE CURIOUS GARDEN to see that the colors matched.
I brought my copy of the book with me on-site (see it there in the bottom right-hand side?)
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as of 1/1/1900
Every minute of every day, I love my job. And not just because jeggings are appropriate work attire. No, I love my job because I get to explore questions like, "What type of advertisements would appear in the program of a Broadway musical produced by insects?"
I usually have no fears about showing my work to others, but I'll admit it... I'm a little nervous about sharing this! It's something new for me, and new can be scary.
(click for larger view)
My goal is to do little practice strips each week. About, yes, roller derby- because I am obsessed.
This Thanksgiving I'm thankful for a husband who cooked a wonderful meal yesterday while I got to sit around and draw.
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