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Since 1978, Doug Cushman has illustrated over 130 children's books, 30 or so of which he wrote as well.
Among his many honors, he has gained a place on the New York Times Children’s Best Sellers list and on the 2003 Children’s Literature Choice list.
The first book of his popular beginning reader series featuring Aunt Eater (HarperCollins, 1987) was a Reading Rainbow Book.
He has received a National Cartoonist’s Society Reuben Award for Book Illustration, the 2004 Christopher Award for his book illustrations, a 2007 and 2010 Maryland Blue Crab Award and the 2009 California Young Readers Medal.
He has displayed his original art in France, Romania and the USA, including the prestigious Original Art, the annual children’s book art show at the Society of Illustrators in New York City.
He is fan of mystery novels and plays slide guitar horribly. He enjoys cooking, traveling, eating and absorbing French culture and good wine—even designing wine labels for a Burgundy wine maker—in his new home in St. Malo on the Brittany coast in France.
Welcome Doug! Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about illustration and the SCBWI Bologna Illustration Gallery (BIG) at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. You have had a long career in the children's publishing industry, illustrating both your own stories, as well as the stories of other writers. Do you have a favorite medium for illustrating children's books?
I love watercolor with pen and ink. There is so much expression one can have using ink line with the occasional “happy accidents” in watercolor. Pretty much all my books have been rendered in those two mediums.
It was more controlled in the beginning, but I’m trying to loosen up now. For a couple books I did everything: writing, watercolor illustration and hand-lettering the display type and entire text including the copyright. I even simulated aged, yellowing, lined notepad paper with watercolor, hand drawing each blue line on every page of the book.
My philosophy is: do whatever it takes to make the book work.
Has that changed over the years?
Moving to Paris loosened me up a bit. A few years ago, I rendered three books in acrylic, something I’d wanted to do. I love the bright colors and thick brushstrokes. I even added some collaged elements as well.
But, for me, the medium I use depends on the story. The technique I use to illustrate a book must complement the heart and soul of the story. An illustrator should never force his style on a text.
I’ve discovered digital painting recently. There’s a lot one can do with it. I’m having a grand time playing with my Wacom tablet, but I believe my training as a traditional artist has held me in good stead. Knowing the craft of drawing and painting has always helped me out with a multitude of problems! Yet, the story always dictates how I approach the way I draw my pictures.
So it varies from project to project. What influences your choice of style and medium for a given project?
The story is always the first thing that defines my approach to a project, even when I’m the author. An illustrator must read what’s between the lines as well as what’s on the page. The author is telling a certain story, the illustrations must work in harmony with the text.
He's a brilliant illustrator, one of my favorites. But his style was so wrong for the atmospheric and slightly goofy story (Toad driving a car!). He was perfect for Grimm but not for the animal denizens living along side an easy, flowing river. E.H. Shepard’s illustrations are spot on.
What qualities do you think are important for an artist to have in order to be successful as children's book illustrator?
Patience! Flexibility and a thick skin are paramount as well. This is a tough business. So many books are being published every year. But there’s always room for someone with a different voice, a unique way to look at the world.
Be aware of the trends but never be a slave to them. Follow what interests you. It may take longer but in the long run your work will be more sincere and that will catch the attention of editors and art directors. Honesty always shines through.
As writers, we talk a lot about voice, both the voice of the character, as well as our own authorial voice. Do illustrators have a voice as well? What about individual projects, or even characters?
Absolutely, illustrators have a voice. Like writers, it’s the way we see life.
In my case, I see the silliness, the zaniness in the world and through my characters, both human and animal. I’ve been told that one of the qualities people like about my work is the expression on my characters.
That’s part of my voice, my way of interpreting a text and the world in general, that internal struggle, waiting to get out. It’s like being an actor; artists must get inside the skin of the characters they’re illustrating, feeling what they feel. But, as I said earlier, the voice of the illustrator shouldn’t interfere with the voice of the author. They need to play off of each other, work in tandem together.
As a judge for the BIG, what makes an illustration stand out to you?
The BIG is a show of illustration, not just an exhibition of pretty pictures. I’m looking for art that is not only drawn and painted well, wonderfully composed and executed, but also tells a story.
I confess that much of what I see in the grand Bologna Book Fair judged art shows are marvelous paintings but they don’t tell any stories. We’re talking about book illustration here, art that serves a purpose. In many ways it’s harder and a much higher calling than easel painting.
I want to see something that dives deep into a story and tells me something in a way I haven’t seen or thought of before.
Why do you think participation in illustration showcases such as BIG is important for illustrators?
Exposure is one factor. Getting noticed. Working for a specific purpose is important as well. I’ve submitted illustrations to many judged shows with very specific criteria; size restrictions, medium, subject matter, etc. I haven’t always been accepted, but in the process of working on these pieces, I’ve learned something and expanded my working methods.
In almost every, case these pieces have always been the most popular and the most “Wow!” paintings in my portfolio. Picasso said a studio should be a laboratory.
I think shows like BIG can be a way to experiment with new ideas and techniques. Who knows? You may stumble across a way of working that may change your artistic career.
You have been to the Bologna fair on several occasions. How has your experience of the fair changed over the years?
I’m not sure that my experience has changed that much. But that’s not to say I’m bored!
It’s always exciting to see what’s being published around the world. I expect to see new things and I’m rarely disappointed. Of course digital publishing has grown since I started going to the book fair so it’s much more influential.
Through the years I’ve met more editors, art directors and illustrators so I know more people and it’s always fun to renew old friendships. And, of course there are the restaurants that I go to on a regular basis.
Over the years I’ve become friends with one of the owners. Now, that's really exciting!
What are your "must-do's" when you are there?
It can be overwhelming for a first timer. My suggestion is to wander around and “absorb” what you see, not seeking out anything specific. Take notes, jot down what strikes you.
If you open yourself to everything, you’re guaranteed to see something you would have missed if you were focused on a certain goal. I love wandering the “foreign” stands (foreign to this American, at least). There is so much creativity happening all over the world. I confess, working mainly in the American market, it’s easy to become too provincial in my thinking.
Any first time fair attendee should see as many books in as many stands that are not her market. It’s a real inspiration.
Also, as a “must-do”, I try to make a trip to Florence, only 40 minutes away by train. It’s every artist’s heritage, birthplace of who we are. It’s a lovely town chockablock with history and art (with some nice markets and restaurants!) It’s well worth a day off from the fair or staying the extra day.
Joe Mclean is an Illustrator from Norwich, who creates illustrations using a combination of hand drawn lines, scanned textures and Adobe Illustrator. His inspirations include traditional printing processes, hand drawn type and graphic illustration. His speciality is editorial illustration and greeting cards. His clients include; Computer Arts, Spindle Magazine and Loud and Quiet to name a few.
Author and illustrator Kelly Light shows Storymakers host Rocco Staino how to draw the fierce and fantastic cat from Louise Loves Art.
Ready! Set! Draw! is the drawing tutorial show for anyone who aspires to draw like their favorite kid lit illustrators. In each episode a bestselling and/or award-winning artist draws a character from their book. Budding artists will enjoy creating their very own versions of familiar and new characters.
Did you, a child, or student draw their own cat using this video? Please share your images with us via Facebook or Twitter!
Louise Loves Art – Meet Louise. Louise loves art more than anything. It’s her imagination on the outside. She is determined to create a masterpiece—her pièce de résistance! Louise also loves Art, her little brother. This is their story. Louise Loves Art is a celebration of the brilliant artist who resides in all of us.
ABOUT KELLY LIGHT
Author and illustrator Kelly Light grew up on the New Jersey shore surrounded by giant pink dinosaurs, cotton candy colors, and Skee-Ball sounds. She was schooled on Saturday-morning cartoons and Sunday funny pages. She picked up a pencil, started drawing, and never stopped. Kelly has illustrated Elvis and the Underdogs and Elvis and the Underdogs: Secrets, Secret Service, and Room Service by Jenny Lee, and The Quirks series by Erin Soderberg.
Kelly is an International Ambassador of Creativity for The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity! The Center is a non-profit founded by Chuck Jones, the animator, artist and director of so many of the cartoons that we think of when we just think the word “cartoon”. In his lifetime, Chuck enjoyed talking to and encouraging younger artists. The center continues in this spirit to ignite creative thinking through free art classes for kids, creativity workshops, presentations and talks for kids and adults meant to inspire and enlighten. The center also has outreach programs to local schools who have lost their art funding and visits senior citizen centers to provide drawing and creativity exercises for greater mental and emotional health.
Susan Eaddy works in her attic studio writing picture books and playing with clay. She was an art director for fifteen years, during which time she won international 3D illustration awards and a Grammy nomination.
She loves to travel and has used the opportunity to do school visits anywhere in the world from Taiwan to Alabama to Hong Kong and Brazil.
Hi Susan! Thanks for participating in the 2016 SCBWI Bologna Book Fair interview series. With much more focus on diversity in children's books than has been in the past, how important of a role do you think book fairs like Bologna play in introducing young readers to children from other countries and cultures?
I think that book fairs like Bologna offer hope and understanding for our future. It creates the opportunity to come together from all over the world and find common ground in stories.
Children can only benefit from books translated into their native language to both learn about new cultures or to find that other cultures are very much like their own. With this experience, they see that kids from all over have similar feelings and experiences.
Any tips for new visitors to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair?
First of all, the SCBWI booth is your hub, and home away from home. You’ll be surrounded by friends you’ve never met before. To maximize your opportunities:
Apply for a personal or regional showcase with Chris Cheng.
Schedule portfolio reviews.
Bring promo materials.
Read the program.
Attend the talks.
Getting Around: Being the worrier that I am…I like to figure out where I am going via Google Maps the day before I need to be somewhere.
Since wi-fi is not always available on the streets, I take a screen shot of the map I need when I am connected, and can then access it through my phone or iPad photos whether I am connected or not.
Get city and bus maps at Tourist Info in the Neptune Fountain Piazza. Buy bus tickets there or at the Tabachi (the little kiosk).
Budget Tips: Have breakfast bars with you at all times. There are food stands at the Fair, but they are pricey and packed, and often a breakfast bar will get you though the day. Then you can splurge a bit on the dinner meal.
Some lodging comes with a modest breakfast, but if you have the option of declining breakfast for a price break, do so. You can generally get a cappuccino for much less and chomp on your breakfast bar.
If you have an apartment, buy groceries and make lunches, even some dinners.
But do eat out when you can. This is Italy! Home of spectacular food. Share a room, a taxi, a bottle of wine.
Do keep all receipts, again, remember this is a business trip.
Those are some great tips. You really are a pro. You’ve done a lot of traveling over the years, China, Italy, and Brazil. As an illustrator, how does seeing different cultures influence you?
I love getting a peek at different cultures when I travel, and specifically I love visiting the schools. One of the things that strikes me most, is how universal kids reactions and questions are.
I have had the same questions from kids in Hong Kong as I've had in Brazil. ("How long does it take you? Why clay? How much money do you make?")
Kids' artwork and enthusiasm are so similar in every culture I have seen. And since so much of my presentations are visual, language does not impose a huge barrier.
In 2015, you officially stepped onto the writing side of picture books with the release of Poppy’s Best Paper. First off, congratulations! And secondly, what particular challenge surprised you when you took off your illustrator’s hat and switched it for an author’s hat?
Thank you! I have lots of memories and ideas from my childhood.
I began writing because most art directors told me that my clay artwork was a tough fit for other people's manuscripts and that I should come up with my own stories.
As I began to write, the stories that unfolded were more complex than suited my illustration style, and the irony is that my own manuscript of Poppy's Best Paper was not a good fit for the clay!
I tried to illustrate Poppy in clay many times, until finally my agent intervened with the suggestion of using another illustrator.
Brilliant! Rosalinde Bonnet's illustrations made all the difference in the world.
Sometimes a fresh perspective is exactly what the project needs. So glad that worked out.
I’m just fascinated by your illustration method of first drawing an outline then filling it in with clay. Do you see the image with color before you begin or is that something that changes as the page progresses?
I start with a color palette that interests me, then I explore it further in the computer or with colored pencil, working on top of copies of my original sketch. Often colors are changed a bit in the clay stage, but I try to have the colors worked out before I mix them in clay.
I can imagine mistakes can be costly. After your artwork has been published in a book, how do you preserve it and are you allowed to sell it?
I save my artwork in pizza boxes and other flat boxes and have my studio knee wall space filled with them. The sad thing is that if I am using plasticine, it is not a permanent medium and they can never displayed in any way but on a tabletop under glass.
I do have some framed and saved that way, but I don't sell them. I also use some polymer clay which is more permanent, but I don't sell those either. Since the end product is ultimately a photograph of my clay, I do sell large prints of the work.
Pizza boxes. I love it! What question have you never been asked on an interview or school visit, but wish to be?
Hmmmm.... How old do you feel, or rather, what is your mental age?
I think ten years old is the age I identify with most. I still think like a ten year old. I'm forever trying to figure the world out and gain experiences by feeling my way through while keeping that sense of wonder. I rarely feel like an expert, but in a way that feeds the creativity.
That's actually why I enjoy clay so much, because I don't know how to do it! Every illustration becomes a discovery process. With lots of skills, ten year olds are still trying to do things in their own way with exuberance and angst, and most are not yet jaded.
Ten is my favorite age, too. And finally, what are you working on now? Any surprises you can share with us?
I am thrilled to say that my editor and I are working on a new Poppy book! In this second book, Poppy faces sibling rivalry with not one but two adorable additions to the family.
We'll see if Poppy can learn to share the limelight!
Congratulations! Can’t wait to find out. Thank you so much for stopping by, Susan. I wish you a lovely time at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.
The tenth out of eleven children in a family that took in hundreds of foster kids, Patti Buff found solitude in reading at a young age and hasn’t stopped. She later turned to writing because none of her other siblings had and she needed to stand out in the crowd somehow.
I drew Nora maybe three years ago. George is much more recent. I always wanted a companion for Nora and a couple of weeks ago I brought George to life. Both were based on two well known fascinating characters in the history of tattoo art. Nora Hildebrandt was considered the first tattooed lady and toured with the Barnum & Bailey circus whilst George Burchett had an equally amazing life and went on to become a world famous tattoo artist who even tattooed royalty.
It's been just over a year now, since I went full time as an illustrator and I won't lie, it's been tough. Great, and the best decision I've ever made, but it's been really tough financially speaking. So if 2015 was the year of transition, then 2016 has to be the year where I try to turn my illustration into a business. But that's really hard, right? Thinking of your art in those terms. But I need to eat and I need to pay bills and I need to keep a roof over my head. And, I'll do anything that means that I can draw for a living. Well, not quite anything...
I made both of these drawings with the upside down technique. Nora took me a while and quite a few attempts to get 'right' (or how I wanted her). I got George first time - but then I have had a LOT of practice with this technique as you can see in this sketchbook project.So Nora had a companion at last. I love both of these drawings. George and Nora are actually very dear to me.
I never ever saw myself making Valentines cards. I've never really done anything for a particular market or an occasion. Recently my sales in my Etsy shop have plummeted. I'm part of a local Etsy team and this seems to be something of a trend and not exclusive to me. There has been a huge amount of discussion on forums as to why this is but that's a whole blog post of it's own. I've spoken to people who have weathered that storm and asked them what they've been doing to keep afloat. A lot of those people have a good range of products at different price ranges. They also take holidays and markets seriously.
I couldn't though. I couldn't make something for a market. Not me. But Valentines day was coming up. Could I? Could I really? Surely it would be selling out. Surely it would mean I'd have to dilute my work and make something with hearts and roses and oh no. It was already making me cringe. But also, in another part of my brain, it became a kind of challenge. And then it made sense. I didn't have to do anything I felt uncomfortable about. I had the perfect pair for my Valentines cards. So George and Nora went to print.
I printed them on both white and cream card. I also made a sheet of different messages (see above), based on vintage tattoo designs, to put inside the cards and printed those off too. Then I hand cut them all out (this is where my great ideas always become very complicated and end up taking ridiculous amounts of time to create). Yes, I decided I wanted them to have almost a pop-up feel to them, so I cut around George and Nora and all the tattoos.
Then I bought some smart white and cream blank greetings cards and envelopes and hand stuck, with a little of that sticky foam, the romantic pair onto either side of the card and stuck the message on the inside. Finished them off with some cellophane bags and handmade labels and, hey presto, I had Valentines cards. Just like that.
And they went on sale. In my Etsy shop and at local galleries and art cafes. So, it is possible to make things for a specific occasion or market without compromising your art. When it comes to the amount of money I laid out and time put into each one I probably won't make my fortune on this range but I made something I'm proud of.
And, on another note, this is the kind of attention to detail and care that you buy into when you make a purchase from an independent maker. Products made with love and passion, where every single sale is appreciated. Now, I'm off to come up with my next money making world domination art project.
Tilly is a designer and illustrator based by the sea in Brighton. She had her first children's book 'Where's Will?' published in 2015 by Ivy Press with Thames and Hudson. Tilly's other clients have included National Geographic, Stella magazine, BBC, The Guardian and Bosch. Tilly likes to approach each brief with originality and a touch of humour, drawing inspiration from the everyday and the
What an exciting day! The Children's Museum of Indianapolis invited me to be part of a news segment to promote the new Pirates and Princesses exhibit opening this weekend. It was amazing to see the exhibit. Here is a clip from the newscast, as well as some photos from the exhibit.
Maria Had a Little Llama/Maria Tenia Una Llamita and Knit Together author and illustrator Angela Dominguez creates heart-warming tales about family and togetherness. Angela Dominguez is a two-time recipient of the American Library Association’s Pura Belpre Honor (2014 and 2016).
It’s kind of a love letter to my mom.
— Angela Dominguez on “Knit Together”
Angela’s picture books are rooted in the themes of family, tradition, and friendship. Several of her books including Maria Had A Little Llama/Maria Tenia Una Llamita;Let’s Go, Hugo; and Knit Together pull from relationships with family members and artifacts from her childhood. A wind-up toy inspired French bird Hugo. Angela’s memories of wanting to be a skilled knitter like her mother led her to write a book to remind children they can be talented in their own way. An aunt’s interest in indigenous cultures informed the writing of a version of Mary Had a Little Lamb with a Peruvian twist.
Angela’s books aren’t only an option for children growing up bilingual; they are excellent for those who want to expose young readers to the Spanish language and Latino culture.
Aspiring illustrators will enjoy hearing about Angela’s process and seeing what a book looks like from start to finish.
We’re giving away three (3) sets of books from Angela Dominguez. Each set includes signed copies of Maria Had a Little Llama and Knit Together. Enter now!
All entrants must reside in the United States and be at least 13 years old.
ABOUT THE BOOKS
Written and illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers
From an award-winning illustrator comes a sweet story of mothers and daughters, drawing and knitting, and learning to embrace your talents just right for Mother’s Day. Drawing is fun, but knitting is better because you can wear it Knitting isn t easy, though, and can be a little frustrating. Maybe the best thing to do is combine talents. A trip to the beach offers plenty of inspiration. Soon mom and daughter are collaborating on a piece of art they can share together: a special drawing made into a knitted beach blanket. For every mom and daughter, this is an arts-and-crafts ode creative passion and working together.
Written and illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Published by Harry N. Abrams
Dominguez presents a humorous and endearing portrait of a stubborn French bulldog and a determined little boy.
Everyone knows about Mary and her little lamb. But do you know Maria? With gorgeous, Peruvian-inspired illustrations and English and Spanish retellings, Angela Dominguez gives a fresh new twist to the classic rhyme. Maria and her mischievous little llama will steal your heart.
Let’s Go, Hugo! Written and illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers
Hugo is a dapper little bird who adores the Eiffel Tower — or at least his view of it from down here. Hugo, you see, has never left the ground. So when he meets another bird, the determined Lulu, who invites him to fly with her to the top of the tower, Hugo stalls, persuading Lulu to see, on foot, every inch of the park in which he lives instead. Will a nighttime flying lesson from Bernard the Owl, some sweet and sensible encouragement from Lulu, and some extra pluck from Hugo himself finally give this bird the courage he needs to spread his wings and fly?
Marta! Big & Small (August 23, 2016)
Written by Jennifer Arena, illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Marta is “una nina,” an ordinary girl . . . with some extraordinary animal friends. As Marta explores the jungle, she knows she’s bigger than a bug, smaller than an elephant, and faster than a turtle. But then she meets the snake, who thinks Marta is “sabrosa” tasty, very tasty But Marta is “ingeniosa,” a very clever girl, and she outsmarts the snake with hilarious results. With simple Spanish and a glossary at the end, this fun read-aloud picture book teaches little ones to identify opposites and animals and learn new words.
Hello “Hola.” Some people speak Spanish. Some people speak English. Although we may not speak the same language, some things, like friendship, are universal. Follow two young giraffes as they meet, celebrate, and become friends. This bilingual tale will have readers eager to meet new friends and “amigos.”
COMING IN 2017 Sing Don’t Cry
Written and illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Published by Henry Holt & Company
Pura Belpre Honor winner, Angela Dominguez, based this musically driven story on her beloved grandfather. Her abuelo always encouraged her to stay positive and carry on.
ABOUT ANGELA DOMINGUEZ
Angela was born in Mexico City, grew up in the great state of Texas, and lived in San Francisco. She’s the author and illustrator of picture books such as Let’s Go, Hugo!, Santiago Stays, Knit Together, and Maria Had A Little Llama, which received the American Library Association Pura Belpré Illustration Honor. When she is not in her studio, Angela teaches at the Academy of Art University, which honored her with their Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013. She also enjoys presenting at different schools and libraries to all sorts of ages. Angela is a proud member of SCBWI, PEN America, and is represented by Wernick and Pratt Literary Agency.
Meet Ms. Banana, the first of three fruit characters heading to a math card game. I am so honored to get to work with great clients, doing great things for others. This project is the brainchild of a creative mathematics instructor. Using Adobe Illustrator and InDesign we are bringing to life a fun and entertaining method to teaching arithmetic.
Designer Lisa Barlow has recently gone from working full time in-house for 4 years for greetings card companies to full time freelancing, working under the name Milk & Honey Studio. She is very experienced in designing/illustrating for greeting cards, children's homeware and fashion as well as children's books and we are lucky enough to see some of her latest portfolio pieces in this post. Lisa
These past few months, I have had the opportunity to create the artwork for the Children's Museum of Indianapolis's upcoming "Pirates and Princesses" exhibit, which will be opening next week on January 30th! This exhibit will be a walk through famous stories of royals and rebels. Children can play in a castle, a pirate ship, dress up in costume, experience an interactive digital piece, and more! I hope you can join us on opening day!
The cover illustration of KOOKY CRUMBS in progress
With a posse of illustrators at the Midsouth SCBWI Picture Book Dummy Retreat at Pickwick Landing State Park
Meeting Dan Santat and Michelle Knudson at the National SCBWI conference in LA
and especially here
My launch for THE LITTLE KIDS' TABLE !! On September 11th, the day after my 43rd birthday. This is probably my favorite picture from all of 2015. All the ladies in this picture are accomplished artists as well as amazing friends.
Dulce Desserts provided this amazing cake!
Reading my book at Parnassus during the launch. I was so happy I didn't have to use a microphone.
And this is the my other favorite picture from 2015. After the party was over the very last picture was taken with me, Jim Dear, Fry and Sprout
There were also some pretty awesome vacations in the mix:
Then two weeks after that we boarded the Disney Wonder for some much needed relaxation from Vancouver to San Diego.
as well as some very awesome book parties for many of my talented friends:
Launching POPPY'S BEST PAPER by Susan Eaddy
Launching DUNCAN THE STORY DRAGON by Amanda Driscoll. Also pictured is Jessica Young who launched SPY GUY and FINLEY FLOWERS
So while a tiny little part of me missed writing in my blog the truth is the time has come for me to realize that the time I spend blogging is time I could be spending doing a lot of other things. Which leads me to my personal goal for 2016: CRAFT
Illustrating and writing require a constant, lifelong commitment to get better. Over the course of my blog I've posted my weekly sketches. I've posted about critiques and workshops and conferences. These are all important to do and to attend but now I plan to spend the better part of 2016 focusing all my creative energy on my craft. Writing and rewriting, drawing, and redrawing. The time that I could be spending putting together a blog post is now going to be spent doing the work that improves my craft. And when I'm not doing THAT I'll be continuing to keep my resolutions from 2015. Or hanging out with Jim Dear, The Fry, and Sprout who are growing up at a much more rapid rate than they have a right to.
Not that I won't ever post as Fabulous Illustrator again but Facebook and Twitter give me the opportunity to natter about ordinary life. I do have some other posts planned but for 2016 I'll save my blog for really special occasions…. like this:
KOOKY CRUMBS arrived on my doorstep on January 11th, 2016!
As is standard with me, as soon as I say I'm going to be on top form, posting on my blog daily, I post nothing for weeks. I should just not say anything. Plus, I promised a month of inspirational drawing ideas. Well, I do kind of have one of those for you. Quite unintentionally really.
So, this was yesterday. A small group of us had planned to meet for our friend Karrie Brown's birthday in what was being called a 'Doodle and Afternoon Tea'. A sort of mini sketchcrawl.
After the first destination we had arranged to meet at was closed for 'emergency maintenance' our plans had to change, so we ended up at Staircase House - the oldest town house in Stockport - and while we didn't draw in there we (some of us) raided their dressing up box.
The kind people of the museum even let us take the costumes out on the town. Or specifically to the market. So with three of the group dressed up, in costumes that spanned the ages and messed with history, the rest of us got to draw them in various parts of the market.
It struck us that this is a great idea. Some of us already do urban sketching, and sketchcrawls, and we also do alternative life-drawing - with clothed models - but this brought those two things together.
So, just like above, getting models to pose in-situ was really good fun. And, at moments, also quite surreal.
So, that's my suggestion/idea. Give it a go. If you know anyone nuts enough to walk around in costume, in public places, rope them in. Otherwise hire someone! We intend to do more of this in the future.
I love it when things work out like that. Serendipity, I guess they call it.
Then it was back to afternoon tea and more drawing.
Oh, and here's another idea. Something I try to do lately. I always try to take some different pens and tools out with me on these little jaunts. Whether its a sketchcrawl or life drawing. I take things that I wouldn't normally draw with.
It forces you to use something else apart from your old favourites. Cos if you ain't got it with you you cant use it.
Like yesterday, not a fine liner in sight. I took marker pens (Letraset Aqua-Markers to be specific) and a brush pen. So, I know it's a real old cliché, but my idea for today is to get out of your comfort zone. I did and I'm pretty chuffed with the results.
Laura Manfre is a self-taught illustrator from France. Her work has a beautiful traditional quality to it but still remains relevant and appealing. It’s difficult not to feel hungry when looking at Laura Manfre’s work due to one of her main subjects being indulgent treats and tasty snacks. She is equally talented though at depicting other subjects such as animals and people.
If you’d like to see more of Laura’s work, please visit her portfolio.
Every year I seem to do several versions of my entry for the SCBWI Tomie Depaola award Contest. this year was no exception. I did two completely different settings for Little Red Riding Hood prompt. The passage I used was “Her grandmother lived in the woods, about half an hour’s walk away. When Little Red Riding Hood had only been walking a few minutes, a wolf came up to her. She didn’t know what a wicked animal he was, so she wasn’t afraid of him.”
In the end I sent the Central Park Little Red Riding Hood, but I always wonder if I should’ve sent the other one/ones. Which one?
Since my Craftsy masterclass launched on Oct 19th, I have had an amazing 1161 people sign up! This is great news, not just because it is brilliant to know that it is obviously hitting the spot, but also because Craftsy classes are paid very much like picture books - you get an advance and then royalties.
For those who don't know how an advance works, it is a payment to help cover the time the artist spends in development and production. It's better than a flat fee though, because it is an advance on royalties that the company expects you will be able to earn, which means that, if sales go really well and you earn more than the advance they've paid, you start to get more payments: your actual royalties.
I was paid half my advance when we finished filming in September last year and half when the class went live in October. The Craftsy website has a place with a little graph which tells me how much of my advance has been earned out. I've been taking a peak every few days and watching it creep up and, FANTASTIC news - this morning it looked like this. It was at 99%!
I goes up slightly faster if people click through from my website or blog, so it's hard to work out exactly how many people that missing 1% represents, but I reckon I need about 12 more people to subscribe, for me hit the golden 100%.
The great thing about a Craftsy class is that it is not in 'real time'. You can sign up at any time and watch it at any time: it's there forever, for you to watch over and over if you like, so you can work through things as fast or as slowly as you wish. Plus, if you get busy and suddenly don't have time to get through all the 7 lessons, you can come back and carry on next year, if that fits better. You also get the chance to ask me questions and post your homework. If you've not seen it yet, this little trailer gives you a very clear idea of what you learn:
So, if you want to be able to draw characters with confidence - animals, people, whatever you fancy - and more importantly, learn how to make them feel real, by giving them individual personalities and emotional responses to their situations, have a go at the class and be one of my 12 people!
It's currently on sale at £19.16 (or whatever the equivalent is in dollars, if you are over that side of the pond). I think for what you get, that it really good value. I've certainly had lots of lovely feedback. Hope you like it!
YanYan Evan-Jones is originally from China but now lives in England. She is an amateur illustrator who is really interested in surface pattern design and wanted to show her works to a wider audience.
YanYan primarily works with pen and paper, and doesn't sketch anything out in pencil first. She loves the fact that working this way means that there are no second chances; for better or worse
Zim & Zou are Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmermann, they are two french artists based in Nancy. They use handcrafted objects to make beautiful colourful installations. They studied graphic design for three years whilst at art school, but their studio works in a variety of multidisciplinary ways incorporating illustration, graphic design and paper sculptures. There favourite material to use is paper, making everything by hand.