SCBWI

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

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  •   How long have you been a member of SCBWI? I’ve been a member for eleven years. What’s the most impactful thing you have learned from being in SCBWI? That question is like asking “Who’s your favorite guitarist?” Depends—favorite jazz, rock, fingerstylist …? I guess if I try to go all Yoda, it’s that children’s writing is a balancing act. Whenever Art tries to hang out and get all chummy with Business, all bets are off. Becoming a successful author is unpredictable, fraught with twists and turns, full of more and more ways to move forward. If you hear someone giving you rules for being creative, run for the hills. We tell one another lots of craft rules and industry dicta, which can be helpful up to a point, especially if you are just starting out. I’ve followed a LOT of advice over the years and it has helped me improve and maybe inch closer to marketable. However, ultimately you have to write what you hear in your head, what you feel in your heart. If it resonates with you, it will resonate with someone out there too. Just have to find them. [caption id=
  • Hannah Sease is especially fond of drawing animals and comfortable furniture, usually together. Much of her time is spent seeking coziness in all its many forms; from campfires to chicken pot pie, to a nap on the couch, a quality that has also found its way into her art through themes of folklore and rural aesthetics. Stemming from a childhood of reading Beatrix Potter, exploring holes under rotten trees, and keeping a roadkill journal, Hannah enjoys being outdoors camping, biking, swimming, and collecting ideas for her art through woodsy adventures. A good adventure calls for a return to home, a familiar hearth, and a cup of tea, a balance that inspires and focuses much of Hannah’s work.  Nurtured by her younger years spent living around the world with her family, she has garnered a fascination for what we define as home and finding ways to feel at home anywhere. You can visit her at www.hannahsease.com or on her Instagram @hannahsease.art  
  • How long have you been a member of SCBWI? What’s the most impactful thing you have learned from being in SCBWI? I have been a member of SCBWI since 2018. Joining SCBWI has opened my eyes to the world of publishing. The organization has many valuable resources, such as, The Book, which is a comprehensive guide to publishing. There are classes, conferences, mentorships, industry insights, and local groups you can meet with, to name a few. My local group, SCBWI SoCal, has helped me tremendously, especially when I was just starting out and many have become my lifelong friends. We were able to meet, share ideas, critique our work, tackle problems, and motivate each other to do our very best. The most impactful thing I have learned is that you’re not alone in this journey. SCBWI is a community of talented and inspiring authors, illustrators, art directors, editors, agents, publishers, and creatives. I am so grateful I joined SCBWI! What medium(s) do you use to illustrate?   I use traditional and digital media. I like painting in gouache and ink and coloring with colored pencils. I use Procreate for initial illustrations and quick value and color studies. I use Photoshop for painting final art. I love the ease of Procreate. Now, there are many brushes that mimic traditional media, like gouache, and pencils that look and feel like a real pencil. I have the 11” iPad, so it’s easy to carry around. I just wish there would be more layers. What is your illustration process? First, I try to understand the assignment or work I have to do, whether it be an illustration I have to create for a book, a magazine spread, or a prompt. The more I learn about its purpose and message, the better I can convey it clearly with my illustrations.  This leads me to the second part, which is research. This part is when I often fall in a rabbit hole. I love this phase because it opens my eyes to many new things. I would read the author’s work, gather references, read more about the topic, and study a location. I’m always observing and jotting notes I can refer to later. I might need to sharpen my skills and take art classes. I had to draw a Great Dane for a project, and I had no idea how. I had to learn their anatomy and observed how they moved differently from other dogs.  This is also the part when I experiment on what kind of medium to use. I normally start using traditional media and then mimicking that with digital. I figure out brushes, textures, and line art.  The third stage is three parts– drawing characters, props, and environment. I’ve studied visual development and children’s illustration and over the years of creating work this way, I became accustomed to it. This stage is the most fun because I get to create! Using my notes during the research phase, I first identify a time and place where the story would take place. Then, I incorporate the qualities and personality of my character to determine the features, costume, and color scheme. After figuring this out, I move to the items they possess and the environment they live in. I try to do as many iterations as possible; and if I get stuck, I’ll sleep on it and hope that my brain will give me the answers when I wake up. ☺ Sometimes, I go back to #2 and do more research.  Illustrating – I start with the rough sketch, clean it up, move to tights. Color – before color, I do value studies first, then I work on an overall color scheme. Depending on what project, there will be several passes. With books, I create story boards.  How long have you been illustrating? I’ve been illustrating since I was a child. My mom was an art teacher, so I followed her around and joined her art classes. I was an accidental art teacher and taught art masters to toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners and elementary students. When my children were 15-16 years old, I decided to live my dream of being an artist and children’s book illustrator. (This realization sparked after teaching my students about Grandma Moses.) Yes, it’s never too late to start something you love! I opened an Instagram account to push myself to draw every day. I also joined gallery exhibits and shows to get a feel of how the public perceived my art and to network with other artists. I started working professionally in 2019 when I was asked to illustrate a map to launch a new season for a television show. Are you self taught or did you study illustration? I was an art major in college, but eventually changed majors to biology and child and adolescent development. Since I didn’t get an art degree, I was compelled to learn as much as I could. I studied visual development, children’s illustration, and foundational courses through self-paced online classes, mentored classes, and at colleges. I listened to interviews of my favorite artists and learned which classes to take, schools to attend, and what books to read. Do you have a dedicated art space? Is it in your home or outside your home? Yes. I have a worktable in my closet and in the downstairs office. I used to work in my bedroom closet. (I have more art materials than clothes, and it had enough space for a small table and a bookcase.) After my kids were asleep, I would go in and work for an hour or so. If I stayed longer than usual, I could easily roll into bed. It worked well for the time being. However, during the pandemic, it became claustrophobic. I needed sunlight and people, so I moved part of my workspace in our downstairs office. Now I have it set up as a workstation to finish projects and the closet as a thinking space. What would be your dream book to illustrate? My dream book would be a golden book. I loved them when I was child. It would be great to have the opportunity to illustrate one. Are you working on any fun projects now? Yes, I am working on finishing a manuscript, a book dummy, and a few things. Do you write children's books as well or have any plans to do so? Yes, I have written stories that need lots of revisions and critiques. Any tips for illustrators that are starting out? My tip is to stay curious. That curiosity will lead you to the path you want to go and lead you to people you want to meet.  My second tip is that you’re never alone. There is an amazing community of creators, like SCBWI, ready to give a helping hand, stand by you, and cheer you on.  Do you currently have an agent? If so, how did you end up with that agent? Yes, I am represented by Jemiscoe Chambers-Black of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. On the last day of the SCBWI Summer Conference in 2020, I received the luckiest email thus far. She asked if I was interested in being represented by a literary agent. She’s the most amazing agent, and I feel so blessed to have found her. What has been your publishing experience? I illustrated The Superpower Sisterhood by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush (4/19/22 Little Brown Young Readers), How to Have Friends by Maryann MacDonald (4/2/22 Albert Whitman), and a self-published book, Lincoln Lives Large by Megan Troka. Illustrating a book – When I received the initial call that I got the job, it was euphoria. Then reality set in on the amount of work that had to be done, it was paranoia. There were times when I doubted myself. Once understood the project more and found a groove of my work pattern and schedule, it was Halleluiah! Working as an illustrator is having lots of mental stamina and physical endurance.  List 3 to 5 interesting things about yourself. I love animation. I love veggies and eat them all the time. I am afraid of maggots. I enjoy nature walks, and I used to draw trees with my dog (he’s gotten older now). My favorite flower is the sunflower, and I have created a character based on a field of sunflowers. Where can people find more of your work? Website: cwojo.com IG: @cyndi_draws Twitter: @cyndidraws __________________________________ To see our Previous Get to Know Our Illustrators, click here.

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Our region includes Orange County, San Bernardino, Riverside and Long Beach. We have sunny beaches, snow-capped mountains, and scenic deserts. We are also home to incredible writers and illustrators who mingle and hone their craft at monthly meet-ups and critique groups, an annual retreat and an

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