SCBWI

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Get to Know Our Illustrators – Shiho Pate

How long have you been a member of SCBWI? What’s the most impactful thing you have learned from being in SCBWI?

I’ve been a member since 2017. Since joining SCBWI I learned how to tailor my portfolio for children’s books specifically. I also learn a lot from Illustrator’s monthly meetups and critiques.

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate?

Sumi ink, pencil, charcoal, Photoshop, Surface Pro laptop and the pen that comes with it.

I prefer the mix. I love looseness and control. Mixing traditional medium and digital medium helps me to do both.

OH but after illustrating Animated Science: Periodic Table, I learned to love digital only. I’m confident enough to add that style in my portfolio (https://www.shihopate.com/simple)

What is your illustration process?

I always start with thumbnail sketches. I have sketches with a tight box (ex: 1/8 scale) but I also doodle a lot on the side. This is when I play, brainstorm and jot down ideas.

Once I (or editor/art director) pick the idea, I do a series of tighter sketches. I experiment with colors and values at this time as well. I make the sketch as tight as possible so I can play in the next step.

Once I have a tight sketch, I draw and paint parts. I use a lightbox so I have my sketch as a guide. But I try to be loose and play as much as I can. I love all the textures ink, charcoal and pencil makes. I also draw the same shape multiple times until I get the shape and texture I want. Chill repetitive music (Breathe by Telepopmusik on repeat) helps get the best lines.

Then comes the tedious part. Scanning everything, separating parts, assembling and coloring in Photoshop. This is when I listen to podcasts, dance music and Ghibli movies. I listened to Kiki’s Delivery Service so many times.

Then ta-da! I usually illustrate in CMYK, 300dpi even for personal work so if my agent wants me to print something for publishers and editors, it’s ready.

How long have you been illustrating? How did you first get into illustration?

My career started in 2008. My first job was a game artist. This meant illustrating characters, assets, UI and anything in between. During almost 10 years of my game artist career, I practiced my craft and slowly transitioned into children’s book illustration.

Are you self taught or did you study illustration?

I studied Illustration in Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD illo house woot woot!).

I got to study in the BEST building. It was basically a 4 (5?) floor house and everything creaked. I don’t think they use that house anymore though…

Do you have a dedicated art space? Is it in your home or outside your home?

Kind of. It’s not in a private room so my daughter and my husband run around behind me all the time.

(I promise, I’ll clean up soon)

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

Books that will last for generations. I would also love to illustrate board books.

Are you working on any fun projects now?

Yes! Animated Science: Rocks and Minerals (Scholastic) will be out this Summer (2022) and Ramen For Everyone (Atheneum, Simon & Schuster) will be out in Spring 2023!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58719181-animated-science is what I can share right now 🙂

Do you write children’s books as well or have any plans to do so?

Yes! I have one out for submission so if you’re interested in seeing it, please email me!

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

If you want to be a children’s book illustrator, read a lot of books. Study it. Go to the library and see what kids are reading (don’t be creepy though). Learn how to do an illustration in a set time (they will ask you how long it will take for you to do XX sketches). Have art friends that will boost you up and trust. And most of all, ENJOY the journey.

Do you currently have an agent? If so, how did you end up with that agent?

Yes! I am represented by lovely Deborah Warren at East West Literary Agency. I was introduced to her by my illustrator mentor.

Have you won any illustrator awards?

  • 2020 SCBWI SoCal Writer Illustrator Day Portfolio Showcase winner
  • Published books
    • 2 Pirates + 1 Robot (KaneMiller 2019)
    • Animated Science: Periodic Table (Scholastic 2021)

Both books I mentioned above were fun experiences! Editors and Art directors were very positive, understanding and patient. I learned a lot but the number one thing I learned to do was to ask questions. They knew I am a newbie in the industry. So I asked anything and everything, with respect of course.

List 3 to 5 interesting things about yourself.

  • I learned to like Dr.Pepper but still can’t drink Root beer. It’s pure medicine taste (sorry root beer fans).
  • I have a UK, Southern, Japanese English accent. When I’m nervous it becomes more obvious.
  • My nickname in Japan is Shippo. My school friends don’t use my real name. Shippo means tail because I used to have a long ponytail like a horse’s tail.

Where can people find more of your work?

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To see our Previous Get to Know Our Illustrators, click here.