SCBWI

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Previous Get to Know Our Illustrators

OCTOBER 2021 ILLUSTRATOR – HILARY NORCLIFFE

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

I’ve probably been an SCBWI member for about 10 years or so – on and off.  Besides learning how hard it is to make a good children’s book, I have also learned to relate it to a theatre production – which is an analogy that helps me think about all the book components.

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate?

My typical answer to this question is “I don’t use oil paint.”  I love lots of traditional media – I guess a fair amount of my work has been pencil and watercolor.

What is your illustration process?

Oh I don’t know.  Most ideas come just from things around me – like when I left a sweet potato on my studio table and it grew these beautiful purple shoots – eventually I needed to paint it and the title “Sweet Potato Island” popped into my head.   I’ve known the opening lines to the story for years – but keep changing what happens.  The main character originally was going to be a drag queen inspired leafy sea dragons, which I love watching and drawing at the long beach aquarium.

 

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

 

I have a fine art background in found-object sculpture and drawing.   I did a pen & ink show about 8 years ago and someone told me they could see the work as illustration.   I had already been toying with children’s book ideas, so I thought – Ok, how do I make that transition?   I’m still figuring it out!

Are you self taught or did you study illustration?

I have a BA in Psychology from McGill University (Montreal, Canada) and an MFA in Drawing/Painting/Intermedia from CSULB.  I have no training in illustration and struggle endlessly.

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

I have a little studio space inside my house.   It’s always a mess.

 

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

I selfishly just want to illustrate my own stories.

Are you working on any fun projects now?

I have 5 or 6 stories in various stages of development/stagnation.  The one closest to realization is called “Seeing Things in Joshua Tree” – which is a rhyme told by a little girl who goes for a hike in Joshua Tree and imagines she sees animals in the rock formations.  It’s based on a real hiking trail in the national park – and I set it up so that you could potentially take the book with you and hunt for the animals in sequence on the walk.  I was originally going to just use watercolors of the landscapes and imaginings, but later decided it would help to have sketches of the character and her family on the left side with the text.   I’m looking into self-publishing – just to see it.

 

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

Yes!   I love words.  I like the way they sound – their musicality – their beat.

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

 

10% inspiration, 90% perspiration (a teacher said it to me once, and I say it a lot to my students).

List 3 to 5 interesting things about yourself.

Watching elephants on live-cams makes me happy.

By the time I was 18 I had lived in England, Canada, Kenya and France.  In 1993 I thought moving to LA was going to be terrible.   But I’m still here!

For the past 3 or 4 years I’ve focused mainly on making sculpture – but I’m hoping to pick up my story ideas again in response to some of the 3D pieces I created for “St. Broxville Wood”.  This is a youtube video I made when the sculpture show at CalPoly Pomona got sealed up by Covid for 18 months.  https://youtu.be/A5yfAOO7sSk

(Video Title:  St. Broxville Woods:  Rumbles & Thrums)

    

Happy Halloween!

(Head shot is me testing out a Shrek costume adaptation I was making for my daughter’s musical theatre teacher – the original headpiece was heavy solid rubber.)

 

Where can people find more of your work?

https://www.instagram.com/norcliffehilary/

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SEPTEMBER ILLUSTRATOR – CLAIRE DEWILDE

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

I joined SCBWI in 2016 after I graduated from CSULB. The most impactful thing I’ve learned from fellow members is that this pursuit is a marathon, not a sprint!

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate?

I love working in ink. Felt tip pens or ballpoint. Digital is so much faster, but nothing comes close to the scratch of real pen and paper!

What is your illustration process?

I fill a page (or three) with doodles, and then if one of them feels special, I’ll pull it aside and give it some extra attention. I find that tracing will never replicate the quality of that first draft, so I try to incorporate as much of the raw sketch as I can.

I like to start on real paper for more lively lines, and then pull it into a digital environment for full treatment. It used to take me a long time to scan things in, but now I have an iPad Pro that I use to take photos and pull drawings that way. I find that I make many more finished drawings now just because the iPad is so much more immediate.

(an example of one of my sketchpads – this one is 18×24” newsprint, and some examples of some cleaned-up drawings in Procreate)

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

In kindergarten, I flat out refused to color anything. But I always loved to draw! I would add characters and details to my coloring pages, but I hated coloring them. I loved using my drawings to make my friends and teachers laugh.

I didn’t realize that art could be more than a hobby until my senior year of high school – that was such an exciting feeling!

Are you self taught or did you study illustration?

I studied fine arts at Cal State Long Beach, with an emphasis in illustration. I chose a University because I love to immerse myself in multiple disciplines, rather than only taking art classes. Other subjects inform and enrich my drawings.

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

I would love to have a little studio space someday! For now, it’s just a desk next to my bed, and some terrific walnut shelves that hold my art supplies.

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

 

A book that is just straight up WEIRD and surreal. “Waiting for Godot”, but for kids. I also love any book with an unreliable narrator.

Are you working on any fun projects now?

I’ve been working on a choose-your-own-adventure mystery app for a while now. It’s been really fun puzzling out the plot (which currently looks like a big tangled root system) and also navigating a new medium. Building an app is much different from building a book! I’m approaching it with the same careful attention to page turns, and trimming the fat. Even though I’m not limited to 32 pages, I want to keep the same intentionality in every frame.

(some examples below of my process, and an excerpt of the story map)

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

I write for my own projects. I don’t have any particular writing plans, but I’m not opposed to exploring!

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

Remember that you can’t make art about art – intense focus can limit your world!

You can have discipline and still not draw every single day. There is a difference between making excuses and being kind to yourself (but watch that line closely).

Do you currently have an agent?

 Not agented.

Any awards you’ve won or books you’ve published?

I’ve illustrated a self-published book that was deeply personal to the author’s family. Engaging with such emotionally heavy material was an exercise in empathy on a level I never knew existed!

List 3 to 5 interesting things about yourself.

  1. I enjoy crochet, felting, weaving, embroidery – pretty much every form of fiber art
  2. I treasure my omnichord (I have an OM200, for any fellow space cadets out there)
  3. I am a master of the original Super Mario Bros NES game
  4. My favorite author is Douglas Adams, and I have the full original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series box set!

Where can people find more of your work?

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AUGUST ILLUSTRATOR – STEVE BJORKMAN

This is from the Holiday House book, DINOSAURS DON’T, DINOSAURS DO

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 back when the summer conferences were in Marina del Rey, that was before they added the “I” for Illustrators, so likely way more than a dozen years ago. I am an enthusiastic advocate of SCBWI. This unflaggingly encouraging organization offers the educational resources, community of fellow writers and illustrators and occasionally the connections to enter and prosper in the children’s book world. Being a writer or illustrator is primarily a solo endeavor, so community is a rare blessing.

This is a favorite illustration in search of the right story.

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate?

I use ink and watercolor to illustrate everything I‘ve done. I will sometimes use pen and ink, other times brush and ink, and even a stick or feather quill to make the ink lines, whatever fits the text to be illustrated. For any picture books using color I use watercolor. Almost everything begins with analog tools, then I run things through Photoshop.

 

What is your illustration process?

I will soak in the text, rereading it and frequently making thumbnail pencil sketches in the margins as images are prompted by the words and heartbeat of the writing. These initial, intuitive tiny sketches frequently become the basis for the finished art. I pay attention to initial impressions. For a picture book I then make a page of thumbnails to lay out the visual flow of the art and determine text placement. From here I enlarge and refine the sketches enough to send them off to the editor or art director. Depending on how well that person knows me and my work will determine how precise the sketches are. I want them to feel entirely comfortable in the process. After making whatever corrections are necessary I enlarge the sketches to final art size, lightly trace the image onto watercolor paper and ink in the art. Then I jump in with the watercolor. There are many opportunities for slip ups along the way, and watercolors can often have a mind of their own, so sometimes I’ll need to repeat this until it’s right. I then scan the art, make minor corrections and send off the files. An unusual exception to this process is with the middle grade black and white illustrations I’ve done for Holiday House for Vivian Vande Velde’s remarkable “Squirrel” stories. Here I did not submit sketches but simply illustrated the text with whatever images the story inspired and sent them all off without any editorial input whatsoever. It sounds brash until you understand that I will always do whatever images are needed and it was more important for me to give the editor a surplus of images to choose from than to bog down the process with sketch approvals. The publisher knows me well enough to feel comfortable with my promise to revise and redo anything needing adjustment. Is this ultimately more work for me? Of course. But the resulting art is more energetic and spontaneous in this case.

The owl image is the first idea for a story I’d written that my agent found insufficiently dramatic for the text.

So I found another image from the story to illustrate, which certainly doesn’t lack drama now!

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

I’ve been drawing since I was a toddler, and consistently got in grade school trouble drawing in class. Although I went to college so I could teach high school English, I wound up making a living drawing pictures. I began my career primarily doing cartoon style illustrations in the advertising and magazine world, and branched out into children’s books and greeting cards about thirty years ago. I was fortunate to have knowledgeable people who encouraged me along the way.

Are you self taught or did you study illustration?

I am self taught, but am always studying the art of others and I always, always, always carry a sketchbook and draw people, settings and objects from life. After more than forty years in this business I am still learning, often from studying the fine work of artists far younger than me.

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

I have always had a place to create art outside the home. I am not a neat person and especially in the early years of very tight advertising deadlines, working out of the home with young kiddos would have been tough.

An early version of FLAT STANLEY by Jeff Brown for Harper Collins.

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

I like infusing work with whimsy and heart. Work I do ranges from quiet and contemplative to loud and dynamic. I’m drawn to stories with heart, exemplifying kindness, conviction, courage and adventure.

Are you working on any fun projects now?

I have the wonderful opportunity to illustrate a new book in the “squirrel” series by Vivian Vande Velde for Holiday House. I just agreed to do this within the last few days so I’m quite happy about it. I am also working on a fun series of “Knock-Knock” humor books for Harper Collins. These will be a fun challenge because they involve paper engineering for flaps that open.

This is a cover for one of what I call the “squirrel” books from Holiday House by Vivian Vande Velde.

This is a piece of inside art for one of what I call the “squirrel” books from Holiday House by Vivian Vande Velde.

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

I have written a small handful of books and illustrated over one hundred written by others. I am currently wrestling with writing a middle grade novel while continuing to bounce around other picture book ideas.

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

I always point people to SCBWI. A person starting out can learn so much, especially at the conferences and break out sessions. Keeping a sketchbook is so helpful. I think it’s important your sketchbook is a place where nothing ever has to be perfect or precise and you can scribble ideas and draw the scenes you encounter in life. I constantly sketch the people I see around me, drawing from life. A third suggestion is to get honest feedback from trusted sources, not just cheerleaders. Your value as an artist is different from your value as a person; develop a capacity to accept critique. Learn to draw different ages of children as well as different settings and especially action and emotion. Drawing from life informs your later imaginary drawings.

Do you currently have an agent?

 Yes. I have an agent who was recommended to me by both another illustrator and an editor. Interestingly, the first time I sat down with him he critiqued one of my illustrations, telling me how he didn’t think it was a very strong image for the text it was illustrating. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect he was testing the waters to see how well I could handle a critique. I took his suggestions, went home and redid the art and sent it to him.

One of my favorite covers. This is from DIRT ON MY SHIRT, Jeff Foxworthy’s first picture book from Harper Collins.

Any awards you’ve won or books you’ve published?

I’ve illustrated over one hundred picture books and many middle grade books with black and white line art. I illustrated an early version of FLAT STANLEY and sequels as well as three humor picture books for the comedian Jeff Foxworthy.  Two of Jeff’s books became New York Times best sellers. While many of my books are now out of print, the very first picture book I illustrated, I HATE ENGLISH is still out there.

List 3 to 5 interesting things about yourself.

I love exploring all sorts of art forms: painting, drawing, printmaking, song writing, sculpture, story writing, and speaking. I will even occasionally preach (while drawing) at church. A few years ago my wife and I spent over four months volunteering at a medical mission in rural, tribal Fiji. We went back a year later for one month in the middle of a big picture book deadline. I sent off sketches before I left, did some work while I was there and finished the art when I returned. (I met the deadline early!) I have three grown children, a granddaughter and one on the way.

This tender piece is from THE LOST LAMB by Melody Carlson for Crossway.

Where can people find more of your work?

A variety of my work, especially beyond illustration work can be found on Instagram at steve_bjorkman. My web site: SteveBjorkman.com has examples of my work as well.

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JULY ILLUSTRATOR – LAYAL IDRISS

Astro teatime illustration from 2013 my first postcard art.

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

I think I started my journey with SCBWI in 2011. I attended my first conference in 2013, it was life-changing and a new begging to move from just a dreamer in the world of Kidlit to an active participant. I since volunteered and got more involved as my school hosted agent’s day a few years ago. SCBWI has so many benefits but what I really feel is an asset is the community feel.

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate?

I mainly work digitally for my professional work and keep watercolors, pens, and markers for fun. Digital work helps me be mobile and take my time with experiments and client edits. I use the Ipad and apple pencil my preferred application is procreated. It was all traditional work and photoshop up until 2017 I got an iPad and started sketching and playing around. Today it is my go-to choice along with my sketchbook and pencil.

 

What is your illustration process?

Yaraleena Process (1)

The video attached titled (Yaraleena) Shows my process for a single illustration.

I actually started with a random process without a specific focus and I noticed that was not helping me and just made me anxious, I talked to my mentors and learned from them that a clear outline of an art process will help me so much and would allow me to take on more projects as a freelancer.
I start by giving myself time to process the project and set an outline that is specific to the project and or client needs, I follow that by creating a mood board followed by thumbnail sketching and some character options for the client to choose from.
I use Pinterest to seek inspiration, color, and layout ideas. It is important to know when to stop! 
Pinning is fun but don’t let it take over your time and energy. A little goes a long way!! 
Thumbnails are a great way to map and plan character designs poses and the rest of the book-making process!
Rough character thumbnails are a very fun zone to experiment in and do your best to create fun new characters. 
I move forward to storyboarding the book if it is a children’s book and once it is approved I move on to line work and color.
Finally, the best part is seeing the book come to life and children reading it!
I always make sure I am connecting with my client and listen to them and share my expertise on the matter when needed in a very polite way.

 

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

As a professional illustrator, my first paid year was 2013 and I just kept on going before that I was not sure how to start. I knew I wanted to be in a creative field since I was little. I think I always know I wanted to make art and found it to be my comfort zone.

 

Are you self taught or did you study illustration?

I have an MFA in illustration from CSUF (GO TITANS).

 

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

This is my studio in 2020.

I always do but as a nomad, my workspace moves with me. It is always at home as I do love being with my cats, daughter, and close to the kitchen!

 

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

I would like to illustrate a journey-based book that is fantastical and whimsical. I also would love to work on autobiographical at some point in the future.

 

Are you working on any fun projects now?

Oh yey YES! I’m working on a series of books about the 13 provinces of Saudi Arabia.

I am also working on a book with a very special client about anxiety.  And I recently completed a pop-up book and it was so much fun and lots of hard work!
I worked with a talented team and it was a lot of calculations the process was different but rewarding. I learned a lot and had to problem-solve to make sure we end up with something fun and entertaining. 

 

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

I am mustering the courage to illustrate my own stories and to start working on them.

 

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

Keep pushing and keep working hard. Your time will come when you walk into a bookstore and see your book.

Do you currently have an agent?

I almost did a few years ago. I am currently a creative director in a boutique agency I co-created in 20219  https://www.radishhouse.com/

Any awards you’ve won or books you’ve published?

A book I illustrated is shortlisted for the UAE communication award in 2015. For the Arab publisher Arwa Al Arabia (Tea Party in Cinderella’s Castle)YA

List 3 to 5 interesting things about yourself.

1. I make my own tea blends.
2. I like to surround myself with colors and florals.
3. I always have crystals and sketchbooks in my bag.

 

Where can people find more of your work?

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JUNE ILLUSTRATOR – ANDREW MITCHELL

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 of SCBWI for 15+ years now.  What I’ve learned in the broadest strokes is to stay humble, always listen and never stop learning.  The most incredible experience I’ve had in SCBWI was participating in the first Tomie De Paola Masterclass.

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate?

I work most often in ink and watercolor with a little clean up and tweaking digitally.  I like having an original piece of art at the end.

 

 

What is your illustration process?

 

This is the cover I did for a Henry and Mudge book I was hired for by TCM.  I’ve included the three roughs I originally proposed and then a color rough I submitted after the AD made a choice.  It was a new client and I kept everything pretty tight so we had a clear understanding.

 

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

I sold my first illustration in 2nd grade.  For school, I did a drawing of a buffalo and a kid in my class liked it so much he gave me a quarter for it.  Cash!  My first corporate client was in high school when I did a coloring book for a company called Mr. Build

Are you self taught or did you study illustration?

 

I got a degree in Fine Art from Pomona College but that was really just a lot of paint splashing.  Almost all my illustration know-how comes from self study and practice.

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

In the last year I sold my separate studio and now have converted an extra bedroom to a studio.

 

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

Top of mind for me currently is to do a kidlit graphic novel and I think my resume fits that well.
That said, I like variety, so I would love to do a picture book or another chapter book.

 

Are you working on any fun projects now?

I just turned in a story for an upcoming anthology graphic novel on the subject of Climate Change.  On my desk right now is a planned YA graphic novel memoir of my experience fighting cancer in my senior year in high school.

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

I do both write and draw.  All my heroes of illustration and comics wear both hats.    My first big writing credit was on Draw 50 Magical Creatures for Doubleday.

 

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

See #1.  Stay humble.  Draw every day.  Keep learning.  Challenge yourself.  Listen to both the pros and your peers.

Do you currently have an agent?

I don’t have an agent currently but look forward to solving that.

 

Any awards you’ve won or books you’ve published?

A few years back, I won the Tomie de Paola Award Certificate through SCBWI.  I’ve had work selected for the 3×3 and Spectrum Illustration Annuals.  I was the 2nd runner up for the first Washington Post Fine Toon Award.  As for books, I mentioned the Draw 50 book I coauthored with Lee Ames and did all of the illustrations.  I illustrated the book Lovesick that went on to appear on the Today Show.  In the last year a comic book story I drew for Paul Kupperberg at Charlton Comics was republished in his book The Illustrated Guide to Writing for Comics.

List 3 to 5 interesting things about yourself.

Interesting things about AM:  I am the President of the Cartoonists of Orange County, a division of the National Cartoonists Society and have been for over 10 years.  In addition to kids books, I’ve made art for comics, newspapers, magazines, video games and one zombie movie.  I am the first person in the world to have published comics on the smart phone.  And I’m single if anyone was asking.

Where can people find more of your work?

You can find examples of my work on Instagram at ajmitchellart .

 

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May Illustrator – Michael Stiles

 

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

I’ve only recently re-joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  I was a member many years ago, but not an active one.  I joined almost immediately after graduating college, but I never took the opportunity at the time, to explore the nuanced world of children’s books, or what the Society had to offer. I think I was overwhelmed by all the ‘options’ I had as an artist at the time.

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate?

The work I produce these days is primarily digital.  It’s much easier for me to illustrate this way, especially considering how I approach an image.  Even when I have a solid concept, I often like to experiment by changing my layout, composition, color, and so on.  All of which is much easier to do, digitally. My preferred peripheral is my iPad, although occasionally I work across platforms, using multiple programs if the file reaches a certain threshold.  I typically juggle a project between Procreate, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Corel Painter, depending on what I’m trying to accomplish.

What is your illustration process?

My process honestly depends on what I am illustrating, but the order is usually the same.  If I don’t have a clear idea, I start by sketching on my iPad in Procreate. Depending on the level of detail or needs for the illustration I am doing, I will do a bit of research about it, or gather reference images.  Once I’ve nailed my layout, or sketch, I will either clean it up in Procreate, or take it into illustrator.  I typically work in several layers, so if I know a project is going to get really detailed, I move it over to my desktop, and work on it in Painter. The final version however, is always transferred into Photoshop for editing (as needed). Finally, I like to proof my work.  Even when I am satisfied with how it looks on screen, I need to know what the image will look like when it’s printed.

Depending on the detail, it can take a few passes, and honestly, this can be the most challenging part of the whole process.

 

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

I’ve been drawing daily since I was a child. I used to lie on the living room floor, while watching cartoons and draw my favorite characters, or color outside the lines of a coloring book.  In school, I enrolled in any art class available, which helped me explore different mediums.  It wasn’t until I got into college that I ultimate determined it was something I should pursue as a career.

Are you self taught or did you study illustration?

I honed my artistic skills at Cal State Fullerton (Go Titans!), where I obtained my Bachelors of Fine Arts in Illustration, and Entertainment Arts.

Since graduation, I have returned to take a few courses in storyboarding, graphic design, and digital painting.  In addition to the extension courses, I have found the internet to be a great resource for learning new techniques as well.

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

I usually work at my desk, but one of the greatest aspects about working digitally is the freedom to be able to go mobile.  I can take my iPad/Laptop most places, within reason; the only caveat is the peripheral’s battery life.

 

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

I grew up reading a lot of fantasy novels that took place in the ‘Forgotten Realms’, a campaign setting of D&D (Dungeons and Dragons).  If I could only pick one novel from the franchise to illustrate, it would probably be Elaine Cunningham’s Elven theogony, ‘Evermeet’.

Are you working on any fun projects now?

I am always working on something, and usually it’s more than one project at a time.  Currently I just finished up a project for an upcoming show (at Gallery1988), dedicated to shopping malls.  The focus was to be on a specific store that may have resided in a mall, like a Crown Books, Sanrio, Cinnabun, etc.  I wanted to create something that would evoke nostalgia from the days of yore, when the mall was the place to go.  I chose an old arcade franchise I used to haunt in my youth at the Buena Park Mall, called ‘Aladdin’s Castle’.  Lately I’ve been trying to make my art more functional, so I designed an enamel pin in the shape of an arcade token.  I was also able to illustrate a fun retro backing card for the pin.

 

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

I hope to some day write my own children’s book or graphic novel, as I do have some ideas, just not anything completely fleshed out.  Until then, I am more than content with pairing up with an author, or publisher, and bring their vision to life.  Once I have more experience in the field, and make more connections (specifically with authors and/or publishers), I can get a better idea of what writing a book entails.

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

My greatest piece of advice for any artist is:  try not to get too discouraged with yourself, or let the opinions of others sway you from what you love to do.  Sometimes we can be our own worst critics, so pay attention to your own self-speak, and surround yourself with a community of other like-minded artists.  Try to connect with creatives you trust, and whose feedback you value.  I find it’s the best way to stay motivated, and continually inspired.

List 3 to 5 interesting things about yourself.

I do hand lettering by day for a thematic grocery store (Trader Joe’s), and in addition to my BFA, I have two teaching credentials (Multiple Subjects & Single Subject: Art).  I love coffee, and drink it hot even when it’s over a hundred outside. I still watch cartoons, and I listen to music when I’m working.

Where can people find more of your work?

My website is currently under construction, however, I would encourage you to check out my Instagram (stiles1978), Etsy shop (Stiles of Art), or my Blog (www.stilesofart.blogspot.com), especially if your interested in my process, as I document it there.

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March Illustrator – Carolyn Le

 

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

I joined in 2003. The most impactful thing I have learned is that I can’t create in a vacuum. It is through being a part of this community: through workshops, conferences, critique groups, blogs and websites that I have grown as an author/illustrator.

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate?

My medium of choice is watercolor, but since Covid, I’ve spent some time learning Procreate on an iPad pro and have been painting on the iPad ever since. I like both. But since I started writing and illustrating a graphic novel I find painting on my iPad faster and easier. With eyedrop, color palettes, and copy/paste etc., I can quickly select colors, redraw, and adjust to keep my illustrations consistent.

What is your illustration process?

I usually start with thumbnails to figure out composition, do research, do a full line drawing, paint background to help me get the feel and lighting that I want, block in with color foreground/main objects, put in shadows on main objects, then start on details and darks and lights. This is generally what I do, but I tend to be an instinctive painter, so I will adjust and rework as I paint to get the feel that I want for the illustration.

 

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

I’ve been illustrating professionally for about ten years, before that I had a full time job, so illustrating was more of a hobby; fitting it in whenever I had time. I got into illustration through fashion design. I was a fashion design major. When I took a fashion illustration course and was required to take figure drawing, I fell in love with drawing and switched major. The more drawing and painting classes I took the more I realized that I wanted to be an illustrator/visual storyteller.

Are you self taught or did you study illustration?

I am a product of both. I studied art for three years. Then after graduating from Otis College of Art and Design, I started taking more classes: watercolor, Chinese brush painting, life drawing and painting, sculpture, ceramics, and anatomy with various teachers as I worked as a display artist.

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

I have a dedicated art space for digital work in my bedroom. For painting, I usually set up a space in the living room where there is no carpet.

 

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

I don’t really have a dream book. I love stories. Give me a good story, and I get excited about all the possibilities, all the things I can do with the illustrations.

Are you working on any fun projects now?

I tend to have several things going on, so I’m working on writing and illustrating a graphic novel chapter book about a bunny (loosely based on my pet bunny) and an early middle grade graphic novel filled with magic and myths from my Asian heritage. I’m also working on illustrating a picture book featuring a Sasquatch for a self-published author.

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

Getting rejections or negative feedback can be discouraging, but if this is what you want and love to do: keep learning, keep growing and keep going. Being an illustrator or author/illustrator is about perseverance and endurance. Also remember to stop and play.

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

My agent is Laurel Symonds with The Bent Agency. When I decided to start querying, I read an interview she did on one of the writing blogs I follow. I like what she said about her preferences for art and her editorial process. After additional researched, I queried her with a manuscript and dummy. She made some suggestions about the story, and I revised and sent it back. From there we talked, and she offered representation. I would also like to mention that I didn’t do a mass query. I did a lot of research before I started querying and chose specific people that I felt I could respect and work with.

If you’ve won any illustrating awards or have any books published, please list them here?

Finalist in the Clavis’ Key Colors Competition, SCBWI OC Portfolio Award, SCBWI OC Illustrator Award, SCBWI OC Author Award, People’s Favorite Illustration Award

If you have had books published, when and what was the experience like?

I’ve illustrated two published books, CLARENCE AND THE TRAVELING CIRCUS by Melissa Northway, 2015 and WHICH ANIMAL IS FASTEST? by Brian Rock, 2018. Both times I found the experience: fun, exciting, challenging, frustrating, lots of work, and rewarding.

List 3 to 5 interesting things about yourself.

  1. I can tap dance.
  2. I’m not good at gymnastics: was never able to do the splits.
  3. I love traveling and exploring new cultures.
  4. My dad taught me how to make blood pies.
  5. And animals that can fly and bunnies fascinate me, so they tend to show up in my illustrations.

 

Where can people find more of your work?

https://carolynle.com,

https://twitter.com/CarolynLe12,

https://www.instagram.com/crlynle/

 

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February Illustrator – Samantha Winkler

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

I joined the Southern Illinois chapter of SCBWI in 2010, volunteered as a Network Rep from about 2015-2017, and joined  the SoCal chapter in 2020. I love the conferences, and the mild  deadlines for group meetings each month are helpful for developing the self-discipline needed for this type of work. The  most impactful thing about the SCBWI is the relationships formed  with other members. Supporting each other as we evolve and  improve and achieve our creative goals has become my favorite  part. 

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate?

I’m a dabbler. If it makes a mark on paper, I’m likely to try it. In an effort to learn some self control, I try to focus on the style and color palette that  most clearly fits the needs of the story in front of me. 

If more than one, which do you prefer?

My favorite medium for children’s book illustration is mixed-media inks  (cleaned up a bit digitally afterwards because I’m really good  at smudging white spaces). I also love any type of marker ink that doesn’t bleed through paper because I consider every sketchbook an opportunity to explore book design.

What is your illustration process? (If you can, include pictures.)

I have to put myself through a checklist if I want the results to be consistent: 1. Thoroughly read the source material/ requirements 2. Lots of research and notes 3. Pencil sketches 4. Build up inks in layers until satisfied with images 5. Scan  images into Photoshop for cleanup and to arrange composition of  final design

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

Professionally, my first traditional publishing book deal happened January of 2021 with Sky Pony Press of  Skyhorse Publishing, but part of my day job now includes some in house illustrating for our authors at Phoenix Media & Books. All of  my opportunities to illustrate have happened as a direct result of relationships formed through the SCBWI — even the Sky Pony  Press picture book (EVERY OTHER CHRISTMAS) is happening  because some of my fellow SCBWI members recommended me. 

Are you self taught or did you study illustration?

I suppose both. I’ve been drawing since toddler times, but I didn’t start with classes until high school, and now I can’t stop! It’s become like a  nervous tic.  

If you did study illustration, what school did you attend?

At Southern Illinois University, I earned a BA in Art Studio, a BA in English Language and Literature, and a Minor in Creative Writing (2013). Southern Illinois University’s Art  Studio Program had a few illustration-friendly courses like  Printmaking, Book Binding, and Book Design, but most of  my illustration-specific studies are gleaned from SCBWI  workshops and getting nosy about how my favorite  

illustrators work. For me, the study aspect never stops, it’s  half the fun. 

 Do you have a dedicated art space?

Yes. I have two dedicated art spaces, one is inside my house for illustration and writing while most mural painting and mixed-media sculpture happens in my garage studio.

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

A book that has all my favorite things to draw: animals, fantasy adventure shenanigans, and mysterious spookies. 

Are you working on any fun projects now?

Yes, EVERY OTHER CHRISTMAS by Katie Otey, set for release 2022 by Sky Pony Press. 

“After his parents’ divorce, a young bi-racial child spends every other Christmas celebrating the differing traditions between the African-American and Colombian sides of his family.”  Though final designs may change, these are the images that landed me the contract:

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

Though publishing an author/illustrated picture book is on my list of to dos, so far my stories fit a middle grade audience the  best. 

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

1. Nine times out of ten, if a color illustration seems a bit “off,” it’s because the shadows aren’t dark enough. Taking breaks to view a grayscale  version of your composition will confirm whether or not that’s the  issue. 2. Everything cheesy “they” say about “do what you love” is  true. Pursue your favorite skills, and opportunities will present  themselves at the right time. If it feels fun and exciting, you’re on  the right track. 3. The SCBWI is 100% worth your time. 

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

I don’t currently have an agent, but I’m open to considering an agency if the contract doesn’t prevent me from  pursuing my work at Phoenix Media & Books.  

If you’ve won any illustrating awards or have any books published, please list them here?

Aside from the upcoming EVERY OTHER CHRISTMAS in 2022, I art directed and did some  illustrations for THE LAST COLORING BOOK ON THE LEFT, a  2017 fan art horror anthology that maintained best seller status  across Amazon for several months, earning it’s spot in the Barnes  and Noble catalog purely from frequent requests. I love that  because I distinctly remember Barnes and Noble passing on  carrying the book when we first released it, so seeing it there,  now, feels like a reminder that hard work does pay off. Rejection  isn’t always permanent. 

If you have had books published, when and what was the experience like?

This current experience with Sky Pony Press is interesting because it’s happening as a direct result  of the relationships formed in SCBWI book groups.  

List 3 to 5 interesting things about yourself.

  1. By the time I was sixteen, I’d lived in six different states and attended nine different schools.
  2. When I was young and buff, I won a few kumite medals and sometimes coached kids in karate. I didn’t get to drink as much beer as the Cobra Kai guy, but I DID have some Ratt  songs on my workout playlist. 
  3. I spend half my time uncovering elusive secrets of the universe, and the other half blanking on important names and misplacing car keys.  
  4. Though I saw the film in theater, I’ll never know if I would’ve correctly guessed the ending to The Sixth Sense, because I got up to use the bathroom in the beginning and thus spent  the whole film not knowing Bruce Willis got injured. Yes, I’m  still upset about this. It may be the biggest regret of my life, so far. The theater bathroom had gorgeous tiles though,  beautiful glossy marble.

Where can people find more of your work?

website: sjwinklerart.com,

twitter/instagram:  @sjwinklerart,

Facebook: facebook.com/sjwinklerart 

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January Illustrator – Cynthia De La Torre

To start off the year, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce myself so that you could all learn a little bit more about me – your new Illustrator Coordinator. 🙂

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

I joined SCBWI in 2016, shortly after deciding to pursue my dreams of writing and illustrating children’s books. I’ve gained so much from being part of SCBWI. Some of the most important things I learned were the value of critique groups, the importance of going to conferences, and, most importantly, how crucial it is to put my work out there.

 

 

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate? 

My illustrations are made with cut paper art. I use different types of paper, from vellum to cardstock and sometimes also incorporate felt. I love adding lights to bring life to my pieces.

What is your illustration process?

My process is pretty long, but, the more I work on my art, the faster I become.

1) Once I have an idea, I start sketching it down – the initial sketches are VERY rough.

2) I then go online and look up references for the different elements I will be including in my illustrations. I’ll often ask my husband or kids to pose for me.

3) I then start drawing the illustrations on my iPad. Using the iPad has been a huge time saver.

This sketch was made the old fashioned way, before I got my iPad.

4) I then decide on a color scheme. I add a layer of color in Photoshop.

5) I print out the different layers of my illustration on white cardstock paper. And I cut them out.

6) I transfer designs to colored cardstock paper, vellum paper, or felt and begin cutting. As I go, I also cut different layers, like the clothing, the arms, the legs, or the head. I then glue the layers together and add details, like the face or the folds on clothes. I use Prismacolor colored pencils for the details.

7) Next, I put everything together. This is one of the most exciting parts of the whole process. I make sure the composition is working, before I glue things down. I also add lights to a lot of my illustrations.

8) The last step involves photographing my piece. To ensure I get the best image possible, I play with the lighting. I also try different angles. Once I’ve taken about 50 pictures, I then go through them and choose the best one and I photoshop it to make sure there aren’t any bits that look odd. And then I’m done!

Final Image

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

I’ve been illustrating most of my life. From the time I was 6 years old, when I wrote and illustrated my first book, I knew I wanted to do this for a living. The first book I wrote and illustrated was part of an assignment for school. Most of my life, I’ve written and illustrated different books, but it wasn’t until after I had my first son, in 2015, that I decided I needed to finally follow my dreams.

Are you self taught or did you study illustration? 

I am self taught. I did take some art classes in college, but they were all intro classes. Since 2016, I have been illustrating almost every day.

Do you have a dedicated art space? 

Yes, I have my little art corner in our home. It is in our dining room, where I can work and watch my three kids.

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

A book that I write. Ideally a spooky one. 😀

Are you working on any fun projects now? 

I am currently working on a collection of ghost stories. It is aimed for children a bit older than the picture book age. I’m also illustrating it. I’m hoping it will be published and I’ll be able to share my stories with children.

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

Yes! I am a writer and illustrator.

 

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

Work on your craft every day. And make time for it every day, even if that means waking up one hour (or more) early to work on illustrating. I would also recommend joining critique groups and putting your work out there – feedback from others is invaluable.

Joining SCBWI is a huge plus, it will get you in front of people that can help you reach your goals.

 

Do you currently have an agent? 

Yes. I signed with Anna Olswanger of Olswanger Literary Agency in October of 2020. She has been a dream agent to work with. She found my work at the SCBWI Summer Spectacular Portfolio Showcase and reached out to me. We communicated for about 2 months before she became my agent.

 

Have you had any books published?

Not yet. 🙂

 

Tell us 5 interesting things about yourself.

  1. I am obsessed with Halloween and all things spooky. My home is decorated in Halloween decor year round – I don’t know if I’ll ever grow out of that phase.
  2. I have 3 kids. A five-year-old son, named Sebastián. A two-year-old daughter, named Elena. And a 2-month-old son, named Leonardo. They inspire me all the time.
  3. I have a Bachelors’ Degree in Sociology and a minor in Spanish.
  4. My first language is Spanish – my family is originally from Mexico. I speak to my kids mostly in Spanish.
  5. My dream art space would be in a tree house. 😀 And my dream house would be a Victorian house, preferably haunted, but with a good ghost.

Where can people find more of your work?

Instagram – @CynthiaGDeLaTorre

Website – CynthiaDeLaTorre.com

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December Illustrator – Irina Mirskaya

 

Hello everybody! It’s a real honor to be interviewed as a Featured Illustrator, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. Also, grateful for the constant support, invaluable advice and amazing inspiration of this super talented and knowledgeable group of artists and writers. Thank you!

 

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 of SCBWI since 2004. I consider this organization a major educational tool for children’s writers and illustrators. I’ve learned a lot going to conferences and smaller events. But most of all I value the community I got through SCBWI: a wonderful group of inspiring creatives, always so generous with their insights and constructive critique.

 

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate? 

Although I’m very comfortable with Adobe and Procreate, for my illustrations I use mostly watercolor or pen-and-ink and watercolor, sometimes oils. I’m a professional textile/fashion designer and my main job is mostly performed in digital realm, so I try to keep balance and use traditional media for my illustration work. Of course, I do use Photoshop to manipulate scanned initial sketches or to re-touch the final painting if necessary.

 

What is your illustration process?

The process starts with the manuscript and research. I look through magazines, catalogues, online, to search for the prototype of my character. Sometimes I know how this character should look. Sometimes I have the “I will know when I see it” approach. I sketch the character in different poses, either just pencil, or with watercolors.

If there’s a difficult pose, I will take selfies or photograph my husband or kids. The posable artists’ mannequins help to understand the pose, although they, too, have limitations.

I like to draw more involved thumbnails on a tracing paper. I feel more comfortable drawing on a smaller scale, so I do my initial sketches small and when I like them, I’ll scan, clean up, re-arrange, and printout at a right scale. I might make a tighter drawing on a tracing paper at this point. Then transfer to watercolor paper and paint. The more I re-draw, the more my drawing is loosing it’s fresh appeal, so I try to keep alterations to a minimum.

 

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

I was illustrating my entire life. My style’s changed, but love to magical stories hasn’t. There’s magic in creating. Especially when you paint a person (or an animal). When the eyes on the picture become alive and the character demands to look just so – and your brush just follows.

It all started when in 1995 (!!!) I showed my portfolio to a creator of Ethnographics greeting card company. They printed several collections of greeting cards with my images, with a name credit and a bit of bio on the back, very fancy. I worked with a couple more smaller greeting cards companies after that. I illustrated several brochures, kids’ music CD covers (AbridgeClub.com), several kids’ stories in LA Times when they had a children’s page, a children’s book We Love the Company, and recently a cover for a memoir book.

 

Are you self taught or did you study illustration? 

I have formal education in Surface Design/Communication Arts from Otis College of Art and Design. After graduation, I was teaching there for 4 years, and had an access to free classes, which I took advantage of, taking Figure Drawing, Watercolor Painting,Greeting Card Illustration, Botanical Illustration and Children’s Book Writing and Illustration (with an award winning writer/illustrator Dolores Johnson).

I keep taking classes all the time, to learn new skills. The quarantine was very interesting in this regard – I started teaching watercolor sketching online and at the same time, took lots of classes myself: watercolor, figure drawing, fashion illustration, animal drawing and painting…

Do you have a dedicated art space? 

Yes! I finally do have a dedicated art space! After my son moved out and married, I claimed his bedroom for my office. I have a computer desk and a painting desk, a scanner, a printer, a bookcase filled to the brim with my collection of picture books, and a closet full of art supplies, enough to last for another quarantine…

 

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

I love fairy and folk tales, and all kind of magical stories (not too scary). Gnomes, fairies, tomte, Baba Yaga, – these characters capture my imagination.

 

Are you working on any fun projects now? 

I am currently working on illustrations for a picture book I wrote and edited The Elves on the Piano Top (shout-out to Angela and Majella, my first readers and trusted critics, and Sand Scribes, my wonderful writing critique group). It’s a story about a little girl learning to play piano and the magical elves helping her along the way. Or so she thinks. It’s a story about child’s imagination, love for music, importance of hard work towards the goal and a unique relationship between the girl and her grandma.

 

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

Yes, I write as well as illustrate. I have several manuscripts in the works, including a MG, that won an “Editor’s Choice” at one of the SCBWI events. Now I need a couple more lives to accomplish all that I started 🙂

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

Draw. Draw every day, even for a little bit. The tips and tricks that you can learn working with different media won’t compensate for lack of solid drawing skills, understanding of form and light. (talking from a painful experience here). The solid understanding of the basics will bring substance and “believability” to even a highly stylized illustration, and the constant practice will make it look effortless.

 

Do you currently have an agent? 

I don’t currently have an agent.

 

Have you had any books published?

 

I illustrated We Love the Company, a picture book written by Angela Russ-Ayon and published by Our Rainbow Press in 2009. The book won a Silver MoonBeam award for the best picture book in its category (preschool-picture book).

I was working for a very small press, and didn’t have the editors, art directors and sales team monitoring the progress. I work closely with the author, Angela, and it was a wonderful creative process, with our ideas bouncing off of each other. In a way it was liberating, but for me as a first time illustrator, an input of a good art director would have been beneficial. I met Bob Singer at our SCBWI illustrator schmooze (at that time we were meeting at Marilyn Scott-Waters studio), and Bob was an immense help with my book, with the wealth of his talent, knowledge and generous advice. I’m so grateful to Marilyn and Bob Singer for all their help.

As an advice to illustrators working with a (very) small press, and especially the self-publishers – have most if not all the compensation for your work paid as an advance, or a flat fee. If it’s not a big publisher, I wouldn’t bother with royalties. This is strictly my experience, and there might be exceptions.

 

Tell us 5 interesting things about yourself.

– Here’s a riddle for you: I was born in a country that doesn’t exist any more, and at the same time I’ve never been to a country where I was born. I was born in Baku, Azerbaijan – one of the republics of former Soviet Union (which ceased to exist), and now Azerbaijan is an independent country, which I’ve never visited since it got its independence.

– I have a Masters in Computer Science and first several years after college I was working as a computer programmer, Assembly language. (bet you didn’t see that one coming 🙂 )

–  I enjoy making cloth art dolls and puppets, and I made a character form We Love the Company into a hand puppet and was taking it to book readings and signings.

–  I love to paint dancers, and six years ago I joined a Flamenco dance studio. I’ve been dancing Flamenco ever since. It’s really hard to dance with a mask on, but to stop dancing is even harder.

Where can people find more of your work?

My website: IrinaMirskaya.com
The button Children’s Books Illustration will take you to my illustration collection. I found out recently it doesn’t work on Chrome, oops, but it does work on Safari. Working on it…
IG: irina.art.studio – here I share my illustrations, sketches, fine art and other, mostly art related, posts.
FB: irina-art-studio – this is my art page

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November Illustrator – Lisa Johnston Hancock 

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 of SCBWI since 2017. I joined with my good friend Meggan Haller (a writer) because we wanted to create a picture book together. She suggested that we go to the SCBWI conference in LA so we joined SCBWI and went to the conference! We quickly learned that this is not the way that you go about getting published but we both learned so much. The most impactful thing that I have learned from SCBWI is that you need to be in a constant state of evolving. Be able to take critiques and be willing to give back as well. Revision is important. Also, having a community to work with so so valuable to improving one’s craft.

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate? 

 

I started out working primarily in watercolor and ink. After the LA conference 3 years ago, I picked up an iPad Pro and downloaded Procreate. I’ve been working in Procreate and Photoshop ever since. I will sometimes create textures and patterns with traditional media, and then scan it in to work digitally.

 

What is your illustration process?

I do a lot of research on the place and/or figures that will be included and I keep it in a folder on Pinterest. Once I have enough, I begin with sketches of the people or animals that I want to include in my illustration. I may do some full color sketches to get an idea of what palette I want to use.

Then I do thumbnails sketches. I choose may favorite layout and work out the color palette. Once I have a few color studies, I create the spread or image.

 

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

 

I was a studio artist and art instructor for 15+ years. I’ve worked for art museums and cultural centers, as a High School Art Teacher and Adjunct Instructor. We moved to California in January. Before the pandemic, I decided to focus on freelance illustration and work towards getting an agent for writing and illustrating children’s books. The pandemic has slowed me down a little, but I’m still working towards my goal.

Are you self taught or did you study illustration? 

I studied Photography and Painting at the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa for my undergraduate school. After undergrad, I went to NYC because I was accepted to the New York Academy of Art M.F.A program, with a small scholarship. I toured the school and decided that it was not what I expected (also it was very expensive) and I wasn’t sure if that was where I wanted to spend my time or money. I stayed in NYC for 6 months and worked as an assistant to an art gallery in Soho. I missed home (and trees) and ended up moving back to Alabama. At the time, I had family in Savannah, GA and my cousin recommended that I apply to SCAD. I toured, applied and was accepted in the M.F.A. Painting program with a Fellowship. If I could go back and do it again, I would have studied illustration, but it took me a long time to figure out exactly what creative field I fit into.

 

Do you have a dedicated art space? 

Unfortunately, I no longer have a “dedicated” art space. We own a small beach cottage under 1000 sqft. Currently my space is the dining room table. My 6 year old is doing virtual school and she has taken over my studio space, which was the back corner of our living room. 🙂

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

 

My dream book to illustrate would be one that I have written myself. My goal is to become an author/illustrator.

Are you working on any fun projects now? 

I’m working on a story that I wrote about a jellyfish who has lost his glow. Its a story about feeling isolated and how friends can help you through a dark time.

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

 

Yes! Becoming an author/illustrator is one of my goals. I’m currently taking a course with the Highlight’s Foundation that includes a critique group with the faculty. Its an 8 week course and we are on week 3. I’ve already learned so much and am feeling more confident as a writer.

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

Join SCBWI. Learn as much as you can about the industry and keep making connections. I’ve found that children’s book people are so great. I mean, we make books for kids so its no surprise.

Do you currently have an agent? 

I don’t have an agent but I plan to start submitting soon.

Have you had any books published?

I illustrated Yellow-Speckled Blackbird written by Dylan Pritchett and published by MacClaren-Cochrane Publishing, that was released in February of 2020. I also illustrated Sophie’s New Song, written by Michelle Whitfield and will be self published by the author this year. I enjoyed working on both projects. With MacLaren-Cochrane I worked directly with the art director. I like having deadlines because it keeps me moving. I didn’t communicate with the author and I’m not sure what he thought about the illustrations, honestly.  When I worked with Michelle Whitfield, we were able to talk to each other and work on revisions as a team. She was very easy to work with so it made the job fun. I’m not sure that everyone has that experience working with an author who plans to self-publish. I understand why traditional publishers keep authors and illustrators separate when working on projects.

Tell us 5 interesting things about yourself.

1.) I love birds/bird watching. I’m that person who has to stop on a walk to figure out what kind of bird is hiding in the bush/tree and take a picture or video.

2.) I’m pretty good with facial recognition. If I see you once, I will always remember. Especially with movies. My husband likes to quiz me. We will be watching a detective show and I’ll notice that the perpetrator was a child actor from the 80’s. Just as an example. I used to win bets against my brother when we were kids.

3.) My favorite place to explore is Yellowstone National Park near Jackson Hole, WY. I can’t wait to take my kids there.

4.) I have met and shaken hands with Betty White.

5.) Pride and Prejudice (the one with Kiera Knightly) is my all time favorite movie. I like to put it on in the background while I work. The music, the cinematography. I think I’ll go put it on right now.

Where can people find more of your work?

Website: www.lisajohnstonhancock.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/lisajohnstonhancock

Twitter: www.twitter.com/LisaJHancockArt

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October Illustrator – Jonathan St. Amant

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 an SCBWI member since 2015 [back before the time of chaos]. The most impactful thing I’ve learned from SCBWI membership is the importance of community. Even though writing and drawing are often solitary practices, the support and feedback from fellow creators are the Flinstone vitamins of the creative process. After every conference and illustrator meetup I’ve attended, my mind is buzzing with ideas and inspiration.

 

 

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate? 

I typically use my ipad these days, because it’s so convenient. I like Procreate for single illustrations and Clip Studio EX for my comics. I love the line quality and feel of actual brush and ink, but it takes longer and there’s no “undo” button.

 

What is your illustration process?

If it’s a tricky pose I’m looking for, I’ll take a picture of my wife.

Then, I’ll do a loose sketch in my sketchbook. When I’m satisfied with it, I’ll take a picture of it on my ipad.

Then, I’ll import the image into either Procreate or Clip Studio and trace over it with a digital “ink” line.

I’ll work out the rest of the details (scale of the subject, composition, background, etc) on the ipad before coloring on one layer, adding shadows and effects on another layer.

 

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

I’ve been illustrating most of my life, but my “big break” came when I was caught drawing in a college critical thinking class. The professor walked past my open sketchbook and told me to see him after class. I thought he would scold me for not paying attention, but instead, he offered me a job illustrating a textbook he was writing. We ended up collaborating on three different textbooks over the next few years.

 

Are you self taught or did you study illustration? 

I received a BFA in Drawing and Painting, but my “fine art” paintings always ended up cartoony and narrative in nature. I didn’t quite fit into that world. Once I started attending SCBWI conferences, meetings, and animation industry conventions (CTNX, Lightbox), I realized that artists could actually be nice and approachable, haha. But seriously, it’s been really eye-opening to discover and meet so many humble and genuine people in the illustration, kid lit, and animation industries.

Do you have a dedicated art space? 

When my wife and I first moved into our home, there was a tiny, dusty shed in the back corner of the yard that served as a spider metropolis. It wasn’t long before I enlisted the help of my dad to knock down a few walls, expand the foundation, and build it back up to an insulated and drywalled studio with lights, windows, and a skylight. I purposefully keep wifi and television out of the studio to prevent distractions, and I tend to listen to a classical music radio station when I work out there.

 

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

My dream book to illustrate would be a collection of short story comics about my characters. I think I have close to 200 different characters, so it would have to be a long omnibus or a series.

 

Are you working on any fun projects now? 

Yes, I’m collaborating with my wife (she’s the writer) on a graphic novel about bees. The pitch goes a little something like this: Claire wants to pursue her love of music, but the queen forbids non-foraging activities. When her hive faces collapse due to climate change, Claire must choose between her passion and her family.

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

Yes, I am also writing and illustrating on another middle grade graphic novel project featuring the adventures of one of my main characters.

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

1.) Join a community of like-minded people. Once you build a rapport, they can be a great resource of support and feedback. 2.) Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to your art heroes. Most of them are real humans and are really nice (the others are super-wizards. Don’t make eye contact!) You can reach out through social media. A nice, genuine compliment makes it more likely for a question to be answered. I approached one of my heroes after a CTNX presentation (before Covid) because I wanted to shake his hand and tell him how inspiring his talk was, and ever since then, he’s been a trusted mentor. 3.) See how pros tackle the problems you’re dealing with. Not sure about muscle structure on a foreshortened limb? There’s a YouTube video for that. 4.) And speaking of social media, be easy on yourself. Don’t let likes, comments, and subscriber numbers define you. The algorithms favor the already-famous. On that note, take breaks from social media altogether. Focus on your art.

 

 

Do you currently have an agent? 

I’ve had two agents in the past. I met the first one while attending a writer’s retreat, and I guess I stood out, being the only attendee with an illustrated zine of my comic project. I met my second agent through querying. I’m currently weighing my options for querying a third agent, or to try out Kickstarter when I’m ready.

 

Tell us 5 interesting things about yourself.

  1. I am a beekeeper, and this year, we harvested more than 80 lbs of honey from one hive.
  2. I caught and ate piranhas in the Amazon (during a Brazil trip years ago, before the rainforest was on fire- so sad).
  3. I recently completely renovated my kitchen (with my dad’s help).

 

Where can people find more of your work?

www.jonsaintamant.com

Instagram: @jonsaintamant

Twitter: @jonsaintamant

Youtube: Mistersaintamant

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September Illustrator – Marcela (Mace) Cespedes-Alicea

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. A couple of years before that, I had started my career as a freelance illustrator, and as fun as it was to be my own boss, for the first time in my life I was working all by myself and that made me feel very lonely. As soon as I found SCBWI and started attending the meetings, I began making wonderful friends with all the wonderful people there and quickly was able to create a strong support team to rely on. Since then and thanks to SCBWI, not only have I made great friends but I have learned so much about this beautiful industry, it has become my “university” for this path in my career that otherwise I wouldn’t have known how to navigate.

 

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate? 

I have become a complete digital baby; I still rely a lot in the trusted paper and pencil for my initial sketches, and I keep several sketchbooks, but since I come from a graphic design background, I became extremely adept at photoshop which gave me the practical skills to go from sketch to finals all in owe file.

 

What is your illustration process?

My process changes a lot depending on the project, I’ve had to learned (the hard way) to just let it flow as it may. For example, the current project I’ve been working on began as a bunch of sketches on post-it notes with red pencil. It quickly evolved from a dozen post-it to double its amount until finally I had a whole 20 pages of story in post-it notes! Whenever I didn’t like a scene or thought of a better idea for it, I just had to remove that post-it and draw a new one. The way I did it was that the first 10 or so post-it I drew were the main events in my story. When I had gotten those out of the way, I started thinking about the major details around those events, and just like that I was slowly filling the gaps and constructing a well-rounded story.

When I was satisfied with that initial “schematic” of my story, I scanned everything and began to edit and move around stuff. When I had properly cleaned up the file, I shared it with my most intimate critique group;  a group of 2 other girls and I who get together regularly to talk about our ongoing projects and to support each other in many aspects of our lives (not just professionally), I knew they would give me great and honest feedback.

 

From then on, I have continued with the steps that I always do, going from sketches to tights, and from tights to final colors.

 

How long have you been illustrating?

I have illustrated all my life, I basically never stopped. But I realized I wanted to do it at a professional level when I was working in advertising back in Colombia, about 13 years ago. When I was looking for colleges, I realized that in my hometown there wasn’t a proper career for an illustrator to do professionally, so I studied what I thought was the closest thing which was graphic design. From graphic design I went into advertising and the next thing I know I am being given all the assignments that require illustrations. Then I started being commissioned illustrations in my personal time outside of work and suddenly, I’m being represented by and Art Rep who is getting me all these illustration gigs in advertising. At this point I couldn’t wait to get home after work to start drawing, so I came to the realization that I needed to leave advertising and just focus on illustrating full-time. But I wanted to refresh and improve my skills, to learn what was being done out there; what other illustrators were up to, that’s when I found this master’s degree in illustration in the US and made a big move, leaving behind everything that I knew and loved for a “new career”.

 

Are you self taught or did you study illustration? 

Since I first grabbed a pencil as a toddler, I never stopped drawing, but I have refined my skills in many ways throughout my life. I was put in extracurricular art classes as a little girl and I did life drawing course with excellent painting masters when I was a teen. I studied an undergrad in Graphic Design and then I did a master’s degree in Fine Art with emphasis in Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, GA. And even now, I keep doing courses and thinking about what I can learn next; you can never know too much!

 

Do you have a dedicated art space? 

I do have a space for my work at home. Sometimes I wish it were out of home but there is nothing like rolling into your computer in your pajamas in the morning to keep working where you left off the night before! But I also have a movable computer that I sometimes take to dedicated coworking spaces or simple to the nearest Starbucks just to get out and change the routine.

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

What books would I like to illustrate? I have fallen in love with graphic novels in every way!

Since I was little, I was crazy about all kinds of comics; X-men, Batman, Archie, Mafalda, Calvin and Hobbes… but I’d say that my very first “graphic novel” was a very old, gigantic book of my mom’s that was the retelling of Romeo and Juliet in sequential photos. It was the best thing in the world! Then in grad school I came across my first real graphic novel which was Blankets by Craig Thompson and I’ve been a collector and a fan of the genre ever since. I always knew I wanted to do comics, but Craig Thompson’s work really gave me the answer to what I really wanted to do with my art in terms of subject matter for my stories and of the style for my characters.

 

Are you working on any fun projects now? 

I am working in like 4 projects right now!!! But yes, I am currently dedicating my focus to this one story that has become very dear to my heart: it’s the story of a little boy who learns to take care of his environment with the help of some magical friends. It was inspired by the work of my childhood best friend who currently works with the communities of the pacific coasts of Colombia to maintain the beaches clean and teach the locals kids how to take care of their environment. I’m very excited about this message.

Tell us about the children’s books you’ve written.

I write all kinds of stories. Mostly stories from my family, from growing up with a feminist dad and a strong businesswoman-like but sensitive mom and a very smart and rascal little brothers, and the biggest furry sister <dog> I’ve ever had or seen. I’d say most of them could perfectly be children’s books but truly they are just raw, nonfiction of what it was like growing up in Colombia and the many peculiarities of my tropically warm culture.

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

For all illustrators starting out, I’d say, trust your passion; if what you love is drawing fat cats with pants, find your place through it, don’t try to conform to the market. The trends always come after one person has started something from the deep love of what makes them different. Keep your ears and eyes wide open, you might not realize it but everything that goes on in your life is what make you unique in your art; if your favorite hobby is needle point, then draw in needle point or write a story about it or about who you learned it from… search your life and show its best and/or worst moments to the world through your own, unique art.

 

Do you currently have an agent? 

I just recently signed with an agent. She found me through the SCBWI portfolio showcase at the virtual summer spectacular conference and from the first moment we started speaking we had a great connection and we just decided to take the plunge together. But I feel I have to say that it didn’t happen overnight on my end; it took more than a year of talking to a few more agents and deciding, either on one end or the other, that me and them wasn’t the right collaboration at the time. And it was never because I didn’t like them, in fact, many of the agents I spoke to, were amazing people that I would have loved to work with. But in the end, it only takes the tiniest details to help you understand that everything in your paths must flow the way you both need to for it to be the right match. Never despair if the few first connection don’t pan out, the right collaboration is out there looking for you, and when it doesn’t work with someone it’s just the universe teaching you how to recognize it when it finally comes along.

 

Have you had any books published or won any awards?

I have illustrated over 12 children’s books for Nickelodeon’s and Disney’s shows over the past 4 years through imprints like Penguin Random House and Shutterfly. Working with big clients like those is a lot different than working on your own personal stuff (or even for a fellow writer). For starters, the turnaround times are a lot shorter, and everything is done as work for hire, meaning that I don’t get any royalties, but I am very well paid per project. Also, I mostly work with characters and stories that are already written and designed so my work is mostly translating them into the page, and drawing these wonderfully designed characters is actually an amazing exercise for enhancing and personalizing my very own style. It is actually a very fun job with a wonderful learning experience, especially for me as an emerging author/illustrator; as I have to become fast in producing material for them, I now know how to be fast at producing my own stuff, and the very well thought out way they produce their stories has taught me a lot about storytelling too. Plus reproducing these characters that are so well-known worldwide is a huge honor that I’m happy to have.

 

Tell us 5 interesting things about yourself.

1- I’m a perfectionist and since I know it, it’s the biggest thing I fight with myself over and over until I always end up falling on the other end of the spectrum of not caring at all!

2- I love writing; my handwriting has always received a lot of compliments. I use it regularly on everything I write, people are always impressed when they see it and that makes me happy. Sometimes I think I started writing stories just so that I could practice my type, narcissist much?!

3- I dance salsa since I have memory, it’s something that we do in my hometown, if you are born in Cali (Colombia), you must know how to dance, otherwise its just shameful. I was taught by my uncles and then I taught my little brothers, that’s just how we are raised.

4- I have 75 hundred, thousand drawings hidden in remote files of my computer or actual sketchbooks, for every drawing that does make it to my website or on Instagram.

5- In my spare time I study languages: I speak fluent English and Spanish, and have studied French, German, Italian and Japanese, and counting… I think languages are key to solving the problems of the world: learn a new language + understand a new way of thinking = be more compassionate.

Extra Fact- I have around 200 books dispersed around my house so that I can read any moment, any time (even in the bathroom!!!)

 

Where can people find more of your work?

Website: https://www.marcelacespedes.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marsmela/ @marsmela

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaceCespedes @macecespedes

 

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August Illustrator – Susi Schaefer

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

Hi everyone!

If memory serves me correctly, I joined in 2013. The most impactful thing I’ve learned is that I have A LOT to learn still. I write and illustrate picture books, and honestly, I had no idea how little I knew about the craft and the publishing industry before I became a member of SCBWI.

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate? 

The best description is probably digital collage with traditional textures and washes. I also incorporate photography into my pieces; I feel it really adds dimension to my work. The trick is to not make it look gimmicky. I pull from a library of textures that I have created–somehow I feel more ownership over the final piece when I incorporate those.

 

What is your illustration process?

First, I always try to see the finished illustration in my mind, and I try to feel the vibe of it.

Then I create a sketch, either in a sketchbook or on my iPad.

Many times, I start with a simple shape or a line doodle. I use references a lot. My goal is to have highly stylized characters and environments, so I need to see how much I can push the simplification process without losing the characteristics of the intended subject.

Next comes color blocking, either in Procreate or Photoshop.

Color is one of my favorite parts of the illustration process, and I have a lot of fun selecting palettes. I’ll look at fabrics and paint swatches and vintage illustrations, really anything that speaks to me. Adobe Color is another fantastic tool.

I spend a fair amount of time on the expressions of my characters.  Once again, I try to make them as simple as possible, ideally just with lines and dots.

Finally, textures are my very favorite thing. I may use a hand-painted background, or I add texture over my illustration.

Oh, and sometimes–but not always–I use shadows behind shapes.

 

How long have you been illustrating?

When I was in my teens, I was an apprentice to a glass painter. I’m from the Austrian Alps, and glass art is very popular in that region.

Once I came to Socal, I studied graphic design, and I ended up working for a marketing company.

And after I had my kiddos, I fell in love with all those glorious picture books that I got to read to them. So I made it my mission to study that craft. As I mentioned above, it’s an ongoing journey.

In a nutshell, I have been illustrating in one form or another for a very long time!

Are you self taught or did you study illustration? 

I did not study illustration, so in that sense, I am self-taught. But I’d say that my glass painting and my graphic design days helped me out quite a bit in the beginning.

 

Do you have a dedicated art space? 

I teeter-totter between my little home studio, which has my Wacom, and every loungeable surface in and around my house with my iPad Pro in tow. My dog, Raven, is my studio buddy regardless of where I end up.

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

It always seems to be the current one that’s rattling around in my head. I wish I could just blink and the art would appear since patience is not my strong suit.

 

Are you working on any fun projects now? 

Here is some recent work. I also have one book out on submission and another that I am tinkering with.

Tell us about the children’s books you’ve written.

I have written stories for as long as I have illustrated, but I didn’t start writing seriously until a few years ago. That’s when I took some online writing courses, and they helped me improve a lot, especially with getting rid of unnecessary text and with voice and story structure.

Cat Ladies is actually my author/illustrator debut.

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

For me, the trick was learning to keep it simple. I used to think that I had to force myself to include as much variety as possible to show that I can do anything. Stick to something you love to create, and the joy will shine through. Then build from there.

Also, just because a specific style comes easily doesn’t mean it’s not valid; it might just be what you’re meant to do. Making an easy piece used to feel like cheating, but if I labor too much over a piece, I feel the spontaneity and fun are gone. Sometimes, your natural style is your best style.

Do you currently have an agent? 

I do have an agent, and we connected when I queried into the black void of slush piles. Eventually, my work got the attention of an agent. She ended up showing my work to a colleague and that’s who I signed with.

 

Have you had any books published or won any awards?

I have two published books out in the world.

One is “Zoo Zen – A Yoga Story For Kids,” written by the talented Kristen Fischer, illustrated by me, and published by Sounds True.

The other is “Cat Ladies,” published by Abrams, written and illustrated by yours truly.

I have been recognized by the SCBWI and the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles.

What was your publishing experience like?

The publishing experience was a wonderful rollercoaster of emotions. I got to work with some fabulous teams at great publishing houses.

There is a fair amount of waiting involved, especially once final art is turned in. It took another year until I got to hold the physical book in my hand. But when that moment comes, it is very, very special. I learned a lot on the fly.

 

Tell us 5 interesting things about yourself.

I was born and raised in the Austrian Alps.

I love Nutella.

I am a certified scuba diver.

I love bugs.

I wish I could fly, but I’m afraid of flying (confusing, I know).

 

Where can people find more of your work?

Thanks for having me!

Here is how to find me online.

Web:                    https://www.susischaefer.com/

IG and Twitter:    @susischaeferart

 

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July Illustrator – Chuck Grieb

Humming Bird Riders Land by Chuck Grieb

 

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

Hmmm, I’m not sure what year I joined. I think it was 2015 (might have been 2016). And the second part of the question is even harder to answer. I knew little of the children’s book publishing world and have learned so much from fellow members and the SCBWI conferences I’ve attended. I think I can better answer if I consider the most impactful or beneficial experience – in that context I would say that the SoCal Illustrator’s group, the small illustration community we’ve created, has been most impactful. I’ve benefited from the shared experiences and support of members such as Carolyn Le, Susi Schaeffer, Nina Podlesnyak, Irina Mirskaya, etc. It has been wonderful to learn from and receive critique, counsel, and support from the other illustrators.

Through the Thicket by Chuck Grieb

 

What medium(s) do you use to illustrate? 

Lots! I enjoy drawing and painting and create art using pen and ink, pencil, Casein (an old paint medium, kind of somewhere between acrylic and gouache), watercolors, and oil paints. I also use a lot of digital tools. In particular, I use Clip Studio Paint EX when writing/drawing Graphic Novels.

 

Which medium do you prefer?

I hate having to pick a favorite! But if pressed, I think I’d pick Casein. I enjoy its immediacy and the matte finish. However, I also enjoy the depth of light and color oil paints allow.

For Graphic Novels, I think Clip Studio Paint is unparalleled. It is fast, fun, and provides the most responsive digital watercolor tool I’ve ever used.

Klang by Chuck Grieb

 

What is your illustration process?

My process varies – each illustration is its own problem. I approach each medium in a different way, and I’ve varied my approach over time. But I will do my best and have documented the process for creating a Casein illustration here.

The initial concept is explored in a variety of thumbnails. I want to capture an emotional moment, one significant to the story, the world, and the characters, which will connect that moment with the viewer.

Character Study of ‘Bela.’

Number 2 became the selected thumb to develop.

I often shoot photos to use as reference.

Photo reference for Picking Berries.

Photo reference for Picking Berries.

When creating an image of something which does not exist, I will sometimes build a model or maquette to use as reference. I did not do so for this image, but here is an example from a different illustration.

Maquette created of Grendel

Before painting, I resolve the image with a detailed drawing. I often draw on an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil using an app called Procreate.

Digital Drawing of Picking Berries

My planning stage also entails a value study.

Digital Value Study, Picking Berries

I need to transfer the digital drawing to paper.

How I transfer the drawing depends on the size of the piece and the medium. When I paint in Casein, I paint on 300 lb Hot Press watercolor paper. If the painting is smaller than 13 X 19 – I print directly on to the watercolor paper at about a 30% opacity. (The largest paper my printer can handle is 13 X 19. If the final image is larger than this size, I employ a more complex process.)

The printed image provides a light image over which I redraw/trace with a brown colored pencil. I clean the digital drawing up more carefully before printing when printing directly onto the paper on which I will be painting the final illustration.

The digital drawing printed onto 300 lb watercolor paper

The finished drawing, mounted with tape on a drawing board

I next completed a value underpainting (I don’t always complete an underpainting – and in this instance it proved to not be very helpful).

The finished drawing, mounted with tape on a drawing board

While the underpainting dried, I explored color schemes. I prefer to explore color with traditional media. I find it provides a better sense of how I will mix the colors and which tubes of paint to use. I make specific decisions as I explore different color schemes.

Color studies

I selected C5. This selection introduced a different value scheme than I’d already painted (a High Key value scheme). Sometimes this happens! As a result, I had to ignore the value underpainting when applying the color.

In process – you can see the edge of the Stay-Wet palette I use when painting with Casein

Palette before I started to paint

Detail as I painted Bela

Picking Berries, completed

 

How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been drawing my entire life, falling in love with animation (especially stop motion animation) when just a kid. This led to studying art and film in college and a career in animation.

I worked as an animation artist for studios such as Disney and Nickelodeon and had my own studio with a partner for a time. Now, I teach animation at Cal State Fullerton. I’ve also created my own animated shorts which have screened in festivals all over the world.

Illustration is something I began to explore in earnest in 2015.

Ladybug Bunny by Chuck Grieb

 

Are you self taught or did you study illustration? 

I have college degrees, though not in illustration. However, concepts I learned studying film and animation have informed my approach and understanding of illustration. I’m not sure I understand or embrace the concept or claim of being ‘self-taught’ vs. ‘school-educated’. We all learn on our own and we all learn from others, whether in a formal institution, or from a book, workshop, or online videos. Formal schooling (ideally) provides a foundation. It is not the end, but the beginning. We continue to grow and learn throughout our lives. I continue to take classes and learn from others, but at the same time I teach. The journey continues.

Lizard Banner by Chuck Grieb

 

What school did you attend?

I earned a BFA in Applied Media Arts from Edinboro University and an MFA in Film Production from USC. Neither was a focus on illustration – my interest was more on animation and filmmaking. I’ve also attended the Illustration Master Class and taken courses via the SmarterArt School. James Gurney’s blog is regular reading and I’ve learned more than I can measure from his books, videos, and daily musings. I learn by drawing and painting in my sketchbooks on a regular basis, reading books, talking with artists, I’m reading Miyazaki’s collected essays, having recently started the second volume, “Turning Point”.

Tack the Spider Knight by Chuck Grieb

 

Do you have a dedicated art space? 

Yes, I do. I have an office space outfitted with a digital work-station equipped with a Cintiq and a traditional work-station comprised of an antique oak drawing table.

 

What would be your dream book to illustrate?

My own!

But if I have to select something existing (and not written by me), I’m drawn to fantasy and love Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth. I also love Ursula K LeGuin’s Earthsea stories. But both of these worlds have been so well visualized by other artists – maybe TH White’s “The Once and Future King”? I adore King Arthur and TH White’s rendition of that world in words.

 

Are you working on any fun projects now? 

I’ve been creating illustrations and writing stories about a secondary fantasy world I’ve created and call The Garden Clans.

A little about The Garden Clan:

Garden faeries are small, tiny even, the tallest never quite reaching two inches in height; and come in many forms and colors. There are the Faerie Rabbits, standing on two legs, unlike the animals we know. The Faerie Owls which appear a little odd to our eyes in that they have no wings, but claws for hands as well as feet. The Faerie Elves who look much like you or I, though their ears tend to be pointy. And the Goblins. Goblins are small, just as most faeries are, look very piggy in the face, and are covered in a fine fur. They stand on two legs (hooved); most are brown, grey, or a dark blue black, some are even spotted or piebald, but never white. Scholars do not include the Trolls (which are much large than most faeries) amongst the Garden Clans, because whereas they are a form of faerie, they live alone or in small family groups. And the rats and crows, though intelligent and organized, are animals and therefore not counted amongst the faerie peoples.
 

Tack the Spider Knight by Chuck Grieb

 

Tell us about the children’s books you’ve written.

I’ve written a few stories set in my world of The Garden Clan including an MG novel, ‘The Goblin Twins’. I’d hoped to see this book published as an illustrated novel, but I’ve been counseled to consider exploring the story as a Graphic Novel, so have recently developed a Graphic Novel pitch for the story.

I’ve also written and prepared a Graphic Novel pitch for another Garden Clan story, ‘Tack, The Spider knight’.

Tack the Spider Knight by Chuck Grieb

 

Any tips for illustrators that are starting out?

Draw. Draw all the time. Draw every day. Draw what you see. Draw what you love. Then draw some more. Look stories in the world around you and capture those stories in your drawings. 

When you find yourself inspired by an artist – dig a little. Discover who inspired that artist. And then go further. Who inspired the artist that had inspired THAT artist? Steve Hickner (DreamWorks director and story artist) put a name on this idea for me, he called it following the breadcrumbs. It’ll expose you to new ideas, imagery and understanding.

 

Do you currently have an agent? 

I am not currently agented.

Troll Hunt, Found One by Chuck Grieb

 

Have you won any awards?

My work has been featured in Spectrum vol 23 and the upcoming Spectrum vol 27, ImagineFX magazine, the Infected By Art annuals, Volumes 4-8, Illustration West 57, and I was awarded an SCBWI, SoCal region Portfolio Showcase Award in 2018.

 

Where can people find more of your work?

Instagram: @chuck_grieb

Twitter: @chuck_grieb

Patreon: http://thegardenclan.com/

Website: http://chuckgrieb.com/

Tumbler: https://chuckimation.tumblr.com/