When I went to the New England SCBWI Conference this year, I had the pleasure of meeting fellow illustrator Nancy Meyers! I loved seeing her fantastic art, it's incredibly cute and expressive! She lives in Minnesota, and it was so much fun meeting someone who knows about my old neighborhood around MCAD!
She invited me to participate in a blog tour, where children's book authors and illustrators answer questions about their creative process and then pass the baton along to someone else! You can see Nancy's entry from last week here, and I have my answers below...
What am I working on now?
I’m working on a picture book based on the above drawing that I made a while back, which has also become popular on Tumblr! The story takes place during the time that the whale and the mermaid are growing up together! The dummy (illustrated mock-up of the book) was recently a finalist for the Connecticut Tassy Walden Award for New Voices in Children’s Literature!
How does my work differ from others in the genre?
I make art and write stories based on what I’m personally fascinated with. You’ll see a lot of animals in my work (especially imaginary creatures and sea life!), fantasy mixing with the natural and everyday world, and diverse characters. My digital art is very painterly, and I like playing with the light in the picture with that medium. I also like working in pen and ink, using a lot of contour lines to build up texture, and I often use watercolor to add color and a loose feeling. Overall, I just love creating pictures and making up stories, and my work is a reflection of me, both as an illustrator and a person!
Why do I write what I do?
I’ve loved illustrated picture books all my life! I caught the art and storytelling bug from my wonderful art teacher in elementary school. She was creative and nurturing, and let her students make whatever they wanted, with any of the materials in the art room, as long as we wrote about it. I never wanted to stop making pictures and stories, and I never did!
How does your writing process work?
In the case of my current picture book, it started when I wondered what the mermaid’s and whale’s lives were like as children! I wrote out a very rough first draft, and when I got to a point to where I liked where it was going, I started making thumbnail sketches to generate ideas on how the illustrations may look. They were very very messy!
This first draft was literally the size of my thumbnail!
Picture books are a give and take between the illustrations and text, so I went back and forth between working on the pictures and the words. I often found that I could cut out a lot of the words because the pictures could tell the story! I also liked making tiny rough dummy books to see the flow of the story with the page turns.
An early dummy held together with a rubber band!
At this point, I started bringing my work-in-progress to my SCBWI critique groups. Using what I’ve learned from one group on what needed to be improved, I started on a more finished-looking dummy book. I then brought it to a larger SCBWI group, where I recieved more feedback and made more revisions. After more critiques (including one from a literary agent at the New England SCBWI conference!) and revisions, I’m starting to submit my book to people in publishing! I’m excited to work more on this and see it come to life!
Up next week is Marcela Staudenmaier! She's an amazing illustrator in my SCBWI group!
Marcela Staudenmaier is an architect who worked on projects both in the US and internationally for more than twelve years before embarking on a second career as a children's book illustrator. She is a recent graduate of the Children's Book Illustration Certificate Program at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD-CE) and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Marcela has been the recipient of the Tassy Walden Award: New Voices in Children's Literature and the Ann Barrow Illustrator's Scholarship for her children's book illustrator's portfolio. Her work has also received accolades from the Danforth Museum of Art, 3x3 Magazine of Contemporary Illustration, the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles and the New England SCBWI.
Learn more about her at