It's a live person! My little boy- our first- was born a month ago. I will now attempt to figure out how you working parents do it! So far he is healthy and we are very happy- the rest will work itself out, I am sure. :)
Here I am, participating in my first blog tour! Tour bus not included. I was invited by my pal Abigail Marble, a fellow Portland illustrator. Isn't this illustration of hers charming?
So much warmth and tenderness between the characters. You can see more of her work (and read her responses to the blog tour questions) here!
Alright, let's get down to business. Here are my responses to the bloggy questions:
1. What am I currently working on?
Answer: I am currently "working" here!
Just for the week, though! I'm on the faculty this week of the wonderful OCCBWW conference (Oregon Coast Children's Book Writers Workshop). Yes, I'm being forced to spend a week in Oceanside, Oregon with a bunch of amazing people talking about children's books, while I am fed delicious gourmet meals three times a day. It is a rough life.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I am currently working on quite a few projects at once! Several middle grade jackets and interior illustration projects are just waiting for me, and I for them. I love what I do. I can't share any of those images yet, but I CAN share some from my other current project...
This is a (rough! unfinished!) page from my upcoming graphic novel with Henry Holt, coming in 2016. It's the first of a young reader series about a bunch of classroom pets creating meyhem in a school by night.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
We often discuss style in the classes I teach at Pacific Northwest College of Art, and in a recent class I came up with what I think is a very poetic description of "style". Many people worry that they don't have a "style", to which I say, relax. Most people also think that their house doesn't smell funny, but that's probably because they're used to it. Visitors to your home can probably smell your distinctive house odor, even if you can't. (*note to self: clean Sharon's litter box upon return home). Point is, you probably DO have a style, just as you have distinctive handwriting or a particular way of walking- keep drawing and it will become more and more obvious.
I think your style will evolve naturally depending on your interests. I tend to gravitate towards humorous stories, so I guess that's how my art has evolved, too...
3. Why do I write what I write?
I always write about things I care passionately about. The Olympics, for example, or Broadway musicals. Probably the closest correlation to real life is my forthcoming graphic novel, ROLLER GIRL.
It's a subject I care about deeply and I wanted to channel my love for roller derby into my other love, writing & illustrating. It was so fun drawing on my past experiences with the sport and translating them into a work of fiction. I'm so excited for the book's release (March 2015!!!)
Me in my glory days.
4. How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?
My graphic novels and my picture books both start off the same way: sketches. Lots and lots of sketches.
I like to work on loose sheets of printer paper because sketchbooks make me nervous. With loose paper I'm free to screw up without worrying about crummy drawings being stuck permanently in a book.
This is how I get to know my characters and start to think about their story. Basically I'm just doodling and thinking up funny situations for my characters to get into. After a while, plot points start to emerge and I begin to weave together various scenes into a cohesive story. I go back and forth between typing a Word document manuscript and scribbling tiny little indecipherable thumbnail sketches.
Once I have a general sense of the story arc, I do a set of more detailed sketches:
Still on loose paper. At this stage I then scan my sketches and add text to send to my editor for her input. Once I've received her feedback and I've sent in revised sketches, it's on to final art! This page, for example, needed a few added panels.
I've graduated from junky paper now, to nice smmmmoooooth Bristol board. I use a brush pen along with some smaller pens for detail work.
The next step is adding color to the ink drawings. In Photoshop I add placeholder colors (also called "flatting"). The colors are close to the final, but not exactly. The final step is adding lighting, shadow, mysterious creepy effects-- and of course, word balloons. I'm not there yet with this book, so you'll just have to take my word for it!
5. Who are the two author/illustrators that you are passing the interview to? Airlie Anderson is a dear friend of mine from art school. She's the author/illustrator of MOMO & SNAP ARE NOT FRIENDS, terrific illustrator, and all-around great gal. She's been an early set of eyes on many of my projects and I'm very thankful.
Deborah Hocking is a Portland illustrator. I just love her work! We share the same agency- go Team Rodeen! We've been meeting with small group of illustrators recently and that support has been very helpful with my recent projects.
I love the beginning of a new project. My desk is clean (for me) and the future is bright and rosy. Here is the first page of chapter one of my next graphic novel, THE GREAT PET ESCAPE! And a few concept pieces of the main character, G.W.
Just a little sketch! I grew up in Florida (well, from age 12-18), and it's funny- I didn't appreciate the weirdness of that state until many years later. I wish I had discovered the joy of the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks or the Weeki Wachee Mermaid Springs while I was still a resident...
I've been cleaning up my studio this week in the burst of "grown-up-edness" that always follows me doing my taxes. Usually, I have about a week's window in which I attempt to tidy up, get grades in, and otherwise get my life in order before my previous slovenly ways take hold again. So, I found these early- and I mean, some of the EARLIEST- sketches I did for ROLLER GIRL! Behold!
Most of my early sketches look like this- a combination of drawings and random words and phrases.
Here's an early watercolor sketch:
And some of the drawings haven't changed much from sketch to finished book!
Several months ago, I had the pleasure of creating a jacket illustration for the middle-grade novel AVA AND PIP, by Carol Weston. It's an endearing story of two very different sisters- it's sweet, funny, and touching all at once. It gets a gold medal from me!* (*I have Olympics fever.)
I thought maybe you'd like to see the jacket sketches. Well, here they are!
Typically I try to send in 3-5 jacket ideas, and the publisher then chooses the one they like. Any guesses as to which one they chose?
... They chose this one!
Here's a closer look at the whole jacket. We flipped it around so it could be a wraparound image.
Many thanks to everyone at Sourcebooks Jabberwocky- I had such a fun time illustrating this cover (and reading the book). And thanks of course to Carol Weston for writing such an inspiring book! I could not wait to draw these two girls. You can visit Carol's website here, and buy the book here!
Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for the sequel! I just handed in the cover art last week, and let's just say... there is a cat involved.
... and I'm just going to pick up where I left off, and pretend I HAVEN'T been absent for four months!
Here's a piece from a few months ago that I found while cleaning off my desktop:
I have the time to clean off my desktop because... my derby graphic novel is now DONE! (Well, except for revisions and the like.) Files are off to my publisher!! I can't wait for this book to come out, and in the coming months I will share more about my process, now that I actually have the time to do so! Yay!!