Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fleece Navidad!

I thought that joke was so funny when I wrote a recent holiday card, I just had to use it again.

Above is the title page for Bea Rocks the Flock- f&gs are in, and they look fantastic! Just one of the many things I am thankful for this holiday season.

If you are curious from my last post, I regret to inform you that I will not be a Gotham Girl next season- I did not make the roller derby cut. BUT, it was all good fun, and all good research for the story I'm working on now. Maybe now I can write off all the money I spent on equipment and practices for my taxes. JK, IRS! ROTFL!!!

Wishing you all a very happy holidays- or as the Gotham Girls newsletter said, Season's Beatings!

Cheerio & Pip Pip,


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Sporting Post

Here's a quick illustration I did for the New York Road Runners Foundation (a terrific organization that funds after school running programs in NYC): 

I don't normally like to work digitally (I stare enough at computers during the day, thanks), but I found it liberating, for a change, just to think about line, and not worry about color until the end. I don't think I'll make it my norm (or my Cliff), but fun for a change.

Speaking of sports, I have mentioned my love of roller derby in the past... and tryouts were this Saturday! It's funny how life imitates art, etc, no? My next story idea is about learning how to be a good sport. Well, let's just say that I did not feel that I did such a great job at tryouts on Saturday, and how quickly my grapes soured. I did not want to play roller derby anyway! I have other things to do with my time! I like all of my bones intact, thank you! Then, on Sunday afternoon when I received word that I made it through to callbacks... Well, maybe the tryouts were a LITTLE fun. Maybe I could give it one more shot. So callbacks were last night, and am waiting to hear the results. Really, I don't care one way or the other. I have my new book to work on, anyway.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

You are invited...

...to see my wedding invitations!

(I took the info off, natch- I've seen the movie Wedding Crashers!)

It's kind of a goldy-glimmery paper (and believe me, I tried a bunch). I did the edges with some special scrapbooking scissors I got from the art store by my office (Lee's-- expensive, but the same one that Angelina Jolie brings her kids too!) (according to my magazines- I've never seen her).

So, my first foray into stationery was a success! If somewhat time-consuming & frustrating. There's some palpable tension between me & my printer now-- it started printing things askew & electrically shocking me every time I touched it. Hopefully all of my angry mutterings won't seep into the cards & infuse them with negative chi.

I also have some fun updates to share on Bea Rocks the Flock AND my roller derby tryouts (to be held on Saturday!!), but as it's dinnertime now, that will just have to wait!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Doodlers Doodling

I am a doodler. Always have been. It made me a little self-conscious in school, like my teachers would think I wasn't paying attention-- but I WAS. I think I pay more attention when my hands have something to do! Imagine my relief when I learned that our President Elect Barack Obama is ALSO a doodler!

And then the loss of that relief when I saw that Sarah Palin is too:

(she's more of a word/number doodler, though, so that doesn't really count, right??)

I still feel like people think I'm daydreaming when I doodle away during meetings, but if anything it keeps me more in the present. My only problem is occasionally not wanting to turn the page in our progress reports when I'm in the midst of a nice sketch.

(yes, that's an email from THE Surly Temple, of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby! Emailing ME! ... and a bunch of other girls)

Which probably led to this doodle. Side bar: I LOVE ROLLER DERBY PRACTICE. I've only been to 2 and am pretty convinced I won't make the team on Dec. 6th, but it is SO FUN. And for me, anyway, doing things outside of my "comfort zone" (literally- I've been in DIScomfort since the first practice), I get all fired up creatively. The day after the first practice was when I finally started in on that new dummy I've been thinking about for months now.

Didn't Barack Obama's sketch sell for like $2000 on ebay? FYI- in case you like what you see here...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm still alive!!

The Marathon didn't get me, although it tried its darndest! You'll never get me, Marathon! Look, here's a picture:

That's me, right up front in the Xtreme Closeup. I'm moving so fast the camera can barely catch me! You can tell it's early on, because I'm a) still smiling, and ii) still in an upright position. I was downright Cro-Magnon by the end! I finished, though! In 4:53... EXACTLY the same time as my first marathon. EXACTLY. I am nothing if not consistent.

What else have I been doing with my time? Well, as a matter of fact I am working on my next book dummy! I am super-jazzed about it at the moment, but being superstitious I will keep those cards close to my chest for the time being.

In the meantime, why not enjoy these pictures I took at the Salt Lake City SCBWI conference this past weekend? This was truly a lovely conference- so well-run, and we were made to feel so welcome by this group. And I don't know what runs in the water in Salt Lake City, but there was an absolute slew of talented up-and-coming illustrators out there! And it was nice to see the illustrators banding together in a support group- I think it's so important to have a group of peers to turn to in times of need. Thanks for making me an honorary BIFF*! (*Best Illustration Friend Forever).

The Mountains Majesty were majestic:

Another glorious sight? My hotel room! A quaint B & B right by the capitol building- by far one of the swankiest places I've stayed in.

And what's this? Do mine eyes deceive me? Is that a jacuzzi bathtub I see?!?!

It is!!

The library where the conference was held was no less swank:

I felt like I was in the MoMA, with architecture like this! And I don't know how anyone could concentrate on the books with a view like this out the window:

(I mean the mountains, not the Bodyworks exhibit. Not my bag, baby)

A hearty thank you to the Utah SCBWI group, and I hope that you'll all keep in touch!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What I SHOULD be worrying about

...instead of those last two things I said!

1) MY WEDDING. It's in February! I got to get on the ball! I DID start on the invitations this week (which I am illustrating & designing, natch):

So this is going to go on the front of the invitations- Well, I'll post the finished invitations when they're done, there will be a few more "designy" things going on. My fiance complained about the pudginess of his bird, and I had to point out, gently, that THEY'RE BIRDS. And I am just as pudgy ("feathery", I call it). I'm surprised we're not breakin' the branch! We're some pudgy budgies.

2) THE MARATHON! It's on Sunday!
If you're in the NYC area, why not c'mon down to the marathon? It's always a fun time as a spectator, and I'm sure you'll see me easily amongst the 40,000 other runners. I'll be sure to give a little recap of the race afterwards-- if my wet noodle legs will carry me to the computer, that is.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Me Mind's been Elsewhere!

You know, I really miss having a book to work on! It's becoming increasingly (and surprisingly!) apparent to me that I have a somewhat obsessive personality. Without my Daily Dose of Sheep to keep me on the straight and narrow these days, I've been completely obsessed with 2 things:

1) POLITICS. I've been more politically active this year than I have been my whole life! First I wrote to my congresspeople about the Orphan Works Bill. Then, last week I went door-to-door in Pennsylvania for my candidate, another first for me. Not wanting to make this a political blog, I will refer to my candidate by the code name BARACK OBAMA. I was partially inspired by this posting by Cheryl Klein, and sufficiently pleased with the canvassing to do some phone bank work before the election!

2) ROLLER DERBY. Another obsession shared by a pillar of the YA/KidLit community, author Maureen Johnson. Check out her post on the subject here. (her blog also has some fantastic political pieces, including this great one on teen pregnancy, making it the perfect trifecta). I am going ahead and making my announcement to the world here, first: I have signed up for the Gotham Girls Roller Derby tryouts on Dec. 6th. I am attending a skating lesson tonight, and have signed up for their official Skillz Nites- first one next Tuesday! It is all I can do not to pull my lovely new helmet out & look at it all day long. I'm preparing myself for both the physical bruises of body checks, and the mental bruises of probably not making the team, both sure to come in my near future.

Despite the abundant time that I have spent worrying about these two things, I DID manage to paint an author photo for Bea Rocks the Flock:

This was the me of 3 weeks ago, of course. My new author photo would be of me, with matted fleece, hunched over CNN.com.

Monday, October 13, 2008

SCBWI...Love Conferences!

I had the pleasure of speaking/slash/attending two lovely SCBWI conferences recently: Philly (my childhood hometown- Go Haverford Fords!) and Minnesota (Go Garrison Keillor!). Besides meeting so many talented illustrators, one of the other best things was meeting Lin Oliver... Twice! I didn't set out to conference-stalk her- purely coincidence. Her speech about co-founding the SCBWI and her path to a successful career as a writer was inspiring. Look, I even took notes! That porcine fellow at the bottom has been popping up in my next story idea...

Her tips for a smoother road to publication were as follows:

1. Define yourself as a professional ("Hello, I'm Victoria Jamieson, and I'm a children's book illustrator!")

2. Write or draw before you're published. Use any opportunity to practice your craft. (Thank you, 8 months of working as a portrait artist!)

3. Set goals with deadlines.

4. Be brave about getting your work out there (Thank you, soul-crushing RISD crits!)

5. Be part of a community.

6. Have the courage to stay with your own voice and vision.

7.-- and this was my very favorite, which she said she heard from Bruce Colville (whom I met at the Nashville SCBWI conference):

FOLLOW YOUR WEIRDNESS. I think that is such a great motto!

8. Do market research as if it were your business.

9. Enjoy your creative life on the road to publication.

10. Keep a success chart.

11. I know there were 11 points, but unfortunately my list somehow ended at 10. Ah, that's why I always stunk at taking notes.

Anyway, both conferences were very inspiring to me, as always. If you're interested in becoming a member, check out the SCBWI website here!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jackets as far as the eye can see

Since I'm taking a little creative break at the moment, I thought I'd fill this empty blog time with some oldies but goodies. Issues that I didn't really have the time to blog about whilst in the midst of painting like a madwoman. So I thought I'd show the sketches leading up to the final jacket for Bea!

Here are the first 3 sketches that I sent in:

I liked #3, and so did my publisher. But, as a book designer I know as well as anyone that these tides are ever-changing. A few months later, as I'm heading into the thick of things, I was asked for some new jacket sketches. One reason (which I suspected myself) was the problem that hand-drawn type nestled in with a bunch of art could create. If, say, my book were to be translated into 17 different languages (fingers crossed), the jacket art would be a problem. Plus, they wanted to see Bea & some sheep up close, for some more personality to show through. Here's what I came up with:

Not so good, right? What's up with that Brady Bunch version? I don't know why I was so adverse to putting the type in the sky- it was the obvious solution, and one that required the insight of my art director & editor to point out to me.

Round 3 of sketches:

This last one was the one everyone liked. With some final discussions about Bea's wardrobe & the facial expressions of the other sheep, here's what I did for the final:

...and the back cover.

And there you have it! For now, anyway!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Boy howdy!

These have been some crazy two weeks!

Last things first, this past weekend I spoke at the Nashville SCBWI conference. Look at the grandeur:

Very beautiful city, very fun conference, VERY talented attendees! I gave my standard go-to talk about the behind-the-scenes machinations of an art department, as well as a brand new talk on picture book dummies. If any attendees have recommendations for either talk- things you wish I'd covered, burning questions you didn't get to ask in the Q&A, please let me know! I'll try & include them in future talks. My one disappointment of the weekend was that I did not get to taste any chess pie. Alas. The excitement of meeting so many great illustrators made up for it. 

This weekend getaway served also as a mini-vacay-- a reward for handing in all of my artwork!! That happened on Thursday. Here's the heap o' sheep:

I meant to spread out all the pictures real nice to see them altogether. Instead, I took this "oh-man-it's-4-am-please-just-take-the-picture-and-go-to-bed" picture. I got to hand in the art in person, which was fun. Bloomsbury is in the Flatiron building, and I always feel very New York when I go in there. It's been kind of a weird feeling, not having anything to do when I get home from work! I was able to watch the premiere of Heroes last night! (review: confused). I got to scrub the bathroom like I wanted! (review: squeaky clean). Now what?!? Good thing I have another SCBWI conference this weekend to keep myself occupied!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Calling all Nashville SCBWI attendees!

And Philly attendees. And Minnesota! Are you an author and/or illustrator and/or fellow presenter who also happens to be training for a marathon?!? I'll be speaking at all of these conferences in the coming weeks, which just happens to coincide with peak marathon training. Being a bit of a chatty Cathy runner, I'd love to put in a nice leisurely... 13 mile or more run with fellow SCBWI-ers! C'mon, it will be fun! We can talk about children's books hours before the conference begins- think of the head start we'll get!

So, shoot me an email if interested- and please pass on to anyone you think might be keen! Gracias!

(Do you notice my abundance use of exclaimation points?! To convince you that running 13 miles will be fun!)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pictures from my Staycation

Thank you, Lynne Rae Perkins, for the title.

Well, it's almost done now. Art for Bea Rocks the Flock is due next Thursday! Here are some of the memories I made over my Staycation:

Alls I have left to finish are the jacket, one interior piece, and a few more spots. I have been entertaining myself by fantasizing about all of the things I am going to do with my newfound free time after I'm done! Of course, this list consists of the most banal activities ever. The first 3 items on my list are, I kid you not:

1. Get haircut
2. Give bathroom a really good cleaning
3. Get cat shaved

Apparently, when pressed for time, it is personal & feline cleanliness that is the first to go.

But do you know, I find myself getting a little misty-eyed at the passing of this era already?! For nearly 5 years now, in one way or another I've had the story of Bea flitting through my mind, and now it's sort of sad to think my work is almost done! Even with a hip new coif and a freshly shorn cat, I will have a sheep-shaped hole in my heart.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I'm on Staycation!

...minus the "-cation" bit. I've taken a week off from work to do some major painting for Bea Rocks the Flock.  I am trying to inject an air of fun to this week (even though, in all honesty, this is kinda my dream vacation anyway). So come! Take a look at what I've packed  in my rucksack for my staycation:


I've treated myself to 2 audiobooks for this week. Normally I limit
 myself to the usual NPR podcast suspects, but hey! I'm on staycation!

(I've got marathons on the brain, what can I say! 15 miles yesterday, baby!)


And I'm all set. Hey, I can indulge, I'm on staycation!


Not. I wear the same thing every day when I paint: paint-splattered tee (I rotate these), old jean skirt that doesn't button (nice), and the ugliest reindeer slippers you'll ever want to see. I didn't take a picture of them because I don't want to embarrass myself too much.

And that's all I need for a fun week at home! Maybe I'll hang some posters of Tahiti & Hawaii in the studio to trick myself.

So, see you in a week, everybody!

Monday, August 25, 2008

I Heart Fictional NY

So, my fiance and I are heading out yesterday to grab some lunch, and we find this outside our door:

Thinly veiled threat? Ransom note? Cryptic anagram? Who knows? I felt better when I realized these were directions for a Nerf gun, and not a semi-automatic rifle, but still. Coupled with this sign from our lobby (which I posted a few months ago):

... and you get a pretty good idea of what living in New York has meant to me, personally. And I haven't even shown you pictures of the 9-year old with the platinum mullet next door, the super's kids crouching under the stairs near the mailboxes, or the Little Mermaid-themed faux sitting room someone set up near the trash cans a few weeks back.

Ahh, if only I could live in Fictional New York, where the sheep roam free, and people eat ice cream and hang out by the library all the live-long day!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I DO have a day job, you know!

And it's a pretty great one, at that. Especially at times like this, when I learn that Greenwillow has had five books accepted into the Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators!

For two of these titles, I had the great pleasure of working as the designer. The Umbrella Queen was illustrated by the talented and oh-so-nice Taeeun Yoo. She also won the Founder's Award at the show last year! Talent.

I also worked on The Pet Dragon, by the also supremely talented and oh-so-nice Christoph Niemann.

If you missed his wonderful New York Times... art piece? Opinion blog? Really, it defies definition- please see it here. It's fantastic.

(it makes me want to enjoy riding the subway. Alas, I have the jaded heart of a 30-year-old, not the fresh young eyes of the under-5 set!)

Other winning titles from Greenwillow include:

Congratulations to everybody!