Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mummers and Drag Queens

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel so overwhelmed by work you want to just curl up into a ball in a dark room? Well I have! So rather than face reality just now, I decided to write a blog post composed mainly of funny pictures I found online!

I actually had a very fun task on my plate today. I'm gearing up to start the final paintings for my next book, and today was a research day. Ladybug has a few costume changes throughout the book, and I felt some of her outfits weren't quite fabulous enough yet.

When I googled "Broadway costumes", by and large I was underwhelmed by the image results. Where were the feathers? The sequins? The top hats? In short: where were the Mummers?

If you are not familiar with the Mummers Parade, you are probably not from Philadelphia. It's a parade held on New Year's Day, with people wearing outrageous outfits and carrying umbrellas, playing banjos & accordians.

Not going to be celebrating the new year in Philadelphia? Fear not! There is also a Mummers Museum! I discovered this gem while looking for a place to hold our wedding reception a few years ago. Imagine the photo opportunities!!

And because I am hiding from reality right now, I will also share some pictures of our runner-up wedding reception location: The Mutter Museum. We could have cut the cake next to The Big Colon!

Expressed our new union next to the conjoined twins!

And we could have given everyone cute plush toys from the gift shop as wedding favors.

Anyway, between the Mummers and the drag queen community, I was able to get some pretty awesome inspiration for Ladybug's costume changes.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Olympic Celebrity!!!!

Remember how in my last post I said I don't keep it cool when I meet celebrities? Well, OMG YOU GUYS, I JUST MET MICHELLE KWAN!!!!!!!

I am right now adding this picture to the "Olympic Figure Skaters I Have Met" page in my scrapbook. Which, until today, was limited to this picture:

(BTW, in the middle is Sarah Cloots, former editor at Greenwillow. She is now a freelance editor- if you're in need of a professional eye before you submit your dummy to an agent or publisher, or self publish, check out her services on her website.)

Maybe I'll have an "Olympic Celebrities" page on the website I'm building for OLYMPIG, who knows. I was thinking about bringing an advanced copy of OLYMPIG for Ms. Kwan to sign (and by "advanced copy", I mean "one I printed out from my computer at home"), but I didn't want her to get any ideas. After all, goodness knows the last thing I need is for another Olympic figure skater to write a book about athletic pigs.

My only other near-Olympic encounter was in 2004, when Michael Phelps was rumored to have made a reservation at the restaurant where I worked in New York (Ruby Foo's in Times Square), but "his people" cancelled at the last minute.

Do YOU have any great Olympian stories?!? I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Celebrity Guest Speaker Round-up!

I'm not going to lie- I don't play it cool when I see celebrities. I cried when I saw Julie Andrews in the lobby of my office building back in New York. My husband (equally un-cool) saluted Conan O'Brien when we passed him on the street. So imagine how un-cool I was during my week-long intensive course at PNCA! Celebrity Guest Speakers every day of the week!

On day one we had an embarrassment of riches and welcomed TWO Celebrity Guest Speakers. Celebrity #1 was Carolyn Conahan, author and illustrator of the recent release, THE BIG WISH...

... and illustrator of Bubble Homes and Fish Farts.

I love, love, love this illustration:
In the afternoon, we were visited by Ward Jenkins, who unfortunately did not arrive dressed like a chicken.
He did, however, DRAW some chickens.

... some surprisingly scientifically composed chickens.

These chickens are, of course, the stars of his wildly successful new book, CHICKS RUN WILD.

Both Carolyn and Ward were extremely generous in sharing their working procedures and dummy-making habits with us. Ward also generally blew everyone away with his mad Photoshop skillz, not to mention the pile of vintage books he uses for inspiration.

On Tuesday we welcomed Deborah Hopkinson, author of approximately 2 billion books.

It was tremendously interesting hearing things from an author's point of view. For example, when asked if she was ever surprised or disappointed by the choice of illustrator for her books, she replied, No. She saw her books almost like children... you may have hopes and dreams and plans for your children, but eventually, they grow up and they are what they are.

Our last Celebrity Guest Speaker was the tremendously talented David Hohn, pictured here with a few of his titles.

(oh, and I apologize for only photographing 50% of our speakers. I had my camera... I just... forgot.)

David was kind enough to share his promotional postcards- two of which I've posted below. He had the very smart idea to create a series of 6 mailers that, when seen together, tell a complete story. Verrrry clever.

A big Thank You to all of our speakers. It's so helpful to hear how other illustrators work, and to see that even wildly successful authors and illustrators go through the same frustrations and worries as everyone else. Hopefully, more Celebrity Guest Speaker features to come in the fall, when my classes at PNCA start up again!