Thursday, July 17, 2014

Blog tour!

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.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

First rodents, now chickens

Here's a little somethin' somethin' I did for a buddy recently. It's Portland- chickens are required.

kid portrait