First let’s start with a visual cuz we all know you’re not going to read this blog post without plenty of pictures. And a warning, cuz this post has a ridiculous number of cuties.
The BIGGEST NEWS I have right now is that I’ve signed a contract to illustrate a THIRD book, “Alphabet Adventures!” There’s something real fancy about saying “THIRD BOOK,” like I’m a professional now or something. It’s all very exciting. But to tell the story, I need to back up just a little.
So, after finishing the illustrations for “The Tooth Fairy Who Forgot” about a year ago, the book became available for purchase in March of 2017 (W00T!) Creating children’s books can be quite a process and it’s a great idea to have tons of irons in the fire, because you could be waiting a year (or longer) to see your final artwork in print. But when those books were delivered, it was worth the wait. It was so incredibly fulfilling to see my illustrations printed within a beautiful book – and my first in HARDCOVER!
Of course, the illustrations were done over a year ago, so I can already start seeing little flaws in my work, but that’s just the nature of the job, and something I’m working on – being more patient and positive about my artwork rather than seeing all the ways I can improve.
The Tooth Fairy book was published and displayed in the Beaver’s Pond Press office (Just to clarify in case I haven’t already, Beaver’s Pond Press is an independent publishing company in Edina that provides services for authors such as editing, design, illustration, and publishing), and I also submitted a ton of images for my portfolio there. So, basically I became one of their illustrators whom they “offer” to new clients/authors that walk through the door, wanting their books published. After only one week, I had an email that an author wanted me to illustrate her book! WHAT!
After reading through the manuscript, I went in for a meeting and met the author, Kathleen, the director of a Montessori that had developed her own curriculum for teaching the alphabet and wanted to publish a book of ABC poems. Was I interested in illustrating the book? UM, YES. These poems are absolutely adorable and will be SO FUN to illustrate. Think “tabby chasing a toad” and “yeti yodeling with a yo-yo” kind of stuff. SO CUTE. The first step was to sketch and bring to two illustrations to full color (usually they ask for character studies, but since there were no “main characters,” it was a little different), then I’ll sketch every page for approval, then paint and submit final art for each spread plus the cover. So, for the next 4-6 months, I’ll be working on the ABC book.
And so far, it’s been really fun. I think the reason this book appeals to me so much is because I’ve discovered I’m a “Type A Illustrator.” I’ve always known I’m a perfectionist, I like having goals and plans of action, I’m competitive and ambitious (okay, maybe even a workaholic). But you can see it in my artwork, too — I like things to be neat and clean, and I have little tolerance for discord or mess. This translates to my artwork in negative and positive ways.
Not so good:
- I have a hard time channeling creativity and coming up with new ideas, instead preferring to receive assignments with a clear vision already in place.
- I have a hard time loosening up with my drawings.
- Experimenting with new mediums? Nah, I’ll stick with what I KNOW I do well.
- I care about presentation and what other people think. I can’t draw or illustrate without taking into account whether something is “post worthy” of Facebook or whatever.
- A few weeks after I’ve completed an illustration I can already start seeing the flaws and why IT’S NOT PERFECT. (eye roll)
As you can plainly see, I am NOT the next Dr. Suess or creative visionary with this insane mentality. However, I’m kind of starting to just embrace this as my style. I like clear assignments, like “draw a tabby chasing a toad with a towel on its head.” YES. I want to draw that. Clear, concise, done. I often wish I had the slap-dash line of Quentin Blake, but that’s just not me. Although, I just googled him and while he’s described his style as a “freewheeling sort of drawing that looks as though it is done on the spur of the moment,” he apparently “strives to get it perfect” and says “It’s not impossible for me to find myself…surrounded by expensive sheets of watercolour paper with a small face bearing not quite the right expression in the middle of each.”
So maybe most successful illustrators are “Type A” and behind those fluid, effortless lines are years of experience and practice at work, along with careful planning and preparation. That’s probably the answer because it sounds smart. So let’s go with that.
Meanwhile, I’m going to be putting “Harold Hampton, Space Plumber” on hold for a few weeks until I get my feet under me with this ABC project, and then hopefully I can work on them simultaneously. Remarkably, I’ve actually completed ALL spreads for the book! My next steps were to draft a cover and then begin compiling a list of publishers and/or agents for submission. I think the idea of creating a mailing list of publishers can be really overwhelming, because there are so many podcasts and interviews available about who is accepting what, and what the “do’s and don’ts” are when you submit work – it’s just too much information. It’s an overload! But just like anything, it’s all about taking it one step at a time, breaking it into tiny, manageable bites. So that’s what imma do. Thanks for checking in!