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Illustration (mostly)

Petty HeadshotSigh. So Dev Petty asked me to do this blog tour thing and I said yes. You don’t say “no” to Dev Petty because she’s kinda scary and you can only see half of her face.

See?

Anywho… she’s incredibly funny and her debut picture book “I Don’t Want to be a Frog” (illustrated by the fabulous Mike Boldt) is coming out next February from Doubleday. She says it’s autobiographical and, since I’ve never met her in person, I’m inclined to believe her.  Check out her writing process post here: http://devpetty.com/

Here goes nothin’, kids…

What am I currently working on?

Laundry.  There’s always laundry. It is the WORST.

Professionally? I’ve been collaborating with an author friend o’mine (who may or may not be a frog) on a very… errr… unique picture book series.  While she’s in charge of the words and I’m all over the pictures, it’s been a lot of fun to work together on all aspects of the series… plotlines, set design, character interaction, camera angles, etc.  The nature of our industry tends to require many hours of writing or illustrating alone and so it’s been really exciting to throw ideas back and forth with someone who’s also really invested in the project.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Oh, boy.  Kind of a tough question. I don’t have a specific medium like most other illustrators… the closest would probably be an overarching diorama medium.  There are some phenomenal artists who work in diorama but I specifically steer clear of viewing their work in order to keep a fresh perspective.  In the last year I’ve started to incorporate other media forms to best suit the specific story that I’m working on.  The story is king. Period. I think it’s important to let the story guide illustrative choices… everything with intention. There are two constants, however, that tend to show up in everything I do… clay and eyes.

Why do I write what I write?

Actually, I’ve just started to really work on my writing.  I’ve always identified more as an illustrator but some of my writer pals have been really supportive and helpful in providing feedback/guidance. There’s just a lot of evolution in my writing right now, which is great! I tend to be drawn to anything funny. Anything innovative. Anything that’s really well done.

How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?

Welp. If I’m doing the writing and illustrating things flow differently because I can make choices about presentation as I go.  I can answer, “do I let the words or pictures speak here?” on my own and the story evolves sentence by sentence… image by image in a rough dummy.  In my current collaboration project, things have worked slightly differently.  After getting the words, I spent a good amount of time just thinking about what the story called for visually and how to best present the visual storyline. Next was the general framework… set and physical character development. After those were established I set up just a thumbnail rough dummy and a shot list. Finally, the actual illustrating and compilation into page layout.  I try to stay away from Photoshop (though it’s a great tool) because the nature of my illustration is very much handmade and it’s meant to be imperfectly beautiful on purpose.

 Up Next on this lovely blog tour:

The extremely talented and lovely ladies: Deborah Marcero and Bethany Telles. You’ll be hearing a lot from them in the years to come and I’m excited to hear more about their processes!

A special “thanks” to Fred Koehler for getting this started!

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Susan Gloss. (http://susangloss.com/)

A writer friend of mine, Susan Gloss, has this print hanging over her writing desk. She posted it to her social media sites when she finally received her “YES.”  She had signed with the perfect literary agent. She was legit. Today, I’m thrilled to be able to post it to my social media sites, for the same reason.

When you’re trying to become a legitimate author/illustrator, you send out a lot of queries in hopes of landing the PERFECT agent… one that totally understands your vision, your process, and your abilities. And you get rejected. A lot. Not just like, 10 times… like, 110 times. But you keep working. You keep getting critiqued. You develop your craft. But it takes a village.

I’ve been lucky enough to have an amazing village. My family (especially my husband and momma) have devoted countless hours of “I’ll watch the kids so you can make weird stuff in the basement” time FOR YEARS and there’s no way in the world I could do this without their love and support. My friends have all been amazing, too. AND, I didn’t realize how absolutely vital it is to connect with other writers/illustrators until I already had formed some great friendships through Twitter and SCBWI. These people really get it. They’ve gone through it (or are going through it now) and provide such an amazing support system. They provide critiques, friendship, and a solid “you’re not in this alone” atmosphere. Not to mention, most of them are hilarious.

It was through one of these people, Julie Falatko (www.worldofjulie.com), that I met my perfect literary agent. Julie has been incredibly supportive of my illustration and totally instrumental in my writing. If I have any future in the literary world, it will be because of her. She ended up being the matchmaker between her super-agent, Danielle Smith of Foreward Literary, and myself.

Danielle is absolutely amazing and I could not be more thrilled to make this announcement. She knows picture books like nobody’s business, used to be an engineer, was offered a full ride to Juilliard to become a professional flautist but turned it down (as one does), wrote a massively successful children’s book blog, and now she’s killing it as a literary agent (while raising two young children… obviously).

We have a great relationship and we’re very excited to begin pitching within the next couple of weeks!

So… there you go… THERE’S MY HAPPY NEWS!

SIGNED.

LEGIT.

———————————————————

Additionally, a massive “thank you” to writer sisters… Julie, Carter Higgins, E. Stevens Omlor, Dev Petty, Danielle Davis, and Susan Parsons… I certainly would have quit a long time ago without your support and awesomeness!

HARRIS

Harris gathering some food.

Hey! So I haven’t written a post in a LONG TIME. I know that. I’ve been busy. Doing what?

Here’s what:

*   I finished the STOP dummy (book with illustrations that you submit to agents/publishers) upon an interested agent’s request.

*   THAT TOOK FOR-EV-ER to do.

*   She shot me down. Bummer. – BUT, now I have a complete dummy and a better idea of my artistic direction. It’s kind of like working on a master’s thesis.

*   STOP is the work that I’m so emotionally tied to and I’m positive that it will have to go to a smaller press. Which is great!

*   Next, I went to query-land. If you know any writers or illustrators, treacherous this process can be. Basically, I just flip between crazy and sane-ish (See post from Erin Bowman: http://www.embowman.com/2011/my-query-process/).

*  To keep from going TOO crazy, I started working on a completely different book… HARRIS THE HOUSE DRAGON.  I love him. Very different than anything I’ve done before, both artistically and plot-wise.

So that’s where I’m at now.  I’ll continue to post little blurbs on HARRIS and his progress occasionally. I am certainly not giving up on STOP, but it’s possible that it could be more successful if it followed a book like HARRIS. Who knows?  Hope you’re all doing well & thanks for reading, friends!

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Nice to see you all, again! It’s been a while, huh? I’ve been rewriting a lot lately and now I’m back to illustrating. This image is for a page that talks about how sometimes lights are just too bright!

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The furniture is made out of stained balsa wood, the baseball is a painted fake cranberry, the bat is a q-tip covered in clay, paint & wrapped with tape. The lamp is made out of a glue stick cap, fabric, wire, hot glue, and a nut. The books are paper & cardboard. The wallpaper, curtains, clothes, and bedding is fabric… And the main character’s made out of the normal stuff (Clay, wire, paint, doll eyes)!

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My fancy lighting is basically a flashlight duct taped to the board game “Don’t Break The Ice” and a secondary backlight :-)

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Early versions of the main character and Vern.

I thought I’d post a few process pictures from the other picture book that I’ve been working on lately.  The book is tentatively called Vern Won’t Calm Down.  The only major difference in materials from this book as compared to STOP! is the main character’s hair.  I actually bought a small doll head, cut it up (to allow for my own character) and re-styled her hair to fit my character.  Super weird… you’ll see.  The dog, Vern, is made out of tin foil covered with clay and then painted with acrylic paint.  Like all of my other characters, he as acrylic “doll” eyes, too.

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Creepy cut out doll head, waiting for alterations.

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Slightly less creepy, beginning character development.

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Main character’s head, body, and two sleeping Verns.

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Verns: pre and post paint.

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Making the main character’s clothes… I love liquid stitch.

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Making Vern sit up.

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Vern sitting pre-paint.

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blackshooting

- A pashmina can make a lovely black backdrop (I shot a few different versions with different backgrounds)

- The shirt made out of nails is my 2-year-old’s koosh ball… some scissors, spray paint, and safety pins finished the job!

- The main character’s jeans are made out of my husband’s (now former) favorite sweatshirt.  For the record, one of our daughters stained it.  Got it?!

- It’s super hard to make 1 character look like himself when placed next to two other versions of himself.  If you understood that, you are also sleep deprived.

- The shirt made of feathers is actually made out of a tiny, fabulous boa that I found at a craft store.

- I shot all of the images during the girls’ nap time.  Both were sick with a tummy bug and I didn’t know how much (if any) time I’d get.  Thank you for the 85 minutes, ladies.

 

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