Two great books on children's books I highly recommend are both written by Martin Salisbury.
The first is Illustrating Children's Books: Creating Pictures for Publication- This is a very comprehensive book that covers the history of children's books to the nitty gritty of composing and illustrating your own. The layout/chapters are well designed, in full color, with plenty of beautiful art and examples. With so many boring how-to books out there, this stands out from the crowd, a definite must read.
Martin Salisbury's newest book, Play Pen: New Children's Book Illustration-is a compilation of fresh illustration in children's books that is out there, covering all over the world. A bright yellow cover with art by one of my illustrators, Marc Boutavant, drew me in at the bookstore. There are bio and artwork by various artists, some familiar favorites like J Otto Siebold to new illustrators that I was happy to get to know about.
Friday, February 29, 2008
Two great books on children's books I highly recommend are both written by Martin Salisbury.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Books are a great source of inspiration to all of us. Picture books, design books, how-to books etc. Let's inspire each other this week by each presenting a book we love!
I want to talk about a book I got in the mail this weekend. It's a beautiful picture book called "Baby Bear's Books", written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. This book is about a bear that loves to read (just like myself), and the illustrations are a huge inspiration to me. Melissa Sweet is one of my favorite illustrators. I love her charming and colorful pictures that has a few rough lines and loose watercolor washes here and there. Beautiful!
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Whenever I need some inspiration, one of the first places I go to is my bookshelf. Here is a sneak peek. There are always a mixture of art, design, and children's books to go through.
My manga collection is also growing, here are my two favorites: Banana Fish by Akimi Yoshida and Monster by Naoki Urasawa.
I also always make a quick loop around the children's section whenever I am at the bookstore. Does every children's illustrator do this?
Thursday, February 21, 2008
When I was first starting out in the illustration business, the above Van Dyke quote was one that I looked to often during the (many) times I felt my work was too inferior to compete with the many other very talented illustrators out there. This proverb reminded me that it's not ultimately a competition or about being the best in my chosen field, but simply doing my best with the talent I have. Van Dyke's quotation didn't instantly cure my inferiority issues, but it steered me towards a more optimistic perspective. And from that branch in the forest, I was able to sing/draw/illustrate with a more balanced, realistic expectation of my artistic value and worth in the scheme of things.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Like Anette, looking at other illustrators work can inspire me when I'm not feeling creative. My all-time favourite illustrator is the brilliant creator of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter. But I also have many favourites among contemporary artists.
One of my favourites is Tiphanie Beeke. Her portfolio will give you just a glimpse of some of the lovely paintings from her illustrated picture books. There is so much warmth and charm in her people and animal characters and they are all set against beautiful landscapes.
I also admire the tremendously talented artist, Ryoji Arai, who has illustrated many gorgeous children's picture books. His style is naive, but his mastery of colour and composition is dazzling. Unfortunately his books aren't available in English as far as I know, but I was given several by my husband who managed to order them from the Japanese Amazon site.
I really admire the work of Greg Clarke. I love the painting technique that he uses, and the simplicity of his compositions which are perfectly designed with beautiful vintage-style colour palettes. He has a brilliantly designed website (also inspiring) here. While not a children's book artist exclusively, I've found his work on the cover of Chirp and in the sorely missed Martha Stewart Kids magazine.
When I see the work of artists I admire it sparks something inside my brain and while I often end up creating something utterly different it's that spark that can get me started.
Monday, February 18, 2008
People often ask me where I get my ideas from. When you work in a creative profession and have deadlines to meet you can't just wait for the ideas to show up - you have to make them show up! I believe that my work has thought me to turn on the creativity button when it's needed. Practice makes this easier, and I think you can teach yourself to be more creative by working with your creativity often.
You have to feed your creativity with inspiration. There will always be times when your mind seems to go blank and you can't think of a single idea. When that happens it's important to know where you can get new inspiration and get your creativity going again. I get some of my inspiration from:
- sketching thumbnail sketches
- looking at children's books
- looking at the work of other illustrators (online portfolios etc.)
- using google images to search for key words for the project I'm working on
- looking at sketches etc. I have made earlier (it's fun to look at old sketchbooks)
Friday, February 15, 2008
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Monday, February 11, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
In pondering what I could say about organization, I considered that perhaps I could write best about being a disorganized person, however I realize that's really not the case. I may not run a tight operation, but I do have organization, otherwise I couldn't meet deadlines, invoice, pay bills, put out promotionals, yadda yadda. To run a business successfully, one must have some structure, and that I do have. And so I'll share aspects of my system with you all.
Presently I'm out of my main studio/office (in Montreal) for a few months, and in what I call "Studio South" (in South Texas). My setup for traveling (pictured below) is a good laptop, drawing tablet, and internet connection. In either studio I'm in those three things (computer, tablet and internet) are vital. To keep myself on schedule, I have a calendar posted on the bulletin board that has dates for projects due, etc.
Below: Having a daily list of things to accomplish helps me figure out what to do each day. Over the last few years I've just used a 1/4 page of blank paper for making my daily schedule.
Below: A closeup of my list for this past Monday, along with a rough monthly list behind that, and some notes I took in following up on a monitor we have in the repair shop up in Montreal. The daily list is divided into work and non-work items to-do. This system, though not streamlined, seems to work for me.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
For me, it's all about the furniture. I have "to do" lists where I keep track of what needs to be done for work, including emailing, sketches, final art, updating portfolios, promotion pieces etc. But the biggest help for me was organizing all the supplies. I have a lot of things I need for my work and they all need to fit in a small space.
The first step was this secretary desk, which is where I work on the computer and it holds a huge amount of art supplies. Next to it I have a mini filing cabinet that the scanners sits on. This cabinet holds all the computer/printing supplies. On the other side I have a large filing cabinet that holds all my work files, finished artwork, emails, sketches, printed illustrations, etc. The copier/printer sits on top of that.
There are two other pieces of furniture that complete my "studio". One is a large cabinet with shallow drawers that holds all my large pieces of art and watercolour paper/supplies. The other is a table that I use for my inking and painting.
Now everything has a place and I can actually find the things I need... well most of the time...
Monday, February 4, 2008
I'm sure you can relate to having a long list of things you need to do, and also things you want to do. To manage to actually get these things done, it's important to have a system. I have over the years created a system that works very good for me.
GOALS FOR THE YEAR
At the end of each year I plan the next year and write down the goals I want to achieve. By looking at my goals I know what's important to work on and what I can put off to later.
At the end of each month I plan the next month. I write down the things I plan to do each week in that month.
By looking at my monthly plan I know exactly what to do each week. I make sure I have the weekly plan visible on my desktop so I see it every day.
Usually things takes more time than expected, and new important tasks show up so I don't manage to do everything on my plan each month (or week). When this happens I just put the tasks I didn't manage to do on the plan for the next month - and if it is important to me it gets done at some point.
This is what works for me, and makes me stay productive. I'm sure there's a lot of other systems out there, and I would like to hear about them.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Instead of talking about my process in illustrating, I thought I would talk more about the process of an illustration job. For this particular job, it was a map for a kindergarten book.
Sometimes clients send me quick sketches of what they want, and half the time it throws me off. Do they want it exactly like this or is there some room for me to make it my own? It also takes a bit of fun out for me, but other times it just makes the job go smoother. In this case, I get a quick sketch from the client and it works, because I now get an idea of how the layout of the map is like:
With additional info I get, I use my illustrating power to turn that into this:
I still do pencil sketches. I scan the sketch and place it into Illustrator, where I use to pen tool to draw on top of my sketch. And here is the final:
When there is text in the illustration, alot of times the type will need to be on a separate layer. Voila! Time for another job!