We are super excited to be hosting a Virtual Book Launch Party for Tag Your Dreams: Poems of Play and Persistence, a two-day blog event to be held April 1 & 2, 2020! On Day 1, we will be interviewing Jacqueline Jules, the book's award-winning author, and on Day 2, we'll be interviewing Iris Deppe, the book's award-winning illustrator.
Images used with permission from Albert Whitman & Company
Thanks so much for stopping by, Tami, and for sharing a little bit about themed illustrating prompts that kidlit artists might share on their social media accounts.
Happy to share, though I must confess, I really feel like quite a failure at daily prompt illustrator challenges.
Your work is no fail in my book! So exactly, what are these illustrator challenges and how many have you tried out?
I’m referring specifically to thematic art challenges that encourage participants to create and post to social media a prompted artwork each day of the month using the hashtag of the challenge. I began a great number of these hashtagged art challenges with high expectations but never seemed to make it past the first ten days. I could blame my failure on being a mom and a freelancer. As much as I’d love to spend endless hours at my drawing table, I still have to pay the bills, cook meals, feed hungry felines.
Life is busy.
True this. So why bother doing these challenges at all? Why not find something else to put your creative energy into, especially if you feel like you fail at completing them?
Those short bursts of concentrated work I've done over the past five years always marked some big turning points in my artistic growth. For example, attempting #kidlitart28 in February of 2019 helped me polish my digital techniques. The short timeframe I had to work within to post an illustration every day forced me to be very deliberate with the tools I used.
My #inktober artwork a few years back sparked a story about some raccoons that eventually morphed into a character-driven picture-book dummy. Last year’s #inktober helped me flesh out the two main characters in a middle-grade historical mystery also under development. In addition, quite a few challenge pieces eventually made it into my portfolio after I further realized the artwork. A couple designs even became promotional postcards.
What advice do you have for kidlit illustrators out there who might be on the fence about doing these art challenges?
On one hand, challenges can be a great way to exercise and grow your skills and creativity. They provide an opportunity to experiment and a chance to connect with a community of like-minded artists. If you’ve never tried a daily art challenge, I recommend you give it a shot. Even if you manage only ten posts, you’ll still see benefits. On the other hand, if doing a challenge is not enjoyable or is too stressful, then don't do it. You have to do what works for you as an artist.
Any tips for those giving a challenge a whirl?
I have five.
1. Polish your illustration technique.
Whether you use a dip pen or a stylus, you can use a daily challenge to perfect your mark-making. The repetition of drawing daily helps hone skills and build muscle memory.
2. Get familiar with drawing/painting a particular subject.
One of the best ways to improve at drawing a thing is to actually draw that thing...a lot! For example, if you have trouble drawing dogs, try doing a dog a day for #doggust during the month of August. Or for #inktober, choose your own topic, like houses, vehicles, or marsupials during the month of October. The sky’s the limit and I guarantee you’ll feel more confident drawing the thing once you’ve churned out thirty of them.
3. Make your own rules.
If daily posting makes you cringe, set an every-other-day goal or post once a week. No one will judge you. I promise. Folks will be just as happy to see what you’re sharing weekly. You can even challenge yourself to do one fully realized portfolio piece in the theme of that challenge by the end of the month.
4. Use the challenge to develop a story.
Imagine the possibilities of writing a picture book centered on the challenge theme or your own chosen theme. Some artists will use prompts to develop a running, daily narrative tale, which builds suspense and brings viewers back to their social media page.
5. Do the heavy lifting ahead of time.
There’s nothing to prevent you from storyboarding and sketching ideas for a challenge before the challenge month begins.
Good tips! Would you please share some monthly challenges that are out there for anyone to try?
Sure! Here are ten:
For February, post what you love: #kidlitart28
For March, post robots: #marchofrobots
For May, post mermaids: #MerMay
For June, post unicorns: #junicorn
For August, post dogs and/or dragons: #doggust and #smaugust
For September, post your sketches: #sketchtember
For October, post inked sketches: #inktober
For November, post fictional maps: #mapvember
For December, post anything you draw: #drawcember
Thanks for those, Tami, and for stopping by to share your not-fails with us!
Tami Traylor is an illustrator and graphic designer living in Chesterfield, Virginia, with three cats, two kids, and one husband. She's been drawing and telling stories since she could hold a pencil. Her love of books and drawing goes back to her earliest memories. Those early books love drove her to pursue the study of design and illustration in college. She's been a member of SCBWI since 2005, and the graphic designer of the Highlighter, the quarterly newsletter of the Mid-Atlantic regional of SCBWI, since 2007. She’s the illustrator of THE 12 DANCING PRINCESSES by Carly Graf (ustyme, 2015). Check out Tami's art-themed posts on Instagram @traylorillo or on her website traylorillo.com.
Dionna is a spinner of children's yarns, a weaver of nonfiction articles, and a forever-learner enrolled in the Institute of Imaginative Thinking. She is the author of ORCAS, a photo-supported book for 3rd to 5th graders that can be found in the award-winning Nature's Children series published by Scholastic Press. You'll also find her kidlit work in Cricket, Ladybug, and soon in Highlights for Children. As a freelance journalist, Dionna writes for Charlottesville Family's Bloom, a Parent's Choice winner. She's been an SCBWI Mid-Atlantic member since 2005, and the content editor of her region's SCBWI newsletter, the Highlighter, since 2017. Dionna lives in Virginia with her husband. She is represented by Raven Quill Literary Agency.