I love that in trying to incite the imagination of children I can be as creative as I want to be. I cannot express how rewarding it is to do this for a living, to have the chance to bring a story to life!
How did you find your way into the field of kidlit illustration?
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I went to college for fine art, not knowing where that path would lead me, but in my free time I drew illustrations for fun. It was only when I graduated and had more spare time to create anything my heart desired (which mainly consisted of fairies, mermaids and other mythical beings) that I accepted my true calling of being a kidlit illustrator.
Afterwards, I devoted my time and energy to learning about the children’s book industry and how to show my work to the right audience. I also got involved with organizations like SCBWI, and I began posting my artwork on social media. Eventually, I found myself in a niche with other kidlit enthusiasts who shared my passion for literature and art.
What is your process for creating characters that show natural, kid-like expressions?
Simply put, I sketch a lot. When I’m not working on an assignment, I like to experiment by playing around with different facial features and expressions. And when I remember to do so, I carry around my sketchbook, in case I come across a person with interesting features, or if inspiration happens to strike.
At the moment I am working on two children’s books that will be published in 2018. The first is a picture book about a sweet little girl who loves to wear her mother’s khimar, a head covering worn by some Muslim women. The second is a picture book biography about the talented Janet Collins who was the first African American prima ballerina to perform at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House. I’m really excited for everyone to see these books when they’re published!
Any advice for kidlit artists regarding developing a personal style?
Draw as often as you can until you feel comfortable and proud of the artwork you produce. I believe you’ll have a gut feeling when your work is coming together because it will just feel right. Also, I highly recommend that you look at a variety of illustrators’ artwork. I have found this to be very inspiring, and hopefully it will light a fire within you to create something amazing.