I’m so glad my work makes you smile!
It really does! Do tell. How did you find your way into becoming a kidlit illustrator?
It was a long journey! When I graduated college, I decided that as much as I loved illustration, the freelance life was not really for me. So, I chose to pursue a career as a designer and creative director. I did lots of illustrations in the context of my corporate design work, but it wasn’t until my kids left for college that I decided to finally focus on illustrating for children. I used evenings and weekends to take online courses to help build my portfolio and started going to SCBWI conferences and engaging with the kidlit community. It’s been a huge effort to pursue a second career, but it’s so rewarding!
It’s actually a joy on multiple levels! First, I just really love to draw and paint—to imagine people and places and make them come to life. I’m also a truly passionate reader, so it’s a thrill to contribute to the world of books and use art to tell stories that are meaningful to kids. I have to say though, the biggest surprise has been how much I have enjoyed sharing my work on school visits. When Only My Dog Knows I Pick My Nose my debut picture book written by Lauren Tarshis came out, I did dozens of school visits with the author. We had conversations with kids not only about the story itself—its inspiration and meaning—but also about the creative process and our collaboration. The kids were so excited! They went on to draw their own pictures and tell their own stories. Often, teachers sent me the kids’ drawings and thank you notes later—that was amazing!
I can imagine it would be! So nice you were able to join with the author, too!
Most of the time, in the children’s book industry, a publisher buys a manuscript and then chooses an illustrator—the author and illustrator rarely even meet. This book was a little different. The author and I are good friends and we collaborated on the project from the beginning. Lauren came to me with just the title (which I love!) and we worked together as the story took shape. We often went back and forth, deciding which elements of the story really needed words, and which ideas could instead be conveyed visually. I feel so lucky to have had that experience—it was so much fun to work together, and I think our partnership made the book much better than it would have been if we had we worked separately.
You're right. An author and illustrator creating the book before it's acquired is not how it usually happens, but so cool that Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic did acquire it as a complete project! I just love the hilarity of the text and illustrations--a perfect picture-book blend!
Glad you enjoyed it! You can learn more about how I made the illustrations HERE in the blog post I wrote for Scholastic.
I'll check it out! Well, thanks oodles, Lisa, for stopping by and for sharing a little about yourself and your process. May Only My Dog Knows I Pick My Nose become a classic in the years to come!