As a kid, I always enjoyed telling stories with pictures. I would jump at the chance to include illustrations or diagrams in a school report. I loved my art classes in high school and was blessed with two encouraging art teachers.
I studied art and design at California State University, Long Beach, where I received a BFA in Visual Communication Design.
After college, I worked as designer for many years. I have used my drawing and painting skills to articulate ideas for all sorts of things, including gift products, fabric designs, jewelry, menus, ads, websites and packaging.
Too Many Visitors for One Little House is my first book as a children’s illustrator. It is the story of three crabby neighbors, a family reunion, and how being included makes all the difference in the world. The story is written by Susan Chodakiewitz.
Q: What was the highlight of working on the book, Too Many Visitors for One Little House?
A: Developing the characters with the author, Susan Chodakiewitz, was the highlight of working on this book. Susan’s background is in theater, and like a director of the stage, she had a concept for each character. We would discuss each character’s personality and traits, which I would then communicate visually. I don’t have experience in theater, but for me, it seemed as if we were staging a wonderful production. It was a fun and playful experience.
Q: What illustration technique did you use?
A: I used a combination of hand-drawing and digital painting to create the illustrations for this book. After many sketches, I made a final drawing using Prisma color pencil, then scanned the drawing into Photoshop. Next, I added color, in Photoshop, using a variety of textured paintbrushes.
I like using Photoshop because I can organize color by putting each on a separate layer. This feature is helpful because I can then adjust the color palette by changing a layer.
Q: Describe your day as a children’s book illustrator.
A: While working on this project my day was routine. I organized my day by having three goals to accomplish. They included drawing time, client service and production management.
Drawing time was spent with pencil in hand developing characters, color schemes, compositions and digital painting. Client service included discussions with Susan, the author and my client, on the phone or through e-mail about the details of the story. Production management was time spent figuring where I was and what I needed to do next.
I started the project by making a schedule. I broke down the process into stages: thumbnails, roughs, final compositions, and, finished illustrations. As I completed a set of drawings, I submitted them to Susan for review. We then went over the drawings and I made note of any changes. I made a chart to keep track of revisions and completed stages. This process went on for each stage until the very last final illustration was complete.
Q: Share one tip that a children’s book illustrator needs to know about preparing a portfolio.
A: Having fun is an important thing to do while preparing your portfolio. Whether it’s drawing, painting or digital art, spend time every day playing in your medium. By playing, you are learning new tools or new ways to handle the medium. New ideas form. Through this playtime, a body of work emerges, and, with this work, you begin to see strengths and consistency. Have fun and play, every day!