Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rule 6 and the Creative Life

Jill McDonald on Etsy
Interview with Jill on Illustration Mundo

From the August 27 blog post - Corita Kent's "Art Department Rules":
Rule 6- Nothing is a mistake. There's no win and no fail. There's only MAKE.
Rule 7- The only rule is WORK. If you work it will lead to something. It's the people who do all of the work all the time who eventually catch on to things.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

surface art and They Draw & Cook

Amy Schimler is in demand for her spirited imagery applied to all kinds of surfaces for the "social expressions" market- greeting cards, wrapping paper, as well her kid's books and patterns for fabric.
Maggie Stewart does colorful, contemporary cards:

And just for fun, you can Draw & Cook! Don't put away those watercolors yet. SCAD students submit to this- you can, too:

Monday, November 26, 2012


Nate Williams and Illustration Mundo

Kevin Waldron- above and below

Notice everything. Draw all the time. All will be revealed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Calef Brown interview

and be inspired by one of your illustrious future colleagues in the Illustration Biz!
"How did you find your style? Has it changed since you started?
I found my initial style from doing a lot of experimenting after I got out of school. The portfolio I had when I graduated was kind of all over the place, and i didn’t really have a way of working or a medium that clicked with me. There was some collage, pastel, ink drawings…"

Monday, November 19, 2012

Jenny Sue

Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
Jenny Sue is a creative dynamo. She does it all, and with such style and playfulness- kid's books, editorial, corporate/institutional pubs, surface design, decor, greeting cards... she writes this about her creative process:
When I have visited schools, students have always liked seeing my hand-written drafts and my drawings. They have so many questions about the “how” part. I thought it would be cool to have a sketchbook for working out my drawings, collecting research and inspiration, and experimenting with medium. This could be a good way to show students my process. That was my initial motivation — very quickly, though, it became so useful to me!! I took it everywhere I went and wrote down ideas I didn’t want to forget. I also taped inspiration to my wall — photos with beautiful color combos, color studies, patterns, etc. I gathered lots of fun collage (some from my travels), refined drawings, painted little color comps and started painting. The entire journey is exciting, but painting is my favorite part!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

ooops! Lulu doesn't have an InDesign plug-in...

click the image to get the complete instruction for exporting your InDesign file to PDF.
You can download the correct size template for designing your book and use InDesign for creating page layouts. Then export the file to pdf to upload to Lulu.
For those using Blurb, the InDesign plug-in makes the process a bit simpler.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Eric Carle Picturebook Museum

current exhibition at the museum:
Beyond Books: The Independent Art of Eric Carle
September 30, 2012 - February 24, 2013
Eric Carle is primarily known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar and over 70 picture books done in his colorful collage technique. For the first time, fans will have a chance to see the remarkable variety of paintings, sculptures, and personal sketches that he has been making privately for more than 60 years. Starting with his career as a poster artist in the 1940s and carrying through to the street photographs he is shooting today, this exhibition, Beyond Books: The Independent Art of Eric Carle, provides viewers a chance to see what Eric himself calls his “ArtArt.” This selection provides a surprisingly intimate window into the full range of his imagination and talents. The categories include: 1)Early posters and book jackets; 2)Linoleum cuts, created for several adult titles by other authors; 3)Caricature notes: funny and irreverent hand-drawn notes written to friends; 4) Non-representational art or “Art Art:" abstract painted tissue paper collages created between picture book projects; 5)“Name Art:” names of close friends and colleagues captured in his famous painted tissue paper; 6) Metal sculptures/Glass sculptures: forays into three-dimensional realms, including metal sculptures and painted glass assemblages in collusion with his friend and renowned glass artist Tom Patti; 7) Costumes/Drawings: costumes and a set for The Magic Flute stage concert performed by The Springfield Symphony in 2001; 8) Photographic street art: Studies in colors, shapes, and textures, Carle’s recent “found art” photographs have their roots early in his career; 9) A large Tyvek mural (approximately 10 x 20’) for other participating venues.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nice chickens

Jana does everything with Corel Painter and a tablet. Wonderful textures.

Excerpt from an interview at David Wasting Paper:
"Jana began to grow her portfolio by doing editorial and cover art for regional parenting papers and illustrations that appeared in The Boston GlobeThe Boston Phoenix and The Boston Herald. She was soon signed by an agent and now spends most of her time creating illustrations for children's books and magazines. Since being signed she has worked with most major publishing houses including, Penguin, Harcourt, Scholastic, Random House, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster and Macmillan."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Adventures in Anthropomorphism

Sooner or later, you too will be asked to do this, and by someone who will actually
 pay you for it-- unbelievable!

Judy Stead- for Gulfshore Life Magazine December 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Vladimir Radunsky

"Vladimir Radunsky was born in the Ural Mountains in 1954 and grew up in Moscow, where he studied art, design and architecture. In 1982 he moved to New York and started working as a designer of art books, gradually moving into writing and illustrating children’s books.Radunsky's dynamic style and curious stories quickly made him famous. Since then he has published more than twenty works, which have been translated into numerous languages, received many awards, and been exhibited in France, Italy, Japan and the USA. From early on in his career, the trademark of Radunsky’s art has been apparent: he creates unconventional books, richly diverse in text and images, and employs styles and techniques ranging from those of realist painters to stylized advertising posters of the thirties to abstract collages. Radunskycomments on the diversity of his work: »The technique and style I choose for each new book depends entirely on its subject. I don't draw pictures, I create books."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Escape From Illustration Island

Interview with Victo Ngai:

Victo graduated from Rhode Island School of Design majoring in illustration. Her works have received recognitions from American Illustration, Communication Arts, Spectrum, Society of Illustrator New York, LA Society of Illustrator, 3X3, CMYK and Applied Art.
EFII: I often think of you as a “rising star” in the Illustration industry because I see you progressing at an incredible rate. To what do you attribute your success as an artist?
Victo Ngai: I am very grateful that I have had a good start but I don’t think I am anything close to being successful yet. There are a few things that helped me a lot-
First, dare to desire. “It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be”. I was mediocre in RISD for the longest time but I always wanted to be good-the desire to get better has been the strongest motivation for me to work harder.
Second, work hard on the right things at the right time. It’s easy for students and new illustrators to be overwhelmed and prematurely spend a lot of time on promotion while the priority should really be building a strong portfolio. Focus on learning and making art.
Third, luck. I have been lucky to have great people around me. My teachers taught me everything I knew about editorial illustration. Art directors have taken the risk and given me my first jobs. Friends and mentors have been very generous referring me to new art directors…I guess there’s nothing one can do about luck but I believe in Karma- if one is genuine and nice to others, it comes back as a full circle.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mixed-media illustrator Pamela Zagarenski

2010 Caldecott Honor book

What one word would you use to describe Pamela's art?
I have mine. Bring yours to class tomorrow.

excerpt from interview:
Q: What is your medium? A: Mixed media, acrylic, colored pencil, collage, and sometimes computer graphics. My illustrations are a little of everything, usually painted on wood.
Q: What is your process?  A: When doing a book, I obviously read the story, then read it again, again, and again. I read it at night before bed, so it is the last thing I think about before sleep. Like an actor reading his/her lines for a play, I let it become part of me. I rehearse the part. I get to know it. I take it with me everywhere. I tuck it into a small pocket in my brain. I think about it all the time. Ideas then come anytime and anywhere.
I have a journal with me {see two journal pages below} at all times to put ideas in. I do spend days, weeks, months sketching, having ideas, and then committing them to paper. I always do several page layouts first — to see how many pages I will have and how they will fall. After sketching the pages, I paint some of them immediately. I just can’t help it. I want to see how they will feel as finished paintings.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Illustration Friday interview

 IF interview with illustrator Stephanie Graegin

Since pencils have been on the menu lately, this artist caught my eye.
Here's what she says about finding her style:

2. How did you get your start in illustrating for children?

It was a long, long road of developing a strong portfolio while working a lot of non-art related day jobs to pay rent. I started out with small illustration assignments, mainly for children’s magazines. It took me awhile to get to the style I use now. The first breakthrough came once I threw away all my pens, which I used for years, and used pencil and computer. Something clicked for me, and the work drastically improved.

At this point, I had gained more confidence in my work, and I put forward a huge effort in getting myself out in the world. I spent about a year putting together portfolio pieces that represented the type of assignments I wanted to get, I built a better website, and made a promotional mailer. I spent months making the promotion mailer; I knew I wanted to make something more memorable than the typical postcard.

I ended up making a mini handbound booklet that fit in a 4 x 6 envelope. I sent out around 200 of these booklets to editors and art directors. My approach worked, and almost immediately I started receiving calls for work.
I was incredibly fortunate to be featured on the illustrationmundo blog a couple months later (thank you Nate Williams!). Steven Malk, a literary agent for Writers House saw my work there and took me on as a client. Everything started to fall into place and since that time I’ve had a continuous flow of projects — It’s been almost 2 years now since I sent out that promo.
A testament to the rewards of dedicated and persistent creative work!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ezra Jack Keats

 Ezra Jack Keats- Caldecott Medal 1963

From his bio: The techniques that give The Snowy Day its unique look—collage with cutouts of patterned paper, fabric and oilcloth; homemade snowflake stamps; spatterings of India ink with a toothbrush—were methods Ezra had never used before. “I was like a child playing,” he wrote of the creation process. “I was in a world with no rules.” After years of illustrating books written by others, Peter had given Ezra a new voice of his own.
In subsequent books, he blended collage with gouache, an opaque watercolor mixed with a gum that produced an oil-like glaze. Marbled paper, acrylics and watercolor, pen and ink and even photographs were among his tools. The simplicity and directness of The Snowy Day gave way to more complex and painterly compositions.
In  his evolution from fine artist to children’s book illustrator, Ezra applied influences and techniques that had inspired him as a painter, from cubism to abstraction, within a cohesive, and often highly dramatic, narrative structure. His artwork also demonstrates an enormous emotional range, swinging from exuberant whimsy to deep desolation and back again.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Raul Colon's colored pencil magic

Raul Colon
From an interview about his work, a description of his technique:

Your illustrations are very unique, combining bright colors with the appearance of a rough texture. Can you describe the process you use to create your art? How did you develop a personal style?
RC: I work on medium textured watercolor paper, cold press. I start with a golden wash overall. I pencil in the full drawing followed by layers of monochromatic values (usually sepias and browns) all in watercolor. I etch the paper. Then I use Prismacolor pencils and add the final multiple layers of full color to the piece. I complete the artwork with a layer of lithograph pencil (waxy black) to bring out the soft texture of the paper. Most of this technique came about through years of accidents and experimentation.
How did you create the crosshatching lines that overlay some of the illustrations, which add texture so nicely?
RC: The crosshatching lines are etched onto the paper using a scratchboard metallic instrument with multiple prongs, like a tiny comb.
Do you vary your style when you are working with different types of stories?
RC: Sometimes I’ve used pen and ink to illustrate some stories such as Mightier Than the Sword and How to Bake an American Pie. I used pure black Prismacolor and lithograph pencils to illustrate B/W pieces in the old New York Times Book Review.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Character sketches due Tuesday 10/2

Take a look at this illustrator's website for a good sampling of character study exploration. She gets to know her characters through a series of loose sketches, finding expression through facial features and body language.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lisbeth Zwerger

As we bid a fond Auf Wiedersehen to the Brothers Grimm, having spent a few weeks in the forest with Hansel, Gretel and friends, let's move on to some practioners of classic book ART.
Lisbeth Zwerger has devoted her entire career to illustrating folk and fairy tales, more than 30 books. A recipient of the Hans Christian Anderson Medal (aka the Nobel Prize of Illustration), she was discouraged from pursuing illustration when she studied art in Vienna, and didn't finish a degree. Her illustrations are mostly watercolor with pen and ink. Much can be learned from just LOOKING at how a great illustrator handles media, technique, composition, color and mood.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Picturebook for older readers

by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean

A good example of a picturebook for older readers. What makes it so? Concept, story, style of art, attitude?
And how old? 8, 9, 10? 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Storyboard from Uri Schulevitz p70

Just on the off chance that someone has yet to read/look at this section...
With these very simple sketches, the content and compositions take shape and reveal the cohesive flow of the story. By keeping it loose to this point, revisions are still easy to determine, and make.
This is where your story either is, OR you've progressed to the second stage- a more refined storyboard with more accurate text areas allotted.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Drawing as Superpower

Take a few minutes to watch Pascal draw and talk about his "superpower":
making a "connection" between your art and your audience is more important than perfection.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ivan Bilibin and Maria Tatar

Thanks to Alli for recognizing this Russian illustrator on the cover of OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!
Just out of art school, he became fascinated by the remote countryside and dark folk tales of Northern Russia. Later, his travels brought him to settle in Paris at the height of the Art Nouveau style,
illustrating fairy and folk tales, as well as designing stage sets for the Ballets Russes.
His illustrations, above, are from the Russian tale of "Vasilisa the Beautiful", who falls into the clutches of evil witch, Baba Yaga. Read all about it in Tatar's book, chapter 9 "Cannibalism and Oral Greed". It's not a required reading, but who could resist with a title like that?!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mary Blair watercolors

 Johnny Appleseed

Alice in  Wonderland
The Little House

Do you recognize any of these images? 

Mary Blair, member of the California Watercolor Society, did work for Disney Studios from the 1940's- 60's. Notice the range of her palette and how she uses value for dramatic effect. 
Many illustrators have cited her as an influence.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Zen of watercolor

This is the work of Jon Muth, author/illustrator of ZEN SHORTS.
Notice the wet-into-wet technique, the graded wash, masterfully controlled. An interviewer asked him for advice about painting in watercolor, and he answered: 

"The only bit of advice I can offer is: I've never won an argument with a watercolor. You really have to pay attention to the nature of the medium. That' s true of any medium; it's true of stone. I do find that if I try to make watercolor do something it doesn't want to do, I make pictures which are somehow not quite right. It's really a matter of paying close attention to the nature of the medium and your own intentions." 

Before turning to children's books, he was illustrating for a Japanese manga magazine. Read the full interview at the link, above. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


"Sketching is an essential part of the art making process. Drawing is thinking, sketching is planning- putting pencil to paper is how an artist arrives at ideas." --CSN
Follow this link for a nice overview of Christopher's process as he began to transform a typed manuscript into an illustrated book. Though already a well-established illustrator, this was his first children's book assignment, from Chronicle Books, published 2011. Some of the questions he asked himself:

"When sketching for this book I kept everything loose and concerned myself more with the overall story and also how to break up the words on each page. Where should the next page begin? How big should the chipmunk be? What imagery will be on this page? How is the overall pacing of the book? Are there enough little animals and big animals, close ups and wide shots? These are the kinds of questions I would try to answer while drawing."