Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Character Design - Adventurous Little Tailor


This character is inspired by brothers Grimm's Thumbling, a little guy who is a tailor's son. It's much easier for me to imagine the character and his personality when I know what he is up to. As soon as I start reading the text, I start doodling numerous images and scenes. Sometimes the scenes are not even in the text, but they seem to suit the character, so I draw them.
I'm pretty happy with the fact that I finally figured out the way to paint the faces in watercolor (without adding gouache) and get the right expressions and still stay lose and fresh. Plus, going to figure drawing on a consistent basis makes the drawing so much faster and easier. Many years of frustration with both drawing and painting, but I think it's finally paying off.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Snail Trainer


As I mentioned before, I recently attended the NJ SCBWI conference. As part of the Illustrator Intensive, we were given an assignment to illustrate a passage from one of the manuscripts. The manuscript that I chose was "When I Grow Up" by Al Yankovic and it was given by Martha Rago, Art Director of HarperCollins Children's Books. It was a real pleasure to meet her and be in several of her workshops. She truly has a passion for children's books and gave us very interesting insights into the publishing industry. I especially enjoyed her telling us of all the steps involved in selecting an illustrator and working with illustrator from character studies to sketches, to revisions, more revisions, final sketches, color comps and final images. Lots and lots of work goes into publishing a book.
The manuscript is actually a published book and is beautifully illustrated by Wes Hargis. He has one of the sharpest senses of humor I've seen in an illustrator. At the time we got the assignment, I didn't know that the book was already illustrated, and was not influenced by the existing illustration.
Anyway, the manuscript is simply the best. It so beautifully absurd, just my cup of tea. I hope that one day I will have a chance to work on such a hilarious and imaginative book.

Here's some of my process:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Danforth Museum of Art: Picture This! Juried Exhibition

June 11 2011– August 7, 2011
Picture This! Juried Exhibition
Danforth Museum of Art
123 Union Avenue, Framingham, MA *

Download Picture This! Exhibition Catalog (PDF) to see all the good work that was in the exhibit.

It was an honor to be a part of the Juried Exhibition
Picture This! at the Danforth Museum of Art. The exhibition is the first juried exhibition of local children's book illustrators held by the Danforth Museum of Art. The curator of the exhibit is Susan Sherman, Art Director of Charlesbridge Publishing, a very respected art director with many many years of experience in children's books who has worked with numerous well-known children's book illustrators and authors.

It was so nice to see Susan Sherman again and know that she appreciates the work that I submitted. For us illustrators, who work in a vacuum most of the time, these occasional compliments are something that keeps us motivated and enthusiastic to create new work and move forward. The level of work in the exhibit was high and this made the experience of being in the museum exhibit so much better. It was fun to meet illustrators I hadn't met before and reconnect with the ones I already knew.

This exhibit was something unexpected, but it brought new opportunities that I wasn't even hoping for. While dropping off the work for the exhibit, I got to know people who work at the museum. The result: teaching illustration to middle grade kids at their Museum School. Unexpected and exciting! It's time to share my knowledge with others and get inspired by the work kids do.

Runner Up for 2011 NJ SCBWI Annual Conference Juried Art Show

NJ SCBWI conference is honestly the best conference I've been to so far. Thank you, Kathy Temean and Leeza Hernandez for persuading me to attend it. In addition to all the informative and interesting workshops and presentations that the conference offered, it was really the best conference so far for networking. We illustrators and writers really had a chance to get to know editors, art directors and agents on a personal level. I think in the age of complete information overload it's great to have an opportunity to introduce yourself to the clients and for them to see your enthusiasm and desire to work.

The highlight of the conference for me was a portfolio review with Patti Ann Harris, art director of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. So much enthusiasm and encouragement! Thank you!

It's absolutely amazing for me to think how far I've come in terms of producing new work, promoting myself, winning awards and yes, networking, two years after graduation. I remember my instructors stressing the importance of networking after graduation. The word sounded so strange and foreign and unappealing. For anybody who is naturally shy and introverted and prefers a small groups of close friends to any big scary gatherings of people they don't know, networking made me cringe a little. I didn't quite understand how to do it. The first few events I went to were painfully difficult, and I felt uneasy most of the time. However, the more I went to the events,connected to people, kept in touch with them on Facebook, went to more events, conferences,participated in workshops, exhibits, judging, traveled to New York on a pretty consistent bases, the more the word started to take shape and meaning. It wasn't full rooms of people that I didn't know anymore; it was people that I met before, who introduced me to more people. All of a sudden I was not an outsider looking in, but was part of this awesome community of artists and people who are in love with the art of children's books and art in general. We had so much in common.

I'm not the kind of person who likes to talk a lot with the people I barely know, but I'm a person who will talk to anybody who is willing to listen when on fire about a topic. For me that topic is art and illustration, and children's book illustration in particular.

So, yes NJ SCBWI is good for networking. It also has a very warm, inviting atmosphere. I did love being there.

Oh yes, I was a Runner up for 2011 NJ SCBWI Annual Conference Juried Art Show.

Other winners:
Winner: Lisa Falkenstern
Other Runner Up: Kelly Light
Honorable Mention: Kim Wood

You can see other artists who participated in the Art Show.

One of the criteria the judges took very seriously was the marketability of the work. I'm glad to learn that I indeed finally became marketable. I know that a lot of people love doing art for art's sake and are unwilling to listen to suggestions about how to change their work. I had my moment of after-art-school-crisis, but I realized that I love doing work for an audience. Kids do love brighter colors and funny, simpler, more straightforward scenes (I noticed that in my presentations to elementary school kids). I respond to that; I make conscious efforts to improve my work. My job as an illustrator is to respond to the text and enhance the words with my artwork.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Exhibit: Town Hall Walls

May 1 2011 – July 31 2011
Selectmen's Hearing Room, 6th floor
Brookline Town Hall
333 Washington Street, Brooline, MA

Opening Reception June 10 from 5 - 7pm

Where is everybody???

The Town Hall Walls Exhibit Opening was small but sweet. I knew it would not be an extremely well-attended reception because of the nature of the venue. It's an official building, not a gallery where people expect to see artwork on the walls. At the same time, I had a chance to really talk and get to know people in the community and feel like a truly local artist. Plus, the exhibit is in the Selectmen's Hearing Room where most of the town meetings are held. I was told that people really appreciate and enjoy seeing artwork on the walls of the Town Hall. It's a nice way to take a little break from serious topics and discussions.