Posted in Illustrators, The Illustrator Says

Meet Steve James


Website/social media: http://stejdesigns.wixsite.com/mysite @SteJDesigns

Tell me a little about yourself: Hi I live near the vibrant City of Leeds in the UK with my partner Vicky and little girl Rosanna, I also live very close to the countryside which we all love to explore whenever we can. There are lots of arty people in my family and I naturally had a love of drawing from an early age, inspired by comic books and Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons. I’ve worked in the creative industry for over 10 years mainly working in greetings cards (with a highlight being illustrating a range of Star Wars cards) and only recently had the pleasure of illustrating childrens books. I like to keep up to date with the latest cartoons and children’s books, and adapt my style by introducing elements from new sources of inspiration. When I’m not illustrating I like spending time with my family and friends, music, films, video games, walks in the countryside and attempting to play guitar.

How long have you been illustrating books? It’s been about a year and a half, I remember because that’s the age of my daughter and I was first asked to illustrate the Super Happy Party Bears a week before she was due to be born (it was a very busy time in our household) so far there’s been four Super Happy Party Bears books published and four more due out pretty soon so it’s all happened very fast but it’s been a really fun experience and I love working in this industry.

How did you become a book illustrator? iMPRINT Macmillan Publisher’s saw some of my work and contacted my illustration agent at Advocate Art who asked me if I’d like to be involved in the Super Happy Party Bears books. The piece of artwork I think they particularly liked was originally from a page in a calendar I illustrated which was very in tune with what they were looking for.

How do authors pick their illustrators? In this case it was iMPRINT Macmillan Publisher’s who came up with the idea for Super Happy Party Bears then they contacted Marcie Colleen to write the books and me to illustrate them, it’s been a team effort.

How do you know how to illustrate a story?For the Super Happy Party Bears I was originally given notes on the story outline, characters and setting and then drew sketches of how I thought the characters should look, I thought to have the party bears look as colorful and fun as possible like a rainbow and the grumpy woods towns people to be more drab colors but still keep all the characters looking different from each other so they are instantly recognizable, this then partly influenced how the books were written by Marcie. From that point on for each new book I get a list of characters, objects, scenery then draw everything separately so that there is a library of images then the artists at iMPRINT put everything together with the words and they design how everything goes together on the pages.


Do you have a favorite book you have illustrated? My favorite Super Happy Party Bears book so far is ‘Going Nuts’ as I like the Goonies style adventure Marcie has written and the Chipmunk cops, I also really enjoyed drawing the punk characters in Bat to the Bone which is due out this August.

Do you illustrate by hand or by computer? I do a bit of both, I usually draw everything in my sketch book first then redraw the characters in color on computer.




Posted in Illustrators, The Illustrator Says

The illustrator says: Joshua Buchanan

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Website/Social Media:
joshuadraws.com
I also have the handle of joshuadraws on almost every social network. Except for Instagram and Youtube, that’s joshuadrawswithink. (Boo)

 
A little about myself:
I’m a graphic designer by day, and a storyteller by night.
I self published my first book in 2013, called “The Rocket”. Immediately following that, I was asked to illustrate the fun “Scratch9” series by author Rob Worley. That book was published by Hermes Press in 2015.

 
How long have you been drawing?  Like most kids, I was sketching as early as five. (At least that’s what I remember) But as I got older, I realized that we all didn’t keep up with drawing everyday. I just loved making art, and drawing the cartoons I was watching. Even now as an “adult”, I’m still drawing everyday, and thankfully seeing improvement for it.

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How did you get into comics?  I think the first memories I have of loving and reading comics, was tearing through the newspapers to read Peanuts and Garfield.
I read so many other ones, but those two influenced me in massive ways. It wasn’t until our family moved to Germany, that I realized floppy issues of comics even existed.  I couldn’t read the German newspapers very well, and the military newspapers didn’t carry comics regularly. Thankfully the AAFES stores did have bookstores, where a limited supply of comics were carried.  My first ever purchase was an Archie Comics Ninja Turtles book. (I might still have it.) After that, I was hungry for more, which led to me finding superhero books. (A genre that I thought comics were all about until several years ago)

 
Favorite comic that I have worked on?  That’s tough. I loved what I learned from “The Rocket”, and I loved working with Rob on “Scratch9”! I’d hate to give that classic answer of “Whatever I’m working on now”, but I’m super excited for the new book that I’m starting.
(Does that count as an answer?) (Yes!)

 
Why do I think kids should read comics/graphic novels?
(Sorry if I get on a soapbox here, and feel free to edit as you see fit, or if this feels too redundant. Seriously.)
I think EVERYONE should be reading comics and graphic novels.  Old guard librarians tend to think of comics as a jumping off point to “real books”, but they fail to realize that comics read completely different than the traditional novels they push so hard on younger readers. Comics engage both sides of your brain at the same time, it’s a complex skill to build and master. People who struggle with using both sides of their brain tend to write off comics as garbage because they can’t read them, literally.

To be honest, I also struggle with this. I have a hard time engaging in conversation at a table, while I’m drawing, or reading. I’m a single task guy, but I’m also a single sided brain guy. Reading comics is a skill that I work to perfect everyday, because it’s full on brain engagement that taxes me if I do it too much. When I read articles or pages without pictures, or a visual narrative, I force myself to slow down, process what’s happening, understand it, and move on.

There are also TONS of things that comics do so well, that ONLY comics can do! They can create visual flow on a page that drive a story. They can tell us all about a scene without saying a word. They can convey sound effects with uncanny pizzaz. They can universally communicate a single idea across language barriers by using visual cues and icons.

Whew…okay, I think that’s enough for now. (I agree with you and didn’t edit your response at all!)

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What are some all ages comics you suggest?
Ohhhhh I love talking about other artists’ work!
– Tyson Hesse’s Diesel.
– Anything Ben Hatke. Like Zita the Spacegirl, and just read everything.
– Jeff Smith is an obvious choice with Bone. (The book that convinced me to give making comics a try.)
– Walt Kelly’s Pogo. (It’s vintage, but it’s so rich.)
– Christian Slade’s Korgi series. (All in pantomime, with no words. It’s a joy to read.)
– Anything Faith Erin Hicks does. For real. Friends with Boys, Superhero Girl, and – – Anything Can Possibly Go Wrong are GREAT places to start.
– I’m not sure if Usagi Yojimbo is all ages, but from what I’ve read, it is so far.
– Jay Fosgitt’s Bodie Troll is delightful.
– It’d be dishonest of me not to recommend a Japanese manga, so I’d read Yotsuba, by Kiyohiko Azuma. It’s a charming series about all the new experiences in our world, from the perspective of five year old Yotsuba.

That’s everything that comes to mind right now.

 

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Posted in The Illustrator Says

The Illustrator Says: Abigail Halpin

Today, I am adding a new interview series with the illustrator of children’s books. My first interviewee is Abigail Halpin. Her work is so good so after the review, go check out her portfolio.
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social media: Instagram: @abigailhalpin and Facebook: /abigailhalpin

Tell me a little about yourself: I’m an illustrator living in Southern Maine, a location that provides endless inspiration. When I’m not drawing, I can usually be found reading, sewing or baking.

How long have you been illustrating books? I’ve been illustrating books for eight years,  starting with Susan Patron’s middle grade novel, “Maybe Yes, Maybe No, Maybe Maybe.”

How did you become a book illustrator?  Lots and lots of drawing! Illustrating books is something I’ve wanted to do since elementary school. As an adult, I began to send postcards with my artwork to publishers. I also went to events put on by the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a group for people who write and illustrate for children. At those events, I learned a lot about how to be a better illustrator and storyteller.
How do authors pick their illustrators? Usually, I get picked to work on a book by an art director or an editor at a publishing house.
How do you know how to illustrate an author’s story?  I read the story over and over, until I feel like I really know the characters and the story. From there, I begin to work on sketches, that then get shown to an art director. The art director will help strengthen the parts of my drawings that are good and suggest ways to improve the things that need work. Illustrating a story takes time to get right, and there’s plenty of mistakes along the way, but it’s really a supportive team process.
Do you have a favorite book you have illustrated? I like all of the books I’ve illustrated for different reasons. Each story gives me a chance to step into a new world and learn from it, so in a way I love them all equally for that opportunity.
Do you illustrate by hand or by computer? I illustrate both by hand and by the computer. I use watercolor, colored pencils, graphite and gouache in my illustrations, then I scan them into the computer and tweak them in Photoshop.