Posted in Illustrators, Meet the authors

Author/Illustrator: Timothy Young

I reviewed Timothy Young’s The Angry Little Puffin a few weeks ago. I even recommended it to Guy Raz and his family! Now, Timothy answers my questions about being an author and an illustrator.

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Website/social media: www.creaturesandcharacters.com

Tell me a little about yourself: Before I started writing and illustrating books, I had a long, fun career doing all kinds of cool stuff. I’ve been a toy designer and sculptor, I’ve worked in animation on shows like Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and Doug and I even got to work for one of my heroes, Jim Henson! Now I get to visit schools where I read my books, draw pictures with, and talk about all that cool stuff to students all over the country.

How long have you been writing & illustrating books?  I started writing about 10 years ago. My first book, I’m Looking For A Monster!, was published in 2008. My newest book, Do Not Open The Box! came out this year.

How did you become a book author/illustrator? I’ve been thinking about creating children’s books for a long time. I’ve been illustrating things for a long time, since I was in college as an illustration major. I had ideas for books but I didn’t think I could write them. I had a writing assignment for a job, writing limericks for a line of toys. It made me realize I might be a writer so I started writing my stories.

When you were my age, did you read a lot? What was your favorite book? I did read a lot as a kid. I loved picture books, chapter books and science fiction. My favorite picture book was The Ice-Cream Cone Coot by Arnold Lobel.

How do you come up with your story ideas? They seem to pop out of my heads at strange moments. Sometimes a memory from my childhood will appear, other times I’ll just be in the middle of doing something and suddenly a story starts developing in my head. As an illustrator, sometimes I see a picture and expand a story around it. I have even written books while on long drives. Luckily I have a good memory and can write them down when I get home.

Do you have a favorite book you have written/illustrated? It’s hard for an author to pick a favorite books, its like they’re my children and I could never choose between them. I do have to say that I Hate Picture Books! has gotten the most attention.

Do you illustrate by hand or by computer? Both! I start out with pencil drawings and then I scan those into my computer and do all of the painting and rendering, usually in Photoshop.

Who are some of your favorite authors/illustrators? Of the classics I love Dr Seuss, Arnold Lobel and PD Eastman but there are some great authors and illustrators putting out books every month. I feel like we’re in a new Golden Age of picture books. I think Dan Santat’s Beekle is one of the most wonderful books of all time. (Bridget note: I agree. I really like Beekle too. His book “Are we there yet” is funny and has QR codes in it.)

(Bridget note 2:The newest book Timothy illustrated comes out tomorrow. It is called “Just One Thing” and my interview with the author Nancy Viau is on Wednesday I hope you come back to learn about her. )

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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.
Posted in Book Review, Meet the authors

Meet the author: Hazel Mitchell

Hazel and Toby close up

PS. Look it is Toby!
Website/social media:
www.hazelmitchell.com/toby
Tweet@meetToby
http://www.facebook.com/meettoby

Tell me a little about yourself: I am originally from England and moved to the USA in 2000. I now live in Maine. At school my best subjects were art and english, so now I am using both those interests in illustrating and writing books. But it took me a long time to get to do that. Before I worked in children’s books I was a graphic designer and served in the Royal Navy. When I ‘m not working I love spending time with my two poodles, Toby and Lucy and my cat Sleep.

How long have you been writing & illustrating books? I illustrated my first book in 2010 which was ‘How to Talk to an Autistic Kid’ by Daniel Stefanski. Since then I’ve illustrated about 18 books. Toby is my first book as author and illustrator. I wrote it in 2014 and it’s being published on Sept 13th 2016 by Candlewick Press.

How did you become a book author/illustrator? I did a lot of other jobs before I became an author and illustrator, but all those jobs involved art, somehow or another. Before I left school I always thought I’d write a book, but it took me a long time to do it. What I really wanted to do was work with horses (my other passion), but instead I went to art college. Then I spent a long time working in graphics and design, creating all kinds of things from t-shirt designs to business brochures. It was only when I moved to the USA that I really seriously thought about getting work in the children’s book industry. I had lots of stories I was working on, but none I’d finished. I started to put together a portfolio of work that I thought suitable for children and wondered how I’d go about getting it to publishers. Luckily I discovered the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and in 2010 I went to a conference in New York City. There was lots of good information and other people there who all ready illustrated and wrote for children – so I learned a lot! I sent out postcards with a picture of my work on it to publishers and was lucky enough to get my first book that year. I suggest that anyone who’s interested in working in children’s publishing check out http://www.scbwi.org.

When you were my age, did you read alot? What was your favorite book? Yes I did! I read all the time and spent a lot of time in my local library. Sometimes I would try and sneak into the adult library – in those days children were not allowed in. It was very grand and SO many books. But my favorite type of books were mystery stories and tales about horses. But my very favorite book was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I still love to read it.

How do you come up with your story ideas? Many different ways. Some are inspired by real life – like Toby. Others come from things that have happened to other people, or films and television and other stories. Sometimes I dream them! When I’m stuck I try different writing exercises, like opening a book at any page and choosing three words by closing my eyes and pointing at them. Then I see what happens! Sometimes, though, stories come from doodles and sketches I’ve drawn.

Do you have a favorite book you have written/illustrated? Toby!

Do you illustrate by hand or by computer? Both and a combination. I most often do all the line work by hand with graphite. Then I add shading and texture in watercolour, but in just one colour wash (like blue). Then I scan the painting in and colour it digitally in Photoshop.

Who are some of your favorite authors/illustrators? That’s hard, because there are so many great ones! C.S. Lewis, Philip Pullman, David Almond, J.K. Rowling, (all British!), I love the illustrations of Toni DiTerlizzi, Kelly Murphy, Ashley Bryan, Eric Rohmann, Edward Ardizzone, David Small, Levi Pinfold, Melissa Sweet … I could go on and on.