Monday, December 17, 2012

Late for the Parade

Here is my entry for Susanna Hill's Holiday Contest...
Rolling through the doorway on her six foot unicycle, Becca Elf hopped off the front stoop and pedaled toward the street. She turned onto the sidewalk and raced downtown. Becca was late for the Sleetville Holiday Day parade and didn’t want to worry her little elf, Eli. As she sped to the tracks, the gates went down forcing her screech to a halt and then pivot back and forth to stay on her perch.

HONK HONK went the train as it passed Becca. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 cars and a caboose chugged by before the gates went up.

Becca bumped across the tracks barely staying on her seat and heard a sound in the distance.

BOOM BOOM BOOM went the drums.

“Oh No! The parade is starting!” she yelled to the air. Becca righted her elf hat and pushed her pointy shoes against the pedals as quickly as she could.

“Where’s my elf?” asked Santa from his perch upon his sleigh on his float.

“Mom?!” called Eli.

Becca couldn’t hear Santa or Eli but she was nearby and working too hard to announce that she was on her way.

BOOM BOOM BOOM went the drums.

Santa’s float rolled across the intersection to begin the parade.

“Excuse me! Excuse me!” called Becca to the crowd who was pushing toward the curb to see Santa.

“Let her through!” squeaked a very little girl sitting on the shoulders of a very wide man.

The people parted  and Becca rolled through the crowd. As she bumped over the curb, her wheel hit a purse strap and…

“Oh NO!” yelled Becca

She twisted, she turned, she fell into the street. CRASH!

“Get up!” yelled a small round boy.

“Mom!” called Eli.

“Someone help her!” yelled the woman with the purse who’s face was quite red.

“I’m okay,” announced Becca standing and picking up her unicycle. She placed her right foot on her wheel and with two more steps and a slide of her seat, she was pedaling toward Santa.

“Hooray!” yelled the crowd.

“Hooray!” called Eli.

“Ho-Ho-Hooray!” called Santa as the parade began.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My 2012: A Look Back

2012 has beens my year for challenges and acronyms. I participated in Julie Hedlund's 12x12 all year, Paula Yoo's NaPiBoWriWee in May, Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo in November, and Linda Silvestri's SkADaMo in November. In addition to all of these, my debut picture released November 15th. It was a lot of challenges and a lot of work. In case you don't know what these acronyms stand for, here are some quick definitions:

12x12 - Write 12 picture book drafts in 12 months. I did it. Thank you Julie Hedlund.

NaPiBoWriWee - National Picture Book Writing Week, Write 7 picture book manuscripts in 7 days. I did it and with 12x12, I wrote 18 manuscripts this year. Thank you Paula Yoo.

PiBoIdMo - Picture Book Idea Month, Come up with a concept for a picture book storyline every day of the month of November. I completed this challenge this year and last year. I used many of last year's ideas to create drafts for the first two challenges on this list. Thank you Tara Lazar.

SkADaMo - Sketch a Day Month, Create a sketch every day in November and post them on your blog. I posted 23 sketches on this blog. I actually created one every day but could not post some because they are part of a picture book dummy for a NaPiBoWriWee story I wrote in the 2011 challenge. This was my first year doing  this challenge and it was a lot of fun. Can't think too long when you have to produce a sketch and post it that day. Thank you Linda Silvestri (who also created the 12x12 badge you see at the top of this post.

As if November wasn't busy enough with writing a draft for 12x12, coming up with an idea for a story everyday for PiBoIdMo, and creating a sketch everyday for SkADaMo - a picture book that I wrote and illustrated launched on November 15th. FLAP! is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, and my website (if you want an autographed copy). See image of FLAP! cover on the sidebar.

Now that I have thanked the four talented women who led these challenges, I need to thank the other writers and illustrators who participated in these challenges with me. Thank you. I read many of your pitches, critiqued many of your stories, reviewed many of your sketches. You are all very talented and supportive and I appreciate the communities created within these writing groups.

But wait! There's more! Because of exposure through 12x12, I was invited to join a group of writer's who had books coming out in 2012 and share marketing advice and efforts. Thank you Picture Book Pluggers. I also created a business called AH Designs in which I create swag for authors and other professionals - including bookmarks, business cards, postcards, coloring pages, book formating, etc... Thank you Susanna Hill for helping to get this ball rolling.

One More Thing! Through the connections I made in 12x12, I also started an online picture book critique group called Flowing Words with several talented writers and illustrators. Thank you to those writers for sharing your manuscripts with me and for helping me polish my writing.

Whew, now I can breathe for a couple of weeks until 12x12 in 2013 begins this January. Are you with me? There is nothing more motivating that a group of writers struggling along with you and telling you that YOU CAN DO IT.

Friday, November 30, 2012

SkADaMo 23

This is the last official day of SkADaMo 2012. Including the drawing below, I posted 23 sketches in November. I sketched every day, I just didn't post them all because I am working on a book dummy for my lastest picture book manuscript and those drawings are not ready for display. : ) I appreciate all the visitors this month and all of the wonderful comments left below my sketches. I will continue drawing every day (it is like my morning coffee) and posting many of them so keep checking back to this blog for new posts.

SkADaMo 23 - Happy New Year!
To see past sketches from this month, click below:
Sketches 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6

To see Linda Silvestri's Sketched Out blog with her SkaDaMo sketches and links to all the other illustrators participating in this challenge, click HERE.

Leave a comment below to let me know you stopped by.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

SkADaMo 22

SkADaMo 22 - Dreidelville
Hannukah begins in 9 days.
Are you ready to play?

To see past sketches from this month, click below:
Sketches 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6

To see Linda Silvestri's Sketched Out blog with her SkaDaMo sketches and links to all the other illustrators participating in this challenge, click HERE.

Leave a comment below to let me know you stopped by.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

SkADaMo 21

SkADaMo 21 - Bubble Girl
To see past sketches from this month, click below:
Sketches 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6

To see Linda Silvestri's Sketched Out blog with her SkaDaMo sketches and links to all the other illustrators participating in this challenge, click HERE.

Leave a comment below to let me know you stopped by.

Monday, November 26, 2012

SkADaMo 19 & 20

SkADaMo 19 - Performing Together
SkADaMo 20 - Fair?
To see past sketches from this month, click below:
Sketches 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6

To see Linda Silvestri's Sketched Out blog with her SkaDaMo sketches and links to all the other illustrators participating in this challenge, click HERE.

Leave a comment below to let me know you stopped by.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

SkADaMo 18

SkADaMo 18 - Magic in the Air
I can't explain what it is or why.
It's just a feeling that there is magic in the air today.
Check back soon or follow this blog to see
more Sketch-a-Day sketches. 
Click below to see others I posted prior to this one.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

SkADaMo 16 & 17 - Thanksgiving

This is my favorite holiday and I am finding it very inspiring today. Here are two sketches I whipped up this morning between making pumpkin bread and basting the turkey.
SkADaMo 16 - Get that Turkey!
This one was inspired by the mad dash for the turkey's at the grocery store the other day.
SkADaMo 17 - Making a Turkey
This was inspired because my 4yo daughter said she wanted to make a turkey and this what popped into my head as the turkey that I would have made when I was little.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

SkADaMo 13, 14, & 15

SkADaMo 13
The other night, when I was trying to get my sweet, wonderful children to go to bed, I said out loud, "Ugh! Why do they become monsters right before bed?" It was like I was hit with a baseball bat, BOOM! PiBoIdMo and SkADaMo! My son, however, took one look at the drawing and became scared. He said, "Mommy! Why are you drawing kids that are werewolves??"
SkADaMo 14
SkADaMo 15
Don't forget to check back. I'll post SkADaMo #16-20 soon...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

FLAP! Book Launch and SkADaMo Update

FLAP! released today! Laura Miller interviewed me on her blog and I bet that most of you will be surprised by what you learn about me. (In a good way). Check out her blog post HERE.

You can order a copy of FLAP! at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, my website at or the publisher's site at If you would like an autographed copy, order it directly from me by sending me a message at and include where to send the book(s) and who to autograph it for. I will then bill you through PayPal. If you don't have a PayPal account - you can use a credit card through them, too. Thank you in advance.

As for SkADaMo drawings - I have created 13, 14, and 15 and will upload them to this blog on Monday along with sketches for days 16, 17, and 18. I have some traveling to do and will be away from my computer. Come back next week to check out those sketches.

Monday, November 12, 2012

SkADaMo 10, 11, & 12

SkADaMo 10 - Thinking of you - Papa.
SkADaMo 11 - Tom Sawyer inspired.
SkADaMo 12 - Born on the wrong side of the crack.

Friday, November 9, 2012

SkADaMo 9

Every summer of my childhood was spent on our family sailboat. My cat, Twinkie, loved being on the water. Since cats don't want to swim and they have amazing balance, they make fantastic sailboat companions. Every night, Twinkie would crawl into my sleeping bag and sleep in my arms.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

SkADaMo 8

I guess I have Thanksgiving on my mind. This is my favorite holiday and when I think of that delicious meal now, I think of the smell of turkey cooking on the barbeque. When I was little, my favorite memories included basting the turkey, helping my mom prepare the gravy, and getting rewarded with black olives which I would jam onto every finger.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

SkADaMo 7

To See my sketches for SkADaMo 1-6, CLICK HERE.
Come back tomorrow and everyday this month to see more doodles. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

SkADaMo & PiBoIdMo 2012

In 2011, I participated in PiBoIdMo - Picture Book Idea Month during the month of November while the better known NaNoWriMo was going on. NaNo challenges writers to complete 50,000 words in a month. Since this isn't really applicable to those of us who write picture books, chapter books, or even mid-grade novels, Tara Lazar created a challenge geared toward us. PiBo challenges writers and illustrators to come up with 30 book ideas in 30 days. We aren't expected to write it (can work on some of them during Paula Yoo's NaPiBoWriWee in May) but we do write a line, an outline, a concept, a pitch, or illustrate a scene - whatever wraps up a picture book concept for that individual.

When I come up with concepts, I often doodle my idea so that I don't lose the visual of the story idea. Yesterday, I learned about SkADaMo which is Sketch a Day Month - also happening in November. It lines up very nicely with PiBoIdMo and since I often create a doodle anyway, this year I am attempting both challenges at the same time.

Today is day 6 so here are my first 6 sketches:

SkADaMo 6 - Ant Boat
SkADaMo 5 - Meeting Mike
SkADaMo 4 - After T&Ting
SkADaMo 3 - Dog Wash
SkADaMo 2 - The Storm
SkADaMo 1 - Swinging Trapeze

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Picture Book Review: Little Leah Lou and Her Pink Tu

I have been excited to post about this new book for a few weeks. Happy belated book birthday to Little Leah Lou and Her Pink Tu written by Teasha Seitz and Illustrated by Jean Ditslear. I have to start by telling you that the illustrations are adorable. Jean Ditslear did a fantastic job illustrating Teasha's adorable story. She even created a dancing icon on Teasha's webpage - check it out HERE.

In this story, Little Leah Lou loves her tutu and takes it everywhere until something horrible happens to it. Of course, Little Leah Lou becomes very sad and has to deal with her devastation for awhile but instead of staying depressed, Little Leah Lou comes up with a creative solution to her problem. This is a great book to share with your children because of Little Leah Lou's approach to solving her problem.

The story is fast paced. The vocabulary is age appropriate as a read aloud or for those early readers. The illustrations are adorable. I have already had to read this story to my daughter four times. She loves the bright colors and the big, bold print.

If you are interested in purchasing this book, you can find it HERE. Please share this post and Teasha's site with friends and family. Jean Ditslear doesn't have an illustrator website yet, but you can find her on Facebook.

Friday, September 28, 2012

What I learned this summer...

Okay, technically is was last summer but the warm weather in GA still feels like summer to me.

First - a little about me...

I have been drawing, doodling, and sketching since I was in first grade (probably before that but I don't remember much younger than that). I witttled away time in my elementary school classes by drawing the characters on the many wonderful posters and banners that teachers used to decorate their classrooms. I was scolded in class when I colored tree trunks purple and car tires orange. I guess you could say, that I was thinking outside the box. In fourth grade, I read The Cartoonist by Betsy Byars and made my first connection to reading.

My love of drawing continued through high school and into college where I majored in Environmental Design (city planning) in college. My classes were focused on drafting so I was taught how to use a straight edge and angle to create buildings in perspective. For the color pieces for presentation, we (the students) were instructed to use the AD markers and colored pencils from our supply list but given no information about how to use them. While my drawing skills improved, it was because I was sketching buildings every day and not because of any teaching I was given. I took figure drawing for fun but it wasn't soo much fun because, like my drafting classes, we were told to draw without instruction about how to draw.

After graduation, I went on to FIT in New York and earned my BFA in Toy Design. I designed new toys every week for 2 years. I was taught how to present the information on the page for a final presentation drawing, but again, not taught how to draw - just where to place the elements on the page. Actually, we weren't taught that either - just told when we were doing something wrong and shown other student work that was done better so we had to figure out the rest of that lesson. Again, I was given basic drafting lessons which at that point made me want to scream with boredom because I had earned a degree in it. I took a ton of classes on advertising, design, model making - none of which had a "how to" element in the syllabus. It was assumed that by getting ourselves into that program, we could already draw.

After FIT, I designed toys for a few toy design companies for years. My ideas were great, my presentations good - but I never felt that my art was better than okay. My designs and ideas were good enough to get over 200 toys produced and sold in major retail stores. I wanted my artwork to be better and didn't know how to do it. At this point, I held a Bachelor's degree in City Planning and a Bachelor's degree in Fine Art in Toy Design and still hadn't had any drawing lessons.

Years later and another degree accomplished, I taught middle school art and technology. I taught students how to draw, paint, and sculpt in art class and drafting, engineering, electronics, and mechanics in technology. I taught them from a knowledge based on what I had to taught myself. Based on what my teachers had assumed that I already knew (but was never taught). 

Eventually, I wrote and illustrated my first picture book, Flap (due out November 2012). I developed my style for the drawings based on a combination of drafting and toy design. The illustrations were a lot of work but I enjoyed creating the characters in a form that lets others see what they looked like in my mind as I wrote the story.

Summer 2012, I created a plan to work on improving my drawings skills. I love the artwork created by Will Terry. The warmth of the lighting, the expressions on the characters, the look of texture on the surfaces. I purchased some of his video tutorials on Folio Academy and learned a huge lesson about my drawing skills. Actually, a life changing lesson. He showed an example of what most people think is a good drawing, a finished drawing. Then he showed how that drawing was actually only fifty percent complete. I was amazed. Totally amazed. I had been creating drawings with light and shadow but nobody had ever said, "That looks good, now take it further, add reflective light."

Will Terry showed me what I had been missing in my art. That doesn't mean that I can take my illustrations the other fifty percent of their journey to completion, but it does mean that I know where they need to go and I have an idea of how to get them there.

I highly recommend taking classes from the artists at Folio Academy. They are afordable, convenient (since you can watch them anytime from anywhere), and include high quality instruction.

Will spoke on one of his tutorials about using a program called Brushes to copy the colors used in photos - to help train your eye to find the light, shadow, subtle gradient changes that make texture appear from a two dimensional piece of art. Below is an example of my "copying technique" before learning from Will Terry how to take my drawings to the next level:
Here is an example of how my copying technique improved from the lessons taught by Will Terry:

Now, someone tell me why I spent seven years of college and $70,000 to try to learn what Will Terry and the Folio Academy could convey for under $100? (His videos are actually $30 or less, I bought several.)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Interview with Sarah Campbell - Author and Photographer

   This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Campbell, author, photographer, and creator of non fiction books for young readers. If you are thinking about registering or have already registered for the wik12 Conference (Writing and Illustrating for Kids), Sarah is one of our Regional Experts and will be leading two of the workshops! Check it out HERE.

   Sarah, please tell us about yourself and how you became a writer and photographer.

    I divide my time (not always equally) between creating children's books and taking care of my family. My husband Richard and I have three sons, ages 17, 15, and 14. Richard is also my creative partner for the picture books; he shares the photography credit and does most of the Photoshop work. We live in Jackson, Miss., which is not far from where I grew up (in a rural county in southwest Mississippi), but is a half a world away from the suburban London of Richard's youth. I grow a kitchen garden and do a lot of cooking (did I mention the teenagers?). I also love to sew. (Richard also has another job; he's a vice president and chief financial officer for Hope Credit Union and Hope Enterprise Corporation.)

       I've always wanted to write, and I always have. Thanks to my mother (who is also a photographer), I have a lovely black and white photograph of one of my very first stories, “The Eight Balls.” I wrote it in first grade, and it treats a theme I still grapple with today: figuring out how to follow the rules.

    In high school, I wrote articles about sports and other school activities for my hometown newspaper. I also learned to be a photographer. My mom taught me to shoot black and white film, develop it, and print the photographs. I also edited an oral history magazine called I Ain't Lyin'.
I put my photography on the back-burner in college. I was studying journalism and I got mixed messages from faculty about the wisdom of displaying to editors a skill for both photography and writing. At newspapers at the time, the duties were very clearly divided between photo departments and news departments. 

       After college and graduate school, I spent about five years writing for daily newspapers, covering everything from state government to ice storms to murder trials. I quit full-time journalism when my first son was born, but I knew I wanted to keep doing some kind of writing.
After I had two more sons within three years, I found it hard to do freelance journalism. At the same time, my reading habits had changed radically. Suddenly, I was immersed in the world of children's books. I decided I'd like to try my hand at writing for kids. I started by writing an article for Highlights and then moved on to books. My first was Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator (Boyds Mills Press, 2008). 

       When I began writing for the children's market, I studied the photo credits in magazines I was interested in publishing in and noticed that at least some of the time, the writers provided the photographs. My chief concern was being able to provide photographs at the quality necessary for printing.

       My first digital camera was a point-and-shoot and, though processing was fun and easy, I felt handicapped in my shooting. I invested in a digital single lens reflex (what I call a “real” camera) and I have never looked back.

     All of this was happening around the time I was trying to sell a story about wolfsnails. The images that accompanied the article I sold to Highlights were taken with my digital point-and-shoot, but I knew I wanted to illustrate my picture book manuscript with a totally different kind of photograph. I bought a macro lens to fit my camera and began taking up close, larger-than-life photographs of the wolfsnails. I brought a set of them to a Southern Breeze SCBWI conference and had them critiqued by an art director. When he told me they met the quality requirements, I gained the confidence to pair my manuscript with my own photos. 

   Your most recent book, Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature, shows some of the amazing math and science in nature all around us. Share with us how you developed the idea for this book? 

    Like many people I had heard about the Fibonacci sequence in various contexts, but I got really interested after reading about the connection between the Fibonacci sequence and nature. When I showed an art director an advance copy of
Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator during a portfolio critique, she asked what I'd like to do next. I told her I'd love to do something that would examine patterns in nature. She agreed it would be interesting and the idea really clicked for me. I did a quick bit of market research, got my hands on some books about the Fibonacci sequence, and then wrote a proposal for my editor at Boyds Mills Press, Andy Boyles. The final concept didn't come for more than a year (neither did a contract for publication). I had taken a bunch of the photographs and made a few attempts at the story when I started working in earnest on the design. The final concept came to me as I played around with a storyboard. The visual narrative builds in the same way as the Fibonacci sequence. For me, it is a great example of the way a picture book works. The words and pictures have to work together. Neither is sufficient alone.

   In addition to your first book, Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator, and Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature, your writing and photography has also been featured in numerous publications including The New York Magazine, Highlight’s Magazine, and Highlight’s High Five. Do you have an agent and what was your road to publication like?

    I do not have an agent. 

   My road to publication took about six years. When I first began trying to write for the children's market, everything seemed alien and overwhelming. The best thing I did was to join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and start attending Southern Breeze regional conferences.
I sent a bunch of stories to various magazines and publishers – especially those whose editors I met at Southern Breeze conferences. All were rejected, with the occasional personal note.

       When my son found wolfsnails in our backyard, I knew I had a marketable idea. First, I sold a story and photographs to Highlights. As we were going through the final edits for the article, I mentioned to my editor, Andy Boyles, that I had written a picture book manuscript. He asked me to send it to him; he had just become an editor at Boyds Mills Press, too. Andy was the only editor to see it.

       I went to him again when I got the idea for Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature.
I feel as if I have had a very charmed career in children's publishing. Wolfsnail and Growing Patterns have been very well received. I am working on two more projects. I want to keep doing this as long as I can.

   I saw on your website that you also teach photography to children. What are your classes like and how do your youngest students respond to photography and taking their own pictures?

    Most of my current teaching is short residencies in elementary schools that combine the teaching of photography and writing. I typically partner with elementary school teachers to teach a project-based unit. I've worked with second graders to photograph their school neighborhood; third graders to write and illustrate math stories with photographs; fourth graders to document flora and fauna in an urban art garden; and students in grades three through six to write, photograph, and illustrate Fibonacci Folding books. (You can find out more about these projects on my BLOG. Click on the Arts Integration – Photography category.)

       Typically, I work with students in small groups (4 to 6) to take photographs and to write captions or other informational text to accompany the photographs. Students love taking photographs. Having the creative freedom to capture their own images seems to help students tackle their writing with more enthusiasm and genuine interest.

   What tips do you have for other budding photographers who wish to illustrate books for children? 

    First, study the market. Read photo credit information to determine the sources for photographs in books or magazines you admire. Pay particular attention to the publishers of books and magazines who use original photographs (by this I mean non-stock photographs).
    Also, work on your craft. There are lots of great tutorials online, and you can also sign up for weekly challenges that prompt you to stretch your photography muscles.

   You create beautiful non fiction books for children. Have you considered using your photography to illustrate fiction?

    I have thought about it; I've talked about it. I haven't figured out how to do it. I know there is a market for photographs as covers for MG and YA fiction, but I haven't sent any samples out or pursued it in any serious way. I'd love to see it done.

   What are you working on now? 

    I am working on two projects. One is a picture book that would illustrate a math concept with photographs (similar to Growing Patterns). I hope to have good news about this project soon. The other is a chapter book and my first foray into fiction. It tells the story of a second grader who moves from a northern city to a small Mississippi town in the early 70s and becomes the only white student at her school. 

   Please list your website, blog, twitter, facebook page and any other places that we can learn more about you.

    Richard and I are in the middle of a wholesale overhaul of the website, which includes a new name and look for the blog. We hope to have it ready by opening day of the Writing and Illustrating for Kids Conference 2012.

twitter: @campsarah
Facebook: Sarah C. Campbell, Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature
You can also find me on Pinterest.

Meet more of the wik12 faculty by following their blog tour!
Aug. 15 Sharon Pegram at Writers and Wannabes

Aug. 16 Sarah Campbell at Alison Hertz’s blog, On My Mind

Aug. 17 F.T. Bradley at Laura Golden’s blog

Aug. 20 Chuck Galey at Elizabeth Dulemba’s blog

Aug. 21 Jo Kittinger at Bonnie Herold’s blog, Tenacious Teller of Tales

Aug. 22 Irene Latham at Robyn Hood Black’s blog, Read, Write, Howl

Aug. 23 Vicky Alvear Shecter at S.R. Johannes’ blog

Aug. 24 Doraine Bennett at Cathy Hall’s blog

Aug. 27 Virginia Butler at Bonnie Herold’s blog, Tenacious Teller of Tales

Aug. 28 Jodi Wheeler-Toppen at Diane Sherrouse’s blog, The Reading Road

Aug. 29 Ellen Ruffin at Sarah Frances Hardy’s blog, Picture This

Aug. 30 Donna Jo Napoli at Writers and Wannabes


Now - Go Register for wik12! Click Here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Where's Wednesday?

Wednesday arrived before I could blink. School's out and that means that kids are home. Time at the computer = zero, zilch, nada, nothing. I apologize if you clicked on my blog hoping to see another Author/Illustrator Featured this Week but since they, too, are dealing with summer craziness, this week was left as a black hole in my Wednesday line up. I meant to post about my own journey to publication which has had many bumps and hitches but was unable to get to the computer long enough to do that. Summer craziness has stolen this day, week, month. I do hope you will return for the future line-up of Wednesday Features on amazingly talented Author/Illustrators Diandra Mae, Priscilla Burris, and Charlie Eve Ryan. I will also be posting a "What I learned this summer..." about how Will Terry videos as well as other illustrator mentors have changed my approach to my own illustrations.

Check back next Wednesday to see which of the above Author/Illustrators will be featured.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Author/Illustrator - Andi Osiek

Andi Osiek
        (Pronounced “ON-DEE”… as opposed to Andy. It’s short for Andrea.)
How long have you been creating art for children?

I have been creating art for as long as I can remember. My mom actually has a book I made in Kindergarten about wanting to be an animator for Disney “when I grew up”. I held onto that dream for a long time, received a degree in Illustration, and eventually decided that my real passion is in children’s literature. I’m looking forward to seeing where this new direction will lead me.

How long have you been writing for children?

I imagine I’ve always had stories living inside me, ready to be told. I’ve spent the past 10 years working as a graphic designer and writing (boring) copy for adults. After attending a handful of SCBWI conferences, I kept being encouraged by other writer/illustrators to give it a try. I signed up for the 12x12x12 in January and now have a few manuscripts that I am working with. It’s all a learning process but I’m hopeful that by this fall I will have a dummy or two to start sending out. At the very least, it’s been a fun experience.

Can you share a bit about your publishing journey?

For a number of years I have been working in graphic and web design to pay the bills. Three short years ago, my son was born and I was blessed with the opportunity to leave my 9-5 and stay home with him. I have been doing freelance design work since then, but I’m gradually phasing that out as I focus on my true passions… illustration… and now writing. I consider myself a geek AND an artist, so I am really interested in app development too. Technology and art will continue to intertwine in the future. I’m hopeful that my past experience will lead me toward some interesting opportunities over the next few years.

Where do you do your artwork? Would you describe your space?

I have a nice, organized studio space that I use for most of my computer and digital illustration work. My son and I can often be found at the kitchen table covered in marker smudges and paint. I spend more time than I should in my hammock “thinking”. However, if I’m under a REALLY tight deadline I’m not ashamed to pack up my laptop, Wacom, and a few art supplies and head to a cafĂ© with free Wi-Fi and iced tea refills.

Please tell us about your illustrations. Can you describe your creative process for us? How would you describe your style?

Like most artists, my “style” is continually evolving. In the past I worked a lot in colored pencil, but the medium is very tedious and difficult to make adjustments to. About 6 months ago I began working in digital format with a Wacom and I fell in love. I’ve found that I can get better texture, control and layering capabilities than I had working in pencil. It’s also faster and MUCH easier to edit. My eyes have really opened to a new way of working… one that I had turned my nose up to for a long time.

Generally my process starts with an idea. These ideas often come from something as simple as a word (I’m a huge fan of prompts). From there I research, sketch, draw everything out in colored pencil, and scan it. Then comes the slow process of layering color. I tend to work in a very controlled way, so I have challenged myself to experiment a lot more lately. I find that “happy accidents” often breathe life into my work. I am trying to allow myself to make more of them… something which has always been difficult for me.

Which comes first - the story or the illustrations?

I would have to say that my work generally starts with character. Sometimes I will know their story before I get started. However, I usually get to know them even better while I sketch. I answer silly questions about them… What do they eat for breakfast? What was their favorite vacation? Who is their biggest hero? These questions help me to understand how they will react in certain situations. Sometimes it will even add a subplot to the story or image that I never would have thought of otherwise.

Andi can be found at:

Facebook Fan page: Andi Osiek Illustration

Anything else you would like to add about your art, your writing, or your road to publication?

I would say that the best advice I have been given is to embrace relationships and connections with others in the field. I joined SCBWI several years ago and attend every conference I can. I’m not afraid to ask questions, I try to share what I’ve learned with others, and I treasure the friendships I have made along the way. I now have many friends (in person and online) who I can turn to for advice, support and encouragement. Plus, it’s pretty darn cool when I see a friend’s book in the bookstore or library. I celebrate along with them and look forward to a time when they can do the same with me.

Please leave comments and questions for Andi below.

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Author/Illustrator of the Week.