Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Author/Illustrator - Suzanne Del Rizzo

How long have you been creating art for children?

I made the career change to Children’s illustration after my youngest of four children was enrolled in school full time. My background is actually in science, I worked in a cancer research laboratory before I had my children. But I have always had the art bug, since I was very young. It was a toss up between science and art when applying for university and the science won out. But after having my children, and rediscovering children’s books, I decided to make the switch and spent a few years working on my portfolio and researching the children’s book’s industry while home with my little ones. I was completely blown away with the dimensional work of Barbary Reid, Janette Canyon, and Kim Fernandes, to name a few. So, although I have been creating art all my life, I technically have been working as an illustrator for only a few years. I am currently illustrating my first picture book, Skink on the Brink (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, Spring 2013) written by Lisa Dalrymple.

How long have you been writing for children?

I would LOVE to write and illustrate my own picture books. At the present moment I have not had any of my writing published.  I am lucky to belong to some fabulous critique groups for both writing, illustrating and writing/illustrating, so hopefully one day that dream will also come true. Having a fun and quirky family, provides me with an endless supply of fantastic story ideas. 

Suzanne, can you share a bit about your pre-published journey?

I joined CANSCAIP, SCBWI right off the bat. I highly recommend joining, and SCBWI has regional chapters, so it is even possible to set up or join critique groups or attend meeting in your area. I also found the amazing website zero2illo, created and run by Jonathan Woodward. This site was instrumental in giving me the tools, through great tutorials, to prepare my portfolio, design a website and promote my work.

I try to do quarterly promotional mailers to a targeted group of art directors and publishing houses.  In an effort to stand out of the slush pile, I always include a little take-away to go along with my promotional postcards. In the past I have also designed bookmarks, gift tags, and stickers to go with my postcards. I also send out tearsheet promos and new illustration work through email to those publishing houses that prefer to go paperless. Just make sure to recheck submission guidelines to ensure you send the desired material.

Where do you do your artwork?

I currently work out of my dining room. I have a custom built desk that is in one corner by a big window. I keep all of my finished plasticine illustrations in pizza style boxes, which I can stack. Luckily we don’t have formal family dinners very often, as I am slowly taking over this entire room. ;) It is an ideal location right now, with 4 kiddos whirling around. 

Please tell us about your sculptures. The attention to detail is stunning. Can you describe your creative process for us?

I call them dimensional illustrations, but I guess technically they are low-relief sculptures. Thank-you for the lovely comment J. I LOVE details! I especially love the challenge of creating different textures and realistic details in plasticine. Nothing makes me happier than to see a child studying one of my illustrations, and happily finding new details that they may have missed the first time.

My process starts with a sketch, and then once the perspective, composition etc. are fleshed out, I create a tight rough sketch then go to the final art which is created in plasticine. I begin with the background, by smearing the plasticine across illustration board. I work from the background forward, leaving the foreground until last. I use a variety of clay sculpting tools, kitchen implements and household items to create my textures and details. My go-to favorites are the handy dandy toothpick, extruder, and a large safety pin. Once the illustration is complete I digitally photograph it, and make minor adjustments if necessary, in Photoshop.

How would you describe your style?

I guess I would define my style as playful, semi-realistic plasticine illustration.

This is a piece I recently created for a fundraiser. Here are some images from sketch to finished art.
(Click on pictures to see the bigger so you can really see the details Suzanne puts into her work!)

Which comes first the story of the illustrations/sculptures?  

I tend to think in pictures first, so when I think up a story idea, I can see the illustration ideas in my head, the words are much harder to get right.

Suzanne can be found at:



Twitter: @SuzanneDelRizzo

Facebook: Suzanne Del Rizzo Studio page, and suzanne.delrizzo

Come back to my blog every week to see the featured Author/Illustrator all May, June, and July!