Juana Martinez-Neal, who won last year's SCBWI Summer Illustrator Portfolio Showcase, has a fantastic step-by-step post about how to put together a children's illustrator portfolio. Lots of specific tips and resource links plus visual examples from other illustrators (hey, like ME :-).
Welcome to Inkygirl: An illustrated guide for those who write and draw for young people, which includes my Writer's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my MicroBookReviews, writing/publishing industry surveys, Writing & Illustrating a Picture Book For Simon & Schuster BFYR post series and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives, Category archives, and comics for writers (including Will Write For Chocolate).
Entries in illustration (6)
I first met John Martz at a National Cartoonist Society party in Toronto a few years ago and am also a fan of his popular illustration and cartooning blog Drawn. In addition to his professional comics work, John is the illustrator of several picture books including Dear Flyary from Kids Can Press, written by Dianne Young, and most recently he adapted the classic Abbott & Costello routine Who’s on First? into a picture book from Quirk Books. His first graphic novel, Destination X, will be released in May from Nobrow Press. John is also the founding editor of the popular illustration and cartooning blog Drawn.
Q. How did this project begin?
I was approached by the publisher, Quirk Books. I got the email while I was sitting in a coffee shop in Wellington, New Zealand on my honeymoon, which was a nice addition to the trip. The book was published in cooperation with the estates of Abbott and Costello, so there were no copyright hurdles that needed jumping, at least not in regards to my duties -- the material was already approved by the time I was brought aboard.
Q. What was your illustration process for WHO'S ON FIRST?
The manuscript for the book was essentially the script from the original Who's on First? comedy routine verbatim, although there were a few things removed or edited just for simplicity and kid-friendliness. Because the material is completely dialogue-driven, it was a given that the story would be presented in comic-book-style with speech bubbles.
My first task was breaking down the dialogue into pages and spreads. I printed out the script and cut out the different pieces of dialogue so I could manually move the bits of paper about until I had figured out the optimal breakdown from which to start thumbnailing. They took up the entire floor of my studio. The illustrations were created digitally, but this physical cut-and-paste way of figuring out pacing and is much easier when you can just move stuff around at will and stand back to look at everything.
The process was pretty straightforward then -- I presented the publisher with a thumbnailed version of the book, I incorporated their feedback into the first draft, and then after an additional round of feedback, I completed the final illustrations. As for character design, I was told I didn't need to worry about making the characters look like Abbott and Costello themselves, and that the characters should be animals.
Q. What advice do you have for aspiring children's book illustrators?
This is only my second picture book, so I'm still a relative newcomer to the field. Attending comics shows like the Toronto Comics Arts Festival and SPX in Maryland has been a great way to meet and interact with publishers and fellow artists. My first picture book Dear Flyary, written by Dianne Young, was the direct result of meeting my editor while manning my table at TCAF.
I'm still learning a lot about self-promotion. I'm a little leery of the hard sell online because it contradicts the types of artists and writers I tend to follow on Twitter and social media. Genuineness goes a long way online, and I prefer to follow creative types whose updates aren't just a stream of self-promoting ads. I end up supporting the artists, instead, that provide me with a real sense of personality and likemindedness who produce great work. I think it's a delicate balancing act between promoting your work and trying not being a carnival barker.
My method is to just be myself online, and develop the trust and goodwill with the small-but-growing audience I have, and to hope that when I have new work to share, that my friends and fans and readers will be receptive and want to share it as well.
Q. What are you working on now? Any other upcoming events or other info you'd like to share?
I just finished my third picture book, Black and Bittern Was Night by Robert Heidbreder, which will be out from Kids Can Press in time for Halloween, and I have a science fiction graphic novel called Destination X that will be out from Nobrow Press in May, debuting at TCAF. A collection of my webcomic Machine Gum will also be debuting at TCAF from La Pastèque.
Where you can find more info about John Martz:
Also see other Inkygirl Interviews.
Still catching up from my week-long trip in NYC. I've decided I'm more likely to actually post about the event if I write up some shorter pieces rather than attempt one mega-long report. So here's my first!
I love making new friends at these events, which is one reason I try very hard NOT to make too many plans in advance, or hang out with the same group of people throughout the weekend.
Not only is Mike a funny and very sweet guy, he also won top prize in this year's SCBWI Winter Conference Illustration Portfolio Showcase!
During the meal, I nagged (yes, I'm embarrassed to admit I did NAG) Mike to start a blog. I pointed out that with his award win, lots of people would be checking out his website after the conference. And look, he started one!!! And he gave me credit. :-)
Afterward, we had some fun taking photos out in Grand Central Terminal. From left to right: Russ, Mike, Roberta, Fred and Wouter.
Anyway, I -love- Mike's work, and can't wait to see where his career takes him next.
Where you can find more info about Mike:
Mike Curato Illustration (Facebook Page)
I have too many picture book ideas (I partly blame Tara Lazar & her PiBoIdMo 2011 month :-) and have been working on half a dozen picture book story texts over the past year: rewriting a zillion times & dumping ideas that just don't work. Anyone who thinks picture book stories are easy to write is NUTS. Or rather...it's easy to write a picture book. It's very difficult to write a GOOD picture book. It makes me appreciate Michael Ian Black's wonderful I'M BORED story all that much more.
Anyway, I've stayed sane by plowing ahead and doing drawings for picture books that don't exist yet. Less pressure, helps me improve my craft, and who knows? I may turn some of these into full-blown projects someday. I've also been reading Ann Whitford Paul's Writing Picture Books, Harold Underdown's Complete Idiot's Guide To Publishing Children's Books, and Cheryl B. Klein's Second Sight: An Editor's Talks On Writing, Revising & Publishing Books For Children And Young Adults for inspiration.
Anyway, I decided to do the drawing at the top of this post because I liked the pig character in one of my recent Daily Drawings (see http://DebbieOhi.com for more of my Daily Drawings):
I'm participating in KidLitArt.com's Picture Book Dummy challenge for inspiration as I continue to work on my own picture book stories AND continuing to read as many good picture books as I can. Any recommendations for well-written picture books?
Are you an author thinking of writing or writing and illustrating a picture book? If so, check out the Kidlitart Picture Book Dummy Challenge, 25-week online group challenge to create a submit a picture book dummy. It starts today and ends on June 30th.
Excerpt from the description of who can join:
Though geared primarily toward author/illustrators, writers who are not artists can benefit from portions of the dummy exercise, and illustrators without an original manuscript can use the process to create a dummy portfolio piece.
Find out more at: http://kidlitart.blogspot.com/2011/01/its-here.html
Here's the blog post schedule:
Jan. 6-Jan. 13 (1 week): Pick your project
Jan. 13-Feb. 10 (4 weeks): Draft the story
Feb. 10-Feb. 24 (2 weeks): Develop the characters
Feb. 24-Mar. 10 (2 weeks): Storyboard text and art
Mar. 10-May 5 (8 weeks): Produce tight, full-size sketches
May 5-Jun. 2 (4 weeks): Produce final art of two spreads
Jun. 2-Jun. 16 (2 weeks): Comp the cover and assemble the dummy
Jun. 16-Jun. 23 (1 week): Research submissions; prepare dummy package
Jun. 23-Jun. 30 (1 week): Submit
Jun. 30: Wrap party!
I'm pleased to announce that the SCBWI Illustration Mentees Blog is now ready for visitors! In it, you'll find info and resources for those interested in children's book illustration as well as updates about our own illustration projects. I'll also be posting from the viewpoint of a writer venturing into children's book illustration for the first time.
Please do come visit, and tell your friends. :-)