- Illustrator or author/illustrator?
Author/illustrator. I’m working on the art for picture books I’ve written but I’d like to illustrate other author’s texts. And it would be interesting to have some of my stories illustrated by other artists. (Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?!)
- What’s your nationality and how does that and where you live now influence your art?
I’m an American living in France but my connection to the States is still strong so there is a combination of forces. The French lifestyle in general can be very inspiring: the attention to details and beauty, doing things just so– from bakery windows to how food is served. And all the museums– so many with unexpected themes: Outsider Art, magic, lace, wine, dolls, regional traditions and more. I am by nature an observer so I love taking it all in. On the American side, I’m very influenced by the storytelling (from books for all ages to television to films) and the humor.
- Tell us a little of your beginnings as an artist.
I’ve always loved to draw and do all kind of crafts. Basically, I liked to make stuff. Filling a sheet of paper with marks of some sort has always been satisfying . When I was in third grade, my story about a mommy bunny in the hospital having a baby bunny got into our school newspaper. (I used my life in my work back then– my mother was away giving birth to my little sister.) I drew a picture to accompany the text (I can still see it in my mind’s eye) so I’d say that was my first author/illustrator gig.
Other than that foray into publishing, I studied fine arts then visual communications. I worked as a graphic designer in New York and Paris then made a career change to teach English. Words and pictures!
- What is your favorite medium for your artwork?
It depends on what I want to express. Oil paints are my favorite but I also love gouache and use it for paintings and for illustration. I’ve been using acrylics a lot in the last year and like them a lot. I’ve also returned to black and white and adore drawing with felt tips then using watercolors to just “colorize” them a bit. Not at all like painting.
- Tell us a little about your involvement with SCBWI.
I’m the Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI France. I started out as member and got more involved over time. I’ve worked on the Writer/illustrator retreats we’ve done twice here in Brittany and a picture book event with Sue Porter. I help organize and run our Regional conference in Paris and whatever else pops up. And I attend as many of our events as I can (I’m a bit geographically challenged on the West coast).
- What illustrator conferences would you recommend and why?
There’s so much to get out of SCWBI conferences: craft, publishing industry know-how from professionals and meeting people who share a common interest. I haven’t yet done so but I’d like to go to a conference or workshop at the Highlights Foundation.
- What does your workspace look like?
I had a space in the attic of our house in Quimperlé. We moved into an apartment in Brest last year and I selfishly claimed the dining room for my studio. Our kitchen is big enough to eat in so don’t worry about my family. (Be selfish but reasonable for your art!) I have a very old Mac that comes in handy for Photoshop and scanning. I have a beautiful oak drafting table that I brought over from New York. My Dad promised he’d buy me one when I got my first job as a graphic designer and he did. I don’t know how he managed it but he found the best one out there. It’s solid, the kind found in New York production studios back in the day.
[Computer area where I waste time on the internet and do revisions on manuscripts.]
- Can you share a piece or two with us, and the process of producing them?
This is a final drawing for another project in black and white. I scanned it so I can try things out without worrying about the drawing.
This is a the above drawing after adding color.
This is a different version of the same drawing painted in acrylics. (I’d be interested to know which version your readers like best, Joanna.)
- How is being part of the 12x12in12 group impacting your work?
I’m doing a first draft each month which is good. Some months, I eke it out in the last days which just goes to show how writing can take a backseat to all the things going on in one’s life. I’m trying to balance illustration, writing, revising and submitting along with work and family so the deadline has become very important. Other than the accountability, I enjoy the exchange of information and goodwill, especially on the Facebook page. I’ve met (virtually) so many wonderful people. All of this has had a very positive impact on my work.
- How do your French reviews of MG and YA books fit into your creative life?
It’s a great opportunity to read new books in English. Writing the marketing reports in French forces me to read in a more analytical fashion (will this suit a young French audience and why?). It’s a challenge to go beyond my personal feelings as a reader and consider the manuscript in terms of marketability. This is one of the ways agents and editors read submissions so understanding that perspective is important.
- Five Fun Ones to Finish?
What word best sums you up?
If you could live anywhere for a season, where would you go?
What’s your favorite smell?
cinnamon: baking in apple or pumpkin pies
Cats or dogs?
If you could spend a day with one children’s book illustrator, with whom would that be?
Leo Lionni. I love his stories and the graphic qualities of his illustrations. Just imagine cutting out mice with him!
Links: (in text: picture book event with Sue Porter) http://danacarey.blogspot.fr/2012/06/whole-story-with-scbwi-france.html
My blog: Up in the Attic Lately