My friend and writing colleague, Julie F Hedlund, launched a unique hybrid kickstarter campaign last week, for her picture book, MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN. This is a project packed with skilled professionals: agent, publisher, design team, illustrator, author etc., which makes it stand out from other kickstarter projects. I am excited about the book AND the project, so I seized the opportunity to invite this picture book’s illustrator, Susan Eaddy, with her extraordinary three-dimensional art form, to my Wednesday Illustrator series. I am thrilled she could do this at such short notice.
Illustrator or author/illustrator?
Author/illustrator. I primarily illustrate, but do have my first authored Picture Book , Poppy’s Best Paper coming out in 2015 with Charlesbridge. It is being illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet. http://www.rosalindebonnet.com
What’s your nationality and which and how have certain cultures/regions influenced your work?
I was born in Lake City FL. USA. Being from a very small town I longed to see the wider world, and today I will travel anywhere at the drop of a hat. My husband is an art professor and I have been lucky to accompany him on his school trips to Italy for many summers. My work is partly inspired by the scores of relief sculptures I have seen in Italy. I love the altar reliefs of Nicola Pisano, the Brunelleschi Baptistry doors, the Della Robbia reliefs and statues, and the column carvings on various Romanesque churches. The simple naive figures of Romanesque and Byzantine art inspire me to simplify (very hard for me to do) and the early mosaics of Ravenna and other Byzantine churches throughout Italy absolutely mesmerize me.
I can’t tell you how much I also love the art and architecture I encounter in Italy, including the mosaics of Ravenna and elsewhere. Now, do tell us a little of your beginnings and journey as an artist.
I have always loved to draw, from the time my mother framed the rooster I drew in kindergarten. My Mom had always said that she thought being a creative person, a writer or an artist, was the best kind of life one could have. So truly, she took the small flame of talent that I had and blew on it while encouraging me to pursue what I loved, whether it was a money- maker or not. In school I was always the kid in the class who could draw, so I took art lessons and every art class I could fit into my school schedule. My parents bought me art books, and for my 10th birthday bought me a drawing book filled with poetry and blank pages I could illustrate. I think that is when I decided that illustrating childrens’ books would be the best job in the world.
Meanwhile, I was fascinated with my uncle’s ceramics work. He taught college in Ft. Meyers FL (about 250 miles from us) and made a wonderful clay dragon for me when I was 10. I think the idea germinated there to combine my two favorite things, book illustration and clay!
Do you have a preferred medium to work in?
Modeling clay is my absolute favorite. I love to draw, and use my drawings as a road map for my clay illustration. And I also keep a sketch journal of my travels.
I wish I had felt able to sketch all my traveling. It is such a memorable gift. How does the approach to illustrating nonfiction differ from illustrating fiction?
While I research for every project, the non-fiction research is much more in-depth and intense. I actually love the research! What could be better than learning lots of new stuff about something I didn’t know about before! With non-fiction I use tons of reference, usually compiled in an album on my iPad, for easy quick access.
What does your workspace look like?
My studio is a converted attic… toasty warm in the winter, and TOO toasty warm in the summertime. Up the teeny staircase, and I have taken over the entire space with books and toys and clay critters of all sorts. My claybabies live mostly in pizza boxes, and I am pretty sure there are some mysterious activities in the attic after the humans have gone to bed. There has to be a pizza story in there somewhere!
Can you share a piece or two with us, maybe of a WIP, and the process of creating them?
In case you missed it on Julie’s blog on Monday here is the link to an amazing interactive video of the process of creating the fish page of MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN.
What excites you most about being involved in author, Julie Hedlund’s, new hybrid kickstarter campaign?
First of all, having the opportunity to work with Julie has been amazing. She has such an impressive scope of talents, from tapping into her heart to write, to her grasp of digital technology and the many ways it can be utilized. She has an ever-working creative mind with not only the clear vision of where she wants her books to go, but also the sense of adventure to trail blaze in an unproven area. And besides that she is so down to earth, and just plain fun to work with!
Any tips for those just setting out in this field?
If Children’s books are what you love, then SCBWI is the place for you. The relationships you make will keep you growing and getting better always. You will learn so much from the workshops, and from your peers, and is an excellent opportunity to form a critique group and be with other people who are passionate about children’s books. Some of my best friends have come out of the SCBWI. And you want to always surround yourself with people who are better than you are, and you will find plenty of those in the SCBWI, since both published and pre-published people belong.
Don’t be discouraged if it takes you much longer to achieve your goals than you think it should. You may read about a few people who have had quick success, but remember, that this is the reason it is newsworthy- it is UNUSUAL. Just keep moving forward and always improving your skills, so when your lucky break shows up, you will be ready for it!
Five Fun Ones to Finish?
What word best sums you up?
Curious- my husband calls me a cat.
If you could live anywhere for a season, where would you go?
That’s a tough one! SO many choices. I think I would like to experience an entire season on the water somewhere…oh wait…oooh! …what about spring time in New Zealand?! I’ve never been… always wanted to go… but then of course, WHERE in New Zealand? Oh my goodness, so MANY intriguing places in the world!
What’s your go-to snack or drink to keep the creative juices flowing?
Dark chocolate every time
Cats or dogs?
I love both, but have had cats most of my life
Which literary bad guy do you like the most?
Hmmmm…in childrens’ literature: Professor Snape
Adult literature- Shakespeare’s Richard the III
Where can we find/follow you and your work?
My website, my Travel Blog, my Etsy shop and my You Tube Channel
Don’t miss this video about Susan’ art work and check out Julie’s kickstarter campaign, which has less than $500 to go to achieve its goal!
I wrote a short piece about antagonists in kidlit last week, and, yes, my focus was SNAPE!! I LOVE your attic studio. I wish you and Julie great success with this picture book, which I have no doubt is a gem, and I wish you personal success with your own debut picture book in 2015. Thank you so much for sharing your life and art with us today.