I am so happy to have Nina on the blog today and I hope you will return on Friday as I received an early review copy of her new book The Three Little Pugs, which is coming out on march 6th! And it is adorable.
[JM] Illustrator or author/illustrator? If the latter, do you begin with words or pictures?
[NC] Illustrator/author. It is much easier for me to make the pictures than to write the words. I probably begin some place in the middle and hope that it will all come together eventually.
[JM] Where are you from/have you lived and how has that influenced your work?
[NC] Minnesota has always been my home. I love it here. I find myself drawn to mosses and ferns, rocks, the lakes, and all of our woodland creatures.
[JM] I love these natural details. Tell us a little of your beginnings and journey as an artist.
[NC] Drawing was my favorite thing to do when I was little. I also loved animals and wanted to care for them. I became a certified veterinary technician and worked in a small animal practice for about a year and then joined the staff at the University of Minnesota in small animal surgery. I became a stay-at-home mom after we had our youngest daughter. Shortly after, I started attending kid book conferences and began slowly building up a portfolio.
[JM] What is your preferred medium to work in?
[NC] I love to draw with a 005 black Micron pen on Arches 140# hot press paper and I paint with Prang watercolors.
[JM] Can you share a piece or two for us, maybe from a work in progress, and the process of creating them?
[NC] This is a really new sketch that I am working on right now. When it is finished, I will send it off to my client to get approval (and make any revisions that they request). I will then transfer the approved sketch to a nice piece of bristol paper and ink it, as it will eventually become a coloring page for kids.
[JM] Which book do you remember buying with your own money as a kid?
Flutterby by Stephen Cosgrove and Robin James
[JM] What does your workspace look like?
[JM] Do you have themes or characters that you keep returning to?
[NC] Dogs and cats. Mythological creatures. Underwater life.
[JM] What artwork do you have hanging in your home?
[JM] When did you get your first pug?
[NC] We got Gordy when he was a puppy in late 2009 and then his littermate, Jilly, joined our family in the spring of 2015.
[JM] So did Gordy and Jilly recognize each other after 6 years?
[NC] I think they did. They are two peas in a pod and have a nice time sitting, napping, and playing together.
Five Fun Ones to Finish?
[JM] What’s your favorite park (state/urban..) in the world?
[NC] Not sure if it is officially considered a park, but the Alpenzoo in Innsbruck, Austria was one of the coolest places I have ever been. I will never forget how lovely it was to see Alpine creatures up close in their natural habitat.
[JM] Cats or dogs?
[JM] Please recommend a coffee shop or restaurant for me to visit in your city!
[NC] The Choo Choo Bar in Loretto, MN is probably one of my favorite places to go out to eat.
[JM] What was your first paid job out of high school?
[NC] I worked on the Barn Crew at the Large Animal Hospital at the University of Minnesota all through college. If you need someone to clean some stalls or milk a cow, I’m your gal.
[JM] Such a cool job! Go to snack/drink to sustain your creative juices?
[NC] Earl grey tea (with half&half and sugar) and crackers.