Illustrator Interview – Loni Edwards

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I have had the fun and privilege of being connected to Loni through a variety of groups for picture book writers and illustrators.

We have shared inspiration in PiBoIdMo last November and throughout this year in the 12x12in12 group, set up by Julie Hedlund, and the wonderful teaching/parenting resource, Perfect Picture Book Friday, set up by Susanna Leonard Hill. 

As Loni shares her artwork with us today, I think you’ll soon see how suited she is to children’s book illustration!

  • Illustrator or author/illustrator?

[LE] Illustrator. In the past year or so, however, I have been dabbling in writing picture books. I am a current participant of 12×12 in 2012. This challenge is to write one picture book manuscript each month. So far I am 9 for 9. I also have participated every year in the Picture Book Idea Month  (PiBoIdMo) which is held the month of November. I am much more experienced and confidant as an illustrator though!

  • What’s your nationality and how does where you have lived influence your art?

[LE] I am from the United States. I grew up on a small farm in rural Michigan. The animals on the farm were many times my closest companions. I know that this is a big influence on my art.

  • Tell us a little of your beginnings as an artist.

[LE] I have been an artist all of my life. I grew up the youngest of 9 children. My Mother and sisters were huge influences on my drawing at a very young age.  My Mom was a talented oil and watercolor painter.  Art classes in public school also helped to nurture my love for art.

  • What is your favorite medium for your artwork?

[LE] I love digital art! I also enjoy working in watercolors, graphite and acrylics.

  • I know your blog badges are pretty sought after. Would you like to share one and the inspiration behind it, Loni?

[LE] My favorite badge that I have created so far would be my Perfect Picture Book Fridays badge. The inspiration actually came from my client. She loved my little mouse that I use on my blog and avatars. So drawing from her ideas of a mouse reading a book I created the badge. The little bug friends were just an added idea that popped into my head one day.

  • What books and/or illustrators influenced your childhood?

[LE] The biggest influence for me in early childhood would have to be the Sunday comics and the animated cartoons of that time. Cartoons were huge in my world so Charles Schulz, Walt Disney, and the Warner Brothers would have to be my biggest influences in that genre. Later I enjoyed the art of Garfield creator, Jim Davis. I loved drawing Garfield!

I also remember watching “Captain Kangaroo” and they’d have Simon the little boy who went to the land of chalk drawings. Remember him?

( )

I was influenced by many books. Going to the library with my Mom was a big event for me. I would come home with a huge stack of books. I loved the “Billy and Blaze” series. The illustrations by C.W. Anderson were so beautiful! Dr. Suess, of course, was so much fun with the unique worlds and characters. I am a fan of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. The illustrations by Garth Williams in her books captivated me and put me back in time.

  •  What does your workspace look like?

  [LE] Right now it is a mess! But here is a picture of it nice and clean 🙂

It is an older pic, as I now have a newer model of Wacom. I have a Intuos4 Wacom Tablet, a computer, a 27 inch monitor, a light table and many art supplies surrounding it. On the wall currently, I have a bulletin board plus lots of samples of my art and artwork of friends that I have purchased. I also have sticky notes all over with words of wisdom and inspiration.

  • Can you share a piece or two with us, and the process of producing them?

 [LE] This piece of artwork was one that was inspired by the 2011 T?hoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. When I saw the devastating waters encircling the towns, it reminded me of the animation of Hayao Miyazaki’s movie, Ponyo.  So I drew the waves first. I did research on symbols in Japanese culture and found that cherry blossoms signify mortality.  So I drew a branch with the blossoms. Then I researched native birds to Japan, and added these two concerned feathered friends. After sketching, I scanned the sketch into Photoshop. Using a layering technique, I inked then colored the piece.

 I created this piece for the site “They Draw & Travel”. It is a map of my former home town of Seward, Alaska. I drew all of the important land marks into the drawing, as well as some local people. Even the charter boat is a replica of the one my nephew captains every summer. I like to add personal touches when I can to my drawings. And, of course, I always try to fit an animal in there somewhere!

  • How is being part of the 12x12in12 group and Perfect Picture Book Fridays adding to your creative life?

[LE] Both groups have given me not only inspiration, but online friendships that I cherish. Another great group of creatives is the PiBoIdMo and #Kidlitart groups. I love my social networking buddies who keep me inspired and making art that is fresh.

  • How does your cartoon work differ from your children’s book illustration?

[LE] The only real difference is that the book illustrations are far more detailed and carefully planned out. My cartoons are usually in comic format or in a spot illustration. But, ultimately, I would say that they are all in my style and using the same process.

Owl Mouse

  • Five Fun Ones to Finish?

What word best sums you up?

[LE] Creative!

If you could live anywhere for a season, where would you go?

[LE] Italy! It is a dream to see Pompeii. I have wanted to travel there since 5th grade when I read the story, “The Dog of Pompeii” by Louis Untermeyer . It is one of the reasons why I am currently pursuing my Anthropology BA.

What do you do for non-art related relaxation?

[LE] I am very busy and have lots of interests. Listening to music, genealogy, yoga, reading, and computer gaming are all things that I do to relax. My college studies take up a lot of my time though! an unusual thing that I like to do is go to cemeteries and paint. I find it very relaxing, plus it is a great place to go for inspiration.

Painting in the Cemetary

Cats or dogs?

[LE] Dogs because I am allergic to cats. Although I love my kitties *Achoo!*:)

If you could spend a day with one children’s book character, with whom would that be?

[LE] Winnie the Pooh! He is so wise beyond his fluff and stuff 😀 I think we would have grand adventures!

Loni, I did my BA in anthropology and have to say visiting Pompeii was sensational. I have been so privileged to live down the road from Italy these past thirteen years – so much treasure to visit. I love your map of Seward, but I am crazy about all that is travel related. thank you so much for sharing today and to your continued success.

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24 Responses to Illustrator Interview – Loni Edwards

  1. Great interview! I really like the owl and mouse illustration!

  2. Great interview Joanna. I’ve also been in a group with Loni and I adore her work and her characters. I must say the map is amazing and fun though, cool idea1

  3. Loni — WOW! I love the tsunami piece. I think that is one of my favorites of your work!

  4. Tina Cho says:

    It’s fun to find out about you, Loni! Your illustrations are very cute. We grew up reading some of the same authors. I hope you make it to Pompeii some day! Thanks, Joanna, for another great interview!

  5. Dana Carey says:

    Joanna: So great to see more of Loni’s work and learn more about her. I met Loni through PiBoIdMo and keep running into her in the kidlit cybersphere. Thanks for a great interview.
    Loni: I love all your animals but especially the birds. And cemeteries! We’ll have to meet up there one day (well, that sounds weird and kind of morbid but you know what I mean…). I took my daughter to the Ancient Burial Grounds of my hometown in CT this summer (we have a different idea of ‘ancient’ there). I try to go there everytime I make it back to the states. It is inspiring! 🙂

    • Loni Edwards says:

      Haha! Bring on the weird and morbid!

      Oh wow, I would love to go to those Ancient Burial Grounds. I bet they were awesome. I can’t wait to head to the East coast to see some old stones.

      Thanks so much for your comment. It’s cool to know someone else shares my love for cemeteries 😀

  6. Thanks, again, for another great interview, Joanna.

    Loni, your artwork is exceptional.I love your style. I, too, love the tsunami piece.

  7. Great interview and yes, I remember Simon and chalkland! Do you remember Chalk Zone? It was on Nickelodeon some years back and a bit more rambunctious than Simon’s little world.

    Loni, I love your art and any time I visit a blog and see your badges it makes me smile. Thanks for continuing to be an artistic inspiration!

  8. So nice to learn more about you Loni! I like visiting cemeteries too – there is an especially nice old one near Grand Lake, CO where most of the head stones are ‘home-made’. I like the tiny eyeglasses Owl is wearing; is that a crystal ball on his shelf?
    Keep up the good work – must be tough to manage with school too!

    • Loni Edwards says:

      Yes, that is a crystal ball 🙂

      It’s great to know there are other cemetery lovers out there. It is just so peaceful. I really enjoy it and find it inspiring.

      Thanks Julie for your comment. I don’t post as much as I like to when school is going on, but I do try to draw every day.

  9. It’s nice to finally meet the artist behind the badge. Nice work, Loni! Thanks for the interview, Joanna.

  10. So fun to get to know more about you, Loni! And as you know I’m a huge fan of your work 🙂 I can’t believe how tidy your work area is – never come to my house or you might have a panic attack at the sight of my office… if you could get in the door 🙂 Thanks for a great interview, Joanna and Loni 🙂

  11. Another excellent interview. Your tsunami piece is so moving, Loni — and I love the Owl and Mouse! Thanks for sharing with us some of your background and process.

  12. Loni, your illustrations are amazing. As a nonfiction writer, I am in love with your Seward, Alaska graphic. Good luck with 12 x 12.

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