Today’s blog is an introduction to the delightful illustration work of Katrin Dreiling. I first met Katrin through Writelinks, who hold monthly meetings for writers and illustrator/ writers for children and young adults.
Katrin is one of a community of illustrators residing in Brisbane, and I, as an emerging children’s book writer who can’t draw, just love her quirky and often hilarious characters.
As writers we have a lot we can learn from illustrators; by understanding their creative processes hopefully we can write better picture books for children. But more on that another time. Let’s dive into the creative world of Katrin.
1. June: Katrin can you introduce yourself to my blog readers:
Katrin: Sure. Like most illustrators, I’ve always been drawing, doodling and just love being creative in any way possible. While still working as a language teacher I used to explain boring grammar problems with the help of quirky characters on the board, coming to life for my students.
When I had my own children I felt an immense rush of creative energy – all of a sudden the things I’d been drawing made sense – there was not only an audience for my art but also inspiration!
Step by step I ventured into this industry until one and a half years ago I decided to stop working as a teacher and pursue my illustration dream.
My first big and paid job was illustrating animated lectures at QUT (Queensland University of Technology). This was a fantastic and very fulfilling experience. I’m entirely self-taught so this makes me very proud.
2. June: Your latest work is Princess and the Pea – what made you want to illustrate this classic story?
Katrin: The Princess and the Pea interpretation proved to have a life of its own. I originally started work on this fairy tale just for practice purposes and to build a portfolio. I especially love the classics. I wanted it to reflect as much of my style as possible and just have fun.
It was very well received and I sold one of the originals to a very dear ‘fan’, which meant a lot to me. Later on I created a book dummy to show an editor at CYA and since then I’ve been taking orders to put it into print.
3. June: What are your favourite things to illustrate (some illustrators like, people, some animals, and some both).
Katrin: It really depends on the day. I love to create quirky characters but if I want to get my hands messy I enjoy nothing more than creating landscapes or architecture with collages made of lots of paints and prints and papers.
4. June: Do you think your illustrations are for children, adults, or both?
Katrin: This is a hard one. Let me just say that in the past, and still today, I get a lot of funny looks for some drawing ideas from grown ups. This has never happened with children. I think they just get me.
5. June: What things do you do differently when illustrating for children?
Katrin: My work is always for children first. I try to touch their lives by either seeing things through their eyes or introducing them to classic themes. My illustrations are meant to take them by the hand and we dive together into a crazy-and beautiful-fun world.
6. June: Can you tell me a little about your plans to publish Princess and the Pea and why Wybble was formed?
Katrin: Wybble was formed because I wanted my first story How to get a fat fairy flying printed and dedicated to my three children. Along the way I realised that there were many aspiring authors and illustrators and the idea evolved to offer Wybble’s services to them. This business still exists, although I’m predominantly focused on my illustrator’s career. I’m planning to publish my Princess and the Pea interpretation with Wybble.
Due to overwhelmingly positive feedback I decided to do a print run for The Princess and the Pea through Wybble Publishing. I’m in the process of trying to get around 100 pre-orders as I need to sell at least that many to justify the cost and work of setting up this book.
If you are interested, please head over to KATRIN’S Facebook page to place an order on the wall or by private message.
(Editor’s note: I’ve already ordered my copy! Thanks so much for the interview Katrin and the insight into your world. This is the beginning of a regular feature on illustrators, and writer/illustrators for children on Pearlz Dreaming. )
THROW YOUR SUPPORT BEHIND PRINCESS AND THE PEA . . . order a copy at FACEBOOK KATRIN ART WORKS
One of the things I love about cities is discovering the art in the underpasses and on the railway stop walls. Some of these art works are commissioned creations; others are layers put over already existing art and blank walls by underground artists.
During the lead up to hosting the G20, the city concerned about how the world might see us, made an effort to add to and raise the quality of the underpass creations; while headlines proclaimed the blandness of much of the existing street art.
I still have to make it to some of that new art created, but for now I am noticing street art whenever I pass by it with my trusty camera phone.
Street Art doesn’t always last for long so I could make this a long term photography project and visit some of these spots again in three years or so and see if they have been painted over with new designs.
I definitely better make it to the Merivale Street Creations – for a follow up post; these ones are probably going to last about eight years and they look stunning in all the online documentary photos I have seen of them.
Perhaps in this journey I may meet some of the people who create these works or even happen upon the creation of one in progress; that’d be brilliant and something I’d love to film, although I think I’d be going for the legal projects for all sorts of reasons.
For more see The Pillars Project.
(c) June Perkins
Yesterday I read the following from David Attenborough:
“Where in 1945 it was thought that the way to solve the problem was to create wildlife parks and nature reserves, that is no longer an option. They are not enough now. The whole countryside should be available for wildlife. The suburban garden, roadside verges … all must be used.”
I agree. We have bush turkeys, ibis, crows, and cockatoos frequent our back yard. They enrich our lives.
The down side is that we can’t start a vegetable patch outside because of the bush turkeys digging holes everywhere. However the upside is that they love eating all our scraps and it’s kind of cool they are protected and have the run of the neighbourhoods. We are going to start a vegetable patch on the veranda. I’d love to attract more butterflies to the backyard, perhaps because I miss the beauties we had in Feluga and Murray Upper.
I was thrilled this week to discover an interesting and attractive new plant not far from home. In my ecology quest I’m making a point to find out the names of unknown plants and animals. Today I present to you the Bat Wing Coral Tree – and here is a photograph where it does look like a bat wing! A friend who lives in Mission Beach, but who knows heaps about the natural world, helped me identify it from a photograph I posted.
I hope to use my ecology quests to develop my poetry and stories. It will be fun and empowering to look at things and be able to name them.
Whilst living in North Queensland I learnt a lot about the variety of palms – which prior to living there I had a limited knowledge and interest in. Being surrounded by them I could see so much variety, it became intriguing.
Returning to Brisbane after an eight year absence I am determined to know more about the more obscure looking plants in the garden, parks and streets.
(c) June Perkins words and images
Postscript – A friend has suggested that I can create raised vegetable patches and bush turkeys won’t touch the vegies. Looking into this and may post the garden in process. Spring is in the air.
Writing to empower young people and children is a topic close to my heart, so I was thrilled to interview Karen Tyrrell, a local Brisbane author and former teacher, about her latest book Stop the Bully.
I met Karen virtually through the Monday writing sprint group on facebook (started by Anita Heiss and now chaired by Angela Sunde) which we are both members of and more recently have caught up with her in real space at Write links ( interested in joining email – email@example.com)
Karen’s book is written with children, victims, bullies and bystanders, parents, teachers, school Principals and the community all in mind. It focuses on eight to twelve year olds but as we shall find out is intended as inspiring and equipping anyone reading it to stop bullying. I ask Karen what led her to write a book about how to deal with bullying.
I was bullied as a child. Grade six was a bad year for me. I dealt with it by focusing on my school year and doing well. Later as an adult I was bullied when working as a teacher, by both parents and students over a period of two years, and although I initially seemed to cope with it, I ended up in a psychiatric hospital and suffering from a mental illness. I have since recovered from the bullying and mental illness and have become a mental health advocate and anti-bullying campaigner.
I realise now, I am the kind of person who when criticised becomes stronger and these experiences have made me into the advocate I am today. The goal with Stop the Bully was to create a fast paced story, a page turner with hooks that could send out positive messages about bullying prevention and resilience. I wanted an appealing story, where children could become engrossed in the story and care about characters.
Karen wanted to create a narrative which would empower readers to have their own discussions about how the characters deal with their challenges. She tells me the storyline of Stop the Bully:
Eleven year old Brian is hiding something can Brian stop the bully without revealing his shameful secret… His life is falling apart. Dad abandoned his Mum and sister Tara. Brian hates his new school. And now an aggressive bully attacks him every day. His shameful secret is a mystery, and is clues and hints as to what it might be are part of what makes the reader want to turn the page as they wonder What will Brian do? What will happen next? The mystery reveals the bullying dilemma from all angles including his parents, his classmates Pete and Amelia, his teacher Miss Bliss, the principal and even the bully who reveals his honest perspective.
Karen is keen to emphasise Stop the Bully will appeal to a wider audience than children being bullied:
It is a helpful tool for Teacher’s counsellors, mental health workers, and parents – as well as children themselves and I’ve had many children’s writers interested in it too.
I could have done with this book when my children were this age and being bullied and can’t help but share some of our family story with Karen. She is an empathetic listener.
Karen shares one of the major strategies for dealing with bullying in her book:
The book covers a range of strategies as different approaches might be needed depending on the situation, but the bigger picture is that a team including victim, perpetrators, parent, classmates and community is needed to deal with bullying, I cover all angles in Stop the Bully.
I am particularly taken with the idea that the whole community needs to be involved in stopping bullying.
Although it is early days in the case of the response to the book from the public, Karen has had a number of beta readers and reviewers from advocates for mental health to school Principals, children’s writers, and parents with children in the target age group of the book. She is active in a number of writing groups for adults and children and has drawn strength and support from these writers to write her book.
Since Karen’s past mental illness and triumphant recovery she has maintained links and connection with SANE and Beyond Blue. The response, from all who have had early exposure to the book, whilst it has been written, or in the limited pre-release has been overwhelmingly positive.
I was excited to receive some five star reviews and an extremely positive response from a school Principal. One of the reviewers, Ali Stegert, was particularly impressed that I wrote about the bully as sensitively as I wrote about the victim.
Another reviewer, a Children’s Mental Health promotion specialist is equally glowing: ‘My kids couldn’t put this book down! Clever characterization and compelling storyline gives ample opportunity for in-depth discussions on bullying and the strategies needed to tackle it.’ — Michael Hardie.
Karen’s most cherished goal is to have the book resonate with and empower children and their families.
She intimates that it is the:
emotion in book which allows young readers to identify with either Brian or his other classmates, a few kids going through challenge, boy and girl characters, empathise challenges, identify anti- bullying strategies come together at end. The book aims to open up discussions and then children can identify how they would react.
Just a few of the writers Karen considers inspirational to her own journey are:
Anita Heiss, Jenny Stubbs, and Susan Gervay for their work in the community with literacy, spreading positive social messages. Susan Gervay has also written a book about bullies, called I am Jack. PLUS I am spurred on by real life working class heroes who strive to speak out to help humanity.
I am inspired by people who have had big challenges in their lives, bullying, abuse, domestic violence and have then risen up and often become advocates for others.
When I ask Karen whether this book might have made a difference to her as a child she answers thoughtfully:
When I was a child bullying was not spoken about at all, school was all about learning facts. I had no idea when I was in year 6, of what to do, and felt like victim. Reading a book like this as a child could have possibly have changed my future life. Although the experience I had was necessary to writing this book. That said I think I have become stronger through my experiences and developed emotional wisdom and self -awareness, as well as greater awareness of how other people feel.
The irony of bullying is that whilst it is an experience that tests our children and can have dire consequences, for those who develop the same self -awareness and emotional wisdom as Karen it can be a crystallising and motivating experience.
The conversation with Karen, makes me recall another one with a woman who on hearing about my son’s experience of being bullied through high school by both students and teachers, had the self-awareness to admit, ‘I was a bully at school, and I totally regret it. We went for the sensitive boys, and one in particular who we teased or ignored, grew up to be extremely handsome and successful, and we gave him hell at school.’
There are several launches of Stop the Bully planned for Queensland. One has already been held in Brisbane. The Logan launch of the book will be held at Logan Library on June 21st Karen is looking forward all those who would benefit from the book joining her. All are welcome. There will be taekwondo demonstrations and some guest speakers in the mental health advocacy field.
To further enhance the engagement of children with the book Karen has some online support resources.
The Next Stop in the Blog Tour for this Book is: Nicky Johnson Review 11th June http://www.nickyjohnston.com.au/blog