Blog Visitor – Megan Higginson on Writing and Illustrating

Today’s writing guest is Megan Higginson who loves to write and illustrate stories of monsters, aliens, and mind-blowing places and asking questions like, ‘What if?’ She hopes her stories and illustrations will help readers to look at their life and the world around them with new eyes. 

I have come to know Megan through the Duck Pond community, of Jen Storer and also through Creative Kids Tales. I was thrilled when she illustrated one of my poems for the Creative Kid Tales Story Collection 2.   I am delighted to have her as a special guest on my blog.

1) What motivates you to write? What keeps you writing?

I always have characters talking to me and wanting to go on adventures. When I was a kid it took me until I was seven or eight to learn to read. After I learned to read, I was a total bookworm but never thought I was a writer as I have dyslexia and thought I was too stupid to write stories. In class I would write a story for a class assignment (primary and secondary) and it would be so different to everyone else’s I always thought I did something wrong. And the class usually ended up laughing at my story too. I realise that I just approached life differently and my stories where actually offbeat and funny.

As I child, sometimes, I would close the last page of a book and all these different characters would talk to me and we would go on adventures. I never told anyone as I thought I was nuts. For me it was another form of escapism. Yet, I’ve since found out that this is what writer’s do. In answer to your question, I have so many characters chatting to me about this adventure and that adventure they’d like to go on, I think I’ll be writing until the day I die and still have another story begging to be written.

 

2 a) You illustrate also? How long have you been doing that for? How do you prepare for your illustrating jobs?

In 2017 I joined the 52 Week Illustration Challenge at the encouragement of Giuseppe Poli. In fact, you can read about my journey to this point in a blog post, How I Overcame My Fears and Dived into the World of Illustration.  At that stage it was about practicing and learning about illustration, so I also took Nina Rycroft’s inaugural Illustration eCourse in 2017. I’m friends with an illustrator as well, so Ester de Boer has helped me immensely by giving me feedback on my art pieces, areas to improve, and different exercises to enable to me to get better. I’m a member of Creative Kids Tales. Therefore, when Vol.2 of The Creative Kids Tales Story Collection was announced, I decided I was ready to put myself out there as an illustrator. All nine of my illustrations were accepted and now published in the collection available now, including one I did for your poem.

For June Perkins, ‘Sleipnir’s Children’

 2 b) So, how do you prepare?

For the collection I read over the story and then I pretty much just dumped whatever came to mind onto the page. Lots of really scribbly pictures, and half-formed ideas. From there I weeded out what I thought would work and what didn’t. Then I moved onto planning the piece and getting it down onto the page in pencil, and gradually worked it up in layers of paint/pencil/ fine liner, whatever medium I’ve decided was best for that story, until I was happy. And then I finished them off in Photoshop. If I’m stuck on something and can see it’s not working, I ask Ester and she can always spot the little details that are problematic which I’ve missed. She always knows a work around. I fix it and then the picture pops.

I’m about to illustrate my first picture book and I’m doing the same sort of thing. However, in addition to my usual dumping, scribbling and refining the characters and composition, I will be mentored through the process of illustrating my first picture book by well-known illustrator Nina Rycroft, along with Ester de Boer. So, lots of support.

3) Tell me about your self published book?  Why did you choose to self publish?

‘Raymund and the Fear Monster,’ was originally written for some children in a Philippine orphanage whom I’d met while on a mission trip in 2013. However, I realised it had broader appeal. About the same time, I started writing other stories and decided that this was what I wanted to do seriously. In 2015 I took a Writing Picture Book course with Cathie Tasker at the Australian Writer’s Centre. I tried to make ‘Raymund’ fit within the parameters of a picture book. I tried to shove it under 600 words. It was like trying to shove a huge fluffy pillow into a tiny box. It just didn’t work. I did come up with a shorter different version which is now published as Freya and the Fear Monster in the Creative Kids Tales Story Collection Vol 2. Things that Go Bump. Yet, I knew Raymund’s story still needed to be told. I kept reworking it. It kept popping out everywhere until I wanted to throw up on it, burn it, and never see it again.

In 2016 three things happened within a week. 1) I read Jen Storer’s blog post, Right Story, Wrong Format. Why it’s important to stay true to the story. I also attended my writer’s group where we did a dialogue workshop. I played around with some dialogue from Raymund and I finally didn’t want to throw up on it anymore. I actually felt excited about it again. And then I read a picture book about a dragon who ate children (I know. Weird right. Fun story though) and realised I had started the story in the wrong place. I went and rewrote Raymund and it was so much better. I submitted it to one publisher who I thought if anyone would take it, they would. They didn’t. Probably because it is waaaay over the current trend in word count and a rather niche topic. So, Ester and I decided to partner up and do it ourselves. Penny Springbrook at Bookcover Café helped me polish ‘Raymund’ and I am so happy with how the story ended up.

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4) What have been the highlights of the journey?

I think watching my story come to life under the skilled hands and creative brain of my illustrator has been a major highlight. It’s a different style to what is normally used in picture books. However, when we’ve taken the illustrations and even the mock-up into schools, it’s been warmly received by the students and teachers. And that’s before it was published

5) What have been the challenges?

I think for me personally, has been the wait. We started this journey in late 2016 and it’s now 2019. Ester was busy illustrating other picture books she’d been contracted to at the time. She started planning December 2017 and began the illustrations in January 2018. However, having said that, I was happy to not be a pushy author and just leave her be and work at her own pace. Ester’s work is incredible and the amount of research she put in, and the details of her illustrations are amazing. I thought our book would look wonderful. But, not in my wildest dreams did I think it would look this incredible.

I think it’s also been a highlight, as well as a challenge working with a graphic designer. Ester and I had very clear ideas as to how we wanted our book to look and I’ve discovered it can be hard work putting a picture book together. However, it’s finished and it’s how we envisioned our book would look like. It’s a fun book.      

 6) What/Who are your major creative influences?

Writing: I love Anne McCaffrey, Frank Perretti, Wendy Orr, Jen Storer, Tony DiTerlizzi, Adam Wallace, Dee White, Jackie French, Alison Reynolds, Allison Tait… well you get the picture. Each of them has influenced me in various ways.

Illustration: As a child I loved the impressionist era (Of course, I didn’t know that it was called this at the time). As a child I loved the bush and was captivated by the artworks people like Tom Roberts, and how they captured the light of the Australian bush. I thought it was incredible and I always wanted to paint like that. I’m learning.

I didn’t know it as a child, but I loved Arthur Rackham’s illustrations. I would pour over his work for hours, studying his line work and detail and wishing I could draw like that. Tony DiTerlizzi is another one. I love his imagination and I love that he’s current and I can get online and see videos of him working on an illustration.

Aaron Pocock is another artist whose work I love. Hmmm. I’m sensing a theme. Fantasy. Anyway, Aaron is so versatile. He does cartoons, and huge gorgeous oil landscapes. However, it’s his fantasy artwork I adore. So, from him I endeavour to use colour well and think how to use colour to portray emotion. Ester de Boer’s work I admire. Her imagination is insane, as are her detailed line work. So, from her I’m learning to let my imagination run wild, to play and have fun, and to always add little details to my illustrations.

Thanks Megan for sharing your story!

Mystery of Visual Literacy – Leigh Hobbs Laureate at Large

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Leigh Hobbs, this year’s Australian Children’s Laureate, is about to give a lecture, The Mystery of Visual Literacy, to the three quarters full auditorium in the state library, Queensland. The talk has been sponsored by Book Links and the Queensland Writer’s Centre. Scanning the audience I see many of my Writelinks buddies,  visitors from the Gold Coast and further afield, prominent children’s  literature advocates, and several librarians.

[Also check out Sam Sochacka Article on the Lecture at the awesome BookLinks Blog]

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Images Courtesy: Sam Sochacka , June Perkins (aka Gumbootspearlz), Jillanne Harrison, Giuseppi Poli, Leigh Hobbs & Sally (surname unknown)

Mr Hobbs is the creator of Old Tom as well as Mr Chicken and the  4F For Freaks. I used to giggle watching the television version of Old Tom when my children were growing up, as it seemed to have a lot of jokes highly suitable for parents, not just their offspring.

He seems to have a spring in his step and twinkle in his eye before he even begins and smiles as he offers to sign posters, featuring some of his characters, that he has bought with him.  Many of us line up and take him up on this offer.

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Then Megan Daley, who doesn’t want to say anything about herself but is a great advocate for children’s literature, gives him a warm introduction, and talks about the good old days and various children’s book creatives she hung out with, and Book Links and the dream for a children’s literature centre in Brisbane. Everyone in the audience claps keen support for that idea.

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Mr Hobbs begins by telling us that he feels ‘a responsibility and protectiveness to his audience, children.’

He tells us he will make the talk as much about us as him, he will share several pictures as they say a lot more than words can ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ and will be teaching us to draw Old Tom.

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He tells us that theory is not his thing, but he will speak to us from his experience as a secondary teacher,  a visiting presenter to several countries and his memories of his own childhood.  (He shows us a few pictures of these presentations later, with photographs that show the children all having a go at drawing old Tom).

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He explains that he writes in an ‘adult’ voice, not as a child. But he likes to have fun and celebrate the ‘absurd.’  He shows that absurdity throughout the presentation with images.

He tells us that his creations are character studies and that he works ‘innately and never writes or draws down to children.’  He doesn’t feel a need to be ‘realistic with his art’ and he totally believes children will relish the opportunity to stretch their minds.

He works with three levels: first the words,  second images and  thirdly the contradiction between the words and image.  Often the image is doing something every different from the words.  Interpretation doesn’t have to be literal.

He likes to work instinctively and intuitively.  He tells us a funny story about when a student asked him to explain, ‘Why is Old Tom is sometimes very big and sometimes tiny and doesn’t seem to be drawn to scale?’  He asked if anyone in the audience if they knew the answer and another kid explained, ‘that is because Old Tom is big when he is good, proud, happy and small when he is bad or in trouble.’  That is visual literacy!

His character’s size then depends on their emotion.

Hobbs, explains that if children like characters, and they’re well constructed, they will be gripped by them in a couple of pages and make a decision whether to keep going into their world.   He doesn’t write with ‘a message’, but rather with ‘real’ characters, experiencing loss, friendship and more .

Some of his books appear ‘subversive to adults,’ but children just relate to them as they innately understand characters like Horrible Harriet,  the  outcast. Not to mention that naughty Old Tom.

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Hobbs has had a mixed experience with critics, but it is the children who are the most inspiring in their responses to his work and there was one editor very early on who believed in his work and gave him the opportunity to share it.

He reads us a scathing critique from a prominent Australian newspaper where the writer/reader didn’t display any understanding of the characters in his text, and compares it to  comments from some positive kid fans  (six and five) in Ireland wrote, including their teacher (30 years old).  They asked delightful questions which he savours reading to the audience.  He then reads us another adult critic who did understand his book, and loved it. He is philosophical about this and not at all bitter.  He talks about the process of how people enter the world of books like his.

At this point Hobbs shows us a picture of himself as a child in bed, reading, with an alarm clock behind him.  There are a few aws in the audience.  He tells us his parents wouldn’t allow him to draw until it was at least 6am as he drew all of the time.  So he would wait for the alarm to go off  and then draw.

As a boy he wanted to grow up to be an artist and travel to London.  His favourite books were non-fiction books about castles, architecture, and London. He liked to inhabit the worlds in these books.  He does point out the Noddy Collection in the back of the photograph (I remember my brother having this set too.) He has been to London over 30 times and that’s why one character, Mr Chicken goes to London. Mr Badger is also created out of his passion for England.

Today he likes to travel everywhere with his notebook and sketch.

He shows us some slides of teapots with architectural construction and other visuals of things that inspire his art. He always loved architecture and history. He then tells us a bit more of the history of where Old Tom came from (he is maybe a bit based on him and his mum is the mum in the book) and reads us some of the pages of the book as they appear projected up on a screen behind him.

He talks to us about some of the other books, like  4 F for Freaks, and shows us some pictures.  He jokes, but is deadly serious as well, that many of these characters are based on kids he knows.  Well they are kids we all know if we think about it. Some of the teachers in the audience are giggling now, showing their visual literacy.

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He says, ‘kids are scary, ‘the audience laugh.  ‘Yes, I don’t like to read aloud to them as they might not laugh in the right places, and then I might stop being intuitive when I create.’  Instead he prefers to teach them to draw and field questions about the characters, which he will sometimes have them answer themselves.  Sneaky Mr Hobbs, but maybe there is something in this technique, because it is about not talking down to children!  Children can explain his characters and how they are represented to EACH OTHER.

He explains that children read Old Tom and see that the cat is like a baby, a naughty boy, and the mother, a control freak.  Angela is lonely which is why the cat is her baby boy. The cat/boy wants to grow up, and is sometimes immature and pretends to be sleeping to avoid things like helping the mother.

He once wanted to dedicate one of the Old Tom books to his mum, but she said, ‘no’ which at the time made him grumpy.  He loved his mum but used to fight with her a lot (I think I might have giggled here, sorry mum).  When he spoke to another relative about this, they just laughed and said, ‘Mum always complained those books were all about her and you.’

At the start of every old Tom book Mr Hobbs doesn’t assume anyone knows Tom, and so he introduces him.

His pictures are never just literal and he will for instance have a vacuum cleaner with eyes (this flashes up on the screen.)  They have an emotional honesty to them.

Then Hobbs, tells us more about Horrible Harriet and Mr Chicken and shares slides of portions from each book.  He shows Mr Chicken sitting on a chair visiting the Queen, and sitting daintily and the Queen is depicted respectfully.

Mr Chicken is pretty mischievous and bold too and he shows us some of his adventures in Rome as well. More laughter from the adult audience gathered.

Mr Chicken is in some ways ‘an affront to the adult world,’ but he makes total sense to children (and the children at heart?)

Every now and then he has a comedic break, and shows us things like Mr Chicken now on the loose in Queensland.  Could a new book be on the way?

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‘Children like Mr Chicken because he is bold and funny. ‘ Mr Hobbs invites us to have pictures with Mr Chicken later and holds up a toy of him.

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And now it is lesson time.  We all learn to draw Old Tom. How to make him angry looking, and mischievous. It’s fun!  Mr Hobbs tells us all our pictures will be different and he asks some people to voluntarily show their pictures once we are done.  These are projected up for all of us to see.

He makes a few jokes about how the pictures reflect the personality of the ‘feral’ artists, which makes a few people look at their pictures a bit more and giggle.  One will later proudly sign hers and share it on her facebook!

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Then it is question time.

And in his response to the questions he shares his feeling that libraries are safe havens for many of the kids who feel like freaks at school.  They one space they are not assessed in within the school environment, but are FREE to read, write and draw.

He thinks schools spend way too much time assessing!  More cheers from the audience.

He tells us a story about one of the freaks of the library days of his school days being someone who grew up to become a famous journalist.  The library was his safe place.

He shares that if someone wants to grow up to be a laureate, they should first just be a writer or artist.  To foster this you can give those someones  notebooks and say ‘draw whatever you wish, observe the world around you  and you don’t have to show your book to me unless you want to.’ This gives children freedom.

Mr Hobbs very much believes that everyone has the right to make marks on paper, and be free, which is why he taught us how to draw Mr Tom, but some of those who do this will grow up to be artists.

He likes to think of himself as an artist, not an illustrator, but he does tell stories in art.

There are a few more questions and we find out that his dear old Mum is gone, but she got to live to see her son doing something he loved.

Now we head off for a VIP reception and Mr Hobbs kindly deals with a long line of people asking for photographs and autographs in his books (some of them have dashed down stairs to grab some from the shop.)  None of them are children but there are several illustrators amongst them.  Mr Chicken meets Mr Grumbles!  Another character on paper. A big of magic happens.  Giuseppe and Yvonne are delighted.

Every now and then he dashes out of the autograph line to grab a snack and talk to someone he knows and then he heads back to his Laureate duties.

He has a bit of a joke with everyone, and is smiling, and some of us make sure all the food trays are pushed towards him so he doesn’t suffer autograph fatigue.  Who would know so many adults would start acting like Old Tom and Mr Chicken? Grown ups can be cheeky!

Mr Chicken makes an appearance in the centre of the group photograph, that we manage to call people together for – all wearing their VIP stickers.  Everyone seems to be in high spirits and several have the giggles.

Someone makes sure that Mr Hobbs finally gets to eat more food.  In fact maybe they are turning him into Old Tom or is it Mr Chicken.

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Mr Hobbs leapt across the stage  at the end of his talk to become Mr Chicken.

Reception Time

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Mr Grumbles introduced to Mr Chicken!

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“I had a brilliant evening @ Book Links 2nd annual lecture in childrens literature with guest speaker Australian Children’s Laureate, Leigh Hobbs. I was impressed with the delightful manner in which Leigh Hobbs shared his knowledge and experience. During his presentation ‘The Mystery of Visual Literacy’ with a projector at hand, he got everyone to follow his direction to create our own drawing of ‘Old Tom’ a main character in one of his picture books. He explained that he writes and draws instinctively, saying ‘he doesn’t draw down to the children, he makes them stretch up to the understanding of the image”

Jillanne Harrison

“Creating amazing children’s literature is a whole lot of craft and good splash of magic. After listening to Leigh Hobbs – Australian Children’s Laureate, I have levelled up in craft …and experienced a little bit of magic. Can’t wait to share this with the school kids. Awesome – Go Australian Children’s Literature!”

Giuseppe Poli

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You can check out Mr Hobbs in action tomorrow and he was busy there today as well :

As part of the Out of the Box festival the 2016/17 Australian Children’s Laureate Leigh Hobbs is coming to the State Library of Queensland to introduce us to a trove of his Picture Book characters: Mr. Badger, Old Tom, Horrible Harriet, Fiona the Pig and the well-travelled Mr. Chicken.

Leigh will be conducting Create a Character illustration workshops to show you how to create your own colourful characters ready for their own adventures.

When: 25th and 26th June 2016 – three sessions per day at 10am, 12pm and 2pm

Where: Auditorium 2, Level 2, State Library of Queensland

Cost: Free but bookings required.

For more information please phone 07 3840 7927 or email Lyps@slq.qld.gov.au.

For more on helping a Children’s Centre for Literature happen check out BookLinks

For more resources Children’s Calendar PDF   This Month Hear a Story; Feel a Story

Check out Sam Sochacka’s Article on the Lecture.

Images Courtesy: Sam  Sochacka , June Perkins (aka Gumbootspearlz), Jillanne Harrison, Giuseppi Poli, Leigh Hobbs & Sally (surname unknown)

 

Illustrator Course Scholarships

Just letting you know about this opportunity through the Children’s Book Academy.

I thoroughly enjoyed the last course I did with Mira Riseberg and she puts some wonderful teams together to deliver inspiration and practical skills.

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The Rafael Lopez and Pat Cummings Merit Scholarships are open until August 27th

For the Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Picture Books
The Children’s Book Academy offers merit scholarships for writers and illustrators who are currently underrepresented in the children’s publishing industry, perhaps because of colour or disability, and other forms of diversity underrepresented.

Scholarship Criteria
Here’s what you do:

1. Using your funnest or most lyrical language, tell us why you want this scholarship and what you have to offer kids
2. Describe how you meet our scholarship criteria
3. Include your website if you have one
4. Talk about how you are going to help your fellow students
5. Talk about how you are going to share about the course so that we can stay in business
6. Tell us something lovely about yourself

To find out more about the course click here: The Craft and Business of Illustrating Picture Books
– See more at: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/rafael-lopez-pat-cummings-illustrating-picture-books-scholarship.html#sthash.ANmw1y3A.dpuf

Scholarship Applications HERE

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Rafael Lopez illustration

Some further reading

Diversity is not enough

Animating Anil – An Illustrator Fuelled by Fun

 

I first met Anil  Tortop  when  she and Ozan, her husband, were guest speakers for a professional development session for Writelinks,  and have been running into them quite a bit since.

Anil  and Ozan originally came from Turkey and when telling us their story on the professional development day Anil used some very cute illustrations and animations. Anil is part of the close knit and warm illustration community of Brisbane and  together with her husband can often be found supporting the self publishing dreams of many authors through their design and illustration team work as well as at Children’s Book Illustration events. She is a member of the Brisbane Illustrator’s Group and SCWIBI.

Recently I caught up with Anil, who has boundless energy, and was celebrating the recent release of River Riddle for Ashton Scholastic  to find out what animates her as an illustrator.

Today Anil, along with other illustrators is assisting at the Big Draw.

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Self portrait – Anil

1.June: Anil can you you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you came to be an illustrator

Anil: I used to be an animator and drawing was a part of my job which I loved. Around eight years ago, a publisher/art director friend (who then became my husband) asked me to illustrate a book. Since then I’m constantly illustrating.

2.June: What are the main media you like to work in? Why?

Anil: Wacom Intuos + Photoshop. Because I love the ‘undo’ button! Well, that’s not the only reason of course. I like playing with other stuff too, but nothing feels as comfortable as digital on my professional work.

3.June: Has your style of illustration changed since you came to live in Australia? If it has why? How did you settle in?

Anil: I used to work in a publishing house as a full time illustrator which lead me to illustrate in many different styles. So changing style of illustration was nothing new to me. But I may have changed a bit, as a result of diversity here.

In Turkey I illustrated mostly chapter books, whereas here in Australia I do more picture books.

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Chapter Book Turkey – Journey to Story Town

4.June: Can you tell me about Tadaa?

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Anil and Ozan Tortop – Image Peter Allert

Anil: My husband Ozan, who has publishing and design background, and I founded Tadaa Book a couple years ago.We call ourselves “Children’s Booksmiths”, providing professional publishing services to authors who consider self-publishing.

We focus on illustrating and designing children’s books mostly. But we also support authors for the next steps, like publishing, creating websites, posters, bookmarks and all the other bookish things.

 

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5.June: What are some of your recent books and works, can you especially tell me about your work with apps?

Anil: My latest published book is River Riddle (Jim Dewar, Scholastic). I have just finished a picture book called Granny, Wait for Me!, which will be published very soon by Little Steps. In the meantime, I am currently working on three other picture books.

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Also I have some ongoing projects like regularly illustrating for a Turkish children’s magazine, and doing illustrations and animations for an online education platform called Koantum.

Having an animation background, I love working on apps where I can combine my skills, even though animation work is very limited. I have worked on several interactive projects including some apps for AppTalia. My latest one is a storybook app, called Overlander Adventurers, written and created by Tamara Anne Hogan. Tadaa handled the project direction and my part was again illustrations and animations.

6.June:  What do you believe makes a good app?

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Illustration for App Overlander

Anil: Story is the key, of course. Then visuals, especially if it is for children. Then the technology behind it, nobody likes crashing apps. Sound, music, interactivity. It’s all combined, like all other good things.

For a picture book, we say 50% story and 50% illustration. For a good app, you need to add voice overs, sounds, animations and clean coding to story and illustrations.

7.June: How does your work with Scholastic differ or similar to your work with Tadaa, what sort of communication do you have with the author?

Anil: The creating process is pretty similar, only the people and their roles are different. With Tadaa,  authors are the publisher. I work directly with them and also the editor, if they hired one.

With Scholastic, Scholastic is the publisher. I work with their editor and I don’t have any communication with authors during the creating process.

8. June: Best experiences as an illustrator vs most challenging?

Anil: After over 40 books, I still love the moment that I hold and smell the fresh printed book best.  The feedback I receive sometimes make me awkwardly dance.

I still find each new book is a new challenge in a different way. But if I need to chose a ‘most challenging’ part, it would be deciding what to draw.

9.June: What sort of texts appeal to you and why?

Anil: Funny! I love fun.

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One of Anil’s many illustration contributions to books

10. June:  Thanks so much for sharing Anil.  I am sure there will be many more books and apps from you and the Tadaa team! I love your sense of fun and thanks so much for your time!

 

Anil’s Amazing links showcasing her work.

website: aniltortop.com
tadaa website: tadaabook.com
vimeo: vimeo.com/aniltortop/

 

 

 

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taadaa books – Illustration from Teddy Where are You?

 

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Another of Anil’s many illustration contributions

 

Katrin Dreiling – Diving into her Creative World

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Katrin Dreiling, – Attic for “Music Box” winner second place CYA conference 2015

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.

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Interior Sample of Princess and the Pea

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.

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Courtesy of Peter Allert – CYA Official Photographer

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.

FACEBOOK KATRIN ART WORKS

(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