Illustration Friday: Cake

Funny theme this week. This is cropped from an illustration for "The Prince's Diary" (Shen's Books, 2005).

Okay - bonus time. This is "Birthday Bear" - click HERE to download a .pdf to color.
Love the new thumbnails layout for Illustration Friday! (I wonder if it's possible to edit one's listing after posting? Hm.)

Georgia Center for the Book - Author Talk

     I was the speaker at the Dekalb County Public Library last night as part of the "Author Talks" series hosted by the Georgia Center for the Book as part of the Decatur Arts Festival this coming weekend.
     I showed my illustration method with my brand new Power Point Presentation - what a fun thing that is, drew Glitter Girl which they will frame for the library gallery, demonstrated my writing/editing process with my "bad sentence" demonstration, and shared my journey into storytelling with some Jack Tales and stories about the National Storytelling Festival. In this image I'm showing my thumbnails. Notice the swoops I add to show how the image will "move" on the page and allow room for text?
     Joe Davich and Bill Starr were incredibly warm and I was honored they invited me to speak. (See their logo on the podium?)

Illustration Friday: Sorry

This is an illustration from a mid-grade coming out this Fall, "Haley and the Big Blast." Can you tell what she did? It's a cute story. The scientifically minded Haley cannot stay out of trouble.

Samurai Shortstop!!

I just had lunch with Alan Gratz. His new YA, "Samurai Shortstop," comes out Thursday (Dial). I got to read an ARC, and can I tell y'all - it is WONDERFUL. It is so well written and so well researched. It's placed in Japan during their industrial revolution, which happened kind of all at once vs. the day by day changes in the west. There was some serious culture shock at the time, with the dying era of the Samurai and the embracing of all things western, including baseball. The story is told through the eyes of a young private school boy who's father and uncle are both Samurai. In fact, the story opens with his uncle commiting seppuku - grabs you immediately! I learned about an interesting time in history while enjoying what is essentially a classic "baseball story" in reading Samurai Shortstop. Alan is a talented writer and I recommend the book highly. Go buy it (click the cover)!!
Oh, and visit Alan's groovy website HERE.

Ice-Cream Flavor Contest for the Georgia Special Olympics

I had the honor of judging a new ice-cream flavor for Jake's Ice-cream last Saturday. Although all the flavors were completely yummy, the winning flavor, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich, will be held in all the store locations with a portion of sales going to support the Georgia Special Olympics. Also judging were: meteorologist John Wetherbee; multiple medal winner Special Olympics athlete Katy Wilson; and the head of Tiny Tots, Angela Maxie (and her husband, Atlanta Falcon's Coach Brett Maxie). Pictured here are John, Katy, Jake, and me.

Illustration Friday: Angels and Devils

I actually did this several years ago for Worth 1000 - a theme of opposites. Fit with the theme this week though, didn't it?

Update: Okay guys, for some reason everybody and their mother is downloading this image. I don't suppose I can stop you, but could you please leave me a note? Maybe even say "thanks"? But more importantly, please educate yourselves about copyright laws and infringement. Just because you can download an image from the internet does not mean it is legal to do so. It is not legal to use my image without compensating me or getting my permission. Please respect that.

Little Shop of Stories - Book Signing

My book signing was on April 20th - but I just got the pictures the other day when I judged the ice-cream flavor contest at Jake's Ice-Cream (they share a space with the book store) for the Georgia Special Olympics. Rough life, y'know? I had to go eat ice-cream on a Saturday for a good cause. Oh, the sacrifices I make - HA!!

Anyhow, I just love these. This is why I love my book signings. We read stories and I drew Glitter Girl. The kids are so cute. They all wore their PJs since it was a bed-time story event, not that anybody was tired when we were finished! My storytelling experience at the Fannin County Library sure does come in handy for these. I felt like the Pied Piper!

Atlanta College of Art - graduating class review board

     Rick Lovell, head of the illustration department at the Atlanta College of Art, recently invited me to review portfolios of the last graduating class (ACA is being absorbed by the Savannah College of Art and Design/Atlanta, aka SCAD). I was honored to share the responsibility with two masters in our field: Dave Clegg and Gary Overacre. To give you an idea of what I mean by "masters": in college we were shown art slides and tested to name the illustrator of each slide - Gary's art was part of the test!
     I also enjoyed meeting Jay Montgomery, another of the talented faculty guiding the students to success.
     I'll be sorry to see ACA go - what a fantastic facility - and right across from the High Museum of Atlanta. Can you imagine a better location? Still, they will be moving on to a very fancy facility at SCAD.
     There were five graduating seniors and their styles were completely different from each other. Rick really let them push their true loves artistically and I think he did them a huge favor. Most of the students are well on their way to finding their artistic voices. I so enjoyed seeing their outstanding art, but especially their enthusiasm. I will be honored to have these students join the illustration field:

Ami Blackford - Get used to this name, she's
already got a children's book under contract and it is SPECIAL!!!
Semin Chun - wonderful torn paper/collage work - her fine art is really captivating.
Ester Wilson - Beautifully unique style, she likes to paint on wood - watch out New York, she's got "book designer" in her scopes, and she's going to be GREAT!
Jetuan Reeves - Jetuan's passion doesn't lie in illustration, but her trees are something truly worth enjoying.
Anthony Hicks - another one who's name we need to listen for as he comes up in the very hip art scene of LA. Disturbing, dark and proficient work, Anthony is truly a "FINE" artist.

     The program that nurtured these talented students obviously did a wonderful job letting them express their passions and create portfolios that are much more mature than many I've seen from recent graduates. I think they will all do very, very well. What a joy to review all their hard work and skills!
     Here's a picture Rick took of me with Ester and Ami at lunch.

SCBWI-NY Portfolio Show

     My pilgrimage to Mecca.
     When I went through school, the internet didn't exist yet. The only way to get work as an illustrator was to pound the pavement in New York.
     While I spent fifteen years in corporate graphic design, the internet came along and the entire business changed. "Doing" New York has been replaced by quarterly postcard mailings and websites. You don't have to go to New York to be an illustrator nowadays - ever.
     But I'm old school. I knew I wouldn't feel like a "true" illustrator until I "did" New York. So, now I'm bonafide! What a great trip.

     I met up with several illustrators who I talk with regularly on the illustrators board and the SCBWI board (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators: We invaded New York sumthin' proper. We ate at a real NY deli. (I have to say, New York pickles are so far beyond any pickles I've ever had, they belong in their own elite class.) We ate at a lovely French restaurant in Murray Hill where I indulged in a fois gras terrine. We swapped portfolios and oohed and aahed over the annual show at the Society of Illustrators, another place I've always wanted to visit.

     The conference itself was interesting. It was held at the Society of Illustrators, a narrow, five story building with a red door. Portfolios were displayed on one floor, portfolio and dummy critiques were on the top floor and in the basement (my reviews were back to back, luckily from top to bottom and not the other way round). They kept us occupied with speakers while art buyers drifted in and out all day checking out our work. Robert Sabuda moderated a panel made up of Editor Michele Burke (RH), AD Lily Malcom (Dial), and Agent Edward Necarsulmer (McIntosh & Otis); illustrator Ed Young talked about his method; animator Jerry Lieberman showed us "The Parrot and the Plumber" (one of my faves as a kid); and Paulette Bogan entertained us talking about her career. I do have to say, there were several technical difficulties and obvious time killers which nobody appreciated, but I still defend my opinion that what was really important was happening in another room (the art buyers viewing our portfolios).
     I was surprisingly pleased with my reviews. Both agents offered new perspectives that really helped me. The agent reviewing my portfolio, Mela Bolinao of hk portfolio, blew my mind. What a firecracker! She seemed to crawl right into my head and "know" my art brain almost immediately. I was wowed, must say. Didn't expect that.
     The highlight for me, however, was rooming with my buddy Karen Lee, and meeting and hanging out with such great illustrators as: Ron Chironna (who organized our whole meet-up - what a doll), Inga Poslitur, Amy Hamberry, Barb Eveleth, Jennifer Merz, Olga Rogachevskaya, Robyn Gecht, and Beth Jones. I also enjoyed meeting Amalia Hoffman, Giselle McMenamin, Susie Lee Jin, Matt Watier, and Stephanie Ruble.
     Thanks to Karen Lee for use of the group photo - my camera battery died the first day there, dagnabbit!

Read about my thoughts on New York.