Roxie: I’m a “visual thinker.” I get my ideas and develop concepts often by imagery. That’s the way I start, conceive of, and develop my books. So I do a storyboard, dummy, rough sketches, and often final art before I start the text, which is a bit unusual. (Most of the research is done prior to starting the illustrations.) I write to the art, which dictates the concept, the beginning, middle and end, and the flow of the book.
Roxie: It has to be visually rich and sometimes unpredictable. I do not “talk down” to children in my work. Children are keen viewers of art (40% of kids are considered “visual learners”). I want them to have something to really look at, to see – not to skim over, but to engage with, to become absorbed in.
Roxie: In the late 1990s, I was encouraged to do a book about my process – about making art – by my former editor at Dutton. So I created a book dummy and gave it to her. She promptly rejected it, and I stuck it in a drawer for more than a dozen years. A couple years ago I took it out and showed it to my editor, Mary Cash, at Holiday House. They suggested a slight change in the middle part of the book, which was great – that was the “click” that it needed - and they bought it. The beginning and end and most of the book is as I first envisioned it, but the examples of great paintings were based in my first iteration on techniques and formal matters (perspective, color, use of patterns, creating volume, etc); in the new book the examples are based on genres (still lifes, portraits, landscapes, etc). The salient quote from my father – “Do what you really love” – is true. That is what he told his children.
Roxie: I have always been a working professional artist. Did fine art gallery-exhibited paintings and editorial work in Washington DC (for newspapers and magazines) right out of college.
Roxie: I love to get an idea and see if I can make it work. A lot of my books use “gamification” to impart content – mazes, search-n-find, ABCs, shapes, lift-the-flap moveable books – so sometimes it takes a while to figure out whether the device or construct I want to use will work for the subject.
Roxie: You often need to combine history and previous knowledge with new concepts, and wrap the idea around your own sensibilities. So the challenge is making the idea both personal AND universal - letting others relate, and have the Aha! moment.
Roxie: Rodent Rascals, a book about rats and other such critters, comes out in February 2018 from Holiday House. The conceit is that they are all drawn actual size, which gets dicey when you are doing a beaver (three feet long) or a capybara (four and a half feet) and the trim size of the book is 10 inches by 10 inches.
Am awaiting word right now from my publisher on a couple projects (a lift-the-flap book and an ABC concept book).
I didn't submit the following idea to them, but when you asked what my dream project would be .... I have created and completed eight pieces of finished art for a series of complex mazes for a book called MazePlay that I LOVE doing. It’s probably too abstract (and quirky) for a regular kid’s trade book though. Visit www.roxiemunro.com/ to see more.