Jarrett Rutland's CHILLY DAVINCI

Jarrett Rutland and I crossed paths via SCBWI years ago, so I'm thrilled to see his picture book career taking off and am happy to help him celebrate the release of CHILLY DAVINCI from North South.
e: Hi Jarrett! Congratulations on CHILLY DAVINCI! What is your creative process/medium, can you walk us through it?
My medium is watercolor. I like its small intimacy. Process is a little all over the place. I may sketch. I may write/jot. The only real common trait is that if I decide a project has legs, then I will hone my concentration toward it and let it evolve over months, sometimes years. I don't latch myself onto a project lightly. I've figured out the way my particular brain works is I cannot stop thinking about it once I choose to take it on. I obsess. And I know it's going to be part of my life at that point, so I try to choose wisely.

e: What has been your path to publication?
I struggled to decide on my place in society. I knew I was going to do art, just didn't know of what and what for. I started thinking about children's literature shortly after I graduated college. I took an internship at Henry Holt in NY in '07. I would show random artwork to editors and just before I left the internship I showed the late Nina Ignatowicz a painting. She was impressed and said "nice dinosaurs". I said "thank you and they are alligators". I was then given a chance to do sample art for a manuscript she'd had for years which I later learned she'd held out on because she desperately wanted Bill Joyce to illustrate. Thus, Bill Joyce's busy schedule and my random painting of dinogators launched my career in publishing. ALLIGATOR WEDDING published in '10. Luck favors the prepared, I reckon.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of CHILLY DAVINCI?
Yes! HA! You should've been there! I'm just teasing. Hmmmm. No one moment I can recall. Just a lot of small funny things. When one researches penguins one falls more in love with them. They're funny. And magical. And since I use humor as a life mechanism it infultrates my work greatly. It's not only an element but it's obviously at the forefront. So coming up with things Chilly would think about or mashing up his world with Da Vinci was hilarious to me.
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
I think a combination of the artist's skill in whatever style, and their connection to the subject matter is what can transform a two dimensional piece into something that has the potential to embed itself into a human being's life. I think these are both equally paramount. The technical ability must be there. And then the question becomes "so what?" Why is this important? And that speaks to what the artist is trying to say or represent and how they represent it. Their knowledge of the subject matter. The depth of the characters that the piece shows.
e: How do you advertise yourself?
Social media. I have websites. But the masses I have ground access to are mingling and conversing on social media. So... I'm gonna go where the people are. If you pay attention to how the social media sites process your info then they can direct you toward an audience of your choosing. So I use targeted informal buzz.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
My favorite part has to be that I can be myself. I can use the raw content I'm able to access inside my thoughts to speak to the world. Outside of whatever county limits you're in, there are people who will appreciate you for your own original ideas. Everyone alive has their own extremely unique story to tell that's different from everyone else. And it's exciting to think people care about mine. The challenging part for me is learning some business aspects of making my thoughts a tangible living and juggling work and family. I work at home so most days I don't have a full five minutes without being given a task outside my work or someone pitching a toddler tantrum on the floor.
e: Is there something in particular about CHILLY DAVINCI you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Yes, I'd say that being an oddbird-pun intended-is a great thing. It should be worn as a badge of honor, not a cone of shame. If someone thinks outside the box, it means they can access doors others can't. Whether they are good at owning and directing their uniqueness is another thing. The most innovative and original thinkers in the history of the world all have one thing in common. They faced resistance, because often they were traveling against the grain of the norm. My hope is that when someone finds themselves in that current, they'd embrace it. Don't look for ways out. Look for allies.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I'm working on a graphic novel about my grandfather, and I'm trying to evolve my Robot Samurai Penguins series. These are both Middle Grade.
e: Great, Jarrett! Can't wait to see them!

No comments: