Laurie Wallmark, author of GRACE HOPPER: QUEEN OF COMPUTER CODE has a new book out. (I interviewed Laurie HERE.) I love her female-empowering non-fiction biographies, so am happy to have Katy Wu, the illustrator of HEDY LAMAR'S DOUBLE LIFE here today to talk to us about this newest book!
e: What was your creative process/medium for HEDY LAMARR'S DOUBLE LIFE, can you walk us through it?
First I'll do some research and reading on whatever/whoever the book is about. This usually includes reading some Wikipedia articles, doing some google image searches, and reading/looking at whatever notes and reference the author has gathered themselves. Next, I sketch out rough thumbnails of each page and its layout in a sketchbook. Once the thumbnails are approved, I begin sketching them out loosely at the size I intend to paint them in on the computer in Adobe Photoshop on my Cintiq. After that, I start blocking in the colors and large shapes before adding details and lighting on top.

e: What was your path to publication?
I started receiving emails/inquiries from publishers and agents after I left my job at Google as a doodler. My last Doodle (illustrated Google logo) was an animated music video about Nellie Bly, one of the first investigative reporters in the Victorian Era and that had caught the attention of publishers. I received my first offer to illustrate a children's book from Simon & Schuster called "Dumpling Dreams".
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?
For me it's an illustration that has good "flow". That's an image with a composition that guides the eye to look at several points of interest in a certain order - first the focal point, and then a secondary detail and a third detail(s). The image itself is also pleasing to look at as a whole and invites the viewer to slow down and take a closer look.
e: How do you advertise yourself?
I have a Tumblr blog, but I don't update it enough. I'm not very good at advertising myself! My agent Jennifer Mattson is good at reminding me to put together promotion materials for publishers though.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
It's fun and challenging for me to come up with something visually fresh and unique for each project. I don't like working in one style for too long, so I have to find and create new "rules" for myself to make creating the art fun.
e: Is there something in particular about HEDY LAMARR'S DOUBLE LIFE you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
I hope readers learn that it can be fun to be creative in an unconventional way, I often find myself stumbling on the most interesting ideas when I try a different process/way to get there. Like Hedy, who isn't a trained scientist, sometimes having a different perspective or way of thinking and doing things is a strength.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I'm not really sure what I'm working on next, I generally like projects that promote diversity. I also hope to work on a fantasy children's book story someday!

e: Groovy! Check out Katy's work spaces...

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