Patrice: I begin by reading the manuscript over and over, absorbing the story and the characters, letting it all simmer long before I start sketching.
My illustration process begins with lots of sketching, finding the characters. My favorite medium is 4B graphite on design vellum and a Moo eraser. The vellum has a nice tooth, gives a nice tug against the pencil. Also it has a bright, clean contrast to the graphite.
Patrice: My path to publication was a winding one. After earning a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Texas, Austin I held a variety of jobs: house painter, needlepoint designer, copy shop tech, graphic designer, and as an illustrator for the state of Texas. Most of my time there was spent working on courtroom displays for the Texas Rangers, the Attorney General's Office, and police agencies. Although this might sound intriguing to some, I realized I was not exactly CSI material.
My most satisfying days with the state job were the ones I spent illustrating for children: coloring books on safety precautions, bicycle safety campaigns, trading cards for the drug sniffing dogs and their Troopers to hand out on school visits. As it happened, the coloring books and safety campaigns attracted my first freelance clients. So, by day I worked on displays of fingerprints, blood splatters and crime scenes and at night at home, I freelanced illustrating for the children's market.
After several years of building clients I took a leap of faith, left the security of my day job and went full time freelance. I signed up for a local SCBWI conference and had a wonderful time. I met other children's illustrators and writers, studied the industry, garnered a few assignments, signed with an agent and I haven't looked back.
Patrice: This is Pat Zietlow Miller’s story, so we’ll have to ask her about that. I sure had a blast illustrating it!
"When you bait the hook with your heart, the fish always bite." - John Burroughs
This is one of my favorite quotes. I'm inspired by little slices of life. A baby's belly laugh, dogs being silly, watching little kids interact as they walk home from school, baking with my son, people watching in general. All those little "everyday" moments tug at my heart and influence my work.
Patrice: I’m very fortunate in that my agent does a wonderful job with mailings, email blasts, and visiting publishers on behalf of all her artists. I have a website and post on Instagram, and also social media with my critique group (the Girllustrators) and PBAA (Picture book Artists Association).
Patrice: For me, the beginning stage of illustrating a picture book is both my favorite and most challenging part of creating. My favorite because the possibilities are endless. And the most challenging because, well, the possibilities are endless. So, it’s exciting, but can also be a bit overwhelming.
Patrice: Remarkably You transcends the conventional picture book ages. It speaks to everyone. Be yourself, believe in yourself, share yourself.
Patrice: Currently I’m illustrating a delightful picture book with an amazing author, and terrific editor and art director for Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing.