Patrice Barton's REMARKABLY YOU

I've been a long-time fan of Patrice Barton's work. I think she captures the soft sweetness of children in her art so beautifully. So I'm thrilled to have her here today to talk about her latest book, REMARKABLY YOU, written by another creator whose work I love, Pat Zietlow Miller (who visited my blog HERE).
e: Hi Patrice! What was your creative process/medium, can you walk us through it?
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.
     Next I start developing the spreads, taping them on the wall as I go, keeping an eye on the flow and pacing.
     Finally, I scan the sketches into the computer and work in Painter. I also scan in bits of paper, textures, watercolor, etc into my illustrations. Always experimenting.
e: What was your path to publication?
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.
e: What a story! Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of REMARKABLY YOU?
This is Pat Zietlow Miller’s story, so we’ll have to ask her about that. I sure had a blast illustrating it!
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?

"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.
e: It shows in your work! How do you advertise yourself?
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).
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
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.
e: Is there something in particular about REMARKABLY YOU that you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Remarkably You transcends the conventional picture book ages. It speaks to everyone. Be yourself, believe in yourself, share yourself.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
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.
e: Great! I can't wait to see it!

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