Akiko Miyakoshi's I DREAM OF A JOURNEY

I am such a fan of Akiko Miyakoshi's work, that when she visited to talk about her picture book THE PIANO RECITAL, I asked her if she would mind coming back to tell us about her newest picture book, I DREAM OF A JOURNEY. Happily, she said "Yes!"
e: Other than the soft drawing, the cover of I Dream of a Journey immediately stands out in comparison to your other titles. How is this one different?
Akiko:
The technique was changed this time. This book was done by Lithograph. I’m using so many colors.

e: You mentioned to me that I Dream of a Journey is a special book for you. Why? Akiko: “Journey” is always the important theme for me. I've been making many pictures with the theme. Each scene has small story. So there are so many memories and experiences in this book. As I make this book, I asked myself why l like journey so much and I believe I could show the answer very well. That's the longing. And one more important thing for me is the expression of the picture book. I love picture book itself. Image and text and turning the pages. The combination of these 3 elements makes picture book unique. I like simple but rich story. I pursued it every time I write and I’m satisfied with that ever this time.
e: Can you tell us more about the lithograph method you used for this book?
Akiko:
I used to draw by wood charcoal and pencil and Gouashe. Lithograph has beautiful layering of colors and I like that so much. These pictures in this book wouldn't have been created without doing lithograph. It’s been 5 years since I started to lithograph and I’m getting many inspirations from the beautiful layering of colors.
e: How do you approach writing a story? Every author seeks the “magic formula” - what’s yours?
Akiko:
I always start from one picture of mine. This time it was the picture of the innkeeper at the hotel front. I collect the small pieces of the ideas. Some of them will grow to a story. Then I try to assemble them in many ways again and again. At the same time, l make the characters and the detail of the world, or I try to see another perspective. That might be connect the ideas. My picture book is an accumulation of the ideas. There is no magic formula. I’m seeking as well!

e: I love the idea that the main character wants to go see the world, when all along, people (well, animals) from all over the world have been coming to him! What inspired this irony?
Akiko:
As I stayed at Wien at Christmas season, I met a innkeeper at my hotel. He was nice and modest. It was interesting to imagine that how he feels always working for the people from all over the world at the same place. He looks curious about other culture and he is satisfied with his life there. He is the model of this main character.

e: I Dream of a Journey is filled with so much longing - is it about you?
Akiko:
Yes that’s right. It’s me and who I was. And it’s also my friends or family.

e: You share it all so well. I look forward to seeing what you come up with next! Call me a bona fide fan! :)




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Coloring Page Tuesday - El Día De Los Muertos Pumpkin

     Here's a combination of a pumpkin and El Día de los Muertos for you, and a wee frined.
CLICK HERE for more Halloween-themed coloring pages.
     Remember, I create my coloring pages to draw your attention to my books!

     Click the cover to learn about my Halloween picture book - Lula's Brew. She's a witch who would rather be a famous chef!
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     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

Winthrop "Get Out the Vote" Mural featured on the news!

Remember the mural project I told you about that my students created for "Get Out the Vote" last spring? Well, it just got featured on the CN2 news! CLICK HERE and forward to minute 6:05 to see. So proud!

SCBWI Carolinas Webinar: How To Focus Your Reader's Attention

I had the great pleasure of giving a webinar to my new SCBWI region this past Saturday for our online fall conference. I talked about focusing a reader's attention, but using illustration tricks to do so. I feel very lucky to have a foot in both the illustration and writing side of creation, and they each inform each other. But there aren't many author/illustrators in academia too, so I feel I am able to offer a unique perspective that can get creative balls rolling.
     Do keep in mind, even though I'm teaching, I am available for speaking engagements (especially online). So, I'm happy to share my inspirations with your regions or writing groups too - wherever you are! Just email me: elizabeth at dulemba dot com.
     Meanwhile, many thanks to Ashley, Leigh Anne, and Elizabeth for hosting Saturday's webinar and welcoming me so warmly into the SCBWI Carolinas family!

Society of Illustrators - I am a member!

There are moments, rituals in every trade, I suppose, when you feel that you have finally been accepted into the fold. For me, after seven years of working as a professional illustrator, that moment came in 2006 when I went to New York City for the SCBWI New York Portfolio Show at the Society of Illustrators - and yes, I blogged back then too, so you can read about it HERE. I joked that I walked around the building seven times, my own personal Mecca, in homage. It was then that I felt like a true illustrator. Don't ask me why, it was simply a personal goal to see the Society of Illustrators.
     I went back again in 2017, walking nearly half-way across the city to get there, and actually had lunch with the Collections Manager, Eric Fowler. Read about that trip HERE.
     But in all that time, I never actually joined the Society of Illustrators. It's not cheap, and I couldn't warrant the cost when most of the organization's activities happened in New York City. It always felt like a hole in my wholeness as an illustrator, if that makes sense.
     So, I was thrilled beyond belief when Winthrop University sponsored my membership recently. I can now proudly say that I am a member of the Society of Illustrators - finally! YES!

Online Gatherings

I so miss my friends all over the world. Heck, I miss my friends in my own back yard right now! But sometimes, I get the wonderful opportunity to catch up. I met with former office-mates from the University of Glasgow recently. Yaxi and Hyab are still in Scotland (originally from China and Eritrea), while Rebecca is back in Canada, and I'm in the US, of course. I am grateful for technology making this gathering possible. I love these guys.
I also got to meet with fellow classmates in the Children's Literature program at the UoG. Countries represented are Pakistan, Malaysia, Norway, Scotland, England, Mexico, and the US. Heidi "Sister" Lawrence has been especially helpful to me during my PhD - we've become late-night texting buddies when the writing feels overwhelming.
Truly, if there had to be a pandemic, at least technology has kept us together. Although, I think when this is all over, we're going to value our in-person connections more than ever!

BIG NEWS! ON EAGLE COVE is now out!

Look what showed up at my door this week - it's my author copies of On Eagle Cove written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Yours Truly for Cornell Lab Publishing Group. Wippee!! Since the eagle is the US national bird, I'd say the pre-election timing is pretty good for this one. If you click on the cover, it will take you to Bookshop.org, where you can purchase the book through your local independent bookseller, helping to keep them in business. You can also learn a little more about the book on my website:
      My Website Landing Page for OEC, including a peek at the pencil dummy
     On Eagle Cove: First Peek! (images of it in my studio, while it was a work-in-progress)
As I walked out towards Eagle Cove, Skipping through a greening grove, I followed where the pathway led― And spied a great big lake ahead. - Jane Yolen

From the prolific Jane Yolen comes On Eagle Cove, a sparkling new addition to the On Bird Hill & Beyond series. A young birder and her mother hike beside a lake and experience the majesty of an eagle aerial show. They spy a massive nest, high in a tree, and understand that the two eagles dancing across the sky are a mating pair. Soon, there will be chicks, and the girl and her mother return to the nest months later for a peek at the new little lives. On Eagle Cove reunites Jane Yolen with award-winning illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba for this quiet walk through nature that leads to an unexpected encounter with the magnificent Bald Eagle.
Here's a picture of me working on On Eagle Cove when we were still living in Scotland.

Friday Links List and Illustrators' Treehouse News - 23 October 2020

From PW:
     Scottish Authors Get More Financial Relief (from The Society of Authors)
     Post-Pandemic Comics: IDW’s New Publisher Looks Ahead

From People Magazine: Jimmie Allen Writes Debut Kids' Book My Voice Is a Trumpet, A 'Gentle Call to Action'

From SCBWI: Remembering Bette Greene

From BookBub:
     15 Last-Minute Halloween Costume Ideas for Book Lovers
     20 Reading Chairs You'll Never Want to Leave

From YouTube: Getting a Job in Publishing: What Does a Social Media Manager Do? | Epic Reads Office Hours

From SLJ:
     Can You Win A Newbery in 32 Pages or Less?: How picture books might fare in the race for the Medal
     Can Pre-COVID Books Still Speak To Kids?
     Cynthia Leitich Smith Awarded 2021 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature Congratulations Cynthia!

From SLJ's 100 Scope Notes: Lone Wolves Update: How Many Caldecott Winners Have One Creator?

From The Guardian: Picture Books for Children Reviews

From Brightly:
     12 Funny Children’s Books Starring Silly, Lovable Monsters
     Going Fright-Free: 13 Halloween Books for Little Pumpkins

From We Need Diverse Books: The Rise of Gender-Inclusive Pronouns and Language in Literature

From Inside Higher Ed: Children's Books: Grown-Up Lessons Candy Lee shares some of the lessons she's learned teaching a college course on tackling tough subjects using picture books.



ILLUSTRATORS' TREEHOUSE NEWS
EVENT: From The Directory of Illustration - Mastermind Marketing For Illustrators Webinar

COMPETITION: York County Storm Drain Art (open until Jan. 8, 2021 - $200 award)

CONTEST: Check out the Astra International Picture Book Writing Contest (Astra is the new house headed up by children's lit scholar Leonard Marcus)

EVENT: 2020 AIGA Design Conference (online) And a FREE TICKET GIVEAWAY!

PARTICIPATE: AIGA VOTE Campaign

From Kidlit TV: Watch the Live Halloween Special on Oct 26 at 1 pm ET with the creators of BONAPARTE FALLS APART, Margery Cuyler and Will Terry

From PW: The Fanatic - PW's Graphic Novel trade magazine

From The Guardian: Picturebook legend Oliver Jeffers: 'I've got my wife's bite marks tattooed on my finger'

From InkyGirl (Debbie Ridpath Ohi): Three Tips For Those Interested In Illustrating Children's Picture Books

From Valiant: Newsletter and reading samples of graphic novels

From Muddy Colors:
     Clash Upon the Cliffs with Cory Godbey
     3-D to 2-D and Back Again (interesting!)
     Hot and Cold YES!

From the NYTimes: Ed Benguiat, a Master of Typography, Is Dead at 92

From The Guardian: From Warhol to Steve McQueen: a history of video art in 30 works

From DPictus: The Unpublished Picturebook Showcase (Watch the video!)

From CharacterDesignReferences: Character Design Challenge

From Print & Pattern:
     Designer for Hire: Helena Nilsson
     Designer for Hire: Louise Ansell

From CGSociety: Newsletter

From The Art Room Plant:
     Rob Sayegh Jr.

     J.L. Lloyd I




OFF TOPIC BUT INTERESTING
From GoodNewsNetwork: Funny Pandemic Restaurant Signs - this will give you a laugh!

From EAB:
     Effectively engage prospective college students through compelling website content
     Understanding and Recruiting Generation Z: Insights for Enrollment Leaders on the Gen Z Mindset

From Her Campus.com: "This Is A Movement": Thoughts on Black Lives Matter from Dr. Wanda Ebright (Winthrop U colleague and friend)

From The NYTimes: The First Semester of College Has Never Been Stranger

From xkcd.com:

Flavia Z. Drago's GUSTAVO, THE SHY GHOST

We have a new ghosty friend to love this Halloween. Meet Gustavo, The Shy Ghost! I love the more friendly side of Halloween, and Flavia Z. Drago nails it in this charming new book. She stopped by to tell us about it.
e: Hi Flavia. What was your creative process/medium for Gustavo, The Shy Ghost? Can you walk us through it?
Flavia:
The story came from a Tweet I wrote in 2016 when I was thinking about the reason behind ghosts wearing sheets. It must be because they are shy, I thought, and so the idea for a picture book was planted in my head.
When I first started working, I wasn’t sure if I wanted Gustavo to be a boy disguised as a ghost who in the end takes off his sheet to show the others who he really is, or if Gustavo was going to be an actual ghost living in a world full of monsters. However, as soon as I started sketching, I discovered that as a real ghost, Gustavo could do all sorts of fun stuff, like walking through walls, making objects fly, and glowing in the dark. Also, as a ghost he was able to shape-shift into different forms, which really helped the story development, and in the end, he shows his true self to the others anyway.
      Once I figured out the story, I experimented with different color palettes and materials, like watercolors, gouache, ink, and pencil. In the end, I created black-and-white layers of pencil and ink and then colored the images using Photoshop.
e: What was your path to publication?
Flavia:
I grew up in Mexico, where I studied graphic design—basically because I copied my sister who studied it. I spent a lot of time looking at the things that she did for homework, like taking pictures, making stop-motion films, designing logotypes and posters, and I thought it looked fun.
I loved my university days, but when I started working, I realized that what I truly wanted was to make children’s books, so I decided to save money and study illustration in Barcelona. When I came back to Mexico, I kept working as a designer for a few more years, and in 2012 I got a scholarship to study illustration in Paris, where I learned a lot. This opened a world of new possibilities, and when I again returned to Mexico, I finally started working as a full-time illustrator.
     But I still wanted to write my own stories, so in 2016 I decided to get my master’s in children’s book illustration at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, where I finally explored all the ideas that I had been hoarding for years. Before graduating, I got an email from Deirdre McDermott, the art director at Walker Books in London, and while I was trying to convince them to give me an opportunity, I talked them through my idea for the ghost story. Walker Books and Candlewick Press really liked it, and so they gave me my first shot at picture-book making!
      This might sound like it was really easy, but it took almost ten years, blood, sweat, and tears before I was ready to write and illustrate my own books. I got rejected many times, but finally I got a chance, for which I am very happy and grateful.
e: Not at all, that sounds like a lot of hard (albeit fun) work! Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of Gustavo, The Shy Ghost?
Flavia:
My favorite spread is the one where Gustavo is looking from the balcony at the other monsters who are all on the playground. When I was in kindergarten, I was as shy as Gustavo is, so during lunch breaks I would sit next to the wall and I wonder how the other children were able to play and talk to one another so easily. It was a mystery to me.


I can also relate to the ice-cream spread, because there were times when my anxiety stopped me from talking to people, so I ended up missing a lot of opportunities.
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?
Flavia:
There are many people who are capable of rendering reality in a drawing with precision. I often find this perfection a bit dull and empty. My favorite artists are the ones who create without (apparently) overthinking, like most children do!
      Perhaps this is why I admire a lot of artists who never had any kind of formal training, like Clementine Hunter, the Black self-taught artist who depicted life on the plantations; Alfred Wallis, a fisherman who painted seascapes because he didn’t want his memories to disappear; or Henry Darger, a janitor who worked endless hours on his collages that portrayed his fears, anxieties, and hopes, and whose work was discovered only after he died. I think that each one of them reflected through their art on the things that were meaningful in their lives in a very honest way, and this matters more to me than the ability to draw or paint perfectly.
      I think that what makes an illustration magical is not the perfection of the drawing, but the ability to tell a personal story that connects with others.
e: How do you advertise yourself (or do you)?
Flavia:
I guess that if I had to advertise myself as an illustrator, I would say that I get a lot of inspiration and references from fairy tales (the original gruesome ones), monsters, weird creatures, horror movies, old engravings, and paintings from the Middle Ages.
      You can find my portfolio on my website (https://www.flaviazdrago.com/), and on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/flavia_zdrago/). I like to share my illustration process, and newest projects, and on my Twitter (https://twitter.com/Diafla). I mostly share silly thoughts in Spanish. For project enquiries you can contact me through my agent Claire Cartey (claire@holroydecartey.com) from Holroyde Cartey (https://www.holroydecartey.com/flavia-zorilla-drago.html).
e: What is your favorite or the most challenging part of being a creator?
Flavia:
Being a creator is incredibly rewarding, but I must admit that sometimes it can be difficult not to compare your own work with that of your peers. As an artist, I need to keep reminding myself constantly that each one of us is different and that we all have our strengths, and that it’s better to reframe the weaknesses as challenges.
e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Flavia:
I would like for my readers to pay attention to the detail, as I have left a lot of references about music, art, cinema, and literature.
On a more personal note, in the cemetery scenes there are four names in the tombstones (Tuto, Chuta, Rolando, and Lupe) in memory of my grandparents. After all, the Day of the Dead is about remembering our loved ones.
I also really love where Gustavo is hiding under the dust jacket, and I hope that the readers will notice it.
e: What are you working on next, or what would be your dream project?
Flavia:
To be honest, I am currently working on my dream project: creating stories about monsters. I am working on a book about a family of witches who are experts in the Dark Arts of Patisserie, which features one of the characters from Gustavo, the Shy Ghost.


e: Ooooo - sounds GREAT! Can't wait to see it. In the mean time, Readers, check out this cute read-aloud of GUSTAVO, THE SHY GHOST on Youtube (click the image below).
GUSTAVO, THE SHY GHOST. Copyright © 2020 by Flavia Z. Drago. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.