I was invited by a few friends to do this process tour, but one finally twisted my arm into doing it (actually, he just had the best timing! Thanks, Marty!).
What am I working on now?
I just finished illustrations for a wonderful children's toy and stationery company. And I'm trying not to think about a few books in various stages of submission. But right now I'm in the early stages of a new picture book dummy. The story is fairly tight, but the character designs and thumbnails are very loose. You can see more polished sketches with kittens here - they helped me to find the real direction of the story, actually.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Right now I'm really happy with my work. It's something that has revealed itself over time, in layers of work and play. I've been focusing on drawing and writing only what I really am excited about and that has made a huge difference (thanks to my agent, Teresa Kietlinski for that wisdom!). No one else can do what is really, authentically "me", right?
Why do I write what I do?
I try my best to write the biggest of childhood emotions filtered through my strange way of seeing the world. I write what only I can write because it evokes the images that I want to illustrate. I definitely mine my own childhood. The bits that I get most excited about are the ones that feel like they speak directly to the spirit of a child: be it humorous or sad or empowering. Those are the bits I strive for.
How does your writing process work?
I keep all my idea kernels: in notebooks, on my phone, in sketchbooks. I look through them often and see if I can connect dots between kernels to see if they can make something that, well, pops! There is a lot of downtime where I just think and let ideas percolate. I watch my own small children and steal kernels from them.
Then I force myself to knit it all together, on screen or paper. This is a horrific stage! Does this story even make sense? Is it unique enough? Is it exciting enough? Revision after revision happens, usually in one long file until I feel like I know the right direction for the story.
Next, I revise until the language is crisp and brief with extraneous bits removed. I share with my family. I share with a few trusted peers. So then, I sketch (and sketch and sketch). With any luck, the words stand up and the pictures can take over. I share with more trusted peers and take the time to really consider their advice before revising or changing anything. I try to put my ego aside (yes, we ALL have one) and do what I must to make the best book possible. It's a super-competitive industry, so only the best will make it through. And frankly, I'd be disappointed in myself if I didn't push through to make it the best just for myself.
Up next on the blog tour: Laura Zarrin! (FYI, Laura is a trusted friend and peer who gives me the straight scoop on my work.
Illustrator of fourteen children’s books, Laura Zarrin, is branching out into writing them too. Laura’s warm and whimsical collage paintings have graced many products from stickers to bulletin boards to books. Her paintings are created in layers traditionally, then scanned, assembled, and enhanced in Photoshop and Manga Studio, so that the art can be reformatted for a variety of products and apps.
Laura’s Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and Illustration paired with her years of experience working as a designer and art director have given her many great opportunities to work with other designers, editors, sales people, and marketing in collaboration on many projects, from inception to completion. Fluent in the Adobe Creative Suite.
She lives and works in San Jose, Ca with her husband and two endlessly creative sons.