The Year-By-Year Board Book Series was conceived by author Karla Oceanak and her partners in publishing, author/illustrator Kendra Spanjer and designer Launie Parry to market as gift books. I was very happy to be asked by the team to create characters and illustrate Karla Oceanak's text. Each of the board books follows the development of the child at that stage in life, which was fun to research for accuracy. Even though I have two grown children, one does forget a lot.
Did you envision yourself starting out with board books? How did this project come about?
I had been busy writing my own picture book manuscripts and creating dummies when Bailiwick contacted me through Facebook, where Karla had seen some of my sketches done while participating in Linda Silvestri's SkADaMo 2012 Challenge (http://sketchedout.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/skadamo-2012/). I have since become more interested in creating my own board books, especially after the recent and totally awesome RMC-SCBWI Conference Illustrator's Intensive with Salina Yoon, in which I was fortunate enough to participate last month.
My goals have changed over the last 3 years of focusing on the writing and illustrating of my own picture book ideas. I have always been open to illustrate another author's manuscript, but was not actively promoting myself separately, as an illustrator, until recently. I just finished creating an online portfolio (http://julierowanzoch.wordpress.com/portfolio/), which will be updated as I progress. I had a lot of fun making my first promotional postcards, some of which are now finding their way into editor's and art director's hands. I sketch every day, thanks in part to Linda Silvestri's encouraging challenge (linked above), and to Alison Hertz's Doodle Day group on facebook (http://www.alisonhertz.com/doodle-day.html). And ever day I am either writing new, revising 'old', or mulling over a random draft!
I start most days with digital sketches, often with enjoyable prompts: birthday doodles I post to facebook friends - some have even evolved into stories! But I do not have a routine per se. I am passionate enough to keep myself busy with picture books on many levels, including the reading of them. A librarian teased me once, calling me the 'best customer' in the juvenile section, but I bet I rank pretty high in general circulation!
Your illustrations always bring a smile to my face and often incorporate humor. Where did you find your funny bone?
I'm Irish? I believe my father would find that excuse pretty funny! Appreciating the child within is probably more accurate though.
What is your advice for kid artists who hope to illustrate one day? Where should they put their focus now?
Draw what you want, paint what you want, make what you want. And don't let any one tell you to make what they want! So if school instruction is frustrating, put up with it while you're there, but let it all go will when you create for yourself. I attempted teaching art at a private elementary school, but as it turns out, I was deemed too supportive of kids bringing their own creativity to the projects. Sigh. Kid artists are the best! The energy!
What is your advice for writers who do not illustrate?
Two words: one is to DRAW. Too many say they can't, but if they want to, they can. I don't mean, attempt to become a professional illustrator, but there is such joy to be found in putting a pen, pencil or brush to paper, or hands to clay, textiles, cameras - even food! The other is more important, and as essential to the visual artist as to writers, OBSERVE. I don't believe anyone can excel at either discipline without learning to look, really look, and listen, smell, touch and taste all the wonders of their environment.
What other projects are you working on now?
I just finished first revisions for a picture manuscript created for the characters on my promotional cards, and hope to develop the dummy in full soon. I'm currently thumbnailing a dummy for my only rhyming text, polishing a rough picture book dummy (very excited about that one), and chewing on an idea for a concept book. My biggest challenge is keeping new ideas quiet. My mind is always racing, and with PiBoIdMo around the corner...yeah, doesn't look good for me!
Thanks so much for having me, Carrie - your questions forced me to reflect a lot, and that was FUN!
Glad to hear it, Julie! Thank YOU for being here!
Julie is generously giving away one signed copy of EACH of her new books! Follow the Rafflecopter instructions below to enter the drawing.
Julie is a reformed graphic designer, concocting and sculpting story ideas and illustrations – every day. You can follow her journey on her blog, Facebook artist page, Twitter, and Pinterest. To learn more about her artisitic process, you can read more here.