Illustration Station

How to Kill Your Babies

I’ve got bad news for you. The beautiful baby that you gave birth to, loved, and nurtured, has grown into a monster. It must be stopped, and only YOU can stop it. I am of course speaking about the picture book that you’re working on, specifically the beautiful chrome car bumper you just drew, or the building facade that took you 5 hours to ink, or the cherry blossom tree that you spent 2 days painting (how can you mess up a tree, right?). Well, you’ve been missing the big picture. Literally. Take a nice step back and look at your entire composition. You see it now, don’t you? That bumper is actually not supposed to be shaped that way. The turret that you painstakingly drew each shingle on is out of perspective! And that cherry blossom tree is somehow crooked (but it’s a TREE!). I can see you mouthing that involuntary expletive. Go ahead, let it out, because this is going to suck. You are going to have to kill your baby.

df0ff33f266f32214d219b927452e45fc1dffeaee2a32c2df03cac793d08d36a

Geez man, let it GO!

I know what you’re thinking, “SCREW YOU, MAN! This is the best bumper I’ve ever drawn!” I hear you, because I just drew the best bumper I’ve ever drawn, and it was not shaped the way it is in real life (let’s blame the tricky chrome reflections in my reference!). But guess what? That crazed automobile collector who is going to buy my book because they know every minute detail about ’54 Chevys IS going to see that the bumper is inaccurate, and she WILL email me to complain about it (and maybe even give it a menacing review). AND, that’s on ME. If I’m making a book about cars, and I blatantly disregard the details that are going to make car enthusiasts swoon, then I’m not doing my job, and I’ve lost my credibility.

the bumper in question

the bumper in question–I also forgot the keyhole!!!

It’s not just about being technically accurate. You could be working in a completely abstract style that excuses you from lots of formal “art rules.” The fact remains: if there is something in your composition that is calling too much attention to itself in a way that has nothing to do with the plot, you’ve just pulled your reader out of the story! This is the LAST thing you want to happen. No bumper is that precious.

kill-your-darlings-kill

This can be applied to writing, illustrating, and all other creative endeavors.

Don’t cry yet. Do the job first, mourn later. It will be easier for both of you this way. You’ll erase the best bumper you’ve ever drawn, but you’ll save the rest of the drawing you’ve made. Plus, you just proved you can draw an amazing bumper, so why can’t you draw it again? Your drawing is going to be stronger because of this.

Whnicetryo knew erasers could look so threatening? Pick it up. Erase the bumper. Draw a better one.

Here’s a gentle reminder, friends: It’s probably not THE best drawing or painting EVER made in the HISTORY of Art, right? If you put it next to the Mona Lisa, would she turn to look at it and be all, “OH, DAYUMN!” I didn’t think so.

Take heart. Your baby will return, maybe not specifically as a car bumper, but as a really amazing overall piece that you can be proud of!

Standard
Little Elliot's Neighborhood

Little Elliot on KidLit TV (and GIVEAWAY!)

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to hug Little Elliot in person! He is now a plush doll made by my wonderful friends at Merrymakers.

home-elliot

Clair Frederick, President of Merrymakers, and I stopped by KidLit TV to talk about the process of making our little guy.

For a limited time you can win a signed copy of Little Elliot, Big City, Little Elliot, Big Family, and your very own Little Elliot plush from MerryMakers! Enter here to win!

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 9.41.35 AM

Standard
Little Elliot's Neighborhood

Petit-Kleiner-Piccolo Elliot!

Today I am happy to announce three new foreign editions of Little Elliot, Big City that are now available!

Le Petit Elliot a la Gran Ville is now available from Casterman Jeunesse. You can purchase it from FNAC and other French retailers.

PetitElliot_FR

He’s already making the rounds…

trop mignon! photo credit: Casterman

Check out more adorable pics of Elliot around Paris on Casterman’s Instagram! (Little Elliot plush doll available from Merrymakers)

Kleiner Elliot, Große Stadt is now available from Fischer Verlage. You can purchase it directly from them!

KleinerElliot_Fischer

Getting cozy in Frankfurt!

Getting cozy in Frankfurt! Photo credit: Brenda Bowen

Piccolo Elliot nella Grande Città is now available  from Il Castoro. You can purchase it from Hoepli and other Italian book retailers. I will get to read this aloud to little Italians this April when I attend the Bologna Book Fair!

PiccoloElliot_Castoro

VogueBambini2[1] (1)This month in Italy, Elliot will grace the pages of Vogue Bambini. He will also be featured on Italian national tv station RAI TG1, on their book review program called BILLY (tune in Feb 14th at 1:30PM Italian time or keep an eye out for an online clip)!

Here are other foreign titles that have been available for some time:

PuquenoElliot_ES_thumb

Spanish

LittleElliot_BG_thumb

Bulgarian

Mandarin (traditional, available in Taiwan & Hong Kong)

LittleElliot_CA_thumb

Catalan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other languages on the way include Mandarin (simplified, available in China), Hebrew, Russian, and Korean!

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Standard
Kidlit County

Worm Loves Worm

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the book release of Worm Loves Worm! To read a full synopsis and starred reviews, visit this page.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 9.04.06 AM

I had the great honor of illustrating this important story written by debut author, J.J. Austrian. This was much more than just another project for me. It came at a poignant time in my life, and in our nation’s history.

We are all a little different. This has been a fact that I’ve been reminded of daily. For most of my life, I doubted that I could ever be married. This wasn’t because I thought that I was incapable of finding true love; it was because the law would have prevented me from doing so. In 2008, I met someone who changed my life. He has given me love, support, laughter, stability, counsel, and much needed hugs.

7744_10151421619261792_110088638_n

My husband’s name is Dan, and this book is dedicated to him. We were married in 2013. We were very fortunate at the time that we lived in Washington state, where marriage had just become legal for all of its citizens. I finished illustrating this book in February of 2015. Four months later, after decades of opposition, the Supreme Court declared that same-sex marriage was now legal throughout the entire country.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 9.59.25 AM

Throughout our lifetimes, each of us will be criticized for something that we cannot change (in other words: for being yourself). During those times, it’s paramount to remember what is most important in your life. For me, love is what is most important. Some people see the love that I have for Dan as being “different.” I beg to differ. In Worm Loves Worm, no matter the opinions and criticisms of others, Worm and Worm hold fast to what is most important to them: each other. You can try playing by the rules as much as you want, but sometimes rules have to change because people are more important than rules. People will love who they love. This is what makes us human. This book is a celebration of love.

WormLovesWorm_spread

I want to thank J.J. Austrian for writing this incredibly beautiful story, Alessandra Balzer for asking me to illustrate it, Martha Rago and Dana Fritts for their guidance and design eyes, and the rest of the Balzer + Bray team. I think we’ve made a really special book, and I’m so proud to be a part of it.

Worm Loves Worm is now available for purchase from these booksellers:

801e09_57e4a72152fb4bc797d1430ff0051e32 801e09_071f50558d47488994db7ac73e4ca300 801e09_829fbd134f494401a2fe94d1ed3ef2f8 801e09_e1e85f8cea5d4d2ca5b75287f5ae150a 801e09_f0198925dee3474faaf93fe70dfa3d29

WormLovesWorm_bees

Standard
Kidlit County

Signed Little Elliot Books for Christmas

xmas15-promo

Christmas and Channukah are upon us! While folks have started their holiday shopping, I have had many requests for signed/personalized books for holiday gifts. While I’m grateful and happy to do that, I’d like to round up all of the requests for one day of signing (and ensure that you get your books in time!). You can order books online from Books of Wonder beginning now and ending Sunday, December 6th. I will sign them on Dec 7th, and they will ship soon after. Click options below to order:

BigCity_XMas2BigFamily_XMas2Combo_XMas2


 

 
When you place your order, be sure to make a note in the comment box that I will be personalizing these for you. Also, specify the first names of the people you’d like each book made out to. I will make an Elliot doodle in each. Sorry, no special requests.

If you’d like a plush doll, I’d recommend ordering direct from MerryMakers. Now through Dec 15th, MerryMakers is offering 30% off site-wide. Use code FRIEND15 for a discount on a Little Elliot plush!

home-elliot

Thanks for making Little Elliot and me a part of your holiday. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

Standard
Kidlit County, Little Elliot's Neighborhood

Little Elliot, BIG FUN Cover Reveal + NCTE Recap

I just returned from the 2015 National Council of English Teacher Annual Conference in Minneapolis.

I got in on Thursday, met up with my friends Trisha and Steve Shaskan, and headed over to Red Balloon Bookshop to see Jenni Holm (Sunny Side Up) and Craig Thompson (Space Dumplins) talk about their new books!

SSU-&-space-dumplins

Babymouse's Mom & me!

Babymouse’s Mom & me! (photo credit: Trisha Shaskan)

LeUyen Pham showed up to watch it all too! Naturally, I had to get Continue reading

Standard