Earlier this month I announced that I had begun the process of writing and illustrating a children’s nonfiction book. This week I want to share more about this project, what inspired it and my vision for where it fits in the world.
Have you ever gone in search of a certain book, knowing it MUST exist…that someone MUST have written it? One day this summer I went looking for a book that addressed contemporary bi-racial, indigenous artists of color (BIPOC artists for short). I sought to introduce more of these artists in my classroom, hoping to give my students more context by introducing specific connections between their art and their cultural heritage. As far as I could find, this book did not exist and there is no doubt in my mind that the world needs this book. Therefore, I knew that I needed to be the one to bring this book to the world. This book will broaden the world view of every child that reads it, and will become a source of inspiration.
Of course I didn’t really know the first thing about writing a nonfiction book for children, much less illustrating it. The only thing I knew about illustration was that I have always loved illustrated children’s books, and always desired to be an illustrator. I simply never thought I “had what it takes” to become one myself. The more I dove into the research about becoming an illustrator, the more I came to realize that I already have the building blocks. I just need to practice, discover my own style and jump in to the process with both feet. I challenged myself to create illustrations for a children’s folk tale by Hans Christian Andersen called The Little Match Girl. This story was a favorite of my childhood – though it’s a rather somber tale. I think what really drew me in as a child was the illustrations in the version I had. Rereading the tale, I felt the images flow through me. It took some practice to refine them, but I am very pleased with the results and this process proved to me that being an illustrator for my own book was not as crazy as it sounded initially!
In December I began participating in a challenge especially designed for printmakers that would help me grow my abilities in using this medium as an illustrative tool. I knew that I wanted to return to my roots as a printmaker for my book illustration, but I needed practice in creating captivating designs. This was something that I rarely let myself struggle through when pursuing my undergrad degree in printmaking at the Kansas City Art Institute, but this perseverance is something that I am much more well practiced at now.
The challenge is called Printer Solstice and is hosted on Instagram by Mindy Schumacher of Follysome Prints and Susana Mcdonnell of LinoCave Prints. It is a series of weekly prompts that can be interpreted as literally or figuratively as the artist chooses. I knew this would be a great way for me to strengthen my idea generation and illustration muscles. I’ve been really proud to see how far my work has come in just the last five weeks of the challenge! I’m looking forward to bringing some of these skills I’m learning to my book project.
As I move forward with my book project, I am creating some sample spreads that will then be used to create a pitch presentation to allow me to find an agent for the book. I will be sure to keep updating here as artist spreads are complete. You can also follow along on my personal art Instagram as well as Curated for Kids on Instagram.
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