Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Super Star Interviews: Rebecca Green

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month. (Note Bird Meets Worm is taking a holiday in September, so check back on the first Tuesday of October! XO)

This month I’m pleased as punch to be dishing with the super-talented, super-fabulous Illustrator, Rebecca Green! Rebecca is a fellow Tugeau2 Artist, working as a children's and young adult book illustrator. She currently resides in Nashville, TN. Rebecca works primarily in gouache and colored pencil, and also dabbles in acrylic, collage, and 3D set and puppet building. Her work is playful yet grounded, and often includes children and animals comprised of texture, patterns, and flat colors. You can view more of her artwork here!

Squirrels, mysterious forest, a bright-eyed girl—I want to read THIS story!

 Q: You recently attended ICON9 in Austin, Texas (SO super fun!!). Share with us your top 5 tips for getting the most out of attending the event.

A: Yes! I love ICON—this was my third time attending. 
1. Do your research—familiarize yourself with the artists, speakers, workshops. By going through the roster and seeing people's work before you actually get to the conference, you can be appreciate their talk—especially if they don't actually speak about just their art. 
2. Find others attending and reach out to them prior to the conference to schedule a coffee of meet up. It's a great way to meet people face to face
if all you've done is spoken with them online. 
3. Do the roadshow if you can! It's a juried event but if you get a table to share your work, it's a great way to get your portfolio in front of people, who would have otherwise not seen it. 
4. Take a workshop! It's enough just to go to the conference but I think taking a workshop is a great way to learn in a smaller environment and you are more likely to make closer genuine connections to people. 
5. Come with a sketchbook! Whether it's to jot notes, or doodle away, the conference is really idea inducing and energizing and chances are, you'll walk away inspired about your own work. 

Beware the evil WITCH!!

 Q: Dish with us about your work with the Warren (her working artist studio/art community hub/superstar space!). In what ways does it build and support your local art community? And why is it important to you?

A: The Warren is a dream space for me! It all sort of came together organically, but now that it's up and running, I realize it's what I've always wanted. I started it with local illustrator, Kayla Stark, because we couldn't find a local studio
that offered what we needed. The space is first and foremost a workspace for 4 permanent artists and a few community table members. We also are starting up workshops and class that will focus primarily on illustration, design, and freelancing. The space supports the local art community by hosting drink and draws, gallery shows and some free lectures and panel discussions. We are also open to the public every second Saturday of the month for our local East Nashville Art Stumble.

The space is incredibly important to me personally. As a freelancer, I spend enough time alone and I loathe working from home. I need a community. I need my people! And The Warren is basically a community of artists who support each other, share feedback and ideas, and bounce inspirations off of one another. I also must say the space itself is so beautiful—we have the best light!

"Don't worry, little guy, I've got ya!"
 Q: Your gorgeous illustrations have found a crossover between editorial work and gallery work as well as children’s publishing work. Chat with us a bit about how you balance servicing these 3 very different markets while staying true to your own artistic voice.

A: Good question! It's less an act of juggling and more an act of letting the juggling balls purposefully fall to the floor one by one. I planned to do narrative work in college and when I graduated I got pulled into gallery work 
and just sort of stuck with it. I actually have my last gallery show this November and I'm pleased to be taking a break from it.

As far as editorial work goes, I thought that's what illustration was (even though I wanted to do books) so I signed on with an editorial agent and really struggled through a couple of years with being unsatisfied with what I was making. I was losing my voice artistically, so I left that agent and started doing work that aligned with books.

In the last year, I've really made the switch over into the publishing work and happily work with Nicole, who has been a gem in helping me with this new venture. It's taken me 6 years, but I finally feel very at home and excited about the stuff I am working on. So in short...I just had to try a couple of things out to know how much I didn't want to do them, before I could fully get into books. 

How amazing is Rebecca's fabulous 3D art?!

Q: What would be your absolute DREAM illustration gig?

A: OH man. Probably taking a year or so to work on a stop motion film, where I get to do all the detail work for the characters and the set. I'd like to help create the look of the film, and then work on the actual fabrication. I wouldn't want to do any of the actual planning/production/film stuff...I would just want the detail jobs. And can we add travel in there? Traveling for research. And the film company has limitless brownies is the break room. That's my dream. 

Q: What do you know now that when you first began your illustration career you wish you’d known about: marketing? business? self-promotion?

A: Probably business. It's important to set it up on an ongoing basis instead of just waiting until taxes are due. But who am I kidding...I still put everything off! I hate business, so it's the one thing I feel like I should have focused on more in the beginning.

Slumber party trouble brewing...

 Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: It's Autumn, the windows are open. My husband Matt and I make breakfast and coffee and then walk our dog, Mori through the park by our house. We wear scarves because it's cold! We then go to the farmers market…maybe get some pumpkins, wander around, thrift a bit, get more coffee from a cutie little coffee shop, head back home and cook a huge dinner with roasted vegetables. Then we sit by a fire in our front yard and one of us reads ghost stories.

*Just writing this makes me loathe this heat we're having in Nashville! I grew up in MI and I miss the cold so much!

Thank you so much, Rebecca, for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm!! We love your fabulous artwork! XO

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

NEW Chloe Zoe "First Day of School" Picture Books

I'm pleased as punch to share the next 2 picture books in my Chloe Zoe series: "It the First Day of Preschool, Chloe Zoe!" & "It's the First Day of Kindergarten, Chloe Zoe!"! They released on July 1st. with Albert Whitman & Co. and are the PERFECT stories to get your little ones ready for their big school year adventures in the fall! Purchase them here now!! XO

Chloe Zoe is starting preschool today, but she’s a little nervous. What if she doesn’t like it? Mommy tells her that she will get to sing songs, read stories, and paint pictures. But Chloe Zoe isn’t so sure. She’d rather stay at home and play with her little sister. Will Chloe Zoe discover how fun preschool is before the day is over?

Chloe Zoe is starting kindergarten! Full days of school for a full week. Chloe Zoe has a new backpack and matching lunch box and is so excited to see her best friends Mary Margaret and George. On the first day of school, Chloe Zoe discovers Mary Margaret and George are in a different kindergarten class. Will kindergarten be any fun without her best friends?

Super Star Interviews: Maria Mola

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month. (Note this month is an exception due to my summer family travels!)

This month I’m so happy to be chatting it up with the lovely Illustrator, Maria Mola! Maria is a fellow Tugeau2 Artist and I had the pleasure of meeting her in person in Chicago, while attending Book Expo America in May. I love her beautiful artwork! Maria is from Barcelona, Spain, but she currently lives in Chicago with her husband and their two little children. She is passionate about bringing her art to the children's picture book industry. She creates her work both digitally and in traditional media, often combining both. She especially enjoys bringing new characters to life. When not creating children's book dummies, she enjoys playing with her children, reading and photography. Most of the times doing everything at once—with a cup of coffee, of course! You can view more of her artwork here!

Hopping over the world! Wheee!

Q: How has your time living in both Spain and the United States influenced and inspired your artwork?

A: My interest in illustration started in 2007 in Barcelona when I enrolled an illustration course, that same summer we moved to the US. In that course I was introduced to European illustrators and classic international children's illustrators. When I arrived to the US I noticed a big difference in styles when I researched at bookstores and libraries. I felt that in general in Europe there was a more free style, eclectic scene. In the US in general there was a more dominant realistic style, with mostly classical mediums like watercolor or oils. Instead, in Europe there was more of a mixed media, acrylics with pencils, collage, digital. Over the years though, this difference in style has been becoming more and more subtle, and I can see more eclectic styles here in the US as well.

I feel I have been fortunate as an illustrator to have received influences from these different markets. I think exposure to different contexts results in richer perspective that translate into an artists' work. 

Aren't these colors & textures SO dreamy?!

Q: Dish with us a bit about your creative process! How does yours begin—set the stage for us: workspace, materials, habits? How do you approach sketches? Finished color art? 

A: I love to work with acrylics or watercolors. But after I finished my first book using acrylics, I realized how much time consuming and messy it could get, and transitioned to digital media. I learned how to combine digital tools with some handmade textures to add a more natural feeling. I still remember drawing with a mouse for a while! And how magic was the feel of my first little tablet with a pen! 

Now I usually make everything digitally from sketches to artwork, mostly using Photoshop. But I still fantasize on getting my hands on real paint, especially when my eyes get so tired to look to a screen.

Q: As a freelance Illustrator, juggling 2 energetic little boys and an art career, in what ways to do seek balance in your life? (As a fellow Illustrator Mama—this is one of my favorite questions!!)

A: This is one of my favorites too. As a reader of your blog and these interviews, I am always curious to check how other artists juggle family/work, what is the formula.

This is a question that I am revisiting every single day when I wake up! 
This past year my older son started kindergarten, and my little one is at preschool 4 days a week. So, in theory, I am working the mornings of Monday through Thursday. That is in theory, because every week there are different issues. Two different schools means twice the amount of teacher training days, field trips and bugs that the kids can catch (and later spread to the rest of the family!), so it is rare to have a full week of work. 

When I have deadlines I try to make more time waking up earlier, around 4.30am-5.00am, but of course my kids have a sensor and detect that I am around and wake up earlier too...I love the quiet and the focus of that first coffee.

Super Illustrator Mama in action!!! Go, Mama, go!

Because I work at home the family/work boundaries are more compromised. Sometimes I am with my kids and I have to fight the thoughts about everything else 'I should be doing', and when I am working and they are around I have the feeling that I am not fully attending them. Sometimes I feel that it would be ideal to have an office outside the house, but at the same time I love to be available and being at home. Actually some of my neighbors and other people I know don't even know that I work. They assume I am a stay at home mom. 

As if two was not difficult enough, it turns out that we have another baby on the way (surprise!). I am trying to become more disciplined to get better at balancing family and work. In fact, I remember working very regularly through my boys' naps when they were babies. Wish me luck!  In the meantime I am going to keep checking how other artists thrive in this family/balance work.

Q: In children’s publishing so many characters are animals or imaginary creatures, but I absolutely LOVE all your sweet kid characters that are actual people! Chat with us about how to create an original human character and how you approach the design of the character’s style & details. 

A: I don't follow a very conscious process. I am very spontaneous when creating characters, I just start to draw until I get something that in a very rough form allows me to connect to one aspect of the character. I love to imagine stories about characters that come from nowhere, there's always something special. Like real people, characters hide a whole life that you as an artist have to connect to and help depict clues for the readers. I must say that the most pleasant part of all the creativity process for me is when all a sudden I realize I am starting to face a new character. From there I try to empathize with the character and try to tell their story. That helps me when adding details or cleaning it.  

Delightful Autumn Leaves

Q: What was your most treasured picture book as a child? What is your most favorite picture book now? Why?

A: Visually I remember a version of the 'The three little cats', they were like puppets/dolls and I spent hours looking at the details, I enjoyed it so much! 
I read a lot of times 'The Little Prince', probably the first time I was too little to fully understand but I reread it several times, and each time I enjoyed something different. It had a mystery that was fascinating. It still has it, and it's probably one of the books that mostly influenced me. 

I don't have any particular favorite picture book now. I have lots! And now that I have kids the excuse is solid. ;) I consider myself more of a picture book collector that and illustrator. I love different styles. I love the book as an object. There are so many well thought books. I have just acquired one published by the Tate museum by Alice Melvine 'Grandma's house' with some really lovely illustrations and cut-outs.

Jump for joy in a poppy field of rainbows!

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: The most perfect Sunday starts with coffee and browsing around news or reading a book while hearing my kids entertained playing. Maybe a brunch in a nice place? I am a homebody, though, so if we have already spent Saturday outside I love to be at home without any scheduled kids outing events. 

Thank you so much, Maria, for chatting with us here at Bird Meets Worm!! Congratulations on your new pregnancy! I’ll be sure to keep the illustrator mama tips coming! XO