Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Super Star Interviews: Carlynn Whitt


Welcome to my new monthly interview feature! As an illustrator, especially one who is a longtime member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, I am blessed to have a large circle of wildly talented friends, who are fellow artists and writers. And I’m so excited to begin interviewing them and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.

To kick of my new interview series, I talked with my good friend, the fabulous Illustrator, Carlynn Whitt. She and I first meet several years ago thru the SCBWI. Carlynn has been drawing and painting since she was a little girl growing up in East Texas. She earned a degree in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design and currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and young son. Carlynn is represented by Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency. I highly recommend you visit her amazing artwork!

Carlynn & her son, Eli.

Q: Tell me about your new children's picture book! (You can purchase it here!)

A: My new picture book is THERE’S A BABY IN THERE! by Dandi Daley Mackall, published by Amazon Children’s Books (formerly Marshall Cavendish). It’s a “getting-ready-for-baby” book about a little chimp, who has a hard time believing that his new brother (or sister!) really is in his mother’s belly.

Q: What was the process like working with the editor and art director on the book?

A: It was very positive—they were so supportive from start to finish. I worked most directly with the art director, Anahid Hamparian. She kind of let me have free reign for the first round of sketches, just to get my ideas out on paper and let my own vision take shape. Of course, there were lots of edits and revisions that ended up taking place, but it was great to have the go-ahead to play around on that first pass.

Carlynn's NEW picture book!

Q: What are your top 3 favorite children's books and why?

A: Such a hard question! I think the answer would probably change depending on the day, because I’m always falling in love with new books. Right now I’m going to say:

1) Kevin Henkes’ KITTEN’S FIRST FULL MOON for the beautiful black-and-white illustrations and the poetic simplicity of the story;
2) Alice and Martin Provensen’s OUR ANIMAL FRIENDS AT MAPLE HILL FARM for the way their farm really comes to life through the colorful folk-arty pictures and the tiny details in the text; and
3) Any and all books by Roald Dahl with illustrations by Quentin Blake. In my mind they are the perfect pairing of author and illustrator. They are both brilliant in their own right and even more so together.

Illustration from "There's A Baby In There!"

Q: With a 3 year old and another baby on-the-way, how have you navigated the challenges of being an Illustrator Mama?

A: Well…some days are better than others! I think I’m still figuring it all out. The trick is to try to be fully present with my son when I’m with him, and present with my work when I’m in the studio. Nothing is worse than feeling like I’m giving only half my attention to either one or the other. Some days that’s going to happen and there’s nothing I can do about it. But to the extent that I can, I’ve really been trying to create the time and mental space to give both my kid and my art the focus they both deserve.

Q: What and who would you say has inspired your artwork the most?

A: Great question! I think my art is the product first and foremost of a family—my parents especially—who always encouraged my creativity and nurtured my artist self. And visually, I’ve been inspired by too many sources to pin it down to just one or two. I love looking at both fine art and illustration, as well as packaging design and paper products and typography and old advertisements and children’s toys…really anything with an image on it is grist for the mill.

Illustration from "There's A Baby In There!"

Q: Describe your perfect Sunday.

A: I’d wake up early (but not too early!) and make pancakes for my family. Then we’d go to church together and maybe have lunch afterward somewhere outdoors, if it was a pretty day. My husband would take our boy to the park in the afternoon so I could get in some good studio time…then maybe we would all go for a walk on the beach and have dinner back at the house. While my husband cleaned the kitchen, I would read bedtime stories to my son, tuck him in, and he’d fall asleep right away. Then we would crack open a bottle of wine, a couple of beers, or perhaps a pint of Ciao Bella chocolate hazelnut ice cream and snuggle up on the couch for a good movie. And we’d be in bed by eleven to wake up ready for the hectic rush of Monday morning!

Thank you so much, Carlynn! XO


3 comments:

  1. What a terrific interview! I have loved Carlynn's work since the first moment I laid eyes on it. I'm so happy that she's having such success as an illustrator and I can't wait to get my hands on her new book.

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  2. Great interview, Jane. I just love your art style, Carlynn! I suspect I'll be seeing lots more books from you. And congrats on the baby on the way! What perfect timing with the book and all!

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  3. So glad you enjoyed the interview! Isn't Carlynn fabulous?!

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