Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Super Star Interviews: Salina Yoon

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, writers and designers. And I’m so excited to be 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.

This month I am chatting with the amazing and prolific Author, Illustrator and Novelty Book Queen, Salina Yoon. She and I became friends thru our friends at the novelty book publisher, Intervisual Book, where Salina and I both spent time as Designers/Art Directors. Salina has created nearly 200+ innovative novelty books for young children and is still going strong. You can visit her and her books here!


Novelty Book Queen, Salina Yoon


Q: Your new book, Penguin and Pinecone, is a picture book, which is a big change from the board and novelty books for which you are known. Can you tell us a little bit about how creating Penguin and Pinecone was different/similar to the body of work for which you are known?

A: The biggest difference between a picture book and novelty book is that picture books are story-driven while novelties are format and concept driven. A good story needs a strong narrative arc and a character that readers will love and care about. None of these things are necessary for a good concept novelty book. For a successful novelty, the format must be interactive (format refers to the physical design of the book), have play appeal, and cleverly work with the concept. Another hidden secret to novelty success is its price. So considering the production cost of a novelty book is a unique element to developing a project, one that isn't considered for traditional picture books. For picture books, story is key. Also, picture books are typically 32-40 pages in length, while novelties are often 12 pages or under. 



Q: Do you have an art style for which you are known?

A: Unlike most published illustrators, I am not known for one single art style. I have no qualms about changing it from one book to the next. This is not typical, however, and I would not necessarily encourage aspiring illustrators to switch from one art style to the next if they are not established! 

Here are a few examples of my various art styles using various mediums: Illustrator-only, Photoshop-only, Illustrator + Photoshop, Graphite + Photoshop, Acrylic paints-only, Charcoal pencil + Photoshop. I do this to keep it fun for myself, but also make each book unique and fresh.

Various novelty elements I've used: plastic prismatic lens, lift-flaps, gatefolds, foil accents, shimmery fabric accents, embossing, die-cuts, die-cut play pieces, puzzle pieces, glitter, sliding elements, spinning elements, pop-ups, to name a few.

Q: What would you say are the unique challenges of creating/publishing books for the youngest of readers (ages 0-3)?

A: Like all books, the cover and art must appeal to its intended audience. This challenge is no different for younger readers. Bright, colorful, and friendly art works best for me. I also like bold, uncluttered, high-contrast art.  But remember. Babies don't purchase books. Grown ups do. So the art must also appeal to adults, and this of course, ranges widely.

Here are some of Salina's books for the youngest readers.

Q: I know that you are a mom to two energetic little boys. In what ways do you balance motherhood with your career?

A: My sons are 7 and 8, so they are much more independent than they used to be. My studio is in my home, and I take up two small rooms on the main floor so it's very accessible to my family… which has its ups and downs. I love that I'm always accessible, but it makes it difficult to work if the family is home. Most of my work gets done while the boys are at school or asleep at night. If I need a weekend to work, I love making a trip to the library for some quiet time… since home is not always the place for quiet on a weekend! I am fortunate to have a very supportive husband who'll step up with parenting duties if I need to work. He is an artist, and teaches art part time. You can visit his work here.

Q: You yourself are a long-standing brand in the world of children’s publishing. What are your thoughts on how children’s book publishing has changed in the last ten years?

A: I'd say the boom for novelties was in 2005-2008. I published about 35-40 books in that time through Penguin, Scholastic and Simon & Schuster. I still have novelties published, but lots of changes has occurred not only in the U.S. but internationally as well. Most novelty books are printed in China. Labor laws, price of paper and gas, and cost of shipping have changed in recent years to make printing more expensive overall. This has made publishing novelties in particular very challenging, since mass market novelty books usually require a low retail price point of below $10.00 (with exceptions) while the price of manufacturing is high. While this makes it more challenging, it also requires the creator of novelties to be more clever in how we use our materials so that it is cost effective and innovative without losing its wow factor. There will always be a place in publishing for novelties. 

Penguin from Salina's new PB book, Penguin and Pinecone.

Q: Book trailers are becoming a standard promotional tool for new books. Do you have any advice/hints/ideas for those new to creating book trailers?

A: I am new to book trailers myself! Little, Brown created one for KALEIDOSCOPE, which was their lead novelty title in Spring of this year. They shared this on their website, and various blogs shared it with the book review. But before Little, Brown made theirs, I tried making one myself (you can see it here!). I used a simple template from Animoto, which cost approx. $30.00 for a hi-def version of the trailer. It's free to experiment, however! All you need are your own images. My only advice is to keep it short! 1 minute or less is best for book trailers.

Also, here is a blog link to some advice on making your own trailer using existing templates that are really very inexpensive. 



Here is the trailer of Penguin and Pinecone that was created by the publisher, Walker/Bloomsbury. They've shared this extensively on their FB page and have allowed me to do the same. I'm not sure how much impact it has on sales, but it certainly is a fun way to share a book!

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: My most perfect Sunday would start with coffee set on my nightstand. I'd wake to the smell of bacon. After breakfast with the family, I might make a brief trip to the local cafe alone for some writing/thinking time over a Mexican mocha with whip, and come back inspired and energized. I recall one Sunday afternoon when I bought some clay for us to play with. I ended up making Clay Penguin, who stars in his own blog.

My boys created their own clay figures along with me.  My older son (Max, age 8), loves to sit quietly with me to sketch. And sometimes he likes to make books and give me ideas. I love it when I can inspire creativity in my kids and find ways to do my work WITH the kids. Not always possible. Our most recent favorite family activity has been playing Monopoly! If there are no tears shed, it's a perfect way to spend a Sunday evening. (unfortunately, someone usually does end up in tears!) 
  
Thank you for having me on your blog, Jane!

Thank you, Salina! It's been fabulous chatting with you and I can't wait to see what book you create next. To all my Bird Meets Worm readers, you can purchase Salina's books here! (They make great holiday gifts, especially the wintery Penguin and Pinecone!)

3 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for the interview, Jane! And your artwork is adorable---perfect for novelty books for the very young!

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  2. great interview! Salina's work is lovely!

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  3. Terrific interview, Jane. Salina is so talented - she's truly an inspiration.

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