Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the amazing 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.
This month I am thrilled to be chatting it up with Chicken Girl, also known as Jannie Ho! I recently was Jannie’s classmate in Lilla’s Rogers inaugural Make Art That Sells class and was reminded of how much I love Jannie’s artwork (I’m a long-time fan since my days as an Art Director!). Jannie is an Illustrator specializing in the children's market, with her work appearing in both trade and educational books, magazines, toys, crafts and digital media. She currently works and plays in Boston, MA. You can visit more of her fabulous work here!
|How cute is this?! Can you find the 2 squirrels playing football?|
Q: Last month, you were part of the faculty for the SCBWI-LA Annual Summer Conference. Tell us a little bit about the breakout sessions you lead and some of the juicier tips you shared with attendees.
A: I lead two breakout sessions: one on Anthropomorphic Character Design and the other on Creating Novelty Books, Toys and Games. I also gave a presentation on Books for Toddlers in the Illustrators Intensive. A tip about anthropomorphic character design for children's books—whatever animal you are drawing needs to clear as to what it is suppose to be, especially for the younger audience. Know the age of your character, even if it is an animal. Re: novelty books and toys—certain recurring themes come up again and again. They are easy to research and find. Apply these themes in your portfolio pieces to attract this type of work.
|Check out Jannie's NEW novelty books from Nosy Crow!|
Q: You have been with your art rep, Mela Bolinao of MB Artists (formerly HK Portfolio), for a long time. What is your relationship like? How has it changed and evolved over time?
A: Mela had given me my start in the children's book illustration world. We've been working together 8+ years. Since we communicate mostly by email, we don't see each other in person very often. So it was actually nice to have Mela on the Faculty at this year's SCBWI-LA conference as well. We were able to get some face time! She had guided me through the beginning and it’s wonderful to have her guidance now as I grow as an illustrator (and hopefully as a future writer-illustrator too.)
|Sing it now: "Under the sea..."|
Q: Your illustration art style has an esthetic that evokes both traditional paint as well as digital media. Tell us about how you work and your artistic process.
A: I use to work in gouache and love the organic line. I now work digitally in Adobe Illustrator and I try to mimic the same look as I did in traditional paint. I use to pencil sketch, scan it in and draw directly on top of it, all with the pen tool. But with tight deadlines and trying to be as efficient as possible, I draw directly in Illustrator in gray scale and that works as my sketch. I then take the same file into color when it is approved.
|A B C D E Fabulous!|
Q: I am in love with all of your ABC series! How did this project begin? And what is in the works for your next set?
A: Thank you! I had initially done the Animal ABCs as a promotional postcard for Surtex, an art and licensing show I was exhibiting in. I had such a great response in the licensing world and children's publishing that I started to do other themes, such as Halloween, Christmas, etc. I haven't done one in a while now but I've been toying with the idea of an occupation ABCs themed one.
Q: As a professional creative you have many irons in the fire—children’s book illustration, art licensing, design. How do you promote yourself across all these avenues?
A: I don't like to put my eggs all in one basket, although children's books will always be my first love. I'm always curious about other industries and other uses for my art. I do love social media—it does help with promotion, but I also love it for the social aspect of it. Being an illustrator can be a solitary profession.
Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.
A: I don't think I ask for much—some good coffee to start out the day, good weather to take a walk in and spend time with my family. Then some fun time doing whatever personal project I feel like doing. And maybe sneak in a nap too? That would be nice!