Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Happy Book Birthday to Naked Butt Busts Out!

Happy Book Birthday to my hilarious, new children's picture book, NAKED BUTT BUSTS OUT! Now available everywhere books are sold! Join me and Art Makes Us to celebrate this SAT 3/25 at the NAKED BUTT Virtual Book Release Party with a read aloud & kid's craft—FREE sign-up link here! Yay! For more information click here!

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Naked Butt Busts Out: Virtual Book Release Party

Join me and the fabulous arts organization Art Makes Us to celebrate the release of my NEW funny bunny children's picture book, NAKED BUTT BUSTS OUT! We're throwing a FREE Virtual Book Release Party, complete with a live story time read aloud, a kid's craft and Q&A, and you're invited! RSVP at the sign-up link here! Hooray!!!

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Super Star Interviews: Katy Tanis

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.

This month I'm delighted to be chatting it up with the very lovely author-illustrator-explorer, Katy Tanis! I'm a big fan of her gorgeous animals and wonderous nature scenes! Katy spends most of her days chasing deadlines, but occasionally wanders to far-off places, like Madagascar, where she chases primates instead. Her work is inspired by specific ecosystems and the wonderful webs of life that they contain. She has a soft spot for the weirdos of the animal kingdom. She’s never met a color she didn’t like. You can enjoy more of Katy's artwork, books and products here!

Officially adding to my To Read Pile!

Q: Your artwork is alive with gorgeous animals!! Dish with us about your creative process and how your MA in Biology (Wowza!! Super cool!) has influenced your artwork.

A: Thank you, that is kind! My MA in Biology feels like a continuation of what I was already doing. It was a way to force a bit of focus on my overindulgent researching energy. (And it came with access to libraries of research papers! Dream!) I think the most important thing that came out of my MA is a better appreciation of nature in my own backyard and working to help nature on a more local level. (This may not be super obvious in my portfolio right now, but I have some projects in the works.)

Flora, Fauna, Fabric!

Q: Your portfolio of client work spans numerous creative markets from children’s books to toy & games to textiles to home goods & paper products. Give us the scoop on how you develop and promote artwork that caters to this wide range of fabulous markets.

A: I worked as a graphic and textile designer in the fashion industry for 12 years, so textiles and home goods feels like a natural extension of that. Many of the jobs I get, regardless of industry, are for projects that have a science or conservation focus. I think the most important thing is just to make work you are passionate about and then the right projects will find you.

Of course you do have to put your work out there so art directors can find you. I think most people find my work through Instagram or Pinterest. I always make sure to pin my new work to pinterest, so if you search “gorilla illustration” or “slow loris illustration” or “giraffe illustration” my work shows up in the top of those search results. My first two book illustration jobs had gorillas on the cover and I suspect that is how they found me! I try to think, “what is my dream illustration project? What would an art director search for to hire an illustrator for this?” Then pin work that would make them hire me for that job! When I was an in-house art director I searched on both Behance and Pinterest for illustrators. I think Instagram can be a little harder to be found via popular hashtags, but if any art director wants to make something with a #holycrossfrog or a #manedrat they are going to find me!

I got many jobs by sending out snail-mail postcards. I have not figured out what the equivalent of that is in a post-pandemic world where so many people in illustration industries now work remotely. There is the #kidlitartpostcard but that blew up so quickly your art can get lost in the mix.

"Gorilla Illustration" ;D

Q: Chat with us about your MOST favorite illustration projects: one from your past and one from your present.

A: My favorite projects are always the ones I haven’t started yet, so future projects. There is always so much excitement and possibility when they are just ideas starting to come together in your head. The project I am most proud of is my board book LOVE IN THE WILD.

The truth is that I almost always dislike projects in between the sketch phase and final artwork phase. I need deadlines or I would never get anything done, but they also stress me out. I want to dilly dally my way to final artwork, which is not the reality of the industry.

Sweetest thing!!!

Q: Being a children’s book illustrator involves connecting both with art buyers—like book publishers—and also with readers—like kids, families, teachers, etc. Tell us a bit about how you connect with each, and what advice would you give fellow kidlit folks about developing strong relationships with both art buyers and readers?

A: I feel like the MOST important connections I make in the children’s book world is with other children’s book creators. It’s so important to have a group of trusted peers to bounce ideas off of and share feedback with. I am always taking classes, attending workshops and so on which is a great way to connect with other writers and illustrators, and also editors, art directors, and agents. I also have crit groups I meet with regularly.

Shameless Promotional Plug: I am leading a WRITE. SUPPORT. SUBMIT. workshop for author/iIllustrators through The Writing Barn starting at the end of this month. (Check it out here!!) It will be a small group but I think a great way to connect and inspire each other. The very talented Tatjana Mai-Wyss will be my TA for the course.

Being easy to work with and open to feedback is a great way to keep working with art directors after you get that first job. For the age group I work for, adults are usually buying books for them so you have to first make a book that appeals to the book-buyers in children’s lives. I still actually remember quite a bit from my childhood, what I liked and why, so I keep those in mind when creating work for children. I also read, do puzzles, play games with all my nieces and nephews which really helps. They will not filter to spare your feelings like your peers might. They will give you honest feedback. Even when not talking specifically about illustration stuff, just hanging around with children in the age group you create really helps you to connect what they are passionate about. As my niece always tells me about my work “needs more unicorns!”

Ooo! My perfect Sunday definitely includes a puzzle!

Q: What would be your most ultimate DREAM illustration job?

A: I have a lot of my own author-illustrator projects I’d like to see published. The ones I am most passionate about are funny, informational fiction with ecology and conservation themes.

I would also really love to work large scale work for a zoo, aquarium, or science museum with some 3-D elements. I have done some work like this for children’s hospitals but would love the opportunity to push the 3-D aspects a bit more, to create a space that can be explored.

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: I would wake up in a tropical or temperate forest somewhere, feeling well rested and energetic for the day. Then I’d go exploring looking for critters, preferably accompanied by one of my nieces or nephews.

Thank you SO much, Katy, for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm! You're a star!!!

Monday, March 6, 2023

Interview on the PlayTime Podcast: Parts 1 & 2

I'm absolutely honored to be chatting it up with kidlit super star, Denise Holmes, on the PlayTime Podcast! We're talking all about my new picture book, NAKED BUTT BUSTS OUT, and the all the nuts & bolts of indie children's book publishing in a three part series! Check it out here: Part 1 & Part 2! Hooray!

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Interview on the Picturebooking Podcast

I'm thrilled to pieces to be chatting up my NEW picture book NAKED BUTT BUSTS OUT with Nick Patton over on the Picturebooking Podcast! Give it a listen by clicking here!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Super Story Time MARCH

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Super Story Time LIVE* is back on WED 2/8 @ 10am EST over on Instagram. I'll be celebrating the joys of pretend play by reading my picture book MISS MEOW. And the kidlit rock star Merrill Rainey will be joining me to read his award-winning board book ROAR! I’M A DINOSAUR.

Let's read & have fun TOGETHER!

*Always LIVE, never recorded—because 1) protecting creative copyright is important, and 2) because the old-school-Saturday-morning-cartoons-live-and-in-person energy is totally RAD!

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

The Super Readers Club Newsletter

I’m thrilled to candy heart pieces to invite you to join my NEW seasonal, quarterly newsletter celebrating books & reading for young kiddos: The Super Readers Club! The Super Readers Club is for young kiddos, families, early education teachers, children’s librarians and book lovers of ALL ages. In each and every issue, members will receive:

• a seasonal reading bingo challenge
• an original 4-panel Kitty & Cat comic
• free, printable activity pages (like coloring pages, mazes, word searches & more!)
• a story starter prompt
+ the full scoop on Super Jane’s children’s books and upcoming book events

Join by subscribing at this link and receive our debut issue in just two weeks on March 1st! Let’s have fun reading, being creative and making up stories together! Woohoo!

Your Club Scout Leader,
Super Jane Smith