Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Happy Holidays from Super Jane

© Jane Smith • Christmas Kitty

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Super Star Children's Book Review: Allison

Welcome to the monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books here at Bird Meets Worm! My team of reviewers—Cara Chow, Denise Holmes, Joan Charles, Sharon Calle—and I are so excited to be championing books celebrating everything from gender diversity, people of color, the LGBTQ community to ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, people with disabilities and developmental challenges to controversial topics, unique family situations and anything and everything I did not include. It is to say we take a rightfully board view of diversity! We aim to shine a light on books that bring both familiar experiences to those who do not often see themselves represented in books and new experiences to those looking to expand their worldview. Here at Bird Meets Worm we believe in the power of story to build empathy and thus a better world for you and me and everyone. Look for a new review on the second Wednesday of every month.

                     

ALLISON
By Allen Say • Illustrated by Allen Say
Picture Book (ages 4-7) • 32 pages
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company • 1997
ISBN 0-395-85895-X


Allison’s story begins when she becomes aware that she is ethnically different than her parents and subsequently learns that she was adopted. Allison compares herself to her classmates, who look like their parents. She wonders why her biological parents gave her away and questions who she really is and where she belongs. She even takes out her frustrations on her parents. It isn’t until she adopts a stray cat that she learns that what really makes a family is the bonds of love and commitment, regardless of blood ties.

Allison is simply, subtly, and succinctly told through Say’s dialogue and watercolor illustrations. This is the kind of book that can be read and enjoyed over and over by both adults and children, separately and together.

Buy this book:

Barnes & Noble

Independent Bookstores

Reviewed by: Cara Chow

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Super Star Interviews: Zara Gonzalez Hoang

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 pleased as punch to be chatting it up with the fabulous Designer/Illustrator, Zara Gonzalez Hoang! I’m a big a fan of her fun & graphically bold artwork, and I was so excited to meet her in person this past February at the SCBWI NY conference! Zara grew up in the frozen tundra of Minnesota. She lived a nomadic life for a number of years that took her from one coast to the other and back again before settling in Falls Church, VA. She lives with her mad man husband, tiny demon son, and curly-coated corgi in a little mid-century modern house stuffed with books and art supplies deep in the suburban woods. You can view more of her artwork here.


Special Delivery: Octopus Friend for Life!!

Q: You recently became represented by Andrea Morrison at Writers House and landed your first children’s picture book contract. (Congratulations!!!) Give us all the fabulous details on your forthcoming picture book.

A: Thank you so much! Andrea has been so great. I met her at a local SCBWI conference right as I was getting ready to send out queries and I consider myself super lucky that she was willing to take me on with half a dummy and a few poorly written stories to show!

The book I just finished illustrating is called Thread of Love by Kabir and Surishtha Sehgal—a mother/son writing team that have written a number of books together. The book tells about Raksha Bandhan—an Indian celebration of the love between brothers and sisters. The text is super cute and I was able to use tons of color and pattern in the illustrations which made me super happy. It comes out in Fall 2018 with Beach Lane Books / Simon & Schuster. I’m very excited about it. I can’t believe I still have a whole year until I will be able to see it in person!

I’m also working on a few of my own stories right now, trying to get them ready to send out and I thank my lucky stars every day for my agent and my writing group because they have all been so helpful in finding things in my stories I didn’t see and helping me tease them out.


Oopsie!!!

Q: I absolutely LOVE your darling characters, graphic sensibility and sophisticated palettes. Dish with us a bit about your creative process—initial ideas, sketches, finished art, all the good stuff!

A: I wish I had a more formal process, but I’m pretty all over the board. Things usually start with sketching, probably on paper, but sometimes on my tablet. (I use a Wacom Cintiq/Mobile Studio Pro.) I am trying to be better about starting a sketchbook at the beginning of a project and just using that book to get down all of my ideas (so they are all collected in one place) but I am so bad about just grabbing whatever piece of paper is handy that I end up doing a lot of taping things in.

I don’t thumbnail nearly enough but I am trying to get better. I’m constantly looking at picture books and artists I admire to try to figure out their composition secrets. My work is always so focused on the character that I have to remember that the background (or lack there of) and the composition are just as important.

I also tend to jump into color early because I like to figure out my color palettes before I get too far into a project. For me the color palette really sets the mood and often I will figure that out before I finalize what my characters look like. It helps me see the illustration or the book better once I know how the colors will be…not that they don’t change while I’m finalizing—they typically do a bit, but they tend to stay mostly true to what I first imagined.

Lately I’ve been playing around a lot with traditional media. I’m not confident enough with it (yet!) to create final artwork that way but I am trying to teach myself to loosen up a bit and I can already see the positive influence playing with traditional media is having on my digital work. 

On the go—vrooooom!!!

Q: You spent several years working in advertising and for a variety of start-ups as a designer and creative director. Tell us a bit about what was fabulous and what was not-so-fabulous about these experiences, and how they have shaped you as a freelance Illustrator—from both the artist and the businesswoman perspective.

A: I think the best gift I got from spending time working in advertising is my professionalism and work ethic – and also my ability to work quickly under tight deadlines. The best gift I got from working (and founding) Start Ups was probably to see first hand that by pushing forward and continuing to experiment you can get to somewhere you weren’t expecting.

Being a freelance illustrator is hard. You have to wear a lot of hats, and there’s a lot of self-doubt that comes with doing something as subjective as illustration. I feel like the skills I learned working in those industries have definitely helped build my backbone and strengthen my will to keep going when things aren’t always going as easily as I would like.

I think the hardest parts of those jobs were the long hours and the feeling (especially in the case of advertising) that I wasn’t working on anything that had meaning. I come from a family of teachers so it’s hard to see the value you are adding to the world when your parents and siblings are educating young minds and you are trying to corrupt them by promoting rampant consumerism.

I had a lot of good times in advertising too and I definitely owe a lot to the industry in terms of fostering my creativity, but I am much happier now that I don't have to be a part of it. 


Uh, you better watch out there, kiddo!! Yikes!

Q: Now it’s time for one of my most favorite questions: In what ways do you balance your work as a professional artist with your role as a mama of an active, fun little kiddo?

A: This is always the hardest question! I don’t think I’m that fantastic at balancing the two, but I try to do my best. Sometimes (like when there are deadlines) that means I spend less time being Mama. Other times, like when school is out for holidays or my kiddo is home sick it goes the other way. My son goes to a half day preschool, so I try to get my important must do work done while he is away. If I’m lucky, he will still nap in the afternoon, so I get a bit more time to work. But if not, then depending on what I have on my plate, I will end up working into the evening. I’m lucky to have a supportive spouse, who is willing to pick up the slack when I have work to do, but I must admit that I never quite seem to find the right balance. Hopefully, once my kiddo is a bit older and in school a bit longer, I’ll be able to find a better balance, but I’m a total work-a-holic, so probably not!

Busy, busy, busy city!! What to do first?

Q: The movement to inspire, create and support more diverse books for children has become a force. As a Jewish-Latina illustrator, what efforts in the children’s book publishing community would you praise? And what changes would you like to see?
A: I haven’t been in the kid lit world for very long, so I’ve only been paying more attention to what has been going on in the last year or so, but what I am seeing gives me hope that things are getting a little better.

The We Need Diverse Books movement is gaining momentum and the publishing houses seem to recognize that they need to try to get more diverse voices out there. However, I think there is still a lot of progress that needs to be made within the publishing houses to have more diverse voices in editorial meetings and in positions of power.

Still, I am encouraged. As a mixed-race and non-christian person growing up, there were no books for someone like me—but I’ve flagged at least a dozen being published in the next year (or published this year) that speak to me in a way no book during my childhood did. And of course, I also feel a personal push to try to develop some of my own stories, which deal with diverse subjects.

Q: Describe your most perfect day.

A: A rainy day, my bed, a book, and some cozy pajamas—and no interruptions, of course!

Thank you so much, Zara, for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm! We can’t wait til your NEW picture book, Thread of Love, is available! Hooray!!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

© Jane Smith • Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Thanksgiving Photo Card Design for Mpix

Shop this Thanksgiving Photo Card Design • © Super Jane Smith

Super Star Children's Book Review: Each Kindness

Welcome to the monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books here at Bird Meets Worm! My team of reviewers—Cara Chow, Denise Holmes, Joan Charles, Sharon Calle—and I are so excited to be championing books celebrating everything from gender diversity, people of color, the LGBTQ community to ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, people with disabilities and developmental challenges to controversial topics, unique family situations and anything and everything I did not include. It is to say we take a rightfully board view of diversity! We aim to shine a light on books that bring both familiar experiences to those who do not often see themselves represented in books and new experiences to those looking to expand their worldview. Here at Bird Meets Worm we believe in the power of story to build empathy and thus a better world for you and me and everyone. Look for a new review on the second Wednesday of every month.



EACH KINDNESS
By Jacqueline Woodson • Illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Picture book (ages 5-8) • 32 pages
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books • 2012
ISBN 978-0399246524

Maya is the new girl at Chloe’s school. Unlike Chloe and her classmates, Maya wears second hand clothes. Her lunches look different than everyone else’s. No matter how hard Maya tries to befriend Chloe, Chloe shuns her, as does everyone else in her class.

Then one day, Maya doesn’t come to school. The teacher tosses a pebble into a bowl of water, demonstrating how the kindness you give ripples out into the world. Each student is asked to drop a pebble in the water and share a kindness he or she has done. As Chloe holds her pebble, she looks back on how she treated Maya and wants to make a different choice.

Woodson’s prose is poignant and powerful. Her story breaks form with most children’s stories, which have happy endings, showing the real life consequences of poor choices. Some readers may find the ending a little hard to digest. Nonetheless, Each Kindness is still redemptive, as Chloe faces her mistakes and is transformed. E.B. Lewis does a beautiful job with his watercolor illustrations, exquisitely depicting each character’s expression and body language. This book is definitely deserving of the Coretta Scott King Honor and the Jane Addams Peace Award.

Buy this book:




Reviewed by: Cara Chow

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Super Star Interviews: Paula J. Becker

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 tickled pink to be chatting it up with my fellow Tugeau2 artist, the fabulous Illustrator, Paula J. Becker! I am a total fan of her fun and whimsical art for children’s publishing! Paula has been a freelance Illustrator for over 25 years, creating engaging artwork for children’s books, magazines, posters, greeting cards, educational curriculum and more. You can view more of her artwork here.

How fun is this High Five magazine cover?!

Q: You are totally “The Queen” of kid’s magazine illustration! Dish with us about this fun, unique market and describe some of your MOST favorite kid’s magazine assignments

A: Well, I don’t know if I’m “The Queen”, but thanks! Whether an accurate description or not, I guess that over my career, I've been fortunate to illustrate a good number of magazine spreads and spots. I am grateful so many clients have employed and trusted me to enhance writers' stories, or orchestrate puzzles. And a fair amount of them ARE puzzles of some sort: hidden pictures, mazes, multiple puzzles in spreads, etc. Each one comes with its unique requests, and turns out to be a puzzle in itself for ME to figure out! And it’s obvious that I like busy scenes, a la Sergio Aragones of Mad magazine, big influences of my work! Busy crowd scenes are so much fun to create!

I definitely targeted children’s magazines when I started out in the early 90’s. I also sent promos to publishing companies, but magazine work has been my biggest client base over the years. There are several pros to doing illustration for magazines—one being that the projects are smaller (compared to a book), hence the turn-around time for both the project and the compensation is shorter. I also like the variety of projects that magazines’ need—from stories, to spots for jokes, to mazes and puzzles of various sorts.

Don'tcha just love the colors & energy in this piece?!

 Q: What is a typical workday like for you? Set the scene (workspace, materials, accessories) and describe your responsibilities (teaching, art making, business stuff) and creative juju (rituals, inspiration, process).

A: I prefer to try to keep a workday routine of traditional office hours. I am usually up by 7:30 (unless I worked late the evening before). I’ll have coffee and catch up on news, etc., a quick breakfast, then start work at 9 a.m. I have a separate bedroom that is my office/studio space. I have a weekly over-all productivity/to do list that covers everything (I like paper, so haven’t digitalized that aspect of organization yet). I rewrite the daily list each morning so I get a sense of what to accomplish that day, working off the main list and previous day’s list, with items divided up by work-tasks and everything else-tasks.

Sometimes that gets “blown” within an hour or two, if I’ve underestimated the time an illustration takes, or something distracts me. But I am in constant training to manage my work and life in general. I’ve recently read several books on productivity, such as Deep Work by Cal Newport, and Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg. I found these books to help me understand the psychology of work and to work….well, smarter, faster, better—and deeper! I’ve just started to read Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins. Reading books on productivity, listening to podcasts on related topics, etc. is a major element of my formula for generating motivation and developing as an artist/illustrator.

I am often asked what medium/media I work in, and when I tell people it’s all digital, they are surprised. I usually say, “I work digitally, but traditionally”, or “I work traditionally, but digitally”. I think they both mean the same things, yes? My workhorse is a desktop computer with a dual-monitor set up, with a 22” Wacom Cintiq as my main monitor, and a 32” monitor as my secondary. For backup systems and mobile working, I have a Dell laptop, with a Wacom Intuos tablet, as well as a 13” Wacom MobileStudio Pro. For software, I pretty much use Corel Painter 15 & 17. Painter 18 is out, and I’ll upgrade soon. I have the Adobe CS4 but don’t use them often.

Who's else is up for #4, #5 & #7?!

 Each project has different aspects to it, from conception to working on a final piece. I am easily distracted by sounds so when I am at the conceptualization stage of a project, I only listen to light instrumental music, if anything. But when I am at the final stages, where I am inking from a sketch, and/or filling in the color to an ink drawing, I listen to podcasts or talk radio sorts of things. Each of these stages can take hours on end, so forcing myself to take breaks is important. I will take a pause to do a mundane house task, walk into the village, or take a short walk, if the weather permits.

Besides the 9-5 hours, I will sometimes work on projects in the late evening on into the early morning, depending on my workload or if I am up against a deadline. The benefits to working a late night shift are the lack of usual daytime distractions. It’s an ideal time to get a good-sized creative block of time with minimal to no interruptions.

Keeping up with one’s books and taxes is a part of the business, albeit not as fun and creative as illustrating!  I don’t use any special accounting software for that, but I do have spreadsheets for keeping track of invoices and business expenses, as well as anything licensed. The only specific routine I have related to this aspect of the business is, when I create an invoice, at the same time, I record when, to whom, and the amount on the spread sheet, and then when a payment arrives. I also print out invoices and file them, and have a file for business receipts. At some point, I want to make this a “mastery” type of project, to improve and maybe overhaul my system, but with such a small amount of invoices and business expenses, I’m in no hurry, as it is fairly easy to maintain as it is.

I should add that I will sometimes take time to look at other illustrators’ work. There is so much amazing talent out there, and I like to study other illustrators’ techniques and visual problem solving. I have a file on my computer just for collecting illustrations. I find it inspirational and many times, viewing other’s illustration helps me push my boundaries.

Don't worry if you're cornfused! Of course, you'll make it out—mwaaahhh ha ha!

 Q: Give us the scoop on your MOST favorite illustration projects: one from your past and one from your present.

A: For a recent illustration project, The “Creepy Corn Maze”, created for this October issue of OWL magazine, is a recent favorite of mine. I really like how that turned out in the end. I pushed myself on that and did a more painterly style as well as darker and richer color scheme. When I saw how it looked in print, I was quite happy with the end product.

For an “older” illustration project I chose “10 Fun Things To Do With Your Family”, a two-page group of spot illustrations created in 2011 for a Focus on the Family magazine. I am pleased when I can succeed in keeping an illustration light, loose and fun. I had fun with line and color and pattern here. Contrary to how a style like this looks, it is not so easy for me to pull off. I have to almost always fight over-working an illustration.

Q: You’ve illustrated countless stories for kids—both in magazines and in books. Dish with us about your process for creating narrative illustrations—beginning with receiving the manuscript thru to the final art.

A: Projects come to me in different forms. Some come as just the manuscript (copy with art notes and dimensions), while others come as PDF files with all the copy on the spreads/pages, and also containing art direction notes (I like when my clients send me a template to work from. I prefer to organize my illustration around the copy and space provided, then there’s no guessing game).

I do pretty much everything from start to finish digitally—sketches, revisions, and final art. There are many benefits to working digitally, one being the ability to revise images. Cutting and pasting, trying different colors, and erasing are all made easier and faster. I use many, many layers in my illustrations, but you get used to the “chore” of labeling layers, so you don’t lose time figuring out what layer is what! So when an illustration is completed, I also can easily and quickly get that to the client.

Carnival—art direction

 So, once I get the art direction or layout files, I will set up a file for sketches/roughs in Corel Painter. For sketches, I might do set them up at 300 dpi, so I get a feel for the tools as they will be for the final art. The copy is set up on one layer, and I work sketches on another layer. For roughs, I might send several ideas to a client, or one idea, more worked up than a quick sketch. I then wait for feedback. Once I get feedback, I make the requested changes and there is a second round of roughs/sketches. This rarely goes on much past two rounds, but sometimes there are more, especially if the art director also makes layout changes at each round (see the “Creepy Corn Maze” as an example). After final approval, the file is set up at 300 dpi and with an all-around bleed, if necessary. Then off we go to finish! I will flatten the file at different stages and save it as a JPG so I can put it on my larger monitor and review it. I do this especially if I am working on a sequence of illustrations and characters, colors, etc. need to be consistent, to check the flow of the images on the pages, etc. I can line them up on the larger monitor, like one would tape pages to a wall. Once illustrations are completed, they are emailed or uploaded to an ftp site for the client to retrieve. That’s my system.

Carnival—black and white sketch

 Q: You’ve had a long and successful career as a freelance illustrator and you are still going strong! (Go, Paula!!!) What are your top 3 tips for working illustrators looking to land new clients?

A: Uhm…I think that’s a question I would ask, too! We’re all in that boat!

Marketing is not my strong suit (many creatives feel that way) and I would almost say that the course of my career and the jobs that have come have been more happenstance than a solid marketing plan! Though the Internet and computer have changed a lot about the profession, there are some fundamentals that are still the same in regards to marketing, and looking to land new clients. I may not come up with three, but here’s what I do:

1—Research potential clients that would buy and use your art style. The internet has just made it enormously easier to research said clients!

2—Mail-outs (Promo package, postcards): Still the standard way as far as I know, to reach existing and new clients.

3—Repeat 1 & 2 over and over again!

Of course, having an online portfolio, networking, attending illustration-type conferences & workshops, etc., are all part of moving your business forward. It’s a lot to keep up with, and you do what you can. It’s like any other business: you do the hustle!

Carnival—finished color art

 Q: Describe your most perfect day.

A: A perfect day for me would be doing whatever appealed to me that given day, free from the cares of the world interfering, either physically or mentally. For example, a solid day of progressing on client or personal projects, but without the body pains, money worries, or computer crashes! : D


Thank you for chatting it up with us here at Bird Meets Worm, Paula! You’re fabulous!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween ABCs

© Jane Smith • Happy Halloween ABCs

Monday, October 23, 2017

Halloween Parade

© Jane Smith • All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Super Star Children's Book Review: Everywhere, Wonder

Welcome to the monthly children’s book review feature with a focus on diverse books here at Bird Meets Worm! My team of reviewers—Cara Chow, Denise Holmes, Joan Charles, Sharon Calle—and I are so excited to be championing books celebrating everything from gender diversity, people of color, the LGBTQ community to ethnic, cultural and religious minorities, people with disabilities and developmental challenges to controversial topics, unique family situations and anything and everything I did not include. It is to say we take a rightfully board view of diversity! We aim to shine a light on books that bring both familiar experiences to those who do not often see themselves represented in books and new experiences to those looking to expand their worldview. Here at Bird Meets Worm we believe in the power of story to build empathy and thus a better world for you and me and everyone. Look for a new review on the second Wednesday of every month.



Everywhere, wonder
By Matthew Swanson • Illustrated by Robbi Behr
Picture Book (ages 3-6) • 48 pages
Imprint • 2017
ISBN 978-1-25-008795-9

Everywhere, Wonder is a picture book for all children. It celebrates the power of books to transport us to far off places and encourages us to embrace life’s diverse possibilities.

The protagonist of this story is a dark-skinned, curly-haired boy. The story begins with the boy seated at a simple table with an open book in front of him. On the right side of the two-page spread is an open window filled with an inviting blue sky.

Throughout this story the unseen narrator invites us on an adventure filled with contrasts. We travel alongside the boy to far off landscapes. We meet characters from a variety of backgrounds, such as “a cold and lonesome polar bear” and “Shirley Sheboygan who has 37 friends,” just to name a few.

Everywhere encourages readers to find beauty in their daily life—even down to a bowl of noodles. “One noodle that doesn’t match the others” can spark our curiosity. Instead of being threatened by something different, we can embrace it.


This book describes life’s adventures as, “All of them interesting. All of them beautiful.” It prompts children to consider how they are a part of a world filled with so many stories.

Everywhere inspires young readers to be curious, ask questions, imagine the future and celebrate the diversity of life. Its illustrations of digitally sampled watercolour washes are stunning and make this book a treat for the eyes.

It’s refreshing to find a diverse picture book where the child’s cultural background is not the focus of the story. This could be any child, anywhere on earth. And that’s what makes this book wonderful.

Buy this book:


Independent Bookstores




Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Super Star Interviews: Karma Voce

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 pleased as pumpkin pie to be chatting it up with the lovely Illustrator & Designer, Karma Voce! I’ve been a total fan-girl of her artwork every since being her MATS classmate a couple years ago! Karma is an Australia-based artist with 12+ years commercial experience, specializing in fashion, home décor, wall art and paper products. Her clients include Kmart, Target, Sky Horse Publishing, Tea Collection and many more. She is influenced by nature, vintage art & design and travel. You can view more of her artwork here!

Don't you just adore the colors in this lovely succulent pattern?!

Q: Before going solo, you worked for 10 years in-house as a designer in the fashion industry, creating prints and patterns for womensware, childrensware, sleepware and lingerie. Tell us a bit about what was fabulous and what was not-so-fabulous about the experience, and how it has shaped you as a freelance Illustrator/Designer—from both the artist and the businesswoman perspective.

A: Fashion is a very paced environment. You are always thrown in the deep end, and it’s sink or swim from the get-go! So the pros are it is never boring— as it changes all the time! You learn how to predict trends a year or so in advance, and you are constantly learning and developing a broad range of skill sets, across many mediums, as you have to be able to create in a wide variety of styles, depending on what is required on the day. A lot of problem solving—which always keeps your brain engaged!

The downside is you are often creatively limited, in some way or other, and often have to be very commercial. Working in fast paced mainstream fashion isn’t necessarily on par with my own ethics or personal style, so that can be a sacrifice at times.

Pretty, pretty, pretty!!! I'm thinking sweet girl dress, gorgeous sheets or rug!

 Q: You are an avid world traveler, always jetting off to amazing locales from Vietnam to Mexico! Give us the scoop on how your travels have inspired and shaped your artwork.

A: Oh, wow, I must admit I think travelling and exploring exotic destinations may well be my number one passion! I blame my parents who travelled with me in the womb through India, (my namesake country) and then taking me again at 6 months old, and then, when I was 3, they promptly left me in the hands of an Indian family for 3 months, while they went off and did their own thing! I think that has undeniably had a huge influence on me!

I went on a big 15 month backpacking trip when I was 20, and another 3 month trip at 25. After I had my son, I didn’t go anywhere for another 14 years! Now I have been making up for lost time, and going once or twice a year, for the last 3-4 years. It fills me with so much joy! I love the 6 months of researching beforehand, almost as much as the trips themselves!  I absorb so much, and feel so invigorated and regenerated when experiencing new sights, sounds, smells and tastes! I feel like all my senses are rewarded, and yes, definitely my artwork is influenced in either content or style on my return! I try and create on the trip, but it is usually more when I get home that I start to put things onto paper.

I totally want these gorgeous vases in my house!! Swooon!

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

A: Definitely, the colouring books were a fave. I wish I had had a lot more time, but they definitely brought together all of my favourite things—fashion and travel—and I loved doing them! I hadn’t been to Paris or Japan at the time, so had to research heavily. I am happy to say I have since been to both places, and they are even better than I could have imagined!

I would say more recently would be some fabric collections and illustrations that I had total creative freedom with! It was really nice to not have to work to someone else’s brief!

Rockstar fashion + coloring pages = super fun!!

 Q: Coloring books for ALL ages are still all the rage! And you have two super fun travel/fashion-inspired tween coloring books now available. (Psst! You can buy your own copies here!) Tell us every little thing about them, plus why do you think coloring books have become such an enduring trend?

A: Oops, I may have covered this in question 3!  I loved doing them sooo much! I had a really short deadline, and was working in-house 4 days a week on top of that, so it was really crazy at the time, but I think sometimes I work better under pressure! I especially loved Japan, as they have so many things to put into a book.

I think colouring books shall always be an enduring part of a kids life, but I think probably links to the call for ‘mindfullness’, which is the latest health trend, that I think comes as a need from our very busy lives, where we are always with a screen in our faces of one kind or another, both at work and at home. A colouring book, is like a long hot bath, you can give your mind a rest and get absorbed in the simple repetitive and soothing action of colouring, without having to think too hard. The outlines are there, so the hard work is done, it’s just a matter of settling in and choosing your colours and style, and breathing in, breathing out...sigh…

Meow, meow, meeeooow!!!

 Q: You are a seasoned exhibitor at Surtex, the annual art & licensing tradeshow in NY. What are your top 3 best superstar tips for having a successful booth at Surtex?

A: The first two times I went as part of a collective (Forest Foundry), and the third time my agent, Nerida Hansen represented me. So I guess tip # 1 is in that—save costs by either sharing a booth, or being represented at an agents booth. It can be an expensive venture on your own, especially for the first time! Having someone to share a booth with also makes it a lot more fun, and the booth is always busy and fun to be at.

#2 Make sure you have fun and really engage and ask questions of your buyers. Having a good note-taking system is really handy, so you don’t forget things later!

#3 The follow up is a lot of work, and can be both exhilarating and exhausting, but it’s super important! And you never know how it will turn out—sometimes the brightest star that got you super excited fizzles into nothing, and something else, which you didn’t get a vibe from on the day, can turn out to be really lucrative! So try and not feel too excited, nor underwhelmed, just keep an open mind, as you never know what can happen! AND ALWAYS WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES!

Thank you so much for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm, Karma! We think you’re super fabulous!!