Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Monday, October 23, 2017

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 d├ęcor, 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!!