TOPIC: Please welcome children's book illustrator and licensing artist @wendyedelson to #kidlitart!
In the excerpted transcript below, we've attempted to recreate the conversation in a more linear Q&A format. Questions and comments from chat participants are in bold; Wendy's answers are in italic.
Why don't you tell us a little about your art?
My pleasure....hello everyone. Gee...my art, it's colorful, detailed and I'm a stickler for "good draughtsmanship"...and decorative, I guess: I see texture and pattern everywhere.
That really shows, Wendy. Do you do any b/w line work?
I started doing only B & W pen and ink. It was a good thing I moved into color; in B & W sometimes the pattern was too much!
Do you have an agent?
Yes, I have an agent, MorganGaynin: kid's art and grown up art.
Is that for book illustration? the agent?
My agents rep me for books or other commercial work.
Do your kid art and grown up cross over style wise?
Actually, style wise, my adult and kid's work is pretty much the same.
Your art is incredible!! :) How long have you been illustrating?
I started working professionally when I was 16; I left school at the end of the 8th grade and my first job was in NYC, Garment Dist.
WOW! What confidence!
My parents were beatnik-hippie types and I just didn't know any better.....NOW, I get nervous! : ) I started out illustrating hang tags for Garanimals.
Oh! They're a brand of kid's clothing, aren't they?
Yes about the Garanimals: you match the "tiger" pants to the "tiger" shirt, kids do, so they can dress themselves.
Wendy, how did you break into children's books--from Garanimals?
I just started dragging my portfolio around NYC. I made a trip from Vermont, where I had moved to, and left samples.
Are you strictly traditional? You work looks like watercolor...
My work is watercolor, some acrylic and CP.
I'm sorry for being clueless--by CP do you mean cold press paper?
CP, sorry, colored pencils. I pretty much only use hot press paper.
What is your favorite brand of hot press? What weight of hot press paper do you prefer?
I tried to like Fabriano but always come back to good old Arches 140 lb hot press! I love the 300 lb but I print out tight drawings on my wide format printer and the 300 is just a bit much. I have some mystery paper I fell in love with, that had no watermark, and haven't been able to find it again.
Do you use any gloss medium/acrylic glaze in your paintings? Wish I could see your work for real - so much detail!
I do use the gloss medium w/ acrylics; all my work, in watercolor too, is all glazing.
If you had started out illustrating today, would you do it all the same?
I think I would do it again the same, but maybe I DO wish I had gone to art school to learn more technique, like oils!
Wendy, are you self taught?
Yes, I am self taught, but parents were both frustrated artists.
Looking through your blog to see more of your process and I have to ask, are you using brown cp as under sketch? Do you print the sketches right on the paper?
I print my drawings out in sepia, and then ink the contour lines in brown. Before the printer, it was the light table and brown ink.
You have an Epson?
I am a huge fan of Epson. I have a 2200 that is now discontinued, prints 13 X 19, and a 3800 which will print 17 X 27.
So paint over ink.. what pens do you use? Curious as to what doesn't bleed when painting.
The printed drawing and inked line are waterproof, pitt pens or microns in sepia. I actually miss rapidographs a little....but hated the eventual, inevitable clogging and they were slow.
Wet in wet bleeds in a lovely way but with glazing I let things dry in between so the colors, always transparent, shine through.
Wow, and here I am still transferring sketches onto watercolor paper using graphite sheets...
My drawings are so tight and detailed that drawing them more than once, transferring them makes my eyes bleed! I HATE light tables.
I use a light table but hate how the drawing loses life after tracing.
EXACTLY how I feel! The first sketch is alive, the traced one is stiffer.
My light table is much too small for my purposes these days.
I bought a light table from a going out of business printer, an old "stripper's" table 5 X 4 FEET!
That's how I got my paper cutter. A Dick Blick was moving and I got a super deal on it.
My paper cutter was from an old school......an old oak one like a table. I LOVE old card catalogs too, for paints and stuff.
I draw on trace paper and scan in then adjust and print out then trace on light table.
I draw on Clearprint Vellum, my fave because I can erase a 100 times if I just can't draw that !@#$%^ foot right at first.
Drawing such detail did you naturally go that way? What was your inspiration?
My drawing has always been really detailed; I think it is simply how I see. Some people see in shapes, blocks of color, but I see wood grain, herringbone, individual hairs. I've learned a bit to allow space in between areas of texture and pattern so the piece can be read. I try to be conscious of that. Once, I did a magazine cover in B&W with so much detail I didn't realize I drew a woman with three arms! Two holding a baby and one reaching.
Did you see it before you sent in the final?
Nope, there it was printed, and suddenly, OMG!!!! she's got three arms! No one else ever noticed!!!!! At least that I know of.
That is brilliant, I love hearing stories like that!
I think these situations just show how wonderfully absorbed we can become, which is so very lucky for us!!!
What's your studio like? Do you have a lot of fabric/tactile references for all the detail you do?
My studio is just in a pokey extra bedroom.......I just collect magazines, stare at things a lot.
I used to have a "morgue" now I just search through Google.
I love my morgue: once I saw a book cover and I recognized the Googled photo the illustrator had used!
The hour sped by so quickly--lol, didn't get to ask half the questions I wanted!
That is amazing that it has been an hour; yikes, I had NO reason to be nervous! Now that I've done this, I'll come back again! Thank you! Nice to see some old friends and meet new ones.
Thank you for sharing your tips and tricks with us. Your art is lovely. Hope to learn more from your blog.
Have a great night everyone! Thanks, and if anyone has a question, feel free to email me.
Full transcript below: