This is the blog home of #kidlitart, a live Twitter chat Thursdays at 9:00 pm Eastern, for children's book illustrators, picture book authors, author/illustrators and friends. Check back weekly to read transcripts, comment on previous chats and suggest topics for upcoming chats.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Transcript: 3/10/10; Guest Dani Jones

TOPIC: Welcome tonight's special guest, illustrator @DaniDraws!

The following is an excerpted version of the chat in Q&A format (minus digressions into ice cream and Oreos). Questions/comments from chat participants are in bold; Dani's responses are in italics.

Hi, Dani! So happy to have you here to kick off eight weeks of sketching!
Ok, #kidlitart is on! I'm open to questions and discussion about picture books, illustration, or whatever. For those who don't know me: http://danidraws.com

Can you tell us a bit about the mediums you use? I love your style.
Almost all my illo work you see is digital in Photoshop.

Wow, do you make most of your own brushes in photoshop?
I make or download them. Then customize with textures.

You sketch traditionally, though, right? Then . . . what--scan in?
I sketch both traditional and digital.

I'm curious if you have any tips as to what an illustrator who wants to do #kidlitart should put in their portfolio?
Kids, animals, multiple scenes with action showing a series of moments.

Re: Series of moments and storytelling ~ Would this be akin to sequential art? Or in one illustration?
Multiple illustrations showing same characters. Yes, sequential art.

What would you suggest to some1 who is interestd in comic format BUT doesn't use the computer?
Comics don't need to be done on the computer. Use what your comfortable with. But still educate yourself about technology. You'll still need it.

What kind of projects are you focusing on this year? Comics? Picture books? Something new?
I spent a lot of last year working on comics. I'm trying to get back to picture books.

How is your own PB dummy coming?
I've been stuck doing other work (taxes, ugh), but I'm gearing to work more. I've gotten characters down for my #PBDummy. I'm heading into refined sketches.

Do you bother with thumbnails, or go straight to full-size sketches?
Oh, thumbnails are a must for me. With full-size sketches, I get too worked up about details.

Are you finding that the work on comics is helping your picture book process?
Before comics, I never wrote a lot before. It's helped me get started. Picture books are tough for beg. writers. Not that comics are NOT tough, but you know. ;)

Did you ever work anywhere on staff as an illustrator?
Nope, I started freelance illustration right out of school.

What are your thoughts on the children's publishing industry right now. esp with the economy, etc?
Economy is tough, but now is the time to be innovative. Esp. with new tech and opportunities cropping up. There's always room for high quality art and stories.

I've seen you draw streaming. Do you use reference? b/c it looks like the sketches are coming right from your brain.
Those quick sketches on Ustream pretty much are just my brain. A lot of that is me just playing around.

Is there a market for traditional work being that it's slower process & have you used anything other than computer?
Yes, I think traditional mediums are very important to going digital. There's room for any medium as long as the work is good.

Would having too much of a subject theme in your portfolio be a hindrance?
As long as you don't have a problem getting work in that subject for the rest of your life. If you want to draw picture books, then your portfolio should have . . . picture books. Go ahead and illustrate a whole story. Don't just show off pictures. There's so many out there with drawing skill. A lot less can illustrate an entire story. Show that.

What was your big break into children's illustration? Comics?
My "break" was a picture book called Elfis. I didn't start comics until last year.

Do you publish the comics or are they through a publisher?
My comics so far are self-published. I still consider myself very "new" to the comic scene.

Do you ever feel the need to tame your sense of humor w/your comics?
Not really. My sense of humor isn't that wild to begin with.

How did you get your first job?
I made an appointment and went and showed them my portfolio. I'm not sure how often that happens anymore.

How many art directors did you do that with before you got hired?
2 or 3. I was VERY lucky. And besides the book, I didn't get a lot of other work for another year or two.

How do you find the time to do everything? Are you very disciplined throughout the day?
Hahahahahahahahahahaha! I'm the WORST procrastinator. But seriously, if something needs doing, I do it. I don't miss deadlines. I might procrastinate, but I get it done. I learn to work fast. And I learn to concentrate when I really need to.

I never procrastinate on paying deadlines, but I'm terrible with my own projects.
Another thing artists need to learn - personal projects are JUST AS important as the paying ones. They drive your future work. I juggle my personal comics, book dummies, websites, etc., but I do my hardest to keep them on the same level as my client work. Work on your personal stuff every day, even if it is only for an hour or a few minutes. Get something done. Move forward.

Yes and personal projects usually give you clues as to what you are passionate about.
Yes! Exactly.

If you could give advice to a 19 yr old you what would you say?
Experiment as much as possible with your art. Go to school. Take advice. Work your butt off.If you're not getting a lot of work, don't waste time. Make your own projects and illustrations. ADs like to see you can produce.

Everyone please give @DaniDraws a big round of applause for being in the hot seat tonight.
Thanks for the invite. :)
Thanks to all who chatted at #kidlitart! I had fun.

Full transcript below:

#kidlitart 3-10-10

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