Ah! Did I get your attention? Kind of clever of me to use such a title, eh? I thought so…
Well, since you’re here…
How about I introduce you to my ILLUSTRATOR!!!!
For those of you who are just joining me here on the blog, I’ll give you a quick game recap.
Years of writing. 6+
Loads of manuscript submissions. 50+
Hours spent convincing myself not to give up on my childhood dream. 1000+ ( Remember my prior post about hanging on?)
Number of contracts received to PUBLISH A CHILDREN’S BOOK. 1 ( And that’s a magic number. )
Are we all caught up???
It’s pretty amazing, and I still dance the night away thinking about how my story will be in the hands of children.
The publication process is something I’m learning more about day by day. It certainly doesn’t happen overnight.
My job, as the author, is to hand in a completed manuscript. Done!
People often ask if I have ANY say in the illustrations.
I do, and even more so with a super involved editor.
My wonderful editor asked me early on to describe my characters as if they were played by movie actors.
I thought, WHAAAAAT?
But now I totally get it. This was to guide my future illustrator so he/she can share my vision.
So, I thought and thought, and googled, and thought some more. Then I responded.
Do you want to knoooooooooow what I wrote???
Well, you can’t. It’s a secret.
Please buy my book. ( Shameless plug.)
But honestly, all I do now is wait.
Man, it’s hard! Although, I waited for over 6 years, so this part shouldn’t be THAT tough.
My amazing publisher has paired me with a fabulous artist, and the three of us will work closely together over the next year. We will chat, create, revise, and review until this book is exactly what I’ve dreamed of.
So, without further ado…
I’d like you to meet Monique Speight!
( Below is an interview I conducted so I could learn more about my new partner in crime! And I was going to make it all professional and use initials, but we have THE SAME ONES:0)
Monica: Where are you located? Where do you call home?
Monique: Around the Worcester County area of Massachusetts. I live in a small town beside Worcester, called Millbury. It’s a small and quiet town, I’ve lived there for the majority of my life. My only regret is there aren’t any good places that sell frozen yogurt for miles…. Fortunately though Boston isn’t too far away, so it’s a pretty sweet location!
Monica: What started your love of Art? Were you a child artist?
Monique: When I was little, my grandfather and I used to watch the Japanese cartoon called Dragon Ball together. My favorite all time character was kid Goku, his spiky hair and martial art skills were really cool to a younger me. The motion and expressions of the characters captivated me. Growing up I also used to like Sailor Moon and superheroes, like Batman and Spider-Man. I was definitely a child artist; I would draw a lot of birds and the characters from the cartoons I was watching.
Monica: What are some of your artistic tools you use to create?
Monique: I do a lot of digital art, so I use my laptop and iPad Pro. The programs I specifically use are Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, as well as Procreate. I sketch first with my iPad Pro, then finish the color in Illustrator and Photoshop.
Monica: Where do you find inspiration?
Monique: A lot of my inspiration comes from cartoons and movies that I watch, like Steven Universe, Star Vs. The Forces of Evil, and Moana. I love animated stuff; the motion interests me and I try to incorporate it into my work so it’s not so stiff and has a nice flow to it. Strong female characters, diversity, and varieties of body types are also of importance to me. We’re all very different , and accurate representation is important for inclusiveness.
Artist wise some of my parent artists are Mary Blair, Rebecca Sugar, and Scott Wills. Looking at their work has really influenced my growth as an artist. It’s essential to look at other artist’s work and learn how they solved certain situations. Which can happen through color, composition, anatomy, and etc.
Monica: Do you have an ongoing sketchbook?
Monique: I used to do a lot of sketching in sketchbooks, but now a lot of my sketching goes on my iPad Pro with Procreate; it’s kind of a digital sketchbook for me. I like it because it’s portable and there’s less of a disconnect when I go to finish it in Photoshop or Illustrator since it’s all digital already.
Monica: Do you have a studio? How would you describe your working space?
Monique: My studio is located in my refurbished basement, and my work space is very quiet. I have a desk two computer monitors, a Wacom tablet, and a pink desk lamp. The two monitors are nice for when I want to zoom in on tiny details details. The color on the second monitor is calibrated to match colors on mobile devices, it’s to keep my color consistent. I also have a collection of prints from artists whose artwork really inspires me on the walls. Behind my desk I have a bookcase that contains drawing reference books, children’s books, and concept art books from various shows and movies.
Monica:Do you have a favorite artist?
Monique: It’s hard to choose, but if I had to narrow it down I’d have to at least pick two artists; Yoshi Yoshitani and Rebecca Sugar. I really like Yoshi Yoshitani’s color sensibility, style, and how clean and precise her art is; it’s very detail oriented. And I really like how diverse Rebecca Sugar’s characters are in body type, and her storytelling skills. They both work very hard to develop strong female characters.
Monica: Do you have a favorite picture book, either now or one you grew up with? What did you love about it?
Monique: I liked Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat as a kid; I loved what a troublemaker the cat was, and I found the rhyming words to be fun. The bright and limited color palettes appealed to me.
And currently my favorite picture book is Hug Machine by Scott Campbell. The concept of the story is so cute and funny, and the main character is portrayed very innocent. The style is really simplistic, and I love how rounded the edges are; it’s an aesthetically pleasing book.
Monica:You are studying Art now- what have you enjoyed about your schooling? Learned any new techniques? Had a favorite project?
Monique: I’ve just graduated from Montserrat College of Art this past spring, majoring in Illustration. College has given me a direction in which I am interested in pursuing career wise. It’s helped me communicate a lot of my thoughts visually into pictures. Most of all, it’s taught me how to best think critically and conceptually, because a strong concept is crucial when you are illustrating.
Technique-wise I’ve definitely learned to refine my craft, though there’s always room for improvement! And as for a favorite project…..I’d have to say that I really enjoyed an independent study on surface design, I had with a teacher I admired and respected. She pushed me to develop concepts further, because surface design is a highly competitive industry. I designed images for mugs, bags, stickers, enamel pins and plates. It was a lot of fun and a challenging ongoing project.
Monica: ( and on a totally personal note!) When you first read The Ripple, was there something that stood out to you- something that made you want to partner up and illustrate this story?
Monique: I’m most interested in books that make you want to smile, and make you think. I believe children’s books are a great means of communicating positive messages. I’m also very drawn to characters that are whimsical. The Ripple has all of these traits, so it’s very exciting to have the opportunity to illustrate it! I enjoyed the development of the characters from beginning to end; and how pat’s responsible for creating a butterfly effect.
Also I think it’s important to challenge yourself as an artist and draw things you don’t traditionally draw. Where this takes place in a city, which is something I don’t often draw, I think it will help better improve myself as an artist.
Thank you so much, Monique for allowing me to pick your artistic brain. I loved learning that we totally share a passion for FRO-YO, and that I went to summer camp only a stone’s throw from your home. And of course- ( I MUST add this for my middle daughter) I adore that your name is my name but FANCIER. I am so thrilled to be working with you and cannot wait to see the magic you bring to my words.