I was invited by Chuck Groenink to participate in a little interview a bunch of illustrators have been passing along to one another. Thank you Chuck for thinking of me! I also got to choose two other illustrators I want to see interviewed, and I chose my friends Jensine Eckwall and Sam D'Orazio.
1. What am I currently working on?
At the moment I am working on a book with Tundra Books (a division of Random House Canada) called Sonya’s Chickens that I wrote and will also be illustrating. It will be published in 2015. I’m very excited about it! Right now I’m just about to begin all the final illustrations, having finished and discussed all the rough sketches with my editor. I’m also working on lots of different things for Taproot magazine, for whom I am a regular contributor. There will be a lot of my work coming up in their shop and in future issues! I can’t wait to share it all. It’s hard when you’re working for someone else to keep your projects secret! And of course I have a ton of personal things which are on the back burners right now…A giant, wearable puppet made of reused materials…mobiles, t-shirts, fabric patterns, new tattoos for myself… All good procrastination projects.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Hmmm. I think my work pretty heavily recalls work of the past, and maybe blends it with more diverse ranges of colors and textures and environments… Most of my favorite illustrators are from days gone by. And my content too I think tends to be a little bit antiquated, which I like to think gives it a timeless feel. The stories I love and that I loved growing up, were usually old books in which nothing very dramatic happened…Just a character going about their daily business, a peek into someone’s life. So I guess I would say mine differs in that I don’t shy away from quiet images, from sentimental images… From images that don’t express any great drama or intrigue. One of my favorite compliments I ever received about my work was that my “content is delightfully mundane”. Which I liked. There’s a certain sacredness in the mundane to me, in every day quiet moments.
3. Why do I write what I write?
I’m going to translate this more loosely, as “Why do I make what I make?”
I find that when I create, more often that not it is inspired by something from my childhood. I make images I would have want to have seen when I was a kid, or objects I would have wanted to have, or stories I would have wanted to read. My content, both in 2D, 3D and writing is largely rooted in that nostalgia for childhood, as well as in dreams for my own future. I’m drawn to create safe spaces in my work, images that foster closeness and comfort and celebrate nature. Creating has always been my sanctuary. A comfortable place to play and dream and think. And I hope that comes across in my work, I hope my work provides that for others. The sentimental power I feel for my favorite illustrations and paintings is so intense for me that it is almost palpable. It’s like they are people I’m in love with. And as an artist, the fact that I wield that power is thrilling and also a little scary. It is incredible to me that I can make an image that can mean as much to a stranger as say a picture from Miss Rumphius can to me. That takes my breath away. That’s magic to me.
4. How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?
It depends what I’m making. Sometimes a story I write will be spurred by a character I draw, or the other way around. Usually all I need for a story is one tiny grain or element. One person I’m interested in. One picture I want to be at the climax of the story.
In general I like to work very spontaneously, without a lot of sketches and planning. I like it when I don’t know HOW to make something, and yet I start the project anyway and have to problem solve as I go. Every time I think of a story, I feel like I am pulling it from a world that already exists, somewhere in the shadowy back parts of my brain. I only get glimpses of this world, and those are the images I make and stories I write. That world is as familiar to me as real memories, and every character I create has some place in it, some back story. I think this is why when I hit on a really good idea, I know it’s the right because it seems obvious and familiar. As if I’m remembering where something is that I thought was lost. In terms of my physical processes, I have many different ways of making. Most of my illustrations are made using layered collaged papers, pasted over an initial underpainting I do in watercolor & gouache. I’ll cut the collage papers from books or magazines, or paint my own patterns and objects to cut out. I draw over all of it with ink and colored pencil. Whether I'm working with fabric or paper or paper mache, I generally like to make a mess and ensure that my studio will be as much as a wreck as possible after I’m done.