BEAST is coming!

Hi folks! I know it's been ages and ages BUT things have been busy and I'm proud to announce that my YA novel, BEAST, will be published in Fall 2016. I picked up writing some ten + years ago and it's very awesome to see that all those thoughts and written snippets I worked so hard to figure out have finally turned into an actual book that you can read soon. 

I'm officially adding a new section of my website dedicated to my writing endeavors, where you can find all kinds of updates and information about my books. 

Many thanks and can't wait to hear from you.

Blog Tour!

There's a blog tour goin' round these parts and I was asked to participate by the super sweet and super talented Deborah Hocking. Her work is great and she deserves all the good things coming her way. Check out her work and book her now as she is doing some truly darling things and I'm sure in no time she'll be so busy she can't see straight.

I mean... just beyond adorable, personable, and fantastic work! Absolutely wonderful in every way.

I mean... just beyond adorable, personable, and fantastic work! Absolutely wonderful in every way.

Onto the questions!

What am I currently working on?

Oh man, what aren't I working on? Feels like everything all at once and I'm very happy for it. While I am an illustrator by trade, I've been spending a large chunk of time writing YA novels. I recently (as in last week) signed with New Leaf Literary and am now repped by the fantabulous Mackenzie Brady. It's a very exciting development and I couldn't be happier. Now all these novels, graphic novels, and illustrations are going to get a good push in the right direction.

Here's a sneak peek at something that's been in the works. 

Here's a sneak peek at something that's been in the works. 

But in between writing novels and laying out book proposals, I've been revisiting illustration. It's been a challenge, as I've mentioned on my blog before, but I'm working hard to embrace it. Every time I get frustrated with how something looks, it pushes me to try harder and get better. I don't mind looking at my inadequacies as building blocks because there's so much I want to achieve. So I've been working on my new stuff. 

A little sketch I did after ICON 8.

A little sketch I did after ICON 8.

And I took it to this. Is it done? Is it good? I asked some cool illustrators in town what their thoughts were and they wanted more contrast. I worked on it but... it's still missing that touch of something and I don't know what. This is what kicks me in the pants to get better! So I can find that nugget of what's missing in an illustration and bring it out with gusto. (If you know what's wrong with this, please leave a note in the comments!)

And I took it to this. Is it done? Is it good? I asked some cool illustrators in town what their thoughts were and they wanted more contrast. I worked on it but... it's still missing that touch of something and I don't know what. This is what kicks me in the pants to get better! So I can find that nugget of what's missing in an illustration and bring it out with gusto. (If you know what's wrong with this, please leave a note in the comments!)

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Since I'm still looking to find my genre, I'll leave some wiggle room on this one. I will say this, I love drawing girls doing cool stuff. Because girls are awesome! I am a champion of girls. Chapter books, middle grade, covers, I'm there. Where I falter is style and that's what I'm searching for.

Why do I write what I write?

I fall in love with my characters and feel physical unrest unless I get them on the page. At least, that's what writing novels means to me. Pulling an entire book out of an idea is a haul and I don't think anyone does it unless they absolutely love it. I love it. Mostly I write what I write because it's impossible to ignore all these characters stabbing me in the brain until they're out and about on their own.

How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?

I'm more patient with writing than I am with illustrating. If I screw up a draft, I'll look for help and seek feedback for what's not working. Then after I've talked with some trusted CPs (you know who you are! <3) I'll always dive back in and tweak until it's passable. When it comes to illustration, I envision a composition or an idea, maybe make a sketch/maybe not, and then I'll bust it out. If it looks like it's happening, I'll keep going. If not, I'll scrap it and move onto the next. But this is for my own work, as I'm feeling it out. Oftentimes, I'll revisit an abandoned illo and take another crack at it. If it's an illustration I've been hired to do, I'm all business and it gets done, no matter what. I think in a lot of ways, that pressure can be really helpful.

Since I do the majority of my work on my computer, ideas on paper are doodles and notes. Lots of hyphens and exclamation points when I write stuff down! 

Example of an abandoned piece that I want to come back to someday. It's a take on Sleeping Beauty but I was not feeling what was happening in Photoshop.

Example of an abandoned piece that I want to come back to someday. It's a take on Sleeping Beauty but I was not feeling what was happening in Photoshop.

This is another one I was like bleep, blorp, nope. But when I go back to it someday, it'll be so much better.

This is another one I was like bleep, blorp, nope. But when I go back to it someday, it'll be so much better.

Who are the two author/illustrators that you are passing the interview on to?

I am sending the blog tour to two amazing creators, Whitney Gardner and Erika Rier! These two ladies are dynamite authors and illustrators in their own right and they both wear glasses, so you know they're cool people. 

ICON 8

I was so fortunate to be able to attend ICON 8 here in Portland over the past few days. It was exactly what I needed. In many ways the family-having hiatus was like graduating from college and building up a career all over again. To see others who've thrived through difficulties similar or worse than mine is inspiring.

Paula Scher's keynote was awesome and I'm so impressed by her bulldozer approach to problem solving. Her touch is nuanced and well-thought out as she fearlessly powers into a project. I love that.

Listening to seasoned pros who've adapted to adversity and taken roads they might not have considered when they started out was great. Everyone starts somewhere and who knows where you end up. I could listen to Carson Ellis talk all day. She was wonderful. I love how she's evolved as an artist and continues to find new and interesting things to challenge herself with. No matter how full her plate might be professionally, she always finds delight and joy to bring to her personal work. And she's a damn cool person, so... yeah. Girl Crush!

I met so many amazing artists and illustrators along the way. Everyone's striving to make their work all that it can be and bring it to the world. And y'all better be ready for Esme Shapiro, that's all I'm saying! It was a great show and I'm thrilled to have gone. 

Finding a New Hand

The weird thing about starting back up from nothing —and I'm not trying to sound like a grump— is that it's so ODD to see how much has changed in four years, give or take. When I decided to take time off, I was burned out on illustration. Fried. Crispy. Didn't want to draw another thing ever for any reason for anyone. Just done. I'd been working non-stop for about 8 years straight and had lost all the joy connected to creating an image.

And now the joy is back. Since my little one isn't quite so little, I'm finding that urge to make pictures back with aggression. My biggest dilemma now is what pictures should I make? I look back at my work and it's very girl centric. Do I shove all that work out and go full boy or do I hunker down and draw even more girls? (*spoiler* I will probably go for the latter.) But doing what? And in what style? And how detailed and how scenic or figurative? These are the things I'm constantly stumbling over as I'm trying to sort out exactly what it is, now that I'm drawn... to drawing. ;)

Pinterest

This can be a place of ultimate inspiration, but sometimes I get lost in space on there and am like, whoa... everyone is so amazing... It definitely makes me want to up my game. Inspiration- YES! Crippling self doubt- OCCASIONALLY! But, the challenge to be better is one I've always embraced, so I'm going to do my best on this next little series I have planned. I think it will be cute. 

And who knows, maybe someone will pin it. ;)

A dire oversight

While redoing my portfolio, I've got no black and white artwork yet!

Ugh. Boo on me. I went to a great session yesterday with a really cool AD who mentioned they are always looking for black and white and greyscale for spots. Oh yeah!! *Head Smack* Guess what will be coming soon... ;)

Everyday a little something new.

I've really been enjoying making new work lately. Truth be told, my Photoshop skills in the past were basic at best, so I've been loving working with all these newfangled tricks that have cropped up since my time off. The most fun in years has been from playing around with all the brushes from Kyle T. Webster. Holy cow, they are amazing!(!!!) Much love to those brush sets, I've been recommending them to everyone I know.