Writing about my busiest day now as an illustrator and author is a little tricky. In the past, it would have included teaching. For almost six years, I have taught at the Academy of Art University while pursuing my publishing career. Teaching is incredible. I’ve learned so much about the process of creating a book by explaining it to eager, enthusiastic students. However, working two full time careers at the same time, like I’m sure many of you know, is both physically and mentally draining.
Thankfully, as my career has built momentum I’ve been able to teach less. Currently, I’m teaching only online. In addition, my eight years of experience as an illustrator, now means that when I work, I am more efficient and confident. Though there are still days when I do feel completely clueless.
So what is a busy day now? Instead of twelve hour days, they are a solid eight hours. Since I teach a few courses online for the AAU, I do log in everyday to check up on my students. My busiest days now usually involve focusing on one part of a specific book. Typically I am working on a couple projects at a time, but as all my friends and family know, I’m a bit obsessive. I find it hard to jump in and out of one project to another on the same day. So I’ll alternate days, but mostly I’ll alternate weeks. This does require some good time management and organization.
When I’m working my favorite stage is the development part, or the dummy. This is where I’m trying to marry pictures and words together. What I love at this stage is that anything is possible, which is so invigorating. I always equate this stage to music. I’m in pursuit of the perfect rhythm. Images that can make a punch line funnier, or a touching moment more poignant. This is especially gratifying when I’m both the author and illustrator. When I’m in the zone, I can get lost working on this stage and the hours fly by. I also experience the same sensation when I’m working on the final art, but I make sure to take more breaks then so that I’m not mindlessly rendering.
Then there are the other tasks. These are things that I do enjoy doing, but the kid in me still prefers to be left alone to scribble or write. These other tasks include school visits, collaborating with my publishers, and conversations with my agent.
I adore school visits. They provide a bit of financial cushion, but mostly I love the unfiltered interaction with my audience. I do try to change up the presentations by tweaking it for different audiences and ages so that does take some time.
Next is collaborating with editors and art directors. When I can, I meet with them in person. It’s wonderful to get that immediate brainstorming and feedback with kind, clever people in beautiful offices. Most days, or when I am the illustrator only, the feedback comes through email.
The length of these emails, at first glance, is intimidating! I have to admit, I often take a gym break or at least a coffee break when I first receive the email. That way I can come back to it with a clear, open mind. If there are any questions, a quick phone call always clears things up. The feedback makes the book stronger. It takes a team to create a book, and I value my teammates.
Lastly, my favorite conversations these days, at least work related, are with my agent, Linda Pratt. I’ve been with her since 2009 when she was still at Sheldon Fogelman. In 2011 she started her own agency with Marcia Wernick. Going with Linda was the best decision I ever made. Linda does what most agents do – handles contracts and negotiates terms and advances – but she’s also a huge reason I became an author. I’ve always loved telling stories and writing, but I went to art school. I didn’t feel like I had the credentials to actually be an author. However, she saw the potential in the characters I created for fun, and has mentored me through the process. So often a small story idea I might mention in an email or phone call will expand into an entire narrative thanks to one remark from Linda. I’ll always share the manuscript and dummies with her. In return, she provides me with top notch editorial comments. Finally once it’s ready for submission, we’ll send it my favorite editors. Sometimes this process takes longer than I like, but quality can’t be rushed.
In the end, I love my busy days. I love working. At the same, I am grateful that the days now are a little less busy than they were. I feel lucky knowing that I’m truly having more fun.
For more information and links to social media please visit http://www.angeladominguezstudio.com.