Setting is a powerful tool. When authors describe setting, they often use sensory descriptions and figurative language to bring out the story world. But when illustrators need to translate those descriptions, what do we do? We can’t draw how something smells or feels. Or can we?Continue reading
by Jessica Chrysler
Fall brings fond memories for me. Even though I grew up in sunny Southern California, there were a few special trees in the neighborhood that would change color and drop their leaves. I’d dreamt about how endless forests of these trees would look and had read fairytales about how spirits would change the colors of the leaves. I’d wonder how they’d lived with all the other creatures in the wood, and if they would all gather into little caves, sleeping together through the long, cold winters. For a kid that never experienced the seasons, this magic seemed so real, even if just beyond my reach. But I was able to capture some of that magic when it came time for Halloween. Continue reading
by R. S. Mellette
As we prepare for the Los Angeles Comic Con on October 11-13, I’m hearing from some PAL members, “But I don’t write science fiction…”
Last year for the first time, I organized the SCBWI PAL booth at the Los Angeles Comic Con. I had no idea what to expect. The adventure started with a mass of people RUNNING through the aisles. They were not going to see a film star. They were not going to be the first to watch a new Marvel movie trailer. They were going to buy clothes – Hot Topic was having a doorbuster sale. That’s when I realized, this weekend wasn’t going to be what I expected. Continue reading
In SCBWI-L.A.’s latest Twitter Banner Contest (a bi-annual event), illustrators were asked to submit their most creative response to our prompt: EXPLORE. The winning contestant’s artwork is featured on the Los Angeles Region SCBWI Twitter Profile until the next contest with a feature article published here on Kite Tales. Illustrator Gela Kalaitzidis won! Read on to learn more about Gela, her tips and tools, and her own illustration prompt for anyone looking for some inspiration.
By Bethany Barton
Editor’s Note: Award-winning author/illustrator Bethany Barton spends her days working in film and TV, currently in the prop department at ABC’s Black-ish. Her newest book, I’m Trying to Love Math, hits stores this July. And Bethany is not only making herself available to chat with you this Friday (3/22) for an hour beginning at 12PM, but she is ALSO SCBWI-LA’s mentor! So if you’re an illustrator or author/illustrator, you can apply to be her mentee! And no matter what you’re writing, today’s chat topic about day jobs will encourage you, make you laugh, and start a lively conversation! And now, take it away, Bethany…
I hear it all the time from authors and illustrators: “I wish I could make books full time… but for now I’m JUST (insert self-deprecating tone) a bartender/teacher/accountant/etc.”
We’re all wonderfully complex human beings and that “day job” is a part of our story….so why do we feel the need to apologize for it? Maurice Sendak did toy-store window displays. JK Rowling worked as a secretary and translator. As long as there have been authors and artists, they have had day jobs and side hustles.
And I’m here to suggest we stop apologizing for them.
Consider this a call-to-arms to embrace our day jobs and, dare I say, even celebrate them?! Here are some quick reasons why:
I’m always grateful for the community and connection that comes from being a member of SCBWI. There’s no shortage of people willing to share advice, tips, and knowledge. And lucky for us, so many in the kid lit community have shared their stories and wisdom on the Kite Tales blog.
Whenever I need a creative boost, I like to reread Kite Tales posts for nuggets of inspiration.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Kite Tales stories this year. Hopefully they’ll inspire you too as you set your 2019 writing goals. Read on and click the links to see the full posts. Continue reading
By Katie Orphan, manager of the Last Bookstore
One of the best aspects of working in a bookstore is making author events happen. We want them to be great for the author as well as the audience, and I’ve got some tips to help.
Before the event happens, there’s a lot to do. If you’re an illustrator, partnering with your author for the event, or vice versa, can help a lot. You each bring a special part of the creative process to the table, and being able to use your individual talents during the event makes it extra special. If you’re flying solo, don’t despair, there’s still plenty more you can do. Continue reading
In SCBWI-L.A.’s first Twitter Banner Contest (a bi-annual event), illustrators were asked to submit their most creative response to our prompt: GROW. The winning contestant’s artwork is featured on the Los Angeles Region SCBWI Twitter Profile until the next contest with a feature article published here on Kite Tales. Illustrator Gail Buschman won! Read on to learn more about Gail, her tips and tools, her own illustration prompt for anyone looking for some inspiration, and to see her winning image!
Busy Trucks on the Go, D is for Dump Truck, Dan The Taxi Man, Eric Ode, illustrating, illustrator tips, Kent Culotta, picture books, SCBWI members, The Twelve Days of Christmas in Kentucky, Too Many Tomatoes
Some of professional illustrator Kent Culotta’s most recent projects include illustrations for D is for Dump Truck, published by Sleeping Bear Press, and The Twelve Days of Christmas in Kentucky, published by Sterling Children’s Books. He’s also collaborated with author Eric Ode and publisher Kane Miller on three books, Dan, The Taxi Man, Busy Trucks on the Go, and the recently released Too Many Tomatoes. Kent lives in Southern California, but grew up in a small town in Michigan. When he was five, he covered an entire wall of his parents’ living room with his own gallery, each drawing taped lovingly in place. No blank piece of paper, used envelope, or post-it note have ever been safe from his pencil. And today Kent, a fellow SCBWI member, shares with us his experience along with some tips and tools for leveling-up your own skills.
SARAH PARKER-LEE: You’ve worked as an artist in newspapers and on film, including several years in the animation industry working on some pretty memorable Walt Disney movies. How, and why, did you make the transition to children’s book illustrator? Did SCBWI play a role?
KENT CULOTTA: Being a children’s book illustrator was always in the back of my mind when I was working at the big animation studios, and I took a couple of book illustration classes back then at Otis Parsons. I think that I first learned about SCBWI from one of those classes. At the time I was a bit discouraged because publishers then were less open to illustrators whose work showed an animation influence. That has changed a lot. The big transition I went through was when animation rather quickly went from hand-drawn to CG. I worked hard to update my skills and did pretty well, but I soon realized what I really missed was drawing by hand. I joined a group called Drawergeeks that my co-workers participated in. Each week a new subject was set and we all would do an illustration piece on that subject. It helped motivate me and also helped me get out of my own head a little and tackle subjects that I wouldn’t normally think of, a good skill when you’re illustrating other people’s stories. I ended up getting a pretty nice first illustration portfolio from those Drawergeeks illustrations. It was at that point I started regularly attending SCBWI schmoozes/mingles and conferences, which were great motivators as well.
SPL: As an illustrator, you’re tasked with interpreting someone else’s story while still being true to your artistic identity. Do you have any advice on how to maintain that balance for those just starting out or perhaps feeling a little lost? Continue reading
Emma Chichester Clark is the illustrator of the beautiful middle-grade chapter book, Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz. Its 250+ full-color images showcase Chichester Clark’s signature style.
CHRISTINE VAN ZANDT: Welcome to Kite Tales! In Toto, you collaborate once again with author, Michael Morpurgo. How does illustrating well-known stories differ from working on new fiction? Does having a dog as the narrator change your focus when you work on the art?
EMMA CHICHESTER CLARK: In fact, it’s my sixth collaboration with Michael. We have also done versions of Pinocchio, Aesop’s Fables, Hansel and Gretel, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and a Christmas story called The Best of Times. Almost all of them were about well-known characters and I had to find my own ideas about that. This is a challenge because the images we all already know so well are imprinted in our heads. With each character, I have to draw and redraw them, over and over again, until I find someone that belongs to me but who is, at the same time, true to the character I’m representing. [In Toto], having a dog as the narrator was the most fun of all because I adore dogs. I have one, Plum, who is not unlike Toto in appearance and I spend a lot of my time trying to interpret what is going on in her doggy brain.
CVZ: You are also an author. Please give us some insight into your process, both as an illustrator and an author-illustrator.