This week, the conversation is about illustrations. Children’s book illustration, to be more precise.
As I’m working on my third book and as a children’s storyteller, I keep reminding myself that illustrations play a big role in a well-crafted children’s book.
As a matter of fact, the children’s illustration brings the whole magic to the story, and they have the power to take the reader’s breath away.
What would you think of stories such as Where the Wild Things Are, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear: What Do You See? if they didn’t have illustrations?
Most likely, those books would not have become classics if it were not for the powerful weaving of the story-and-illustrations combo.
I am one of those writers who are fascinated about children’s illustration. And no, I am not lucky enough to have the ability to write and illustrate my own stories altogether. Because I look at illustrations with a critical eye and strive to improve on every ongoing story, I seek the help of talented people to help me on this task.
For me, and probably for creators in general, there is nothing more rewarding than having their projects brought to life. In the case of a children’s book, there is no doubt that the characters and sceneries set the tone for a successful story.
Because I’m in that stage of the game—working with an illustrator to bring the story to life—I wanted to dig little deeper on the works of an illustrator and learn what it takes to make it happen.
For that task, I went to Buckets of Whimsies and asked Shiela Marie Alejandro to help me out. While partnering with Shiela on my newest project, I experienced how dedicated she is. I wanted to get a little insight into her world.
So, here we go:
When I first saw the children’s illustration on your website, I fell in love with them. Where do you find inspiration to illustrate?
SMA: I am inspired to illustrate for kids and especially for our young generations today who are into technologies and social media. I want to encourage them to read more by producing fun and whimsical illustrations. Also, I wanted to help authors by bringing them reasonable rates. I understand that hiring an illustrator is expensive, and I want to make it affordable for everyone who wants to get their story illustrated.
When did you find out you wanted to be an illustrator?
SMA: I realized I wanted to be a book illustrator when I got to work on my first book project. I figured, I wanted to tell a story. I am not good with words but to be able to tell stories by the means of drawing, that is awesome.
This might sound cliché, but is there any artist/work that influenced you?
SMA: I love the works of Roadl Dahl and Quentin Blake. The combination of their stories and illustrations are truly fantastic and whimsical; they inspire me a lot.
When you are working on a particular project, what does your routine look like?
SMA: At first, I want to really immerse myself with the story. I want to connect with the character. I want to know how he or she feels and see things from their perspective. Once I am ready to start and am certain that I really understand the story, I do my research and gather references before doing the sketches. After that, I ask for the author’s opinion, and if he or she is happy with the storyboard, I will start the coloring process, which is my favorite part.
Could you tell what some of the struggles of being an illustrator? Was there a specific occasion in which you had a hard time on your profession (it can be any time)?
SMA: My job is one of the most amazing jobs because I get to do what I love and have fun while doing it. But that is not to say that I do not encounter struggles. Sometimes, it may be a conflict between deadlines or me thinking my idea is the best for the project, but the author thinks otherwise. Or maybe the client thinks that we, illustrators, are charging too much, which is the most ridiculous of all. How can one expect an artist to work on a book for a month or two with a measly $300 to $500 in his pocket? Artists need to eat, too 🙂 . But I am thankful to have my amazing clients, who trust me and enjoy working with me. I am always thankful for that. 🙂
If you are curious, Sheila and I connected on Instagram, where I stumbled upon her work. As a matter of fact, channels such as Instagram and Pinterest, because they are highly visual, are great ways to find Creatives.
For now, I leave you with that behind-the-scenes glimpse at an illustrator’s character development.
In Shiela’s words…
1. This is the rough sketching, basically an idea on how the image will look like. Once approved, I move on to the next step. My cat likes to watch me sketch. 🙂
2. Finalizing outlines.
3. This is the most fun part for me, the coloring process. I always look forward to this stage.
Illustrations by Shiela Marie Alejandro
Shiela is an illustrator and currently lives with her two cats, Jorge and Ceasar. She has been drawing for as long as she can remember. She is in love with colors, fun illustrations, and awesome characters. Shiela offers illustration packages and other art services and is pleased to help authors bring out their story to the world. You can reach her at [email protected] or visit her website Buckets of Whimsies.