* * * *Hi artists! The comments for the giveaway are now closed. And the lucky winner of the Hansel & Gretel book is brook gideon! Congrats, Brook! I’ll be emailing you soon to confirm your prize.* * * *
Name: Stephanie Graegin
1. Tell us about yourself / What makes you tick? (Or you can share your brief bio.)
I was born in Chicago, IL, and lived in Fort Wayne, IN and Houston, TX as a child. I always loved to draw and make things and wanted to be an artist from an early age. I went to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore for undergrad. There I studied Fine Art, and mostly focused on printmaking. I later went to Pratt Institute for a Masters in Printmaking. Now I live in Brooklyn and illustrate mainly children’s books. I also illustrate products for the toy company eeBoo.
2. How did you get your start in illustrating for children?
It was a long, long road of developing a strong portfolio while working a lot of non-art related day jobs to pay rent. I started out with small illustration
assignments, mainly for children’s magazines. It took me awhile to get to the style I use now. The first breakthrough came once I threw away all my pens, which I used for years, and used pencil and computer. Something clicked for me, and the work drastically improved.
At this point, I had gained more confidence in my work, and I put forward a huge effort in getting myself out in the world. I spent about a year putting together portfolio pieces that represented the type of assignments I wanted to get, I built a better website, and made a promotional mailer. I spent months making the promotion mailer; I knew I wanted to make something more memorable than the typical postcard.
I ended up making a mini handbound booklet that fit in a 4 x 6 envelope. I sent out around 200 of these booklets to editors and art directors. My approach worked, and almost immediately I started receiving calls for work.
I was incredibly fortunate to be featured on the illustrationmundo blog a couple months later (thank you Nate Williams!). Steven Malk, a literary agent for Writers House saw my work there and took me on as a client. Everything started to fall into place and since that time I’ve had a continuous projects flow of projects — It’s been almost 2 years now since I sent out that promo.
3. You illustrated Sterling Publishing’s Silver Penny Stories: Hansel and Gretel. This is a well-known tale that’s been told many times. Did you start with a vision (perhaps from childhood) of what your illustrations would look like? Or did you begin fresh?
I knew the story of Hansel and Gretel well, but no particular images from books I saw as a child remained with me. I knew I wanted the palette to feel German - forest like and very autumn. The children ended up looking much like my brother and I as kids, which seems to happen often when I draw.
4. Can you tell us about your creative process, mediums, etc?
I execute drawings in pencil, which are then scanned into the computer — becoming the armature for the final artwork. I make swatches of patterns and textures with ink washes, and these are scanned in too. Sometimes I scan in papers and fabrics to get textures. This is then all brought together in Adobe Photoshop.
5. Do you ever get stuck on how to illustrate a particular scene or character? How do you move past that?
Sure. I’m not sure there’s a surefire solution for getting back on track. Sometimes it takes stubbornly working trough the problem and it seems when you’re ready to step away a solution avails itself… Other times it’s best to put the pencil down and step way.
6. What were your favorite children’s books when you were little? Why?
Frog & Toad, the Ramona Quimby books, everything by Roald Dahl. They still have weight in my consciousness because they all had memorable characters that I identified with, along with superb storytelling. As for picture books, I loved the Richard Scarry books, I could spend hours looking at those detailed scenes.
7. What is a typical work day for you?
Day job at an office (9-5).
A run if I’m not too tired.
Illustrate from 7:30pm to 2 am.
8. Best / most fun part of illustrating for children’s books:
The best part is drawing children’s books! It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a child, so I feel very fortunate to be actually be doing this.
9. Worst / most difficult part:
The schedule can be grueling at times. When there are tight deadlines, there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything done.
10. Are you working on any new books?
I have several books coming out in the upcoming year in addition to Hansel & Gretel.
Don’t Feed the Boy by Irene Lantham (Roaring Brook/Macmillan): October 16, 2012.
Happy Birthday, Bunny! By Liz Garton Scanlon (Beach Lane/Simon &Schuster) Jan 15 2013.
Goldilocks & the Three Bears (Sterling) April 2nd.
The Water in the Park by Emily Jenkins (Schwartz & Wade) May 14, 2013.
I’m currently finishing up a picture book now that’s still too early to talk about. And I’ll be a starting on a new picture book very soon that I’m very excited to be working on.
5 things inspiring you/your work right now:
Parks and Recreation (the show)
3 constants in your day:
a little orange cat sitting beside me (he’s also my art director and therapist).
Your #1 art tip or words of wisdom:
Draw—a lot! They say the average artist make about 10,000 bad drawings in his/her life…so it’s best to get those out of the way early.
* * * * *
And now for the Giveaway!
- Leave a comment by 7am EST, Friday, October 12th.
- Make a comment ON THIS POST to enter.
- This is a random drawing.
- One entry per person, please.
US and Canada residents only.