1. Tell us about yourself / What makes you tick?
Hi, my name is Jannie Ho (pronounced Jane-nee) and I’m an illustrator specializing in children’s books and products. I went to Parsons School of Design with a BFA in illustration. I’m also known as Chicken Girl. Because who doesn’t like a chicken or two?
2. How did you get started as an illustrator?
After I left school, I worked as a designer and art director, before deciding that illustration was my true passion. I think I had a lot of years of self doubt, and when I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and she talked about “shadow artists,” it really hit home. So while I was working at the full time design job, I slowly went back to build my illustration portfolio while taking continuing education classes at School of VIsual Arts. I signed with a rep and was working the full time job and doing freelance illustration on the side. Eventually I made the transition to being a freelance illustrator full time.
3. How did you find your style? Has it changed since you started?
When I started to learn Adobe Illustrator, I felt like that medium lends itself well to what I imagine my style would be like. It took years of being out of school before I found my style. But with that said, my style is always changing (and should change.) It has changed a lot since I started 7 years ago. Lately I feel a big shift coming over me and there is a huge hurdle I have to overcome. The style I can imagine in my head is not the way it is on paper at the moment. But so it goes — that is part of the process.
4. Can you briefly explain your creative process, mediums, etc?
I work 99% in Illustrator. I use to do pencil sketches, scan them in, and draw on top of my sketch. But since a lot of client work has quick turnarounds, I began doing grayscale vector art as a sketch, straight on the computer. If the project calls for a certain subject matter or theme, I like to do some image searches just to get the ideas flowing. And for fresh color palettes, I like colourlovers.com for inspiration. It always gives me something new and prevents me from using the same old palettes.
5. How do you come up with new ideas? Do you have a process?
I have to say I don’t really keep a sketch book for ideas. However, I always have various digital files I started with different little artworks. I listen to podcasts and free play, building a scene, making characters. My ideas flow this way.
6. Do you ever have creative slumps? What do you do then?
Yes, of course! Switching projects always helps. I try to stagger projects to keep the creative juices flowing. I really do believe in having time away from a creative problem and trust your subconscious do some work. When I get back to it, there are always new and fresh solutions. I understand this may not be optimal for client work and short deadlines. But even going for a short walk helps.
7. Best / most fun part of your job:
Creating a world of my own. I can be an interior designer, fashion designer, furniture designer, etc. in my illustrations. I get to draw all day — sometimes I work on projects that I would do on my own for free… but don’t tell the client that!
8. Worst / most difficult part of your job:
The feast and famine of freelancing life can be tough. Working from home can be a lonely thing, even for those of us who enjoys solitude. Thank goodness for the internet that illustrators can connect with each other through social media.
9. Do you have side projects you work on?
I always like to have something going on the side. I started an ABCs series which started as a promo card but then it was so much fun that I continued with them. I also enjoy writing and illustrating comics and this is something I feel I can get more personal with. As much as I enjoy children’s publishing, it is nice to work on something more “grown up.”
10. What’s on your horizon? Any current/future projects and plans/dreams you can share with us?
I have a wonderful board book series coming out with Nosy Crow, called Tiny Tabs. The first 2 titles, Teeny Weeny Lost His Mummy, and Bunny Boo Lost Her Teddy, is being released in April 2013. I also have a pop-up gift book coming out in the fall, published by Campbell Books.
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5 things inspiring you/your work right now:
limited color palette
3 constants in your day:
Your #1 art tip or words of wisdom:
It will always be an uphill battle, so just enjoy the process and the journey. Take time to celebrate achievements along the way. Believe in your work. Never give up.
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Thank you so much, Jannie Ho!