May 12, 2009

My New Hand-Bound Sketchbook

A couple of years ago, I really got interested in personalizing my sketchbooks, and in particular, binding books by hand. I checked out a few books from my local library on the subject, and I knew I had to try out some of the techniques I learned from them to take my sketchbooks to the next level.

The first style of bookbinding I attempted was a traditional Japanese technique. I basically took a generic sketchbook you can purchase from any arts and crafts store, deconstructed it, and rebound it using the Japanese technique. I was really stoked about the results!

This past weekend, I attempted a second technique for creating a multi-signature hardbound sketchbook. This method turned out to be way more challenging. I had to start with supplies from scratch in order to create all of the parts of the book: book board, pages for the text block, book cloth, end pages, etc. Instead of just rebinding the parts of a pre-made sketchbook, I was going to be building this one from square one. In the end, I think I'm really satisfied with how it turned out!

May 7, 2009

Illustrators Exhibit

Coming up on Friday, May 22nd, at 5:00pm, Decatur's own Little Shop of Stories will feature an exhibit of children's book art created by local illustrators. The exhibit will be on display through May 31st. I definitely plan on attending - hope you will, too!

May 5, 2009

First Big Steps

So here's a little bit of back-story to bring things up to the present...

Last summer (2008), I started taking some of my first big steps to becoming a real illustrator. I had been checking out picture books on a regular basis from my local library to get better acquainted with the world of children's books, and in particular with authors and illustrators. And somewhere along the way, I came across the work of author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka. I read Punk Farm and Baghead, and really liked Krosoczka's style. I visited his webpage, and eventually wrote him an email to say that I liked his work and to seek his advice on getting into the world of children's books. I was thrilled to get a reply from him, and the biggest piece of advice he offered was to join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Later on in September, I learned that Tony Diterlizzi would be coming to Atlanta for a book signing of his latest title Kenny and the Dragon. I had read and loved Spiderwick Chronicles, and thought it would be a great opportunity to go to the book signing and meet the author/illustrator. It was a great experience. Not only did I get to hear Tony read an excerpt from Kenny and the Dragon in person, but I also got invited to come up and create a sketch of a dragon with him! Later on, I asked Tony for his advice on getting into the world of children's books, and he said something I had heard before: "Join SCBWI!"

(Tony draws a dragon as I describe it.)

Needless to say, I took their advice and became a full-fledged member of SCBWI. By the time 2009 rolled around, I had booked a flight to New York City to attend my first SCBWI New York Conference. It was an amazing experience. I even got to meet Jarrett Krosoczka and thank him in person for his advice!
(J and J - yeah, that's how we roll.)

(My wife Erin, Pamela, my brother Josh, and me in NYC after the conference.)

Since the conference, I built my website, created some new illustrations, and started going through my copy of Children's Writers and Illustrators Market to find out more about contacting publishers.

And that about brings us to the present!