Delve into the world of shadow and light with a Issue #7 playlist filled with black and white themes, whether be it in the album cover or the songs themselves. We had so much picking out our favorite black and white themed albums for this playlist! There’s so many great ones out there. What’s your favorite black and white album? Let us know on Instagram with the hashtag #ILLUSTORIAplaylist! Hope you enjoy this eclectic mix, perfect for art making, hanging out at home, or dancing around your living room. Listen in the link below, or on Spotify.
Fantasizing about what it would be like to be seven years old again is something I do quite often. And if seven-year old me was around right now, she would without a doubt idolize singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett.
Courtney Barnett, for those who are new to the name, is a Melbourne-based indie rock musician whose deadpan songs find hilarity, beauty, and angst in the mindless everyday rhythms of life. Ultra-cool yet still approachable, with a killer sense of humor and a laid-back attitude, Barnett makes the perfect role model for any budding artist. I say this with mild envy because when I was growing up, it felt like bands fronted by the likes of Barnett, with her low-key, tomboy aesthetic, were few and far between. I adored Meg White, the shy drummer of The White Stripes, but other female rock stars of the time like Avril Lavigne or P!NK were too intimidating for me to relate to.
In the hopes of sharing the joy of Barnett’s music with young readers, I added the musician’s collaborative album Lotta Sea Lice with another garage-rock hero, Kurt Vile, to ILLUSTORIA’s ongoing feature “On Our Playlist” in the recent Issue #7: Black and White. I was then thrilled to be able to speak with Barnett over the phone about her creative process, childhood and advice for young musicians, and to be able to share it with you, our readers.
I hope you enjoy our chat, and if you’re as bummed as I am that you didn’t have Courtney to listen to as a kid, remember it’s never too late to have a music crush.
What was your childhood like growing up in Sydney?
It was great. I lived out of the city and near the beaches and the bush; around a lot of nature and water. So I think I’ve been lucky in that regard. I started drawing, making music and I would go to the library everyday after school. I found myself in this great position of discovery, knowledge and creation the whole time I was growing up.
Where you get the inspiration for your lyrics from?
[The inspiration] is everywhere. I think ideas are hidden, sometimes right in front of us. For me it’s just slowing down enough to recognize and see them for what they are. Sometimes when I start writing a song I try to put all of these big ideas into it, but I think it’s when you step back and focus on one small thing the good detail and emotion behind [a song] can blossom into something bigger. Kind of like a backwards step.
When do you feel the most creative?
I’m not really good at routine but I’ve tried. I’ve tried to experiment with routines and discipline. For me that’s not when it happens, when it happens seems to be in procrastination. I think normally I’ve tried to get up and work in the morning with a fresh brain to be creative and write. But I discovered that I work best at night or at the end of the day. So a lot of the time I go through this pain of you know, the daily kind of “trying to get things done” and the kind of up and down of whatever is going on. It’s not until I’m ready to call it quits for the day that things start happening. Maybe it’s a kind of tricking the mind into thinking it’s ready or thinking that you’re done and that you can move on and allow your other side of the brain to keep on going.
Our upcoming Issue #8 is themed “Home”. What is your definition of “home” ? Do you ever get homesick while touring?
I think at the moment for me, home is kind of up in the air. But my definition of home is either where family is or where all my stuff is, or both. So I guess I kind of feel like my home is Melbourne and where I have all my boxes, journals, photos, clothes and stuff like that. But then Hobart in Tasmania, (my mom and dad still live there) so I kind of consider that home. Sydney is kind of a spiritual home with some other family [living there].
And then I’m so lucky I can travel all the time so I am away from home a lot. I don’t really get homesick. I think it’s fluctuated in the past, but I’m trying to live in the moment now and be grateful for where I am, for discovering new places and for taking an adventure and experiencing the moment instead of wishing to be somewhere else.
We love your hand drawn album covers! Do you still make time for drawing with your busy schedule?
I kind of stopped drawing and then started again recently. Drawing for me is harder than writing because it’s a little harder to visualize an idea. It definitely doesn’t come as naturally to me as playing guitar or writing lyrics. I think it can be frustrating and sometimes [my ideas] don’t come out as good as I hoped, but I think that when I overthink things is when they become worse. So I think trying to [draw] for fun or without an expectation of what it’s going to be, look like or used for is a big thing for me. I’m always like, “I’m designing a t-shirt to sell at a show” and then I put this undue pressure on myself, like the expectation of what it is instead of just letting it happen.
What was your favorite music to listen to when you were growing up?
When I was growing up I listened to a lot of Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, No Doubt, Red Hot Chili Peppers, all that kind of 90s and earlier music.
Rad! I watched your What’s In My Bag interview that you did with Kurt Vile a little while back, and I heard that your dad had a big jazz record collection. That’s so cool, like you had a built-in music education.
Yeah definitely. I thought it was really uncool but I kind of enjoyed listening to it. I probably didn’t know the gravity of who the musicians were until around when I started high school when I started learning about the history of blues, jazz and rock and roll.
Did you have any mentors that guided you towards your creative pursuits?
Kind of, in a more casual way. I looked up to my brother and his friends who played music. And then I started getting guitar lessons and my guitar teacher was a huge inspiration. He made it fun. I think having a patient and encouraging teacher makes such a huge difference. Just as a young person being gently pushed in the correct direction makes a huge difference. And I think I always had really fun art teachers at school, like the art teachers that traditionally are kind of quirky, laid-back and fun and you can go hang out in their classroom at lunch time. I think that so much of music and art is a journey of your own, like your personality taking an adventure. More so than the actual work, theory, or practicality, [art] is about having that space to explore.
Definitely. Are you still in contact with any of your teachers?
Yeah, my guitar teacher lives in Sydney so I often invite him to shows!
We featured Lotta Sea Lice on our playlist feature in Issue 7-- we love it! What was one benefit and one challenge of this collaboration?
It was so fun working with Kurt! We joked and really laughed a lot; it was a really fun process. Not to say that my other times making music hasn’t been fun but I’ve been a huge fan of Kurt and his music. We became fast friends and we almost think of each other like brother and sister. Hanging out and making music in the studio was just a really fun process. I guess a challenge would be working with someone’s different process or schedule. Kurt’s a bit more like a night worker. And I kind of prefer that but for some reason when we were in the studio the days were starting earlier, and so it was just like meeting someone’s schedule is kind of tricky but not much.
What are some musicians / bands you think every kid should know about?
Wow ! I think when I was growing up I kind of discounted [older artist] because I thought they were just old people. But I discovered people like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone… just kind of people that I never listened to growing up. Then there’s classic bands like Patti Smith, Talking Heads, X Ray Spex, Lauryn Hill…
What advice to you have for young people who want to become musicians?
My advice is just to do it! To get a guitar or whatever you want to do from somewhere and don’t let anyone tell you it’s too hard or it won’t get you anywhere, just have fun. Just have fun and do it your own way.
Thanks for reading our chat with Courtney Barnett! We hope you truly enjoyed it. Don’t forget to check out Issue #7: Black and White where we feature Barnett in our On Our Playlist, and listen to our new Issue #7 playlist on Spotify, which is filled with music by Barnett and other black and white related songs. Cheers!
It’s Halloween, and you know what that means—time to gather around and trade scary stories! A treat of a graphic novel released this year, That Night, a Monster, is perfect for the occasion. You know that feeling after watching a scary movie where everything feels haunted? Even the tree right outside your window? That’s what Tommy, the little boy who went to wake up his parents on a Saturday morning, felt when his mom turned into a fern! Of course, she did not really turn into a fern, but rather had a bad hair day that got out of control.
That Night, a Monster is a graphic novel that plays with our worst fears, but in a light-hearted way that makes you turn around and appreciate what you have. Plus, the illustrations are so silly and relatable at the same time that they remind us that our fears can be the scariest thing of all!
We had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Marzena Sowa and Berenika Kotomycka, the Polish artists behind the graphic novel. That Night, a Monster was originally published in Polish and re-released with an English translation by Uncivilized Books. We hope you enjoy learning about their inspiration behind the book and their advice for young artists.
If you dig our interview, don’t forget to check out our giveaway of the graphic novel via Instagram! Have a happy, spooky Halloween.
Marzena Sowa is an internationally renowned Polish graphic novelist. Her best known work Marzi—a memoir of Communist Poland through the eyes of a child—has been translated into several languages. She loves dictionaries and cheesecake, hates spiders, and is crazy skateboarder (even if she is not very good!). Marzena lives in Brussels.
Berenika Koâomycka is a cartoonist, sculptor, illustrator, and recipient of the Grand Prix at the odz International Comics Festival. She's also the author of Tiny Fox & Big Boar series of comics for kids. She lives in Warsaw, Poland.
1. What was your inspiration for That Night a Monster?
Berenika: This was my first comic book for kids. I built a model of Thomas’ parents' room for this project in order to get into this story as much as possible. Playing with the light and taking pictures of such a model is very inspiring and sometimes the effect may surprise you. Sometimes your imagination is not flexible enough to find solutions completely out of your head, sometimes you need help. I really loved watching concept artworks of artists such as Eyvind Earle, Walt Peregoy, or John Hubley and many others. Watching the achievements of those fantastic artists helps me grow.
Marzena: With That Night a Monster, I wanted to dive into a child's imagination: how it can deform and transform reality, and how it can be rich and wild without borders. I also wanted the story to be a little funny and not too scary.
2. What was your favorite children's book growing up?
Berenika: I was totally devoted to children's poems written by our Polish poet Jan Brzechwa. I knew them by heart and kept images from these books, some of which I still have at home. I loved the illustrations from these fairy-tales and sometimes when I was a kid I fantasized and finished the stories myself. Polish illustrations from the 50's were amazing. Besides, I'm still a huge Moons fan to this day.
Marzena: I grew up on Andersen's stories, Grimm brothers', and of course Polish and Eastern European tales and poems. My favorite was Baba Yaga, and it still is. I am fascinated by this witch who scares generations of kids, and each time I go to the forest, I ask myself if she was ever there. And obviously Tove Jansson's Moomins.
3. What advice do you have for aspiring comic book writers and artists?
Berenika: Watch the world around you, take notes, and sketch, because human memory is unreliable. Above all, be honest and be humble. We are not the center of the universe and we can learn a lot of good things from others, so let's try to listen to them and not pretend that we know everything.
Marzena: Like our [character of That Night a Monster] Tommy, be curious without borders. Explore everything. Go where you never go. Surprises are around the corner. You don't have to go far to find them.
Thanks for reading, don’t forget to check out our giveaway of the That Night a Monster via Instagram! Have a happy, spooky Halloween.
Have you always dreamed of customizing your own pair of sneakers? It’s way easier than you ever thought. In honor of #Inktober, we thought we’d share a favorite DIY activity from ILLUSTORIA Issue #2: Canvas. Check it out!
-pair of canvas sneakers (or a piece of fabric if you don’t want to draw on your shoes)
-sharpie, fabric paint, or stamps with an ink pad
-brush, if you’re using fabric paint
-scrap piece of paper and pencil
Ask for your parent’s permission before decking out a design on a fresh pair of shoes!
Sketch out your shoe design on a piece of paper. Challenge yourself to come up with your very own logo or catch phrase!
Once you’ve settled on a design, grab a sharpie, fabric paint + brush, or stamps and ink and doodle to your heart’s content.
All done? Now it’s time to show em’ off! Head outside and display your awesome new kicks to the world.
Loved this DIY activity? ILLUSTORIA #1—7 are filled with even more rad do-it-yourself art projects, recipes and story telling activities from fabric painting to delicious cherry almond bars. Take a look here, and happy drawing.
In the past few months, Illustoria has received a tidal wave of support from librarians, independent shops, book reviewers, and readers across the country. We are incredibly humbled by the thoughtful reviews and positive feedback given to us from both seasoned Illustoria subscribers and new readers, and wanted to take a moment to share some of the kind words we’ve received. A very big, warm thank you to everyone who continues to support our indie mag, whether by ordering Issue #7: Black and White, pre-ordering Issue #8: Home, checking us out at your local library or bookstore, or sharing the mag and our mission to inspire creativity in all with your friends and family. We highly encourage you to check out the work of Fab Book Reviews, Let’s Talk Picture Books, Book.Nosed, Happily Ever Elephants, J.T. Moore Library, Sarah Walsh, and Ziraffe Store —all high quality advocates (and creators!) of art, literature, and children’s goods.
Michelle, Fab Book Reviews
It might be safe to say that I quite love this magazine- such a terrific and welcome surprise! It is a keeper of a magazine- and it is one that you really do want to happily save (and re-read) alongside comics, art books, graphic novels, etc. I could see this magazine making a home in an elementary and/or middle school; maybe even at a high school or at an art program/institution. It might even be worth exploring for a library whose patronage is especially art/comic-focused. On the whole, ILLUSTORIA is beautiful and high-quality. As someone who is so entrenched in kid lit (and delighted to be familiar with some artists featured), ILLUSTORIA is a special delight; I feel that the magazine is just perfect for other children’s librarians! Teachers and educators would find much to love in the magazine as well and want to share with colleagues and students; but the reach of the magazine really does extend to any individuals- kids and grown-ups alike!- who enjoy any of the aspects and topics that the magazine focuses on.
Mel Schuit, Let’s Talk Picture Books
Though I've already seen a few other issues I still gasped when I opened this one. Basak Agaoglu? Rebecca Green? Natalie and Lauren O'Hara?? If these names sound familiar, you're on the right track: they're all people I've interviewed here on the site! And with good reason—they're all immensely creative and relatively new to the industry. What a unique and creative way to showcase new and talented illustrators and still keep things cohesive under a general theme. Not to mention there are a ton of people included within that I cannot wait to go out and research!
I dragged out my copy of @illustoria_mag from my inspiration box (nestled next to my twice-used watercolors) today as I geared up to create. The article on creating natural dyes inspired me to fill my watercolor pen with my leftover morning coffee! 🙌🏼💥☕️✊🏼
@illustoria_mag’s issue 6 - The Symbols Issue is here! We LOVE it. The new issue explores the meaning we find in letters, shapes, objects and more through the eyes of many creative artists, writers, and makers. It is packed full of original and inspiring stories, art, interviews, and DIY that will get the creative juices flowing in readers of all ages.
Lauren Davis, Happily Ever Elephants
How many of you adored reading Highlights as a kid? If you were anything like me, you ❤️loved ❤️getting a kids’ magazine in the mail just for you! Well how about trying a super cool, super artistic, and super educational new magazine for your kids and students? Illustoria is a tri-annual print mag and a new fave of ours, and it’s one I definitely recommend checking out and getting a subscription to! The magazine celebrates storytelling, makers and DIY culture, and it’s just awesome. The edition featured here, the seventh issue entitled “Black & White,” features interviews with illustrators, fun comics, black and white crafts and more. It’s a stellar read, informative, and fantastic for both kids and grownups alike. Check out @illustoria_mag now! This also makes a fantastic gift for the holidays which will be here before we know it!
Joanne Meiyi Chan and Mark Rogero imagined a magazine for kids ages 6 to 12 that concentrated on visual storytelling, DIY activities, and creative collaboration with up-and-coming writers and illustrators that are new to the playground of children's publishing. Chan and Rogero's vision debuted in 2016 to critical acclaim from School Library Journal, Library Journal, and award winning children's author Cece Bell to name a few…. The writing is challenging but accessible, making this a read that is most beneficial with a grownup alongside to give some of the authors, artists, and histories context.
Andreas Frisch, ILLUSTORIA subscriber
I really love the magazine as do my two daughters and we consider issue #4 the most perfect magazine ever printed. We frequently browse through it and always, always find something new and inspiring in it. Almost as if something essential in the universe aligned perfectly and as a result produced that magazine.
Sarah Walsh, Illustrator
AMAZING MAGAZINE ALERT! Wow, finally able to look at my first issue of @illustoria_mag that came in the mail weeks ago! It’s absolutely gorgeous, fun to read and you can tell it’s made with the utmost care and consideration. It’s really giving me life right now as I’ve been functioning in burn out mode 😣 There’s even a piece about the quilts of Gee’s Bend which if you’re not familiar I highly recommend learning about. Truly inspiring 🌈💙✨Thank you Illustoria Mag for putting something so beautifully inspiring into the world! Lovely cover image by @marinamuun and wonderful Gee’s Bend piece by @clur_astroid
Looking for a fun and simple art project to do with your kiddos or friends? Look no further! With just a few simple materials you can make upcycled paint chip banners (or individual bookmarks) and fill an afternoon with art-making, collaboration, and silly antics around the table. Here at Illustoria we believe in inspiring creativity every day with the simplest of materials and the best of friends and loved ones. Enjoy!
Paint chip cards
Collage paper (old magazines, tissue paper, construction paper, etc.)
Pens or Crayons
For 3 or more people
1. Each person is given a paint chip, box of collages papers, pen, scissors, glue.
2. Set time for 2 minutes! Personalize the paint chip as much as you can, snip it/ glue stuff on it, doodle!
3. When the timer goes off, pass it left for your partner to continue for another 2 mins.
4. Keep going ‘round and add paint chips when you feel like one is complete.
5. Hole punch your paint chips at the top and use twine to string through.
Ta da! A collaborative paint chip banner made by you and your friends :-)
It's clear that we love Lindsay Stripling here at ILLUSTORIA. Not only did she do the breathtaking cover for Issue 4: Grow, but she does regular features with Alexis Joseph (hi, Case for Making!) on the brief history of all of the coolest colors. A master of watercolors, she creates amazing fantastical worlds and nature-infused portraits that make you contemplate what your inner animal would be. From creating a booklet series to teaching classes, Lindsay puts her expertise to spread the good word of watercolor. We were able to pick her brain on all things creative, so be prepared to get inspired by her rad art!
What are you currently working on?
Currently I am working on the second booklet in my watercolor booklets series, this one will be for people looking for expanded information on how to paint with watercolor. I planned a mural for Point Reyes Bookstore which is nautical themed, I just hung a tiny show in June at Fayes Video in the Mission District here in SF, and I am always working on commissioned paintings.
How did you transition from your day job to being a full time artist?
Well, honestly its still a work in progress. I currently work full time as a restaurant manager for my friends at Outerlands here in the Sunset, I teach watercolor classes at Case for Making regularly and I try and have a regular painting schedule when I am not doing those things. It is hard to balance and I think I will be taking the plunge soon into working freelance full-time, but that is a scary and exciting step, and one that I don’t take lightly. I believe in checking in with myself regularly, assessing where i am at mentally as well as financially- being an artist requires a lot of administrative work that isn’t as fun as the painting part, but over the years I have come up with my own systems that work for me.
Can you talk about your process of creating a work/project/book/zine/product from start to finish, and share some process pics with us?
When i am working on a painting or an illustration, I first start with really loose sketches. It is hard for me to allow myself to make quick doodles and concept sketches, so I do them as really small thumbnails. Then I choose my favorite layout from there and do a more detailed sketch- or sometimes I move straight into my under drawing. I typically draw out my painting first in a 3H or 4H pencil on watercolor paper and then before painting I erase the majority of it. I like to erase it because it gives me the freedom to adjust small things, and also removes most of the pencil lines from the final. THEN i get to move into the fun part. I typically start with light washes to cover larger areas and then move into the detail colors and pieces. There is usually a part in the beginning as I am laying down washes where I hate the painting, or I can’t see it coming together. It is hard to push past that sometimes, but when I do and I trust in the process I am usually really happy with the result. And if I am not, I do it over again...
What makes watercolor your medium of choice?
Watercolor is so vibrant, accessible and easy to take with me on trips- and I LOVE watercolor paper. In the last few years I have gotten to work with Alexis at Case for Making to make watercolors from scratch and experiment with color in a different way than I ever have before.
We love the Brief Histories of Color series in the mag! What is your favorite color?
I don’t really have a favorite color, I love all of them too much. But I do have favorite color combos- a tried and true combo is dirty pink and burgundy with a splash of neon orange but recently I’ve been really into lemon yellow and brown (think old banana).
Much of your work involves half-human, half-animal characters. What would the animal-half of your body be?
Probably a coyote!
What were you like as a kid?
I was always swimming and playing different sports, and when I wasn’t doing that or going to school I was reading and drawing. I would make maps of stories that didn't exist yet because that was my favorite part of the books I would read. So many maps. I also would practice my handwriting all the time, my friends and I would spend hours drawing, making maps and copying our favorite handwriting.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist and writer?
I think I have always wanted to do that, I just didn’t know I actually could until I was much older. I had no actual examples of people around me who were artists or writers so it didn’t feel like something that was attainable. When I got older I realized that the best thing about this world we live in is that if you want to achieve something, you just gotta hustle. The best part of that is maybe you don’t achieve that thing that you were initially hustling for but you’ll figure out what it is that you want along the way, through many failures and mistakes and realizing who it is that you are and where it is that you actually want to go.
Come celebrate the release of #7: The Black & White Issue with some black-and-white activities and crafts! We will provide all supplies to make zines, cards, and drawings using white ink on black paper. Also make your own adorable b&w pom-pom bookmarks!
Our issue #7 sponsor Sakura of America will be giving away these FREE sets of Gelly Roll and Pigma Micron pens + pouch and stickers with every Illustoria Magazine purchase. All this at the lovely neighborhood shop, Morningtide, during the family-friendly, annual Solano Stroll. We look forward to seeing you there!
WHAT: ILLUSTORIA POP-UP + ISSUE 7 RELEASE!
847 Cornell Ave
WHEN: Sunday, September 9th, 2018
We hope to see you there!
xoxo ~ ILLUSTORIA
Today our art director, Elizabeth Haidle, shares a few tips on how to spark a certain magic with a simple tool which has quickly become our current best-ever, favorite doodle pen: Sakura's Gelly Roll White!
On the days when I put pencil to paper and nothing is coming to mind...or that point in a project where I've worked myself into a corner and none of the results are satisfying...I find that switching things up can work a certain magic.
Just reversing the light and darks—starting with black paper and drawing with white lines—usually leads to something refreshing, new and unexpected.
My son Eli and I tried out a thin black Strathmore paper and also their thick and luscious 'blackboard' paper, more like a cardstock.
(Which we both prefer, as more effects are possible....like smearing the paint before it dries and even layering more lines on top of that.)
We churned out a few as unusual birthday cards, with notes on the back—so much more interesting than buying something at the store.
Create your own original art. With these white pens you'll be guaranteed to get some stunning and impressive results.
Thanks to Sakura of America--our longtime sponsors--who will be giving away free Gelly Roll and Pigma Micron pens at the Illustoria pop-up shop at Morningtide next weekend, Sunday, Sept 9th.
If you haven't heard of the multi-talented, rad cartoonist, teacher, illustrator, and writer Jess Smart Smiley, you're in for a treat. Smiley is based in Utah and has created six rad kid's books including Upside Down: A Vampire Tale and Rude Dude Book of Food. His bold drawing style and witty characters are not only smile-inducing, they're approachable. By creating hilarious, instantly love-able personalities out of simple shapes and lines, Smiley makes illustration inviting for readers of all ages and drawing skill. In his latest book Let's Make Comics Smiley leads readers through a roller-coaster ride of 90 jam-packed activity pages that offers a foundation for any budding cartoonist. Best friends Peanut (a turtle donning a top hat) and Bramble (a lady-bug loving bear) star as the teachers of the activity book, creating mischief and adventure on every page. Because the book is set up with its own comic book narrative, Smiley makes learning the ins-and-outs of drawing feel just like watching Sunday morning cartoons. And for kids and grownups that have a paralyzing fear of picking up a pen, this book is a refreshing antidote. We were lucky enough to pick Jess Smart Smiley's brain a bit about the joys and challenges of being a professional artist, the process of making Let's Make Comics, and some of his favorite graphic novel and comic recommendations. We hope you enjoy, and don't forget to check out ILLUSTORIA's Instagram giveaway of the book running now until June 31st!
Hi Jess! Tell us about yourself.
Jess Smart Smiley is a joke. Seriously. He makes rad pictures with his bare hands and has helped more than 1,000 children, teenagers, and adults create their very first comics. See more at jess-smiley.com.
What was the last thing you made with your hands?
I drew this tiger face in my sketchbook.
In your latest release, Let’s Make Comics, you offer tons of creative, engaging ways for comic book beginners to start creating their own story lines. What was the inspiration behind this book?
6 years ago I was invited to teach a week-long comics workshop to teenagers. I came up with the activity pages as a way for students to complete a comic while also exploring the nature of comics, the role of words and pictures, and a variety of tools, methods, and techniques for creating comics. Since that very first workshop, I’ve used the activity pages to introduce children and their parents to the exciting world of storytelling through comics!
What do you love most about creating comic books?
Because a comic can display several illustrations on a single page, it gives me the opportunity to draw a character I love from a bunch of different angles, in a variety of situations, and with a range of emotional expressions.
Can you talk about your process of creating Let’s Make Comics from start to finish, and share some process pics with us?
Sure! Once I had created a handful of activity pages for my workshop and had seen how helpful they were for beginning creators, I started writing ideas for other possible pages onto index cards. I used something like 350 index cards and then picked my favorite 100 or so from the stack.
From here, I grabbed a bunch of blank 8.5" x 11" copy paper and spent some time drawing very rough versions of each activity. The drawings were sloppy and the writing wasn’t usually well-thought-out, but my goal was to get the idea down on paper in a way that I could understand and make a final version from.
I scanned each rough activity page and pulled them one at a time into Photoshop, where I created new layers for my final drawings, colors, and text.
(As a side note, there was one Sunday when I still had something like 20 activity pages to rough out. I was starting to lose steam from so much drawing, but there was a sudden rainstorm and our power went out. I love a good rainstorm, so I sat on the porch and drew the final 20 pages, charged by the energy of the storm.)
If you could be any comic book character from history, who would you be and why?
Probably Snoopy. Now THERE’S a dog who knows how to have a good time! Plus, his dog house can fly!
What were you like as a kid?
Quiet. Timid. Always drawing in class. I loved playing basketball and kickball at recess and reading everything from Roald Dahl and Beverly Cleary.
What is the most challenging part about being an artist/writer/maker?
Pitching a new idea. Publishers want to make great books, but they can’t just trust a creator to do whatever they want. Publishers want to know what your next book will be before you’ve made it. That means a creator has to prepare some illustrations and writing that demonstrate and describe a book before it ever exists. If I don’t put enough thought into the drawings and writing in my pitch, then I leave too many gaps in the story and holes in the idea for publishers to guess at. It’s like not finishing a sentence—and how often do people guess at exactly what you were trying to say?
Where/ do you feel your most creative?
When I’m working on a project I’m really enjoying, but also have time to explore doodling in my sketchbook and time to read.
What is your favorite activity from Let’s Make Comics?
I love watching children, teenagers, and adults complete the “Let’s Take a Walk” activity on page 26. The comic is missing backgrounds and environments, so it’s up to the reader to draw their own into the comic.
What are some comics every kid should get their hands on, ASAP?
There are so many great comics out there and I’ll never be able to list them all. That being said, here are some of my favorites that I often recommend:
Bone by Jeff Smith is a wonderful fantasy adventure centered around a lovable cast of friendly cousins who find themselves in a magical and terrifying forest, where they encounter horrific creatures, the Great Red Dragon, and a host of mysteries.
The Hazardous Tales series by Nathan Hale recount true tales from history in an incredibly informative and entertaining way. There are currently 7 books in the series, covering everything from the Revolutionary War to the Donner party and World War II.
The Unsinkable Walker Bean by Aaron Renier is the book I’ve gifted the most—to young readers, to my cartoonist friends, and to anyone who enjoys a good story. Walker Bean is a young boy who takes to the high-seas in an attempt to relieve his grandfather from an ancient curse. Along the way, Walker Bean encounters pirates, sea witches, mysterious machines, and a magical glowing skull. Do yourself a favor and read it before the sequel comes out this October!
Raina Telgemeier’s Smile tells the story of the author’s sixth-grade experience with injuring her front teeth, getting braces, trying to understand boys, and finding her true friends.
Luke Pearson’s Hilda books are incredibly charming, filled with beautiful illustrations, giants, sprites, trolls, and hounds, adventurous stories, idyllic landscapes, and a curious blue-haired girl named Hilda. (Did I mention Hilda is coming to Netflix this Fall?!)
What is the day in the life of Jess Smart Smiley?
On any given day I might be working on a new comic, illustrating a picture book, designing a video game, creating character designs, developing story ideas, drawing in my sketchbook, teaching a comics workshop, or doing some combination of these things.
I prefer to wake up and get right to work, usually by finishing something I started the night before. (It’s helpful for me to finish something early in the day, so I can stay motivated to keep going.) I keep a to-do list in my sketchbook of different things that need to be done for each of my projects, which makes it easy for me to know what to do next. I’ll often prioritize my projects by ranking them in the order they should be completed, and then I’ll try to come up with a rough idea of how much time any one task with take. I never have to ask myself What should I do next?, because I’ve already thought through what needs to be done.
After writing, drawing, and planning at home, I might spend a few hours working at the library, the local Barnes & Noble, or my neighborhood comic shop, Dragon’s Keep. I meet up with local business owners, friends, and fellow creators to talk about upcoming projects, or I might take the role of consultant, offering what I hope are helpful thoughts for writers, artists, comic book creators, and others in the community.
In-person events are also a big part of my schedule. Over the last few years I’ve been able to help more than 1,000 children, teenagers, and adults complete their first comics. I started with a week-long comics workshop, and have since introduced others to making comics at school visits, library events, Girl Scout meetings, comic conventions, book festivals, writing and art symposiums, and Skype visits. Last month I was able to visit a group of schoolchildren in Pakistan and a comic festival in England, all thanks to the magic of Skype!
I love seeing people’s reactions to Let’s Make Comics, and knowing that I’ll be teaching others about the things I’m learning about making comics helps me stay committed and really consider what I’m doing and how I’m doing it.
My family and I spend time together and I like to get a little reading in, maybe go for a walk, and then I do a little more drawing or writing before bed. Pretty exciting!
We hope you enjoyed this interview with Jess Smart Smiley! Don't forget to head on over to our Instagram for a chance to win Let's Make Comics in our giveaway (closes 7/31).
If you've got the comic-loving-bug, you will obsess over ILLUSTORIA's Issues #1 - #7. Each issue of ILLUSTORIA is filled to the brim with comics, illustrated short stories, interviews with artists, coloring pages, DIYs and more. Order an issue or a subscription today and fill your days with creativity!
School’s out and summer is settling in! It’s the best time of year for jumping in lakes, beating the heat with ice-cold drinks, and falling asleep in the shade with a good book. Don’t know where to start with all of the wonderful titles lining the shelves? We rounded up some of our favorites that are the perfect companions for all your summer adventures! There is plenty of time for fun activities, thrilling stories, and books that take you to a new and unique world during these long days.
The Kid's Awesome Activity Book by Mike Lowery
It’s no secret that we love Mike Lowery here at ILLUSTORIA - how can we resist the amazing doodle-esque illustrations and immensely fun activities?! This book has you coming up with some funky monsters hairstyles (mullets are back in, right?), deciphering secret messages, and creating a masterpiece to go on the walls of a museum. Lowery has made a book that is perfect for long car rides or sitting hanging out in the backyard. Plus, the book comes with stickers, finger puppets, and a fold out poster to keep you creative even when you can’t see the white spaces in the book anymore!
The Better Tree Fort by Jessica Scott Kerrin and Qin Leng
Jessica Scott Kerrin’s story will have you feeling nostalgic about long summer nights that were spent dreaming of the world’s raddest tree house - equipped with a skylight and fireman’s pole for getting down, obviously. The Better Tree Fort focuses on Russell who is building a tree fort with his dad, but can’t help but be jealous of the bigger one 3 doors down. After spending some time at the bigger fort, Russell realizes that his tree fort is better after all! We absolutely love Qin Leng’s watercolor illustrations, which we have gotten to know and love in her book A Family is a Family is a Family. She perfectly captures the ambiance of a summer’s DIY activity; we can almost hear the crickets chirping in the beautiful sunset spread.
Rad Girls Can by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl
This summer reading list wouldn’t be complete without including the newest edition of the Rad Women series with Rad Girls Can by Kate Schaltz and Miriam Klein Stahl. Their new book featuring 50 (FIFTY!) girls that have done, well, rad things that all of us are completely in awe about. Turning the focus onto girls under the age of 20, girls can see that they are never too young to stand up and make a difference. In fact, some of the most revolutionary ideas come from young minds! Flashback to Issue 5: Motion, Kate and Miriam talked to us about what inspires them and how to use their talents to support women and girls alike. Now the duo is releasing the third book in the series and we are more inspired to get out there and help more than ever. Rad Girls Can comes out July 17, so make sure to keep an eye out at your fav local bookstore!
Under the Canopy by Iris Volant and Cynthia Alonso
This one is for all of the nature lovers out there! Under the Canopy not only showcases Alonso’s stunning, colorful illustrations of some of the amazing trees that we find around the world but also highlights the cultural context of these seemingly everyday sightings. Did you know that Hawthorne trees were thought to be the meeting place of Celtic fairies? Or that Anne Frank used to look out to a large Horse Chestnut Tree outside of her hiding spot in Amsterdam? Just because school is out doesn’t mean that the learning has to stop, especially when it is about awesome subjects like this! After reading this Flying Eye book, you’ll want to go out and see what trees you can find in your own backyard. (Super cool bonus: check out Cynthia’s sweet illustrated story in Issue 6: Symbols.)
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
While this might not exactly be beach reading, Ghost Boys is a fantastic and necessary tale to be told. Jewell Parker Rhodes paints a heartbreakingly poignant story that is all too familiar - a young boy dies at the hand of a trigger happy policeman. This middle grade novel retells the story by weaving through time and relationships that were made both while alive and after death. He comes across many sides of the story, including another boy whose fate was not unlike his as well as the policeman's daughter, highlighting different perspectives of these events. While the hectic nature of school is gone, summer could be a great time to open up a conversation about these themes with your young one.
I Really Want to See You, Grandma by Taro Gomi
I Really Want to See You, Grandma is one of those books that we keep going back to over and over. Probably because Taro Gomi is a genius and we can’t stop looking at his illustrations, but also because this book reminds us of what it’s like to miss someone we are close to and do everything we can to see them. Gomi does a perfect job at creating a sweet story about the bond between a grandmother and granddaughter who both have the same idea to make a trip, but keep missing each other in the process. Though, this doesn’t discourage them and we get to follow these journeys, inspiring us to reach out to our grandparents too. Pack this book in your backpack and go on a journey to read it with a loved one!
The Forest by Riccardo Bozzi, Violeta Lopiz, Valerio Vidali
The Forest refuses to be put into a category, and that’s what we love about it. Bozzi, Lopiz, and Vidali do a phenomenal job at making every single aspect of this book special. The story is a sweet rendition of life - from birth to death - using the metaphor of a forest, but it doesn’t lay a heavy hand. Instead you follow travelers through stunning and bright illustrations that are paired with delicate cut outs, where you can see the forest through the physical perspectives of the travelers. Ending in full circle, the book inspires to not take life for granted and to appreciate the small things.
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
Shout out to all of us out there who feel as if we don’t fit in - Be Prepared’s for you! This comic focuses on Vera, a girl whose family and economic background doesn’t quite fit in with her other friends... They can afford the coveted (and expensive) "Historical Dolls". She decides to go to a summer camp and feels even MORE out of place then before. It’s a perfect story that is sure to give you some laughs while also acting as a gentle reminder that you aren’t alone. We all feel out of place sometimes. Not to mention, Vera Brosgol is able to capture the perfect summertime camp vibes.
Hoakes Island by Helen Friel and Ian Friel
Are you and your kiddo stuck inside when it’s hot enough to fry an egg outside? Have no fear! Hoakes Island will have you solving a mystery within one of the most interesting amusement parks ever. Complete with a fold out map and a detective magnifying glass, this book has you working your way through pages of puzzles with the help of some animal friends. What’s even cooler? Hoakes Island was written by a dad and daughter duo - Helen is a paper engineer and visual artist and Ian is a historian and has written books about ships. It inspires us to collab with our families and see the genius that comes out of it. So get your brains movin’ again and help save Hoakes Island!
The Great Dog by Davide Cali and Miguel Tanco
The Great Dog is a playful and comforting picture book that is a great summer read. A father walks his child down a great hallway of ornate family portraits while retelling their stories. Descending from a policeman, an athlete, and an astronaut, the pup wonders what he will be when he grows up. This makes us reminiscent of the long, hot summer days when we pictured what our lives will look like in the future. *Cough* My bounce house castle might still be under construction. The important thing to know, relayed in this book, is that no matter what you are you will be great. Plus, there is more than meets the eye to all of our great heroes, as noted by the snarky and beautiful illustrations done by Miguel Tanco.
That Night, a Monster by Marzena Sowa and Berenika Kolomycka
You know that feeling after watching a scary movie where everything feels spooky? Even the tree right outside your window? That’s what Tommy, the little boy who went to wake up his parents on a Saturday morning, felt; his mom turned into a fern! Of course, she did not turn into a fern, but rather had a bad hair day that got out of control. That Night, a Monster is a self-aware graphic novel that plays with our worst fears, but in a light-hearted way that makes you turn around an appreciate what you have. Plus, these painted panels by artist Berenika are so silly and relatable at the same time that they remind us that our fears can be the scariest thing of all! The book is on sale August 21, 2018, but is available for pre-order now.
If you're looking for even more, check out: Boats on the Bay, Book of Bones, Square (it would be an understatement to say we adore everything by the duo Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen!), and The Wild Robot Escapes.
So there you have it - enough books to fill those times when you are bored in the summer and need a creative pick-me-up. We hope you enjoyed them as much as we did and we want to see what books you've enjoyed this summer. Show us what you've been reading on Instagram @illustoria_mag and be on the lookout for the release of Issue 7: Black & White. You can pre-order it now!
The summer equinox is here folks, and that’s pretty much the adult-version of throwing textbooks in the air and sprinting out of 7th period with “School's out for the Summer” by Alice Cooper blasting out of the school’s PA. In addition to being known as the beginning of summer, the time when dreams of pools and working AC machines flood our minds, June also importantly marks LGBTQ+ Pride Month and the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.
During Pride, we take to the streets to honor our sisters and brothers of the not-so-far-away past who fought fiercely for the queer and trans community as well as those who continue to pave the way for a more inclusive future. When all the dust (and glitter) from Pride parades across the nation has settled, we remember June as a celebration of inclusion, diversity and love. With this short reading list, we hope to commemorate exemplary releases of kids' literature that embody the inclusion of Pride Month. The books featured were chosen for their representation of gender-nonconforming and/or queer characters as well as LGBTQ+ civil rights leaders.
Here at Illustoria, we’re still dreaming of an even more diverse children’s book world, where overlooked or ignored voices are embraced (anyone up for writing a picture book on Audre Lorde or Martha P Washington?). But in the meantime, we’re jumping for joy about these incredible releases. We hope you enjoy our list, and have a happy Pride Month!
George by Alex Gino
In a forward-thinking addition to the middle-grade genre, Alex Gino has penned a tender story of a fourth grader named George whose male body doesn’t fit her true identity. George longs to star as the female spider Charlotte in the school production of “Charlotte’s Web” rather than Wilbur, the male pig, but worries whether her family and community will understand. With a main character that is as eloquent as she is strong, George soars beyond the typical story of the challenges of being young and queer. Better yet, George offers much needed visibility to gender-nonconforming and transgender communities in children’s literature, and is a story of bravery that every middle grade student should read and re-read.
Reading Level: 3rd grade +
Lumberjanes 50 by Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh, illustrated by Dozerdraws & Brooklyn Allen
Lumberjanes is a graphic novel series that is bursting at the seams with feminist joy. The story takes place at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, and is attended by campers known as Lumberjane Scouts. Each book in the series brings readers on the adventures of a rough and tumble group of five best friends, each unique in their own right. The playful, beautifully colored illustrations are to die for, and the pop culture references couldn’t be cooler (catchy phrases used by the Lumberjane crew include, “What the Joan Jett?” and “Oh My Bessie Coleman”). Plus, each issue features a music playlist by one of the characters, inspiring fan art, and a rotating lineup of illustrators that keep the comic fresh and exciting. We love this series for its diverse representation of young queer characters and storylines, slapdash sense of humor and heartening stories of friendship. Lumberjanes is celebrating its 50th issue with an oversized anniversary edition which features the incredible editor Shannon Watters (co-creator of the series), acclaimed writer Kat Leyh (who has also written for Adventure Time, Bravest Warrior and Steven Universe), illustrator Dozerdraws and long time series illustrator Brooklyn Allen. Lumberjanes 50 is an absolute dream come true for seasoned fans of the series, but if you're a newbie we suggest beginning with the very first issue Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware The Kitten Holy.
Reading Level: 4th grade +
A Family is A Family is A Family by Sara O'Leary, illustrated by Qin Leng
This sweet-as-a-peach tale demonstrates just how diverse and beautiful a family can be. In it, a teacher asks a classroom to think of what makes their family special. The young narrator becomes worried, thinking “My family is not like everyone else’s.” But to her surprise, each student who shares a story about their family is more unique than the next. There are mix race families, adoptive families, gay and lesbian families, families led by grandparents and everything in-between. Soon, the narrator realizes that families comes in all shapes and sizes; what they have in common is the love that brings them together. With cheerful writing by Sara O’Leary and adorable (yet modern) watercolor illustrations by Qin Leng, A Family is A Family is A Family strikes the perfect match of showing appreciation for inclusion without being pedantic or corny.
Reading Audience: Preschool +
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Two rounds of applause are deserved for the outstanding picture book Julian is a Mermaid. One is for Jessica Love, who has created what so many authors and illustrators aspire to: a book with a setting so vivid the reader becomes entranced, and a groundbreaking, socially conscious storyline that sets it apart from the rest. Another round of applause for the main character Julian, whose confidence and ingenuity will leave them starstruck.
In Love’s story, a little boy named Julian is riding the bus home with his abuela one day when he becomes captivated by three utterly gorgeous mermaids who step on board. They appear like something out of a dream, with long flowy hair and turquoise dresses. As soon as he gets home, Julian balls out in mermaid attire, fashioning for himself a plant headdress, billowing skirt made from a curtain and bright red lipstick. When his abuela finds him, there is a brief moment of fear --will Julian be reprimanded for breaking gender norms he doesn’t yet know exist? Readers hold their breath as the grandmother takes his hand and leads him on a mysterious route. Soon Julian, still in full princess garb, is surrounded by beautiful beings that look just like him. In the book's joyous ending, it becomes clear that his loving grandmother has brought him to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, to be among the underwater gods and goddesses just like him.
Julian is a Mermaid’s morale is as touching as it is richly layered. Readers may interpret the story as one of a young boy’s self discovery, a tale of the abundance of beauty and character found in brown and black communities (the book takes place in Brooklyn, New York), or a narrative about the loving bond between an abuela and her grandson. No matter how the story is interpreted, there is no doubt readers will pour over the details Love works into every nook and cranny of the book (check out the cool-as-can-be lemonade sippers or hip man walking his wiener dog). It’s this thoughtfulness towards character, setting and storyline that has us over the moon for this treasure, that we have our bets on becoming an award-winning picture book very soon.
Reading Audience: Preschool +
Wave a Flag for Harvey Milk Sing-along Coloring Book by Mr. Greg
At long last, a coloring book for a hero of San Francisco and the LGBTQ+ community at large, Harvey Milk. The artist behind this rad creation is Mr. Greg, a SF-based teacher and indie record label owner.
"Each year, my preschool class in San Francisco leads an assembly in honor of Harvey Milk. After searching fruitlessly for an age-appropriate book or song about Harvey Milk to share with my preschoolers, I decided to write and illustrate one myself. I wrote Wave a Flag for Harvey Milk as a way to introduce the preschoolers to the positive things that Harvey Milk did for San Franciscans in particular, and the LGBT community at large. The words of the book are the lyrics to an accompanying song that I sing with my students." Mr. Greg explains.
The coloring book features quirky illustrations as well as narration that doubles as an interactive sing-along. Click here (link provided in the coloring book) to hear the original song, which features indie musician legend Cass McCombs. The wholesome, catchy song is a work of art in its own right, and can be likened to the greatness of the School House Rock hits of the late genius Bob Dorough (known for writing and singing Three is the Magic Number and Conjunction Junction among many others).
The coloring book can be purchased here. If you’re a fan of the coloring book and music, be sure to check out the rest of the goodies put out by Mr. Greg’s record label Secret Seven Records. For another great children’s book read on Harvey Milk, read Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag.
Audience: Preschool +
We hope you greatly enjoyed our Pride Month Book Review! At ILLUSTORIA, it is our mission to publish stories that champion inclusion with a diverse lineup of illustrators and writers. Check out Issue 5: Motion for our interview with the dream team behind Rad Women A-Z, Rad Women Worldwide and Rad Girls Can author Kate Schatz and artist Miriam Klein Stahl who talk about their goals of prioritizing stories about women of color, becoming a part of the Bay Area's feminist punk scene, and the importance of getting readers of all ages and genders excited about social justice.
Are you an artist, writer, illustrator or maker who would love to contribute to ILLUSTORIA? Well, we'd love to hear from you! We're on the look out for work inspired by the theme "home" for Issue 8. We welcome submissions that interpret "home" in unique, unexpected ways. Think: sustainability, immigration, native lands, haunted houses, utopias and beyond.
In particular, we're interested in:
- a couple of 1- to 2-page comics or illustrated stories
-spot art or standalone illustrations + minimal text or poetry
-1–3 panel comic strips for our Comic Mixup feature
1. Before submitting, familiarize yourself with ILLUSTORIA’s past issues.
2. If sending art, please send a small description of the article or story you have in mind. If the work is sport art / a standalone illustration please note it as such.
3. Please submit work as small, web friendly files. Please don’t use file-sharing services with links that might expire or that require us downloading your work in order to view it.
4. Include full contact information: phone, email, and mailing address, website and social media channels.
5. Fiction and nonfiction manuscripts should include an exact word count; poetry manuscripts should include an exact line count.
For more information on submissions, please look here.
Submission Deadline: July 10th, 2018
Happy Father's Day! Here is a special DIY just for the occasion.
Are you looking for something to give your dad, grandpa that shows him how rad he is? Need something new to add some pizzazz to your routine outfit?
Make these super easy and fun patches and badges to show off your creativity and throw something unique into your summer wardrobe. And the best part is, you can make them any color, size, and shape that you want!
This activity involves some sharp materials - always have an adult around to help out.
What you'll need:
- fabric (felt and canvas scraps work!)
- permanent markers/fabric markers
- needle & thread
- safety pin
How to do it:
1. Draw your design on a piece of fabric - keep in mind how big you want your patch to be! If you are comfortable embroidering, you can do that too.
2. Cut the desired shape of your patch around your design. Next, cut the back piece of fabric**.
**If you want a simple patch, just cut another piece of fabric the same size or a little bit larger than your first piece (see squares A & B). If you want to make a badge, cut a larger piece and don’t forget the tails (see square C).
3. Using a fun colored piece of thread or embroidery floss, sew the two pieces together! An easy way to do this is to follow the shape of the top layer. Another option is to use a hot glue gun with an adult to glue the pieces together.
Don't forget to knot the thread in the back of the patch!
4. All done! To attach, put the safety pin through the back layer (so it does not poke through the top layer) and put on your shirt, backpack, or anything!
Optional step: gift to your dad or best friend for a rad custom gift that they can show off!
Rebecca Green here (you can call me Becca!). I had the pleasure of creating the cover for Illustoria Issue #7, The Black and White Issue, and today we're going to walk through a bit of the creative process behind the illustration.
Besides sending along keywords, details about the features, and some of my previous art they were drawn to, Joanne and Beth of Illustoria gave me a lot of freedom to choose which direction I wanted to go with the artwork. Immediately, I knew I wanted to draw a little boy with black and white animals. I started with this simple sketch.
The drawing, I decided, needed something more. The boy would be...an artist! Complete with an easel and lots of brushes and markers. One thing I did like in the first drawing was the use of one simple color. Green felt right. (and not because it's my last name!) The sketch was drawn in colored pencil (I use Faber-Castell and Prismacolor).
As you can see, I drew some of the elements on a separate piece of paper and cut them out so I could try out placing them in multiple places. One I had my complete sketch, I scanned it, cleaned it up a bit in Procreate (on my IPad), and send it in for approval.
Once the sketch was approved (this meant making the image a little bigger and enhancing the butterfly), I went to work on the final. I created the final illustration in gouache and colored pencil. Here are some peeks of the cover before it was edited!
The final illustration was edited in Procreate and Photoshop, along with the hand-lettered text. When finished, it was sent to the kind folks at Illustoria and voilà! A cover was born!
There you have it - a glimpse into the world of the cover creation. Hope you guys enjoy the issue, and thanks for letting me share a peek into my process. And thanks to Illustoria for having me!
For days when you feel like you're in an art rut, simply out of ideas or just plain bored, here's a rad, instantly inspiring DIY drawing project to keep in your back pocket. Have you ever tried drawing.... in reverse? Sounds strange and even a little intimidating, but it's actually a fantastic way to spark your imagination without breaking a sweat. By using an eraser to draw instead of a pencil or pen, your page suddenly becomes a playground for zany, totally original ideas, doodles, and experimental drawings. Grab your eraser and get ready to look at the world in a whole new way!
What you need:
- Graphite Powder (get at an art supply store or online)
- Erasers - large, small, all shapes
- Paper - cardstock, watercolor or multi-media…anything thicker than printer paper
- Larger placemat, newspaper, or something under your project…it can be a tad messy!
1. Using a crumpled up paper towel or tissue, dip into the jar of graphite powder and coat one side, then rub in circular motions across your page until an even tone of grey appears. (Don’t be afraid to press down quite a bit!)
2. Lightly brush any excess powder away by whisking another tissue across the surface. The graphite should be kind of ‘scrubbed into’ the paper, like a stain.
3. With a pencil, sketch in a few lines to show which shapes you intend to make lighter (might be the area around a shape, as in this case!) Erase with a giant eraser or kneaded eraser (my fav)
4. When you have the shape you’d like, fill in details with a finer eraser, the end of a pencil, or one of those refillable cartridge erasers (these can apply a decent amount of pressure)
5. Now add finishing details in pencil or pen. You can even overlay thin watercolor washes on top of the erased spaces or the graphite-tone parts, just be aware that the moment you put water down, it’ll fix your image on the page in a permanent way—no longer erasable.
Here are other images made using this method:
And a process vid, to see it in action:
Love this DIY project? Check out our Instagram Giveaway to win Elizabeth Haidle's completed piece from the DIY video (pictured above) ! More details on the giveaway can be found here. And stay tuned for more black-and-white themed DIY projects in our next ILLUSTORIA Issue #8: Black and White, coming oh-so-soon.
We're excited to share a few sneak peek images from The Pipers, a graphic-novel adaptation of a P.K. Dick short story from the 1950’s. Sci-fi lovers rejoice. Get updates on their progress, gain early access to their work, plus member perks and prizes at Studio Mascot. Far out ❕ 〰️
And don't miss out on Beth and Paul's gorgeous contributions to Illustoria. We're so honored to have their awe-inspiring artwork and insightful visual storytelling gracing the pages of our mag.
As part of our Stockist Showcase campaign, #ILLUSTORIAshopslocal, we’re interviewing the staff behind beloved shops that carry Illustoria, to spotlight the amazing people behind small businesses that make their neighborhoods so special. This week, we made a visit to Case For Making, the most dreamy studio supply shop located in the Outer Sunset district of San Francisco.
Enter through the doors of Case For Making, just a block away from windswept Ocean Beach, and you’re instantly transported into an artist’s wonderland. With a lush wooden interior and beautifully curated goods displayed in every corner, it’s easy to hole up in this cabin-esque shop for hours on end. For those who find themselves wandering in with nothing in mind, they, too will find it easy to roam through each nook and cranny.
I had the opportunity to interview Alexis Joseph, one of the co-founders of Case for Making. Her interest in color is what initially brought her into the world of watercolor paint making. Each Case for Making watercolor is a handmade, labor of love with rocks sourced from across the United States and then processed into pigment by Alexis and her team. If you don’t see Alexis at the shop, she might be running to and from their other location, thinking up the next new color to produce with the managers, or writing her regular feature to Illustoria magazine, "The Brief History of Color." (Check out Issues 4 - 6 to read the incredible stories behind ultramarine blue, vermillion, and ochre, written by Alexis Joseph and illustrated by Lindsay Stripling; and find more episodes in the series in upcoming issues of Illustoria). Thankfully, she could squeeze out some time during her schedule to answer a few questions about Case for Making.
How does Case for Making find the artists and makers who also inhabit the space?
A lot of the original supplies I stocked the shop with were all my favorite supplies that I have used throughout a lifetime of drawing and painting as well as architecture and drafting supplies I used in undergraduate and graduate school! I quickly saw that the products that we were selling the most of were watercolors and watercolor supplies, which worked out because its always been my favorite medium. Other things we stock are made by friends, so it feels extra special to carry their work and support them in that way. Anything we couldn’t find or just wanted to see a certain way, we decided to make ourselves!
Do you have a current favorite product/book/magazine that can be found at your shop?
We really love all the Illustoria magazines!!! Other than that we just got in a line of pure pigment and all the supplies you need to make your own paint! We love being able to share and teach all aspects of what we do here with everyone who walks in or joins us for a class or finds us online or through Illustoria.
How did you overcome the obstacles you faced before launching Case for Making?
I started Case for Making while I still had a full-time job. It took me three years in order to get the business (and myself) to a place where I could work full time only for Case for Making. It all took time and hard work and trusting myself to make decisions quickly. All in all, I had to learn how to get good at seeing what was working, and letting go of the things that weren’t.
What is different about Case for Making?
Our paired down selection of drawing and watercolor supplies compliments our in-house handmade products and supplies. We have over 70 colors of watercolor paint that we make by hand in the shops made from pure pigments that we source from all over the world mixed with natural binders. It’s fun to see this process in action and I hope people feel the love and care that goes into our products when they use them! Both shops are also active workspaces so you might see us mixing up fresh batches of paint or collating and gluing up packs of our letterpress watercolor postcards!
Do you have any big dreams or goals for your business?
We want to continue to develop not only our handmade line of watercolors but also a range of paper and ceramic products; who knows what else we’ll dream up! We just love approaching a creative practice from a place of curiosity in terms of material and process. I’m also working on my own studio practice and am reminding myself to incorporate advice that I’ve been handing out over the years into my own process!
Can you describe some of your typical customers? What do you enjoy most about helping your customers find the perfect book/watercolors/art supply/gift, etc.?
We love all of our customers so much and we get all sorts of people visiting the shop! We have people who follow us on Instagram and plan to visit the shop while they are here on vacation and we have neighborhood artists who get all their supplies from us. We also have lots of people stumble in who’ve never heard of us and they’re excited to try out some pens and hang out for a bit! Everyone who walks in is generally pretty happy to be in an art store and we love talking to everyone about the products we make and how we produce our watercolors. We also yell at anyone who comes in and says that they wish they were artistic; we say, “EVERYONE IS ARTISTIC!” Can you make a mark on paper? Fine then, make that mark over and over on a piece of paper with a pen or a pencil or with a brush and watercolor and see what you can make just with that!
Any advice for aspiring small business owners?
Simplify your idea, hone it, and build it out from there. I didn’t think I’d have a watercolor paint making company when I started an art store 4 years ago! It was all a response to what was working and what people were interested in combined with my experience and interests! Stay flexible yet clear with yourself on what it is that you’re excited about and then clearly state that in every aspect of your business!
And as always, if Case for Making were an animal, which animal would it be?
Easy. We’d be an Octopus because they have pigment in their skin and can change color on demand all of which is based on their own process of trial and error! They also have 8 arms so they could draw and paint many things at once! They’re the coolest.
Thanks to Alexis for taking the time to chat about this amazing studio supply shop! Be sure to check out their Instagram caseformaking for regular updates and loads of paint making Instagram stories! Case for Making and Lindsay Stripling are also regular contributor's to Illustoria with their incredible feature "The Brief History of Colors". Check out Issues 4 - 7 to read the stories behind vermillion, orche and ultramarine blue.
80 Wythe Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11249
Saturday, May 19th
Join us for an afternoon of crafting, story time, shopping, and catching up with friends at the Wythe.
New Yorkers and Brooklynites! We are so thrilled to be making an appearance at the historic building of the Wythe Hotel. Come see us on Saturday, May 19th, from 12:00–2:00 PM, where we will be leading an adorable art-making activity perfect for all ages. Hosting this event is Avion Clothier, an LA & NY-based designer and store close to our hearts. Soor Ploom will also be on hand showing off their gorgeous line of children's clothes. Best of all, Basak Agaoglu, an acclaimed children's book illustrator and creator of The Almost Impossible Thing, will be reading from her book and talking about her craft and process as an artist to inspire your creative kiddos. Bring family and friends and join us for this perfect afternoon at the Wythe!
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Invite artwork by Basak Agaoglu; design by Claire Astrow
Symbols are everywhere, from the language we use to say "I love you" to the beat of a drum telling you to shake your hips. Take a trip with us to the dreamy world of shapes and sounds in the Issue 6: Symbols playlist! This mix features an eclectic melting pot of Zambian "Zam-rock", Turkish folk, and psychedelic electronica that make the perfect backdrop for art making, dancin' or just hanging out on a Thursday afternoon!
Hope you enjoy the tunes, and make sure to follow us on Spotify for groovy playlists of Issues 1 - 6!