Illustoria's Fav Kids' Books of 2017

 
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2017 is coming to a close folks, and you know what that means! Time to look back at all of the books this year that have provoked, charmed, inspired and anchored us. This year more than ever before, we've sought to celebrate the qualities that bring our friends and neighbors together while simultaneously honoring what makes our communities unique. In times of uncertainty, books such as Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris, Ghost by Jason Reynolds and This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe have guided difficult but fruitful conversations with our families and illuminated the beauty and strength that exists in complex, richly diverse spaces. This list wouldn't have been possible without the thoughtful recommendations of our dear friends at Mr. Mopps' Books, our favorite little bookstore in Berkeley, California. We hope some of your own favorites are on this list, and that you discover some new treasures to check out in the new year. 
 

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris 

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Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris 

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris 

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris

As if Dave Eggers, founder of the literary journal McSweeny's, co-founder of 826 Valencia, and author of This Bridge Will Not Be Grey (among many other adult novels,  such as What is What), could be any more genius or cool, his newest children's book Her Right Foot knocked us right out of the park. This timely story explains the significance and history of the Statue of Liberty, a topic that is especially poignant in a year when immigration and citizenship in the United States made headlines day after day. The illustrations by Shawn Harris are deceptively simple, but don't be fooled. Each page was a pain-staking labor of love by Harris, who drew sketches, then cut, edited, and arranged each detail of the illustrations in paper. Check out his website to see how several of the pages came together, from beginning to end.

Nina; Jazz Legend & Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone by Alice Brière-Haquet and illustrated by Bruno Liance

Nina; Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone by Alice Brière-Haquet and illustrated by Bruno Liance 

Nina; Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone by Alice Brière-Haquet and illustrated by Bruno Liance 

Nina; Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone by Alice Brière-Haquet and illustrated by Bruno Liance

Nina; Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone by Alice Brière-Haquet and illustrated by Bruno Liance

Nina; Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone by Alice Brière-Haquet and illustrated by Bruno Liance

Nina; Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone by Alice Brière-Haquet and illustrated by Bruno Liance

This book takes on two equally difficult challenges, first, of honoring the life and legacy of Nina Simone, and second, of explaining racial inequality to young readers. Unlike the many children’s books that water down challenging topics or simply avoid them all together, Alice Briere-Haquet and Bruno Liance do immense justice to their subject matter, taking both Nina Simone’s life as a civil-rights activist and their audience seriously. Bruno Liance’s quietly gorgeous charcoal illustrations will take your breath away and Alice Briere-Haquet’s poetic narration will empower and strengthen. Thanks to this great book, and Nina Simone’s recent induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we have lots to celebrate.

This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe 

This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe

This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe

This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe

This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe

This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe

This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe

Who needs all the packing and potential nausea of world travel when you can just pick up This is How We Do It; One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World? This masterpiece of a book will introduce you to the customs, food, favorite after school activities homes and adorable quirks of kids from Uganda to Russia. By teaching us the commonalities that exist among such different lives, This is How We Do It wins Illustoria’s award for The-Book-We-Really-Needed-In-2017. So pack your imaginary bags (no 8 oz bottles necessary!) and good luck not falling in love with all of the families you meet on the way.

 

Yak and Dove by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Esmé Shapiro

Yak and Dove, by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Esmé Shapiro

Yak and Dove, by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Esmé Shapiro

Yak and Dove, by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Esmé Shapiro

Yak and Dove, by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Esmé Shapiro

This book is an example of picture-book magic: when words marry illustrations to create a rich world that you'll want to visit over and over again. Shapiro’s artistry is rich with details and a warmth that invite you into the world of Yak and Dove—you’ll never want to leave! Yak and Dove is a story about friendship and celebrating differences but also so much more. Parents may see themselves and their kids in these characters. A takeaway: there is profound joy to be had in simply being present and appreciating those we love for who they are.


Lines by Suzy Lee 

Lines by Suzy Lee 

Lines by Suzy Lee 

Lines by Suzy Lee

Lines by Suzy Lee

We can’t get enough of the uber-talented Suzy Lee. The creator of WaveShadow, and Open This Little Book brings her deceptively simple, majestic storytelling to her latest masterpiece: Lines, where the graceful lines created by the blade of a skate on a frozen pond by a young skater interweave with the storytellling lines made by an artist with the tip of her pencil. The youngest readers will enjoy every turn of the page, which progresses cleverly with each spread. There’s a heartwarming message about perseverance, artistry, and letting go of perfection that will resonate with all ages. Older readers will appreciate the subtle shift from black lines on a white page to the inverse. Every element of Lee’s quietly powerful storytelling is like poetry, a meditation on creative expression in its purist form. 

The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen 

The Wolf, the Duck & The Mouse by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen 

The Wolf, the Duck & The Mouse by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen 

The Wolf, the Duck & The Mouse by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

The Wolf, the Duck & The Mouse by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

The Wolf, the Duck & The Mouse by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

The Wolf, the Duck & The Mouse by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Oh woe. Oh me! The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse is a picture book to die for. Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, the power duo behind Triangle and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole out-do themselves in their latest Kafka-esque tale of a duck and mouse that get swallowed by a wolf and decide to call it home. If you're a fan of stormy woodland Eastern Europe children's tales such as Hedgehog in the Fog  (a classic 1975 film by Yuriy Norshteyn later published as a children's book in 2006) or the fantastically dark tales of Roald Dahl, you'll love this delightful tale. 

Meet the Artist: David Hockney by Rose Blake 

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The first thing that popped into our heads when we saw Meet the Artist: David Hockney by Rose Blake was " So. Jealous." So jealous of the kiddos that can enjoy this extremely cool activity book (on one of the coolest artists of all time, no less) which is filled to the brim with innovative projects, hip Hockney-inspired doodles, and introductions to the artist's life and work. In a world filled with artist bios for kids that feel outdated and stale, Blake's activity book sets the bar high. Celebrate the art legend's 80th birthday (born July 9, 1937!) with this book, and if you're lucky enough, the amazing Hockney retrospective on view at The Met until February 25, 2018. 

Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez 

Nighlights by Lorena Alvarez

Nighlights by Lorena Alvarez

Nighlights by Lorena Alvarez

Nighlights by Lorena Alvarez

Nighlights by Lorena Alvarez

Nighlights by Lorena Alvarez

If you or your kiddo is a fan of gorgeous day-glo illustrations and seriously creepy storylines, Nighlights by Lorena Alvarez is the book to fawn over. This short story graphic novel stars Sandy, a talented and ever distracted artist who would rather doodle all day than pay attention to the drone of her school teachers. Sandy's troubles catch up her though when a supernatural creature named Morphie tries to convince her to use her drawing skills for evil. This book is perfect for anyone that is currently obsessed with the Hilda series by Luke Pearson and is ready to turn the scary dial up a couple notches. All who enter the surreal, sinister world of Nightlights beware: the cliff-hanger ending will have you praying that a prequel is in the works for 2018...  

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder 

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder 

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder 

It's no secret that here at Illustoria HQ, we can never have enough Laurel Snyder, author of award-winning books Swan, Charlie and Mouse, and The Forever Garden. She's also graced the pages of the mag in Issue 1: Beginnings with her Dusty Bookshelf recommendation and in Issue 2: Canvas with Martha Graham in Motion,  Her latest middle-grade novel Orphan Island made this year's National Book Award Longlist and is a masterpiece that will have you reading way, way past bedtime. The book takes place on a mysterious island inhabited by nine children and haunted by recurring tragedy. Every year, a boat appears on the island to take the eldest of the group and replace them with a new child. This eerie and thought provoking tale is a contemplation of childhood in all of it's beauty and terror. 

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate 

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate 

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate 

Why do books where trees take center stage pull at our heart strings so? First The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, then A House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and now: Wishtree, a 2017 bestseller by Katherine Applegate. In Applegate's heart-felt tale, Red is a 216-year-old oak tree who must make a change when a new family moves into the neighborhood. While the perspective of a stationary tree may first have readers scratching their heads, this pun-ny oak will open readers' hearts, and remind all why love, inclusion and diversity are the core of any strong community.     

 

Creator Crush: Willie Real

 
artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

Encapsulating the eclectic spirit, rich diversity and historical gravitas of San Francisco is no easy task. But the ultra nostalgic and mischievously charming illustrations by local Bay Area artist Willie Real make capturing the uniqueness of the 510 area code look effortless. With street scenes of anonymous pedestrians waiting for the bus and gorgeously detailed drawings of the Victorian structures distinct to California, Real's illustrations pull on the heart strings of anyone who aches for the foggy hilltops of SF. However, you don't have to know anything about the Bay to dig Real's illustrations. The satisfying geometric simplicity and bold sensibility in his work recalls the style of Mid-Century Modern children's book illustrations (think Miroslav Sasek and Bernice Myers) that are universally heart warming. Real's style veers from the trendiness of this mold with a distinctly urban coolness seen through his earthy color palette and edgy characters that are reminiscent of Bay Area street art legend Barry McGee

artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

We were lucky enough for Willie to grace the pages of Illustoria in our Issue #3: Outside-In, which featured his imaginative 263 Josephine, a story of a Victorian apartment complex with a heart of its own. Since then, we had the chance to pick Real's brain for a bit and get an inside scoop on his process, inspiration and fond memories as a kid growing up in SF. Check out more of Real's work on his website and Instagram

artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

Hi Willie, tell us a little about yourself! 
Hi, my name is Willie Real and I'm a freelance character designer and illustrator from San Francisco. When I'm not working or dabbling on my own projects I go outside and play in Golden Gate Park or along the Pacific Ocean.

What are you currently working on?
I just finished designing characters for an animated movie with a friend! It's a good time when you get to work with people you're close to. I'm doing visual development sketches for another animated project so it's been busy for me which is great. I still manage to get out for some personal sketching though. 

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?
This is an illustration or a portrait if you will, of a victorian home. 

1. This is my favorite part... I go sketch homes outside, all day! I pick the sketch I like and it's ok if it's not perfect, I'll tweak it to my liking later.

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2. I scan it in and twek away... finalizing my sketch. I print it out at the final size I want and tape the pieces together. 

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3. I trace/transfer the sketch onto bristol board using a light box. 

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4. Once the drawing is complete I'm ready to paint with acrylics and gouache. I establish my colors and values on my palette and paint away. I kept this one simple... yellow for the building, grey for the roof and a few accent colors for the door and the chimney. I start with lighter colors first, filling in all the shapes and colors and build up to the darks. Once the paint dries I add the drawing and details with prismacolor pencils. 

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5. I scan it back in, make any final adjustments I want and that's it!

artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

Where did you grow up? Where do you live now? 
I gre up in SF till I was 12 and moved to a small town in Sonoma County where I went to high school and later a Junior College. I live in SF now... the Lower Haight! 

What were you like as a kid?
Active. I loved playing outside with friends from the block in the Excelsior, playing tag, baseball and going to the deli on the corner. They gave us salami ends! When I wasn't outside I was conducting these elaborate scenarios in my imagination with my toys... that or always drawing away. 

artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

What were your favorite childhood books?
I remember the Highlights magazines from the doctor's office! Those were fun. 

Did you have a favorite subject in school? A least favorite subject?
From 1st grade all the way into High School I loved art classes. All of them! Painting, Drawing, Cursive Writing, Woodshop, Computer Graphics, Pottery... they all scratched the creative itch. Math was always tough for me... too many numbers! 

artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

Can you describe your first childhood memory?
Can't say this is the first but one of my earliest memories is when our parents would take us to La Taqueria in the Mission. I remember the smell, the mural and there were these wooden stools with leather weaving that looked like they were hand made a hundred years ago. They're still there today! The blue and red tiles along the sidewalks in the Mission are also a fond, early memory. 

artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

When did you know you wanted to be an artist and writer?
In high school my English teacher (Mrs. Wolf) pointed me in the right direction and told me that I had a passion I should pursue...and that illustration was an actual profession! I'm eternally grateful to her. 

Who or what inspires you?
Oh man, so many things...family, food, walking around the city, art museums, nature...I get so much out of 'the little things' in life. 

What is the most challenging part about being an artist/writer/maker?
I get nervous when showing personal work I've created. I think making art is a very personal, honest and intimate practice... an extension of yourself. You're putting yourself out there with your work which can be very scary and empowering as well. 

artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

Do you have a favorite project that you worked on?
Earlier this year I made a poster for the women's day march that took me a couple of hours.. short but very sweet. My sign was a portrait of my mom and it said 'Marching for my Momma'. She approved :)

artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

When do you feel your most creative?
Right after I've seen a great movie or an art show. It's very inspiring to see other makers and creatives succeed at their craft. It's a contagious feeling! I want to rush home and get my ideas down. 

artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

Do you have a favorite tool (type of pen, or brush, or paper, etc. --- related to your work)? 
Grey Tombo markers and black prismacolor pencils. I keep it simple. It's a quick an easy way to get line variation, you can fill in shapes super quick and you get all three values with black (the pencil), grey (the marker) and white (the paper). 

What advice would you share with young aspiring artists?
Dedicate time to your work and your craft. Don't be afraid of getting lost or not knowing what to do. Getting lost is an adventure, go on it, explore, experiment, and most of all have fun with it. Soon you'll find what you're looking for and it'll show in your art. And don't forget to go outside!

artwork by © Willie Real

artwork by © Willie Real

To see more of Real's work check out his website http://www.williereal.org/. Thanks Willie, and Happy Holidays from ILLUSTORIA to all you readers out there!

 

5 Rad Things to do with Sakura's Pigma Professional Brushes

 

Everyone's got their own simple pleasure. Mine just happens to be a super inky, versatile and smooth brush. When it comes to brushes that are fun to use, Sakura's Pigma Professional Brushes just really hit the spot! With the ability to create an amazing variety of lines, the drawing possibilities are endless— that's why I created my top five favorite things to do with these super fun brushes. 

1. Blind Contours of Your Friends & Family 

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Drawing blind contours of your friends and family is the perfect, most hilarious way to fend off boredom. All you have to do is grab a pen and draw someone for a minute without looking (or two to three minutes if you really want a challenge). The results are always guaranteed to make you cry laughing. I love using Sakura's Pigma Professional brushes for this because of the variety of lines I can create without even trying. 

2. List Making 

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Since I can remember, I've been obsessed with list making. I find it can be a really cathartic and sometimes really interesting way to organize my thoughts. As I write this blogpost, I'm in my childhood home in Los Angeles for the holidays. Inspired by many other artists that love list making, including Nigel Peake and Lisa Hanawalt I decided to make a doodled list of all the odd-ball things that decorate my parent's house (otherwise known as tchotchkes). I love how the finished list came out, it reminds me of the work of the amazingly talented illustrator (and former contributor to Illustoria) Nina Chakrabarti.

Hello Nature by Nina Chakrabarti, published by Laurence King 

Hello Nature by Nina Chakrabarti, published by Laurence King 

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Making your own random list is easy as can be! Just try observing your surroundings for similarities, for instance five strangely trimmed hedges in your backyard, or all the bald men you've ever met. Or, catalogue your own favorite collection of objects! 

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3. Draw a Comic! 

Of course, you can draw a comic with any kind of pen or pencil but illustrating with Sakura's Pigma Professional brushes is just so much fun! Since Thanksgiving is just a day away, pie was definitely on my mind when I was coming up with this short story. Try writing a comic about your own wacky invention! 

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4. Practice Calligraphy 

In hindsight, it was a questionable decision.  

In hindsight, it was a questionable decision.  

Because Sakura's Pigma brushes respond so instantly to changes in pressure and have such a lovely continuous ink flow, they are arguably the perfect brush for letter-making, specifically calligraphy. I am by no means a calligraphy professional, but this little drawing was great practice and I highly recommend giving it a shot if you consider yourself a novice (or highly experienced!) letter-maker.  

5. Draw on the Walls! 

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Didn't see that one coming did you? I'm definitely not suggesting you give your kid a brush and let them go willy-nilly on the lovely clean walls of your home! BUT, if you happen to have a wall you're about to paint or space designated for a mural I highly recommend trying out the pigma brushes. They're archival and can draw on pretty much any flat surface with ease. Just as a clarification, this wall as drawn by my sister (and super talented doodler) Lilly Astrow many years ago in Sharpie, not Sakura's Pigma Professional Brushes. But Sakura's brushes would work equally, if not even better on a similar project. 

Well, these are all the tips I have for you this time. No matter what project you're working on with Sakura's Pigma Professional Brushes though, you're certain not to go wrong. And even more certain is what a great time you'll have using these super satisfying drawing tools!

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We're so delighted to have Sakura sponsor ILLUSTORIA's issue #5: The Motion Issue, which is on shelves and available now. Hope you enjoyed my top 5 projects, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

 

The Making of a Mural

 
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I visit the Artist and Craftsman in Berkeley (on 2573 Shattuck Ave, to be specific) more than any other store in the whole world. I kid you not, I'm there running errands for my various art related jobs at least once a week. If you've never been, I implore you to hop on your moped, bike, scooter, or heck even Boeing 747 and check it out. Never have been to an art store with cooler vibes, nicer people or more expansive color selection of gouache paints. After a solid year of hard crushin' on A&C (visiting every week, sometimes twice in the same day, and lingering too long in the paint brush section, where I would philosophize on the benefits of the filbert brush) they finally popped the big Q: Would I be interested in painting their Fall window mural? "I'm so down!!" I most likely said, after mopping up the puddle of profound honor and excitement my body melted into. 

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After proposing a couple sketches, we landed on the one I made of two best friends talking on the phone while making art in their rooms, which is by no coincidence how I spend the majority of my time.

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After making a sketch, I scanned it onto my computer and played around with the color in Photoshop. 

After making a sketch, I scanned it onto my computer and played around with the color in Photoshop. 

The initial inspiration for the mural, titled No You Hang Up, was the playfulness and kitschy nostalgia of early 2000s TV friendships like Lindsay Mcguire, as well as my gratitude for my creative group of friends. As I finalized my sketches, I realized I also wanted the mural to be a celebration of the brilliant, loving, and inclusive Bay Area art community that I feel lucky to be apart of. For me, celebrating this community meant paying homage to the vital artists and organizers who dedicated their lives to supporting and building it. 

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No You Hang Up references Ara Jo, a radiant human being who supported, welcomed and befriended countless artists in the Bay Area and beyond. The mural also makes reference to Aaron Curry, commonly known as ORFN, a prolific and raw creative who influenced generations of street artists. Both artists passed away a year ago, in December 2016. This mural is dedicated to them, as well as artist Jeffery Chung, founder of Unity Press who continues to build and grow community for queer and POC folks in the East Bay. 

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Painting the mural was such a blast and tremendous privilege to paint, and I couldn't have done without the help of my friends and the awesome crew at A&C. If you're in the area, come stop by! It will be up until the end of December. And if you're an East Bay resident, stay tuned for a zine workshop I'll be teaching there on December 10th! 

 

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! THE BLACK & WHITE ISSUE

 
Art by Elizabeth Haidle

Art by Elizabeth Haidle

 

Are you an artist or writer who would love to contribute to ILLUSTORIA? Well, we'd love to hear from you!

We have a few slots left in our upcoming issue, themed "BLACK & WHITE." In particular, we're looking for:

- a couple of 2- to 3-page comics or illustrated stories

-spot art or standalone illustrations + minimal text or poetry

-1–3 panel comic strips

Pssst...! We  may be a wee bit biased toward work that celebrates diversity, silent films, and b&w photography...but also totally open and excited to see your original ideas! 

Submissions due by October 12th, 2017. Find out more about our submissions guidelines here, then email your submission to: submissions@illustoria.com.

Good luck!

Why Making Cards Makes us Happy

 
Eunice and Sabrina Moyle, founders of Hello!Lukcy. Photo © Zoe Larkin

Eunice and Sabrina Moyle, founders of Hello!Lukcy. Photo © Zoe Larkin

 

Sisters Eunice and Sabrina Moyle are founders of Hello!Lucky, a San Francisco-based, award-winning purveyor of letterpress greeting cards and other doodled objects. They’re also authors of several books including their latest, Happy Mail and the forthcoming Be the Change.

This week, Eunice and Sabrina join Illustoria to share some insight into their art style and why they love to doodle, hand-letter and send snail mail!

 
Happy Mail just launched! Enter to win a copy, details at the end of this post. Photo © Zoe Larkin

Happy Mail just launched! Enter to win a copy, details at the end of this post. Photo © Zoe Larkin

 

There are lots of reasons why doodling and writing snail mail cards makes us happy. For one thing, Eunice loves to draw and Sabrina loves to write, so cards are a perfect way to team up!

We also love cards because they’re fun and social.  Since cards have a clear purpose -- to say hi, thank you, happy birthday, etc. -- they can be less daunting than drawing for no reason on a blank piece of paper.   Kind of like bowling with bumpers!

 
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When we make a card, we usually start with the occasion and person in mind. Then, we brainstorm concepts -- the combination of words and images that we think will create a good vibe, a smile, or a laugh. We love to look on Pinterest for inspiration. Sometimes a cool pattern or illustration gives us a great idea that we can apply in a new way. There’s nothing wrong with looking for artists you like and trying to learn their styles, just as long as you make it your own!

 
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Doodling cards is simple. They don’t take a lot of time to draw.  Since they’re small, you can easily try different ideas or start over. Sometimes the simplest cards are the best!

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We love cards because they combine words and pictures. We like to think of these as two different languages.  Many of us are more comfortable with words than pictures (ahem, Sabrina!), so cards give us a way to use both -- it’s not so scary to draw when you also have words to fall back on. We’ve seen great cards that are only hand-lettering or hilarious one-liners, and we’ve also seen great cards that are all picture with no words. Our favorite? A pun paired with fun illustration!  Cat puns, especially!

 
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Our rule of thumb for card-writing is keep it short, light, and sincere. We love the fill up the page with hand-lettering and add doodle flare, like rainbows, stars, and hearts.  Writing short messages lets us try different styles without worrying too much about messing up or rambling!  That said, we also love hunkering down to write a multi-page letter to a pen pal -- it’s an amazing way to catch up when you have a lot to say, and way better than a multi-part IM! :D

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You might think that in today’s tech-enabled world, handmade cards and handwritten letters aren’t important.  In our personal experience, that’s not true.  Handmade cards and letters are another form of communicating, just like texting, calling, or sending an email. Each one has its place, and a handmade card makes a great impression.  

 
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We like to think of snail mail cards like slow food or home-cooking. They take a while to prepare, but they’re satisfying and unique to the cook or sender.  Social media has its place, too, just like fast food. Sometimes you’re in a hurry and you just need to get a message sent (we love french fries but try not to eat them for every meal ;))

Nothing beats getting a handwritten card in the mail, personally addressed to you.  These days, it’s a memorable experience. It’s something you can hold, read, re-read, and keep forever.  (Sabrina still has letters she exchanged with her BFF in high school! Amazing time capsules!).

 
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Making cards makes us feel more connected.  We like to make cards for friends, family, and even strangers because it allows us focus our attention on relationships.  To us, relationships matter most in life, more than material things. Cards remind us of what really counts!

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Sending cards or letters can be like a meditation or gratitude practice. When we sit down to draw a card or write a letter, it immediately puts us in a happy place. Why? Because we’re focusing all our imagination and energy on how we can make people happy. What hilarious idea would make them snort with laughter? What would make them feel warm fuzzies?  Thinking about these things gives us a real high, like planning a surprise party!

 
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You can almost always find a good reason to send a card.  Birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, holidays, and or any time you receive a kind action, gift or letter.  We especially love sending cards to grandparents and people who might not be as tech-savvy. You might even keep a calendar of card-sending occasions, or a list of people you want to write to along with their snail mail addresses.

 
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Most importantly, though, making and sending cards is just good fun.  We crack ourselves up coming up with funny, punny card ideas and we have even more fun sending them to our friends.  So the next opportunity that comes up, grab a pen and some paper, and start doodling!  Pop your creation in the mail and see what happens!

 
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You can pick up lots of card and hand-lettering ideas and inspiration, letter-writing prompts, and even ready-to-write tear-out cards and self-mailing letters in our new book, Happy Mail.  So have fun making your own cards!  We know they’ll be totally paw-some! :D

 
Sabrina holding a copy of Happy Mail! Photo © Zoe Larkin

Sabrina holding a copy of Happy Mail! Photo © Zoe Larkin

 

To celebrate the official Happy Mail launch, we’d like to offer one of you your own copy! Follow @illustoria_mag and @helloluckycards on Instagram and tag a friend you would send handmade happy mail to and we’ll pick a winner at random!

Call for Interns!

 
illustration by Paul du Coudray 

illustration by Paul du Coudray 

As ILLUSTORIA continues to grow and flourish, we are on the look out for some helping hands! If you are a student living in the Bay Area, and have a love of (slash more like an obsession with) children's publishing, illustration and DIY culture, this might just be your dream internship. 

We are now currently looking to fill two positions:  
-Sales and Marketing Internship
-Editorial and Publicity Internship

Details:
-unpaid internship, school credit available
-part-time with flexible hours, approximately 4–6 hours/week
-6-month minimum duration

Our deadline for applications is October 3, 2017. Please see below for job descriptions and further details. Questions? Email them to hello@illustoria.com 

Illustration by Elizabeth Haidle. 

Illustration by Elizabeth Haidle. 


Sales and Marketing Internship
We are looking for a part-time intern to support sales outreach and order fulfillment. The ideal candidate is meticulously organized and detail-oriented, with a passion for children’s literature, illustration and DIY culture. Strong communication and writing skills, ability to multi-task and meet deadlines is essential. 

Qualifications & Skills:
-College student or recent graduate
-2+ years of experience in administrative work
-Strong communication skills
-Detail oriented, strong ability to multi-task and meet deadlines
-In-depth knowledge of Excel, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ (esp. Sheets)
-Basic knowledge of Squarespace and MailChimp

Responsibilities & Duties:
-Outreach to and cultivation of relationships with media, bloggers, potential stockists and partners
-Manage order fulfillment:
          ~Track & record magazine store orders + subscriptions in database
          ~Package for shipment
-Basic website & database maintenance

Please submit your resume, cover letter and 3 references to hello@illustoria.com.

Illustration by Elizabeth Haidle. 

Illustration by Elizabeth Haidle. 

Editorial & Publicity Internship
We are looking for a part-time intern to support editorial content and social media outreach. The ideal candidate is passionate about children’s literature, illustration and DIY culture. Strong communication and writing skills, illustration and graphic design background, and ability to multi-task and meet deadlines is essential.

Qualifications & Skills:
-College student or recent graduate
-2+ years of experience in marketing + editorial work
-Strong communication skills
-Detail oriented, strong ability to multi-task and meet deadlines
-Strong background in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator & InDesign
-Excellent writing skills
-In-depth knowledge of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+

Responsibilities & Duties:
-Write and coordinate weekly to bi-weekly engaging blog posts
-Social media outreach:
        -support and create engaging social media content  
        -create engaging MailChimp newsletter
        -monitor analytics on facebook + twitter
-Marketing + event support:
        -assist in event planning
        -promote events on social media + outreach to local media sources
        -represent ILLUSTORIA at various promotional events
-Create and oversee marketing collateral such as posters, postcards, swag, etc.
-Potential to contribute editorial illustrations + stories  
-Collaborate with team on growing media and partner relationships

Please submit your resume, cover letter, illustration/graphic design examples, website, and 3 references to hello@illustoria.com.

 



 

 

 

Creator Crush: Mike Lowery

 
Sneak peek from Issue 5: Motion: Mike Lowery doodles his answers to our Q & Artist interview.

Sneak peek from Issue 5: Motion: Mike Lowery doodles his answers to our Q & Artist interview.

 

Who cannot absolutely adore Mike Lowery for his amazing doodles, hand-lettering, books, and inspiring-hilarious-addicting-to-watch #randomillustratedfacts?

 
From Mike Lowery's Instagram feed, where he regularly shares videos of his sketchbook drawings featuring engaging and adorable random illustrated facts. 

From Mike Lowery's Instagram feed, where he regularly shares videos of his sketchbook drawings featuring engaging and adorable random illustrated facts. 

 
 

Mike is a prolific children's book writer and illustrator who infuses his work with a sense of humor and child-like simplicity that never fails to amuse and delight us. His latest series with Workman Publishing, Doodle Adventures, invites kids to draw their own characters into the story and, page by page, the interactive book continues along via prompts for more illustrations by the reader. It's an ingenious format that combines drawing and doodling with the silly escapades of a wonky cast of characters that will keep everyone anticipating the next funny episode. By the end of the book, the reader will have helped to co-write a totally unique story that can be read over and over again with family and friends for a riotous good time. 

Doodle Adventures Series

Doodle Adventures Series

Thankfully with three books out (The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs!The Pursuit of the Pesky Pizza Pirate!The Rise of the Rusty Robo-Cat!) and counting in this series, your little doodlers will have enough to keep them creatively satisfied for some time. We are thrilled to share Mike's book trailer for this series, a series which has been described as "a visual Mad Libs: part game, part graphic novel, and a thrilling, interactive experience in which the reader draws him- or herself into the story and becomes the star." So much good!

 

And a few more glances at Mike's Q & Artist for Illustoria, issue 5: Motion:

 
Yes! Roald Dahl books...we couldn't agree more. 

Yes! Roald Dahl books...we couldn't agree more. 

 
 
Art by Mike Lowery. See The Motion Issue for the full Q & Artist feature!

Art by Mike Lowery. See The Motion Issue for the full Q & Artist feature!

 

Don't miss out on Mike's awesome books and make sure to get a copy of The Motion Issue to learn more about what inspires Mike, what he's currently up to, and when he feels his most creative.

And be sure to enter our GIVEAWAY in partnership with Workman Publishing between now and Friday, 9/15/17, for a chance to win a set of Mike's Doodle Adventures books. Head to our Instagram feed for contest details.

Announcing #5: THE MOTION ISSUE

 
Cover art by Yuliya Gwilym

Cover art by Yuliya Gwilym

 

We are thrilled to present issue #5 of ILLUSTORIA, The Motion Issue. This issue is currently at the printer and will be delivered in the coming weeks so be on the lookout! 

 
Color proofs of The Motion Issue

Color proofs of The Motion Issue

 

The Motion issue is bursting with invigorating stories and comics that will get your brain humming and your feet gearing up for action. We asked writers, artists, and makers to explore motion in all different forms, and the result is a meditation in movement in the form of sea creatures at the aquarium, the gallop of horses, journeys into space and fantastical worlds, the capturing of motion through art and photography, and even the progressive, forward-movement of trailblazers and activists. 

Start off the school year inspired and energized through interviews with writer/activist Kate Schatz and visionary artist Miriam Klein Stahl of the bestseller Rad Women Wordwide.

A spread from our interview with rad women Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl of Rad Women Worldwide and Rad American Women A-Z

A spread from our interview with rad women Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl of Rad Women Worldwide and Rad American Women A-Z

Learn how to make your own Victorian-era animated thaumatrope with a DIY activity by our creative director, Elizabeth Haidle.

DIY Victorian-era thaumatrope activity

DIY Victorian-era thaumatrope activity

Become a color detective when you read a brief history of vermilion by pigment and watercolor expert Alexis Joseph of Case for Making and master watercolorist Lindsay Stripling.

A Brief History of Vermilion by Alexis Joseph and Lindsay Victoria Lee, for issue #5: Motion

A Brief History of Vermilion by Alexis Joseph and Lindsay Victoria Lee, for issue #5: Motion

Fall in love with heroes of art history through eye-opening comics on Eadweard Muybridge, Madeline L'Engle, and Henri Matisse, and enjoy so much more in the form of comics, illustrated stories, book recommendations, a playlist and recipe, coloring pages, and activities.

Photographing Motion: Eadweard Muybridge, by Marlowe Dobbe for issue #5: Motion

Photographing Motion: Eadweard Muybridge, by Marlowe Dobbe for issue #5: Motion

 Spread from Literary Giants as Kids: Madeleine L'Engle, by Elizabeth Haidle for issue #5: Motion

 Spread from Literary Giants as Kids: Madeleine L'Engle, by Elizabeth Haidle for issue #5: Motion

So get moving and pre-order your copy of The Motion Issue on our shop page or at your local favorite shop, newsstand, or bookstore

DIY: Paper Maché Succulent Garden

 
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Does the wilting monstera plant in the corner of your living room keep you up at night? Is photosynthesis your least favorite word in the dictionary? Has your green thumb been ignoring your calls for the past year and a half? If the answer is yes, don't despair, your days of dying plants are over! With a beautiful, super easy to make DIY paper maché succulent garden, you may never have to touch a watering can again. (That is unless you're recycling into a cool found object sculpture...for instance as a pot for your new paper plants!) We featured this in issue #4: The Grow Issue. Just for you, we've expanded the steps in full, glorious, step-by-step photographic detail. Enjoy!

Paper Maché Succulent Garden

Here's everything you need: 
-stack of old newspapers
-scissors
-mod podge (or your own paper maché glue recipe!) 
-a large bowl
-masking tape
-aluminum foil
-colorful paper
-paint brushes
-acrylic or tempera paint
-terra cotta pots, or any kind of small container for your plants
-tissue paper
-a tablecloth or more newspapers to keep your table clean, this project is messy! 
-optional: blow dryer, for faster drying time!

Step 1 - Mold the aluminum foil into plant like shapes. The masking tape can be helpful for keeping your sculpture in place. 

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Step 2 - Cut your newspaper into 1 - 2 inch strips. You're going to need a lot of it, so don't be afraid to cut up a whole stack! (Just make sure everyone is done reading it first!) 

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Step 3 - Dip a newspaper strip into the mod podge. Use two fingers to squeeze off the extra glue. Pro tip: You just want to cover your entire strip in a thin layer of 'podge. If you're strips are too wet, you're sculpture will be very soggy and won't hold up. Too little, and it won't stick to the aluminum. 

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Step 4 - Tightly wrap the newspaper strips around your aluminum shapes. The tighter you wrap around, the more your sculpture will stay true to it's original form and not get too lumpy. Cover your shapes completely three times around.

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Step 5 - Lay out your wet, wrapped shapes on a piece of newspaper to dry overnight or simply blow dry!

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Step 6 - Once dry, paint your succulents and pots to your heart's content! You can also glue on bits of paper for embellishments. I used Sakura's Pen Touch Markers to add on details, they're so much fun to use. 

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Step 7- Put your plants in your pots with some tissue paper as "dirt" to keep them in place. And voilà, it's your own paper maché garden! At long last, your green thumb can come out of hiding. 

This DIY activity is featured in Illustoria's Issue 4 — The Grow Issue! This issue is chalk full of amazing projects, stories, and comics and it's available at your local bookstore or our online store

 

 

 

 

Playlist: Issue #2 Canvas

 

Our playlist for The Canvas issue is inspired by all things that come to mind when we hear this word: from the material to a blank slate to endless possibilities. These songs make the perfect soundtrack for getting in the groove of art makin' and creative day dreaming. We hope this playlist sparks the idea for your next genius creation.

Art by © Julia Breckenreid for #2: The Canvas Issue

Art by © Julia Breckenreid for #2: The Canvas Issue

 

Cray-Pas Oil Pastels

 

The first time I picked up an oil pastel was in the fourth grade, when I fell head-over-heels in love with the notoriously shorty of Post-Impressionist fame, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. If I recall, it all started with an assignment to create a class report on a famous artist that I took far too seriously. When the project was assigned, there was no doubt in my mind that I would report on Toulouse-Lautrec. Just the weekend before my grandma and I had visited the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, where I became hypnotized by the artist's boisterous cabaret ladies drawn fanatically in day-glo colors I never knew we were allowed to use. That a lady's face could be colored absinthe green and her legs neon purple simply blew my mind.

Seated Dancer in the Pink Tights, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1890. 

Seated Dancer in the Pink Tights, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1890. 

At the Moulin Rouge, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1895. 

At the Moulin Rouge, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1895. 

I came away from the museum knowing two things:

1. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was my new favorite artist of all time. 
2. Oil pastels, Toulouse-Lautrec's art material of choice, were the coolest thing ever. 

Fast-forward thirteen years later, and I still feel the same way. If you ask me, oil pastels, specifically Sakura of America's Cray-Pas Junior Artist Oil Pastels, are an essential in any art class or creative home. Why, you ask? Well if Toulouse-Lautrec's paintings aren't proof enough, get this: oil pastels are so incredibly waxy and smooth that when you drag a stick across the page it feels like drawing with butter. It's insanely satisfying! 

Also, Cray-Pas are filled to the brim with delicious pigment, and are exceedingly more rich and vibrant than your run-of-the-mill oil pastels. The smooth quality of the sticks allows Cray-Pas colors to be super easy to mix and blend. There's many different styles and techniques for drawing and blending, and it's fun to experiment with oil pastels to see what works.  

Some helpful tips and tricks for using Cray-Pas oil pastels that I've learned over the years:

1. Mixing colors with your fingers (like you easily can with chalk pastels) is fun, but pretty messy. Try using a palette knife to mix, or experiment with the amount of pressure you use when you press down your pastel. 

2. Experiment with different drawing surfaces. Grey and dark beige heavy weight paper amplify the vibrance of the pastels. Pastels also look ultra-cool on cardboard!

3. There are many different stroke methods you can use to create interesting effects with oil pastels. You can layer colors to create unique color combinations, or try sgraffito, a method of scratching lines through thick layers of colors to reveal the color underneath. 

You can also try stippling, a method where you use short, quick strokes or dots of color to create an optical effect when seen from far away, as in Georges Seurat's Pointillism paintings. To create a soft, defused effect like Claude Monet, try scumbling by creating controlled scribbled marks. 

Close-Up of Circus Slideshow,  George Seurat, 1888

Close-Up of Circus Slideshow,  George Seurat, 1888

Impression, Sunrise, Claude Monet, 1872

Impression, Sunrise, Claude Monet, 1872

 

4. For inspiration, make sure to check out Toulouse-Lautrec's gorgeous oil pastel sketches of everyday life. 

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

 
 

We're so excited to have Sakura sponsor Issue #4 of Illustoria, which is on shelves and available now. We hope you enjoy our Cray-Pas oil pastel tips, now get out there and start sketching!