Q & Artist: Cover Artist Marina Muun

 
Illustrator Marina Muun

Illustrator Marina Muun

 

We are so thrilled to showcase Marina Muun, our cover artist for The Symbols Issue. Marina hails from Bulgaria and currently resides in Vienna, Austria. She has illustrated for The New York Times, Tate Publishing, Google, BuzzFeed, The New Yorker, Wrap Magazine, and many more esteemed publications. We fell head over heels in love with her beautiful, bold artwork for our latest cover:

 
Illustoria  # 6: The Symbols Issue; Cover art by Marina Muun

Illustoria # 6: The Symbols Issue; Cover art by Marina Muun

 

Check out The Symbols Issue to see her beautiful illustrated comic, "The Rock Garden," which combines her fascination with modern architecture with her reverence for the antiquated. 

Enjoy Marina's illustrated Q & Artist interview. We're pretty sure you will fall in love with her and her artwork as much as we have!

The Making of a Mural

 
IMG_3590.JPG

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. 

A&C left side smaller.jpg
A&C right side smaller.jpg

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.

A&C window art left side .jpg
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. 

IMG_3710.JPG

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. 

IMG_3711.JPG
IMG_3709.JPG

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! 

 

Women Who Draw, Write, and Inspire Us

 
Images left to right:  Louise Bourgeois  by   Elizabeth Haidle   (issue 2); sketchbook drawing by   Lisa Brown   (issue 3); watercolor portrait by   Lindsay Stripling   (issue 2); "Dream Before Building" by   Lark Pien   (issue 1);  Beatrix Potter  by     Elizabeth Haidle   (issue 3);  Martha Graham  by   Marlowe Dobbe   (issue 2); self-portrait by   Nina Chakrabarti   (issue 3); excerpt from  El Deafo  by   Cece Bell   (issue 1); "Hiroshima Mon Amour" by   Britt Browne   (issue 3)

Images left to right: Louise Bourgeois by Elizabeth Haidle (issue 2); sketchbook drawing by Lisa Brown (issue 3); watercolor portrait by Lindsay Stripling (issue 2); "Dream Before Building" by Lark Pien (issue 1); Beatrix Potter by Elizabeth Haidle (issue 3); Martha Graham by Marlowe Dobbe (issue 2); self-portrait by Nina Chakrabarti (issue 3); excerpt from El Deafo by Cece Bell (issue 1); "Hiroshima Mon Amour" by Britt Browne (issue 3)

 

Women's History Month is coming to a close, but we at Illustoria think every month should be women's history month! We are proud to pay homage to the courageous, intelligent, and rebellious women who have revolutionized their fields and empower us to dream big. Of recent, we've been thrilled to see collectives and movements such as Women Who Draw creating an inspiring platform for talented women illustrators. Today, we would like to take a moment to thank some of the amazing women who draw, write, and inspire us here at Illustoria.
 

artwork © Lisa Brown

cover art © Lisa Brown

artwork © Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown
Lisa Brown, the stupendous illustrator behind our Issue 3 cover, is a critically acclaimed illustrator, author, and cartoonist who resides in foggy San Francisco. She is the mastermind illustrator behind Emily's Blue Period by Cathleen Daly and 29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy by Lemony Snicket and has written and illustrated the fantastic Depressed. Repressed. Obsessed. 3 Panel Book Reviews as well as Vampire Boy's Goodnight, The Airport Book, and How to Be. (And this is all just for starters!) Brown also featured her sketchbook and mini-drawing activity in Issue 3, which we love to pieces. Stay tuned for more highlights of Brown this spring, in our super-exciting-filled-to-the-brim-with-inspiration Issue 4: The Grow Issue! You can find more of her amazing work at http://www.americanchickens.com/


artwork © Cece Bell

artwork © Cece Bell

images © Cece Bell

Cece Bell
If you haven't gotten your hands on the heart-melting and hilarious El Deafo by the genius Cece Bell, you might want to stop reading right now and run to the nearest book store immediately. El Deafo is a graphic novel memoir that tells the story of Bell's hearing loss and subsequent adventures with a clunky hearing-aid-turned-super-power. Alongside this Newbery Award Winner, Bell has published I Yam Donkey, Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover, and Chuck and Woodchuck amongst many others.  We are so honored to have featured an interview with Cece in Issue 1 and a full length Q&A which you can read here. Check out more of Cece Bell's work on her website https://cecebell.wordpress.com


 
artwork © Lark Pien; from "Dream Before Building" in Illustoria issue 1, The Beginnings Issue

artwork © Lark Pien; from "Dream Before Building" in Illustoria issue 1, The Beginnings Issue

 
artwork © Lark Pien

artwork © Lark Pien

sketchbook art © Lark Pien

Lark Pien 
Lark Pien is a Portland-based acclaimed illustrator and the amazing talent behind the Long Tail Kitty series (for which she won the Friends of LuLu Award) and Mr.Elephanter. Pien was the colorist of American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang and Sunny Side Up, two graphic novels for young readers that we could not recommend more highly. We are blown away by "Dream Before Building," a mini-comic she created for Issue 1, and cannot wait to share some new projects she's dreaming up for Illustoria. Find more of Pien's work at http://larkpien.blogspot.com/?view=classic


 
artwork by © Elizabeth Haidle

artwork by © Elizabeth Haidle

 
 
artwork by © Elizabeth Haidle

artwork by © Elizabeth Haidle

artwork by © Elizabeth Haidle

artwork by © Elizabeth Haidle

Elizabeth Haidle 
Have you ever met an artist so talented you want to simultaneously: do cart wheels, bake them a 10-layered Boston cream pie, and hold a radio outside their window à la John Cusack in Say Anything? That's how we feel about our genius, prolific, and awe-inspiring Creative Director Elizabeth Haidle. In addition to spinning up magic at Illustoria, Haidle is the creator of Literary Giants As Kids, a fantastic series you can find in each issue of Illustoria, and illustrator of the dreamy Mind Afire - The Visions of Nikola Tesla, written by Abigail Samoun. We absolutely cannot hold our excitement for the release of I, Parrot, her most recent (breathtaking) graphic novel written by Deb Olin Unferth, which she is currently putting the final touches on. We love the ever-busy Haidle, whose work you can find at http://www.docucomix.com/ and  http://www.ehaidle.com/


Cloth Lullaby  by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Cloth Lullaby by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Iomogen by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Lisa Congdon

Me, Frida  by Amy Novesky, illustrated by David Diaz

Me, Frida by Amy Novesky, illustrated by David Diaz

Georgia in Hawaii by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Amy Novesky  
Amy Novesky is an award-winning children's book author and editor whom we adore five trips to the moon and back. Most recently, she has written Cloth Lullaby, a gorgeous tale of the illustrious, world-famous artist Louise Bourgeois, with stunning illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault. She has also written critically acclaimed books including Georgia in Hawaii, Me, Frida, and Imogen. We are so excited to have featured a full length interview with Novesky which you can find in issue 3. To read more about Novesky's work, check out http://amy-novesky.squarespace.com/.


Laurel Snyder 
Laurel Snyder is a prolific, critically acclaimed children's author who makes us want to smile for days. She is the author of numerous, joyfully fun-to-read novels for children of which some of our favorites include Orphan Island and Bigger than a Bread Box. She has also written the gorgeous picture books Swan, the Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova and the adorable Charlie and Mouse. You can find Snyder in issue 2, with her biographical  piece "Martha Graham In Motion," illustrated by fantastic artist Marlowe Dobbe, about the revolutionary Martha Graham, the Mother of Modern Dance. Check out http://laurelsnyder.com/ for more work by this beloved author. 


 
art © Lindsay Stripling for "The Best Invisible Thing" in Illustoria Issue 2

art © Lindsay Stripling for "The Best Invisible Thing" in Illustoria Issue 2

 
 
art © Lindsay Stripling

art © Lindsay Stripling

art © Lindsay Stripling

art © Lindsay Stripling

Lindsay Stripling
A phenomenal woman artist whom we couldn't admire more, Lindsay Stripling works from her studio in the Outer Sunset of San Francisco. We fell in love with her paintings the first time we laid eyes on them for their dreamy palettes, mystical settings, and ethereal subjects. Her folk and fairy tale-inspired narratives lead us into inner worlds that are rich and boundless. We're thrilled to announce that Lindsay's gorgeous artwork will grace the cover of our upcoming issue 4: The Grow Issue--so be on the lookout. Find more of Lindsay's work here: https://www.lindsaystripling.com/


 
Ruth Kneass laying with the meticulously sculpted pieces of her Bay Tower mobile.  © Ruth Kneass

Ruth Kneass laying with the meticulously sculpted pieces of her Bay Tower mobile.  © Ruth Kneass

 
Blonde Driftwood © Ruth Kneass

Blonde Driftwood © Ruth Kneass

Nine pieces in collage; a search-and-find activity in issue 3  © Ruth Kneass

Nine pieces in collage; a search-and-find activity in issue 3
© Ruth Kneass

Ruth Kneass
Driftwood artist and mobile sculptor Ruth Kneass creates stunning works of art that take years of patience, time, and skill to produce. She shares the story of her mother's influence and her inspiration growing up to be an artist in Illustoria issue 3. A true appreciator of beauty and nature, Ruth infuses her art and life with a feminine love, care, determination, wisdom, and strength that we find simultaneously awe-inspiring and reassuring. You'll find a treat in issue 3, where she disassembled one of her precious driftwood mobiles to create the most gorgeous search-and-find activity we've ever seen! Find more of Ruth's work here: http://www.kneassboatworks.com/


 
self-portrait © Nina Chakrabarti

self-portrait © Nina Chakrabarti

 
 
art © Nina Chakrabarti; from Nina's upcoming title  My Collection of Collections: A Sticker Book

art © Nina Chakrabarti; from Nina's upcoming title My Collection of Collections: A Sticker Book

 

Nina Chakrabarti
We had the chance to interview talented illustrator and activity book creator Nina Chakrabarti and learn all about her inspiration growing up between Calcutta, India and the UK. Born to an English mother and an Indian father, Nina's vivid childhood memories of bright colored saris and streets clamoring with the sounds of trams, trains, and rickety rickshaws; Chinatown and Brick Lane in London; and museums and nature all inspire the joyful work she produces today. In issue 3, she talks about her process creating books such as Hello Nature, My Wonderful World of Fashion, and her upcoming title, My Collection of Collections that will equally inspire young artists and grownup ones. Fun fact: Nina doesn't keep sketchbooks but rather "scribbles on loose scraps of paper, post-its, and newspapers that eventually get tucked away in a box, put up on a wall, or thrown away"! We love her passion for life and her eclectic style, which encourages us to get outside, observe, and appreciate all the diversity our wonderful world has to offer. Find her work here: http://ninachakrabarti.com/


These are just a few of the many amazing women whom we've had the chance to collaborate with over the course of our first three issues. At Illustoria, we are dedicated to increasing the visibility of female creatives by continually supporting and showcasing their work. Additionally, we are committed to promoting women's empowerment in the pages of our mag with stories of both world-famous and lesser-known female leaders from Beatrix Potter to Lee Bontecou. We hope that the stories in Illustoria and the artists behind them will inspire you and the next generation of strong, creative women for years to come.

Lisa Brown cover art: The OUTSIDE-IN Issue

 
Issue 3 coming soon.... Cover art by  Lisa Brown ; Cover design by  Elizabeth Haidle

Issue 3 coming soon.... Cover art by Lisa Brown; Cover design by Elizabeth Haidle

 

We are so pleased to reveal our cover for issue 3, The Outside-In Issue, featuring delectably delicious, wondrously charming art by the amazing Lisa Brown!

As many of you picture book and comic fans know, Lisa is the creator of the ingenious Three Panel Book Review strips featured in The Rumpus, co-creator with Lemony Snicket of The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, author/illustrator of the hilarious Baby Be of Use board book series, and author/illustrator of her very latest, The Airport Book. Needless to say we've had a creator crush on Lisa Brown for some time....

So when a few months ago Lisa graciously took a morning out of her busy schedule as a writer, illustrator, teacher, mom, and passionate kid-lit advocate to meet with me at one of her favorite cafes in San Francisco, I was beyond excited and a little nervous. I knew through her work that she was exceedingly intelligent and bitingly witty. Being the warm and generous person that she is, Lisa immediately put me at ease. I should have known--after all, those who work in children's books generally are a kind-hearted bunch! Lisa shared with me her thoughts on why it's important to cultivate creativity in kids through that excruciating, self-conscious phase around the middle school years, the range of diverse picture books on her syllabus at CCA, the challenges that women illustrators face in the publishing industry, and she even gave me a sneak peek of her upcoming picture book. (Psst...interview with her and her elusive co-author to come in issue 4!) By the end of the meeting, she sent me along with a list of fabulous artists to contact and agreed to create cover art for an upcoming issue. I was totally blown away...and so grateful, and excited!

Now, here we are several months later with a gorgeous cover by Lisa that speaks volumes about what we at Illustoria care most about: timeless, captivating art with a unique point of view that resonates across generations; the value and delights of print publishing; the power of illustration; our ever-lasting love for visual storytelling. And how cool is this take on the swallowed-whole dilemma from Little Red Riding Hood??! Just wait until you see her back cover....

Thank you, Lisa, for your fabulous contribution to The Outside-In Issue!!

Inside you'll also find Lisa's sketchbook tips to aspiring artists. Truly the inside of issue 3 is just as delectable as the outside, with contributions by an array of lovely artists and writers whom we couldn't have pulled this off without, including: Nina Chakrabarti, Amy Novesky, Paul duCoudray, Micah Player, Willie Real, Elizabeth Haidle, Ruth Kneass, Mike Dutton, Alexis Joseph / Case for Making, Britt Browne, Claire Astrow, Yuliya Gwilym, Alexandra Rose Franco of Rito-ito, Rachel Garrison, Kristen Solecki, Clark Jackson, Martin Cendreda, Anne Pomel, Karl Dotter, and Jeremy Anderson. More sneak peeks to come so follow us on Instagram to see the latest updates. 

Here's a look at #3's table of contents, and be sure to check out our Shop page to see sample spreads from this issue and to pre-order. We'll send out copies in March 2017. 

 
The Outside-In issue's table of contents. So much good inside....

The Outside-In issue's table of contents. So much good inside....

 

I hope you enjoy this issue as much as we loved putting it together. 

Lastly, thanks to Sakura of America and Case for Making for sponsoring issue 3!

Who We Are: Alexandra Rose Franco

 
art by Elizabeth Haidle

art by Elizabeth Haidle

 
 

Name: Alexandra Rose Franco

Location: Mill Valley, California

Profession: Designer/Owner, Rito-ito: A floral, object and scent studio. Strategist, futureprüf: a digital design studio

Here I am making the beginning of a fall wreath

Favorite artist/illustrator:
Artist: I’ve always been drawn to Robert Motherwell paintings for their bold, dark expressiveness.
Illustrator: I recently came across a Japanese illustrator, Ryo Takemasa and love the work.

Fun food illustrations by Takemasa

Fun food illustrations by Takemasa

Best book you've read in the past year: When Women Were Birds, by Terry Tempest Williams. I’m also currently reading A Natural History of the Senses, by Diane Ackerman and really enjoying it, and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

A beautiful read

Kids book you could read every night: Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Best memory of being a kid: Building forts with my brother in the marshland behind our house. 

Favorite weekend activity: Going to the Sunday's farmers' market at the Marin Civic Center and cooking Sunday supper together with my partner, Max. 

Coming home with farmer’s market bounty

Song currently on repeat: Currently, anything by The xx

Favorite meal: It's hard to pick one favorite, but I always love clams and linguine with lots of garlic, chili flakes, and white wine. 

Last time you made something with your hands: I try to make something with my hands almost everyday. Today I'm designing with fall flowers in preparation for Thanksgiving.

Fall flowers at Rito-ito

Fun fact about you: I studied at the Joffrey Ballet in NYC for a stint during highschool and had the opportunity to live on my own and explore the city as a teenager. It gave me a sense of adventure, responsibility, and confidence that I needed as a young person. 

 

 

 

ILLUSTORIA interview on APEX - KPFA 94.1

 
 

Thanks to Melissa Hung for the recent interview with me about Illustoria, which ran on APEX Express on KPFA 94.1. If you missed it, you can still listen to the archived show here (37:00). Melissa, co-founder of Hyphen and a writer, journalist, curator and educator, asks insightful questions about why I chose to launch a print magazine and how we at Illustoria are approaching the need for more diverse representation in storytelling for kids. Tune in to learn about my inspiration behind the magazine, our editorial approach to the stories, art, interviews, and activities in each issue, and how Illustoria hopes to stand out in today's challenging but exciting landscape of print publishing. 

 
Founder/Publisher Joanne Chan talks to APEX about her inspiration to start a print magazine for kids and grownups. Photo by  Melissa Kaseman

Founder/Publisher Joanne Chan talks to APEX about her inspiration to start a print magazine for kids and grownups. Photo by Melissa Kaseman

 

Todd Webb Follows Georgia O'Keeffe in the Desert

Meet Todd Webb, who lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and who graces the pages of the — upcoming! — second issue of Illustoria with a gorgeous, reflective piece about the great American painter Georgia O'Keeffe. Todd's comic is drawn, literally and figuratively, from O'Keeffe's own writings — he uses her own words. Webb shared shots of his studio, and his thoughts about creativity, and much more, in the following interview.

What were you like as a kid?

Shy and quiet — picked on a lot, so I kept to myself or a small but close group of friends. My favorite place was the library, and I was always reading or drawing. 

What were some of your favorite childhood books?

Early on I read all the Encyclopedia Brown and Hardy Boys books — my dad still had a full set of Tom Swift books too and we read those together when I was really little. I've still got those. I read a lot of Peanuts collections. And Calvin & Hobbes. My dad had a lot of sci fi books so I read a bunch of those at an early age too, but eventually started reading "classics" — Salinger, Hemingway, etc. etc. 

When did you know you wanted to be an artist and writer?

When I figured out that Charles Schulz made Peanuts and that was his job — the idea that you could grow up and draw comics for a living instantly overtook my brain, and I never stopped shooting for that goal, though eventually my aim shifted to comic books instead of comic strips.

Todd Webb's studio

Who or what inspires you? 

Everything — haha. I'm constantly getting ideas from things and people I encounter, see, read about, etc. I like to read poetry. That always gives me weird fun ideas to try out with comics. 

When do you feel you're most creative?

It used to be late at night, but as I've grown older I think I tend to do my best work if I get started first thing in the morning. But a big aspect of being creative is being able to make yourself just do the work every day — even if you're not feeling "inspired" — you've still gotta hit the drawing board and make something! 

The artist at work

Do you have a favorite type of pen, or brush, or paper for drawing with?

For years now I've been inking with Faber Castell Pitt Artist brush pens. I love them! I usually draw on Strathmore Bristol board. I'll buy a big pad of it and trim the paper to whatever size I need for a specific project.  

It all starts with pencil on paper.

What advice would you share with young aspiring artists?

Keep at it! And do it because you love it. Make work and show it to artists you admire. Don't be afraid of mistakes and don't think you need to draw a certain way or that you need special supplies. Do the best you can do with what you have! 
 
Why did you draw something about Georgia O'Keefee?

There's a couple reasons. A few years back I got to see her painting "The Lawrence Tree" (which is a great painting of a tree she used to sit beneath on the Lawrence ranch, seen from beneath as if you were looking up through the branches) and I really liked it. So I started to dig through other works of hers I hadn't been familiar with, and that led me to a big collection of her letters, which were a great read as well. I ended up writing a song about the Lawrence Tree painting, as well as one inspired by a letter ("The Lawrence Tree" and "Georgia, 1931" respectively on the Seamonster album Baldessari). So that was one thing. In the interim, I've really enjoyed connecting with other artists and writers and musicians from the past whose work really speaks to me by making something myself inspired by their works, be it a comic, a drawing, or a piece of music. I think engaging with an inspiring piece of work by making a piece of my own helps me process and figure out what it is I like about it so much, and also serves as a way of having a "conversation" with that person who maybe isn't even alive anymore. Anyways, back to Georgia: in reading books about her I realized she was good friends with the photographer Todd Webb (which is my name!) and it was amusing to me when I'd come across a letter of hers addressed to someone with my name. It was pretty surreal. I was already familiar with that Todd Webb's work, because ever since Google was invented, if you search for me, you'd also get results for him (he was very well known, and many of his photos were of Georgia O'Keeffe) So I thought it would be fun to further confuse the internet by putting a work of my own out there about Georgia O'Keeffe. 
 

Four panels from Todd's upcoming Illustoria comic

What was the process like, working from her own words?

Great fun! When I'm working on a piece like this, I really respond to particular writings of the artists that resonate with my own thinking. For years I used to keep a comic strip diary, and so working on a comic like "Georgia in the Desert" feels almost like drawing my own cartoon journal. I may be drawing about someone else and using their words, but it feels very personal to my own thinking. If that makes any sense! 
 
How does the idea of making art from the things you come upon in everyday life — which is a theme of the comic you drew — inform your own work?

Immensely. I think the things we encounter every day we often take for granted, so it's fun to focus a work on something small and seemingly insignificant — we are surrounded by so much wonder and beauty and we often forget to pay it any mind — Georgia painting huge gorgeous abstractions based on the surface of a rock, or a bone, or a flower or a row of clouds is a perfect example of really appreciating your everyday surroundings, whatever they may be.  

Todd's synthesizers are right on his studio bookshelf.

Tell us a bit about your music?

When I'm not drawing, I'm usually making music. At this point I have two projects: Seamonster is my main outlet, which is poppy semi-electronic songs that I guess sound a bit like girl groups from the 1950s mixed with something like Kraftwerk, haha. Contemporary songwriters like Stephen Merritt (of the Magnetic Fields), Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion, Polaris), and Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500) are huge influences. I also recently have started releasing music under the name Oahu, which is quieter ambient electronic experiments in the vein of Brian Eno or someone like William Basinski. Oahu uses lots of synthesizers and tape loops and has no singing. Its good background music for reading. 

What work of yours should an Illustoria parent read next?

Chance Operations: it's a collection of shorter experimental comics where I used chance operations (made famous by composer John Cage) and flipped coins to determine where images, colors, and text would go. It reads more like poems than a traditional narrative, and has a little essay explaining the process in more detail. 

An interior page from Webb's Chance Operations

What work of yours should an Illustoria kiddo read next?

Tuesday Moon: it's the story of a girl named Tuesday who has a rotten day at school, and is paid a visit by the Mann (two n's) in the Moon. They go on an adventure in space together and the moon helps her realize maybe her day wasn't as rotten as she thought it was. Raina Telgemeier, author of Smile, said, "Tuesday Moon is charming, thoughtful, and full of the best kind of whimsy."

An interior page from Tuesday Moon

Creator Crush – Illustrator Edition

 

The First Warm Spring Day. Copyright © Phoebe Wahl 2015. 

When I’m not painting, snacking, watching reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm, or having the time of my life at Illustoria magazine, I spend my days surrounded by children’s books. Specifically, at Mr. Mopps’ Children’s Books, one of the finest bookstore establishments in the Bay Area (if not America, the World, Universe, etc). As an artist and lover of beautiful things, my favorite picture books often tend to be the ones with jaw dropping-ly cool illustrations (that is unless it’s The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak). So it’s with great joy that I share my current illustrator favorites with you. I’ve also included some really awesome up-and-coming artists who haven’t published a children’s book yet, but I really hope they one day do. I hope this list inspires you to visit your local bookstore and support these stellar artists.  

1. Phoebe Wahl

Phoebe Wahl is my all time favorite illustrator at the moment. Working in various mix media from collage to watercolor and color pencil, all of Wahl’s creation are lush, whimsical, and filled with a love nature. The artist grew up in Washington and graduated from RISD in 2013 before plunging into the illustrator world. Her very first children’s book, Sonya’s Chicken’s is so wonderful-- I recommend it to everyone who comes into Mr.Mopps’. It tells the story of a young girl named Sonya who takes enormous pride in caring for her chickens. When one of her hens is killed by a neighborhood fox, Sonya learns an important lesson about the cycle of life and how to cope with loss. With gorgeously textured collage materials, rich colors, and folk inspired images, Sonya’s Chickens is a truly mesmerizing, heart warming tale you’ll want to reread again and again. It’s no wonder this book was the recipient of the Ezra Jack Keats award for new illustrators!  I’m greatly anticipating Wahl’s next children’s book and whatever spectacular creation she spins up next. You can check out her work at http://www.phoebewahl.com/

Cover of Sonya's Chickens. Copyright © Phoebe Wahl. Published August 2015.

Interior page of Sonya's Chickens. Copyright © Phoebe Wahl. Published 2015. 

2. Isabelle Arsenault

Isabelle Arsenault is a Canadian illustrator who has worked on over ten children’s books, each more wonderful than the next. Most recently, she illustrated Cloth Lullaby a tale of the life of world famous contemporary artist Louise Bourgeois, written by talented local author Amy Novesky. What I find stunning about Arsenault’s work is how she seamlessly integrates watercolor and pencil line work to create immersive, often extremely pattern-filled scenes. 

Cover of Cloth Lullaby. Copyright © Words by Amy Novesky, Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Published 2016. 

Interior page of Cloth Lullaby. Copyright © Isabelle Arsenault. Published 2016. 

Though her style has a sense of innocence and child-like wonder to it, Arsenault isn’t afraid of depicting a darker side. In her graphic novel Jane, the Fox, and Me Arsenault dramatic compositions and devilish character portrayal illustrate the anxiety and angst that we all go through as early teens. More of her work can be found at http://www.isabellearsenault.com/

Interior page of Jane, the Fox, and Me. Copyright © Isabelle Arsenault. Published 2013.

3. Esme Shapiro

Esme Shapiro’s work is delightful, fresh, and filled with curiosity. Similarly to Phoebe Wahl, Shapiro is a RISD grad who just published her first children’s book, Ooko. In this amusing tale, a fox named Ooko who has it all, except for a very best friend. So it goes off an adventure to find a companion but instead gets mistaken as an old lady’s dog. Filled with whimsy, flora, and fauna, Ooka is an easy favorite. Shapiro has many many more imaginative, Maria Kalman-esque pieces on her website http://esmeshapiro.com/

Cover of Ooko. Copyright © Esmé Shapiro. Published 2016. 

Page of Ooko. Copyright © Esmé Shapiro. Published 2016. 

4. Joohee Yoon

Joohee Yoon is a printmaker whose work never fails to amuse and inspire me. She has illustrated two children’s books, The Tiger Who Would Be King and Beastly Verse, as well as House Plant an art book about plants that outgrow their owners. You might also recognize her work as being a frequent feature in the New Yorker and New York Times. With wonderful overlapping colors and wonderful oversized cartoon characters, Yoon’s work overflows with vivacity and humor. If you’re as big of a fan as screen printing as I am, (or even if you’re not!) her illustrations will tickle you in all the right places. You can check out more of her striking work on her website http://jooheeyoon.com/index.html

Living Things interior spread. Copyright © JooHee Yoon. 

Interior page of The Tiger Who Would Be King. Copyright © JooHee Yoon. Published 2015.

Interior Page of Beastly Verse. Copyright © JooHee Yoon. Published 2015.

5. Sally Nixon

Sally Nixon, an illustrator working from Little Rock, Arkansas is one of the raddest artists around. Though she hasn’t come out with any children’s books yet (I hope she will soon!), she’s an honorable mention on this list because she’s without a doubt my creator crush. Nixon lovingly depicts the mundane moments in an average girl’s life, like eating late night snacks of chocolate cake, brushing your teeth in the shower, scrolling through instagram, or simply sitting on the toilet. By giving these often overlooked moments extra attention with delicate marker coloring and detailed penmanship, Nixon makes the everyday special. Her illustrations have a feeling of voyeurism, as if for spectators to see what women do when no one’s watching. At the same time, the contemplative boredom Nixon depicts makes her characters so relatable and well loved. Visit her website at http://sally-nixon.squarespace.com/.

Copyright © Sally Nixon. 

Copyright © Sally Nixon. 

Copyright © Sally Nixon. 

 

Claire Astrow is a publishing assistant at Illustoria and a recent grad from UC Berkeley as an Art Practice major. Check out her bio here and her illustrated work at claireastrow.com.

We Heart Sakura

 

Who doesn't love a maze?! But with a selection of colorful Gelly Roll Pens at our side, doodling and writing takes on another level of playful pleasure. Photo ©  Melissa Kaseman

 

When Michaela Yee at Sakura of America heard about us through a Facebook post, she connected with us right away. Aside from the fact that we have an amazing friend (Patricia Wakida of Wasabi Press) in common--one of those connectors of people who attracts artistic, talented, energetic, generous souls into her life--we both knew right away that Sakura and ILLUSTORIA were going to get along like playground pals at recess. 

 
Mark working on the Archidoodle activity for issue 1, with his trusty Micron Pens of course.

Mark working on the Archidoodle activity for issue 1, with his trusty Micron Pens of course.

 

While Sakura as a company is nearing its centennial and ILLUSTORIA is just a newborn pup, we have a lot in common. We believe in quality materials, access to artistic expression for all, and keeping creativity alive in both grownups and little ones. I must admit, as the new kid on the block I was already smitten with everything that Sakura represented. Art supplies are one of those pleasures that need not be guilty! Micron Pens are a staple in our house, with my architect-maker husband constantly sketching with his number 01s and 02s and on up the spectrum. The Pigma Sensei Pens are never far out of reach of my 10-year-old comic artist in the making, and my youngest can't get enough of his collection of Gelly Roll Pens.

 
Paper and ink are so important to me as a reader and as a publisher. I made sure to test out our uncoated interior stock for maximum drawability before we hit the press. The Gelly Roll Pens truly glide smooth as jelly on the pages of our mag, and the ink dries beautifully too--so no unsightly smudging when you flip the page! Photo ©   Melissa Kaseman

Paper and ink are so important to me as a reader and as a publisher. I made sure to test out our uncoated interior stock for maximum drawability before we hit the press. The Gelly Roll Pens truly glide smooth as jelly on the pages of our mag, and the ink dries beautifully too--so no unsightly smudging when you flip the page! Photo ©  Melissa Kaseman

 

We pretty much as a family tote them around to every and all long car rides and dinners out. I personally use a selection of all the above to capture my wandering thoughts and doodles. There's really something so satisfying about putting not just pen to paper but really lovely ink that glides oh-so smoothly and beautifully. The words and illustrations somehow look more intelligent and attractive on the page. Really, it does!

 
A selection of colorful Gelly Roll Pens on our table beckons the creative (and silly!) spirit in all of us. 

A selection of colorful Gelly Roll Pens on our table beckons the creative (and silly!) spirit in all of us. 

 

For Sakura, then, to see this new fledgling indie press and believe in us from the start--with no track record to show of but a lot of heart, enthusiasm, a dedicated team of contributors and a mission to inspire artistic expression, they proved to me that they are true supporters of the creativity cause. Their motto celebrates the "Power To Express" and we at ILLUSTORIA couldn't agree more. May we all tap into our own artistic expression and find the tools that work best for us individually, for our own daily creative practices. 

A very hearty thanks to our issue 1 sponsor, Sakura of America, for your support of us and your dedication to creative expression in all ages! 

Creator Crush: Cece Bell!

 

When the book EL DEAFO begins, Cece is 4. When it ends, she is about 10 or 11. Cece used these photos to help "age" the bunny version of herself as the book progresses. Photos and art © Cece Bell. 

 

I first heard the adorable name "Cece Bell" spoken of while working as an editor at Lucasfilm. At the time, I was co-editing Tom Angleberger’s Origami Yoda series. I’ll never forget Tom visiting our offices and gifting me an origami R2-D2 that he folded himself. There were many perks of working at Lucasfilm, and receiving an origami Star Wars character by Tom in all his stookiness was most definitely, geekishly one of them. But I had no idea that I would soon meet Tom’s wife, Cece Bell, and be blown away by her own amazing work as a children’s book author and illustrator. I met Cece only briefly at a BEA in New York a couple years ago, where she was signing galleys of her book El Deafo. The booth was crowded with Cece fans and the galleys were quickly disappearing, but I was fortunate to snatch one up.

 

Illustration © 2014 by Cece Bell; Design by Caitlin Keegan and Chad W. Beckerman. Published by Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams.

 

When I returned home to California, I couldn't wait to get El Deafo into the hands of my eight-year-old daughter. As I predicted, she gulped down the book in one sitting—meaning she did come up for air several times to point out some particularly hilarious excerpt from the book. (“Mom—look down your shirt and spell ‘attic’!”) The rest of the time she stayed quietly and contemplatively behind closed doors, unwilling to pull her eyes from the page—just as her mom did (sometimes teary-eyed with sadness sometimes teary-eyed with laughter) on that plane ride back to Oakland. When months later she and I discovered El Deafo in all its full-color, award-winning glory at the bookstore, we were overjoyed by its brilliance. It didn't occur to us that we had been missing anything at all in the uncolored proof.

When Cece's character can't hear anything, the speech balloons are empty. Art  ©   Cece Bell.

When Cece's character can't hear anything, the speech balloons are empty. Art © Cece Bell.

El Deafo is a phenomenal graphic novel memoir based on Cece’s childhood experiences with hearing loss and hearing aids. It also chronicles her quest to find true friendship. The graphic novel format is a perfect medium for Cece's story, where pictures and words (in some cases, the lack of words) powerfully demonstrate what her character is experiencing. 

The elaborate Phonic Ear hearing aid and microphone set-up had Cece feeling like a superhero with superpowers! But most of the time she just felt like a confused kid. Was she deaf? And what did that mean? Art  ©   Cece Bell.

The elaborate Phonic Ear hearing aid and microphone set-up had Cece feeling like a superhero with superpowers! But most of the time she just felt like a confused kid. Was she deaf? And what did that mean? Art © Cece Bell.

Read Cece’s firsthand account on the making of El Deafo in our premiere issue and learn about her creative process as an artist and writer.  In the meantime, here's an extended version of our Q&A with Cece.

Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

I grew up in a little city called Salem, in the southwestern part of Virginia. Now I live in an old church just a half-an-hour away, but more in the mountains (and therefore, in the boonies!).

What were you like as a kid?

I was driven to do well and pushed myself hard. I wanted people to think of me as “that smart girl in our class” instead of as “that deaf girl in our class.” I loved making people laugh, especially my older siblings. My sense of humor veered toward the absurdist...and the naughty!

 What were some of your favorite childhood books?

Our Animal Friends of Maple Hill Farm by the Provensens

The Meanest Squirrel I Ever Met by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Ed Emberley’s drawing books

Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad series

Judy Blume's books

Beverly Cleary's books

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

When did you know you wanted to be an artist and writer?

 I started to figure the art stuff out in college. I had always loved drawing, but never really saw a career in it until I saw other kids making a go of it. As to the writing, no one would hire me to illustrate their children’s books, so I realized I had to write my own books and make my own path.

Who or what inspires you? 

My husband, author/illustrator Tom Angleberger, is a huge source of inspiration. He's so encouraging...and he's so good, which triggers my competitive reflexes to be better and to make more stuff.

When do you feel your most creative?

In the morning, when the house is quiet and nothing has happened yet.

Do you have a favorite type of pen, or brush, or paper for drawing with?

I like lots of media and have to admit that I love drawing on my Wacom Cintiq. I love to draw LINES so simple pen-and-ink is a favorite. Gouache! Watercolors! But no oil paints, ick. If I could make a book with illustrations made of felt and colored thread, I'd do it. Love that stuff.

What advice would you share with young aspiring artists?

 If you aren't enjoying it, don't do it!

Thank you, Cece, for your words of wisdom and for sharing El Deafo with us!

Who We Are: Elizabeth Haidle

Me & Eli

Me & Eli

Location: 

Portland, OR

Profession: 

Freelance artist & musical saw player (& Creative Director of ILLUSTORIA)


Favorite artist/illustrator: 

recent discovery: Nathaniel Russell; also Jillian Tamaki, Brecht Evens, Emily Carroll 

Best book you've read in the past year: 

Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe, by Yumi Sakugawa

Kids’ book you could read every night: 

What Was I Afraid Of?  by Dr. Suess

Best memory of being a kid: 

Dressing up as a ham sandwich for Halloween, made with scraps I scrounged from my dad's studio. My head stuck out of a bite mark at the top. I had a little trouble climbing on the bus & standing during the ride to school, but it was worth it. Absolutely zero other people were a ham sandwich that year. 

Favorite weekend activity: 

3-course breakfasts. Also anything involving a hammock.

 Song currently on repeat: 

"The Very Thought of You," by Billie Holliday; I just know everything's gonna be alright when Billie sings.

Favorite meal: 

Blue Star Donuts

Last time you made something with your hands: 

Accordian fold mini book entitled: 'Inner Donkey'

Patterned postcards using eraser chunks as stamps

Fun fact about you: 

I'm terrible at wrestling and my son always wants to, so I made up my own moves. One is called 'Cheek Pin', where you press the other person down by smushing your cheek really hard against theirs. Also they are maybe paralyzed by laughter, which helps. Another is called 'Cashmere Head Clamp' and requires one to be wearing a cashmere robe. Which I wear often.