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.
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.
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/.
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.
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.
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/
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 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.
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/
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/
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.
We are so thrilled to announce that Issue 2 has arrived and is getting ready to ship to our dear readers! (Stockists: Please contact us to place your order!) The Canvas Issue is overflowing with vibrant, gorgeous art by some of our favorite artists and writers. From the awesome cover art and interview feature with Press Here author Hervé Tullet to a Q&A with Tony DiTerlizzi of The Spiderwick Chronicles and The Search for WondLa series, a biographical story on Martha Graham by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Marlowe Dobbe, a comic on Georgia O'Keeffe by Todd Webb, a non-fiction piece, "Beyond the Canvas," by our very own Elizabeth Haidle of Docu-Comix featuring artists Lee Bontecou, Frank Stella, Diego Rivera, Louise Bourgeois, and Christo & Jeanne-Claude and so so much more.... It's an embarrassment of riches to be sure!
Here are a few pages from the packed 64-page issue.... Please enjoy! : )
Purchase your copy here or ask for issue 2 at your fave local bookstore. xox
Illustoria is thrilled to be pairing up with Hervé Tullet to celebrate the release of issue 2 at Bank Street Book Store in New York City! Hervé is the internationally bestselling author behind Press Here, Mix It Up!, Let's Play!, Art Workshops for Children, and many more titles equally loved by grownups and kids.
Hervé will talk about his unique approach to storytelling, staying innovative, and what we can all learn from making art with kids. I'll be interviewing Hervé about his process and inspiration, his favorite medium, what music he listens to while he paints, and how to create stories that appeal across generations. I'm also excited to share highlights from issue 2: The Canvas Issue.
So calling all artists, writers, parents, kids, teachers, and librarians: Come join us for an afternoon of inspiration and fun, pick up a copy of the newly released issue 2 and any number of awesome Tullet books that may be missing from your home collection, and enjoy coloring, crafts, light snacks, and swag! For more information about the event, go to the Bank Street Book Store events page and RSVP here.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."