Wishing you were home? Or cozy on your couch longing for music to daydream to? Whether you’re homeward bound, home alone, or homesick this playlist will fill you with comfort and nostalgia. This mix is the perfect backdrop for leafing through Issue #8, turning up during a long commute, or chillin on sofa. What’s your favorite song about home? Let us know on Instagram with the hashtag #ILLUSTORIAplaylist! Hope you enjoy this bumpin’ playlist. Listen in the link below, or on Spotify.
Mother’s Day is just around the corner… do you have your card ready? Not to fear, we’ve got you covered! Using Sakura’s awesomely vibrant Koi Water Colors and some oil pastels, you can whip up a beautiful and unique card that will make your mom, grandma, or the motherly friend in your life swoon. Better yet, it will make the fridge where it will likely be magnet-ed shine with beauty.
Watercolor-resist techniques involve putting a layer of oily pigment or tape onto your surface first, so when you apply the watercolor, it resists, or avoids, the oil or tape. It’s an awesome trick to try when you want to reveal a hidden message with color, or when you’re hitting an art-block and want to experiment with materials to spark a new idea.
Koi Water Colors
oil pastel (Sakura’s Cray-Pas pastels work great!) or china marker
Step 1: Draw your Mother’s Day message on your watercolor paper with an oil pastel or china marker. Be sure to make your letters nice and thick with lots of layer of pigment.
Step 2: Reveal your invisible message by painting on top of it with Sakura’s Koi Watercolors! We love the day-glo colors of this watercolor set. It even comes with a little mixing tray and refillable watercolor brush, making it portable and perfect for travel. Just fill up the bottom half of the brush with water and screw on the top. Squeeze the brush for water to fill the brush tip, and then mix it with your watercolors to create your shade!
Step 3: Once you’ve painted to your heart’s content, leave out the cards to dry. Your unique Mother’s Day card is complete! Now all it needs is a sweet message on the back. :-)
If you loved this DIY, you won’t want to miss our special Mother’s Day giveaway of a copy of ILLUSTORIA’s Issue #8: Home and your very own Sakura Koi Watercolor set! It’s the perfect gift to self or the creative mom in your life. Check out our instagram post for entry.
Huge thanks to Sakura of America for their continued support and sponsorship of our publication. They help to bring artfulness into our magazine and into your home with every issue.
Join us for an afternoon filled with music, chai tastings, readings by ILLUSTORIA artists, and DIY crafts the whole family can enjoy. Copies of Issue #8: Home will be for sale, along with subscriptions of the magazine!
We can’t wait to see you for the lovely afternoon of festivities.
I am overjoyed to announce that McSweeney’s, the award-winning, San Francisco-based independent publisher founded in 1998 by Dave Eggers, will take on Illustoria Magazine starting with our next issue! Please read our joint press release about this exciting news.
This is a dream come true for our indie magazine, to have the support of McSweeney’s under the leadership of Dave Eggers and executive director Amanda Uhle, and certainly feels like a match made in heaven as Illustoria and McSweeney’s both share an unwavering belief in the power of print, storytelling, art, creative expression, and youth voices. As a non-profit organization known for its award-winning literary journal, daily humor website, and courageous, design-minded publishing program, McSweeney’s champions ambitious and inspired new writing that pushes us to see beyond ourselves. I am delighted that McSweeney’s plans to expand circulation with a special focus on schools, libraries, and other organizations who serve under-resourced communities. In addition, you’ll see more opportunities for young writers and artists to be engaged.
This transition comes at an ideal juncture for me personally, as I find myself drawn to spending more time with my beautiful, growing family and on my own creative projects. It’s bittersweet for sure, but I couldn’t be more thrilled knowing that Illustoria will get to continue on in the good hands of an indie publishing house I have long admired and respected. It’s no surprise that when I was first developing Illustoria I found inspiration in indie mags such as Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and The Believer; activity books enjoyed by kids and grownups such as The Goods; and Dave’s breadth of written work for kids and adults have always resonated and continue to touch a chord in me as a lit lover and, simply, as a human being.
While as the publisher and editor-in-chief (former!) I will sorely miss curating and creating Illustoria, I’m thrilled to pass the torch to McSweeney’s knowing that the publication is supported by such passionate visionaries and that our small but incredibly talented team—without whom Illustoria would not be what it is today—will continue their beautiful work on the magazine. Special thanks to my partner-in-crime Mark Rogero; and to our creative director, Elizabeth Haidle, and publishing assistant, Claire Astrow, who have both been with me on this wildly fulfilling journey almost since Day 1 and who will continue to do amazing things with Illustoria and beyond. It makes my heart skip a beat knowing that Illustoria will grow richer and more enticing with each issue, and that the legacy of this publication will become something greater than I ever imagined thanks to the massive creative energy and support of our new, fierce independent publisher.
My heartfelt thanks to all of you readers, parents, subscribers, contributors, staff, interns, advisors, friends, stockists, educators, librarians, and supporters, who have cheered for us along the way. Collectively, Illustoria has become bigger than the sum of its parts. It has become more than a magazine, it has become a community that I am so proud to be a part of.
Here’s to our new publisher, McSweeney’s, for being a believer, for embracing our community and getting Illustoria into the hands of more young readers, and for keeping print alive and thriving.
Calling all illustrators, writers, artists and makers: we are on the lookout for food-themed submissions! Please read the important information below before you submit:
1. We are ESPECIALLY interested in:
1- or 2-page food-related comics
illustrations of favorite recipes, and the stories that go along with them (please include the real recipe!)
3-page illustrated fiction short story, suitable for young readers ages 6+
2. Before submitting, familiarize yourself with ILLUSTORIA’s past issues. Fiction and nonfiction manuscripts should include an exact word count; poetry manuscripts should include an exact line count.
3. We will be accepting proposals in ***rough draft form.***
Please only submit finished work if it is for reprint use—we encourage submissions of previously published artwork or writing, however we ask that this work has only been published once before and that you share the source.
4. Please also include: 3 jpg attachments of past work, your website, and social media.
The deadline for submitting artwork is April 10, 2019, 12 pm PST. Email work to email@example.com. We do not consider work submitted through ILLUSTORIA’s social media or to other email accounts. Illustoria offers a modest compensation structure, and we will work with artists on fees upon acceptance.
Writing Submission FAQ's:
What kinds of written pieces are you looking for?
Stories (approx. 500–1,000 words), comics, poetry, articles and essays relating to an issue theme and generally all things that readers ages 6–12 would enjoy and that inspire creativity. Issue themes announced during Calls for Submissions can act as helpful guidelines for submitting work.
How do I submit written work to ILLUSTORIA?
Please send a complete draft of your piece along with an introduction that briefly summarizes it and gives an idea of why it’s perfect for ILLUSTORIA to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your complete draft below your intro or attach it as a document.
What happens if my written submission is accepted?
We will be in touch with an offer and payment rate to publish your work.
Illustration Submission FAQ's:
What kinds of illustrated work are you looking for?
1- or 2-page food-related comics
illustrations of favorite recipes, and the stories that go along with them (please include the real recipe!)
3-page illustrated fiction short story, suitable for young readers ages 6+
How do I submit visual work to ILLUSTORIA?
Send us your rough draft work, brief description, and 3 jpg attachments of past work, your website, and social media.
How will I know if my submission is rejected or accepted? How soon will I hear back?
We’re a small editorial team, so while we try to respond to all submissions, we’re not always able to do so personally or immediately. We aim to send replies within two months of receiving a submission.
What we aren’t looking for:
A link to your portfolio or published work without a specific idea or original submission intended for publication in ILLUSTORIA.
Work that is inappropriate for audiences ages 6–12.
Images of your work sent through social media.
What happens if my visual submission is accepted?
We will be in touch with an offer and payment rate to publish your work.
We are so thrilled to have trailblazer Hillary Frank—of the absolutely laugh-out-loud, pee-in-your-pants, heartfelt, insightful, cutting-edge, quirky, and thought-provoking parenting podcast The Longest Shortest Time—here with a guest post that is sure to inspire you to capture some archival-worthy recordings of your wee ones at their most confessional/talkative/silly/sweet/________ (fill in the blank with your child’s mood of the moment). If you haven’t heard Hillary’s podcast yet, do it! Also check out her powerful op-ed in The New York Times, “The Special Misogyny Reserved for Mothers,” and her recent interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air. Without further ado, here’s Hillary on How to Record a Great Interview with Your Kid (at Any Age).
Thank you, Hillary!!!
On the eve of my little brother’s second birthday, he refused to go to sleep. He had THINGS to say—about our aunts and uncles and cousins and what color shoes they all wore. I was seven at the time, passed out in my bedroom, but I know this happened because instead of scolding my brother for being a chatterbox way past his bedtime, my parents grabbed a tape recorder and captured it all on cassette. After naming every relative he knew, my brother went on to proclaim that our Florida-based grandmother lived in “her ammie.” (Replace “her” with “my.”) He spoke enthusiastically about the alligator toothbrush he’d just gotten from the dentist. And he fervently tried to get my mom to remember something he called the “wekka fwabeewing.” For around twenty minutes, my mom took guesses at what he was saying; he’d yell No!; she’d try to change the subject; he’d bring it back to the wekka fwabeewing. Finally, after a lot of exasperation on both sides, my mom figured it out. My brother was talking about the Levitt Pavillion, a local outdoor performance venue where he’d seen a kids’ show.
The next morning, my parents played me the recording and challenged me to guess what a wekka fwabeewing was. I got in on the first mention. After all, I was the one who had taught him to say it. My parents and I laughed over how cute my brother was, attempting such big words and kinda, sorta pulling it off. Then the tape went in a drawer.
When I was a teenager, I went through my old cassettes, listening to them one by one. And I came across the wekka fwabeewing tape. I’d forgotten about it, and decided I’d play it for my mom on Mother’s Day. I knew she’d enjoy it, but I did not expect the nonstop weeping-nose-blowing-laughter that followed soon after I hit play.
I think the reason my mom had such a big, emotional reaction to the recording is about more than the fact that it captured a funny moment; it’s a moment that reveals a lot about both my brother and my mom. You can hear his determinated persistence even at the tender age of two, his unwillingness to let anyone off the hook. You can hear her patience through exhaustion and frustration… and eventually you can hear that patience wearing thin. In the end, you can hear her relief—”Mommy’s a little dumb, but she finally got it”—followed by his relief—”Mmhmm”—that they finally understand one another and can shut off the recorder and go to bed.
Recording your kid can be a great way of capturing the realness, the rawness, the connection, and the disconnect, that marks every fleeting stage of your relationship with them. These moments can make for great keepsakes to be listened to for a rolicking good time with the entire family—or when you’re an empty-nester and need a good cry.
Kids can be resistant to being recorded, especially if you frame it formally as a sit-down interview. And given the ease of voice memo recording on phones and tablets, there’s no reason not to be spontaneous about recording conversations with them. But not every conversation is going to yield archive-worthy material. After working as a radio journalist for nearly two decades, mostly interviewing parents, teens, and young children, I’ve developed tricks for getting kids of all ages to talk. Here are some of them:
Technical setup. First things first: let’s make this audio listenable. Get yourself in a quiet room, preferably one with a rug. Steer clear of refrigerators, air conditioners, and noisy vents. If you’re recording on a phone, remember that your microphone is at the bottom of your device, so you’ll want to turn it upside down and aim that mic at your kid’s face—ideally a few inches below their chin. But if they’re loud, you can pull back a bit to prevent the sound from distorting. If your kid finds this closeness intimidating, it’s fine to keep the mic farther away; just don’t cover it up.
Littles. Catch your toddler or preschooler when they’re already in a chatty mood. Are they telling you their crazy theory on how babies are made? Making up a story about a giant bunny who eats teachers? It’s time to press record! Ask them follow-up questions, with the goal of getting a fuller picture of their interpretation of the world. “Oh, babies float down to Earth from bubbles in the sky. What color are the bubbles? How big are they? Who made the bubbles in the first place? What happens if they pop?”
Or, turn the mic around and encourage them to ask *you* questions. They’re more likely to ask you whether a dinosaur goes to heaven or hell than what made them go extinct. And whether or not you believe in heaven and hell, that question will get a more interesting reaction out of you than the extinction one.
We made a whole series based on this idea at The Longest Shortest Time called Kids Ask Unanswerable Questions. This episode with comedian Chris Gethard includes the dino question, and many more mind-blowing examples.
Middles. Would-you-rather questions are a hit with adults and kids alike, but I’ve found that kids are way better at them. If your grade-schooler is resistant to spilling their guts to you, ask them if you can record yourselves playing a few rounds of Would You Rather. My daughter’s best one: Would you rather eat a skunk or poop in front of a thousand people? Just imagine where the conversation could go from there!
Sometimes talking in an unusual place or engaging in another activity can help get a kid to open up: huddled under the blankets in bed, sitting on the floor doing a jigsaw puzzle, in the basement folding laundry. Anything to make this “interview” not feel like a formal Interview.
Teens. Teenagers are my very favorite people to talk to. They are passing from childhood into adulthood, and you can hear that tension in almost everything they say. With teens, you can ask big, open-ended questions: How does the world work? What do all children need to know? What is love? Most of them will be more than happy to philosophize. Here’s an example of a story I did, asking high school seniors if they thought the robot babies in health class were preventing them from having underage sex. It surprised me how profound these kids’ thoughts could be over a hunk of plastic.
And here’s one in which teens give advice to parents—on dating, school lockdowns, and what to name a pet. I’ve found that lots of teens enjoy dishing out advice. In their answers, you can hear them sorting out what they make of relationships and the world around them. Watch out, though, for correcting your teen or judging their answers; “parenting” them during a recording session will likely make them shut down. Make them feel heard and let them go on a rant if that’s what they want to do.
Remember, the goal here, no matter the kid’s age, is not to get them to “open up”; it’s to capture something real. Maybe that means you let *them* ask the questions. Maybe that means you’re both lying on the floor talking about how tired you are. Maybe that means letting them whisper the entire time (one of my favorite stories to report was all about quiet kids). And if they really don’t want to be recorded, don’t push it; a forced recording is not going to be a good recording. Put the control in their hands. Tell them that sometime in the next week, you want them to pick a time to hit record. To capture what you both sound like at the ages that you are. Because neither of you will ever be this age again. And wouldn’t it be cool to listen back in ten years to what you sounded like together and hear how you’ve changed?
The night my mom spontaneously decided it would be fun to record my brother back in the 80s, she had no idea how emotional it would make her to hear it years later. But she also had no idea what an impact that recording would have on me. There was a time in my twenties when I listened to the “wekka fwabeewing” tape obsessively. I memorized certain passages—the exact intonation in my brother’s tiny voice as he passed in an instant from curious to outraged. It’s that kind of vulnerability that I chase every time I press record at my job.
Hillary Frank is the creator of The Longest Shortest Time podcast. Her most recent book is Weird Parenting Wins: Bathtub Dining, Family Screams, and Other Hacks from the Parenting Trenches.
A fave mus-try weird parenting win from her book:
Need some holiday cheer, thoughtful gifts, and custom wrapping? Look no further! Join us at Heath SF’s second annual Make Good Market!
Illustoria will be hosting a *FREE* design-your-own gift wrap station with stamps, art supplies, and paper just waiting for your unique creative output. Shop locally made goods for yourself or holiday gifting, then come by our table to DIY giftwrap. We’ll also be selling the coolest creative mag for kids, of course!
The Make Good Market is a celebration of people, place, process, and product. Check out over 30 different designers and makers demonstrating their craft and offering up their gorgeous goods. Spend the day learning about vase throwing, wreath making, and more. Some of Illustoria’s fave local vendors include Dandelion Chocolate, Jacob May, Silvia Song, and Aesthetic Union.
See the full list of vendors here. And check out this interview with Cathy Bailey on the meaning behind the Make Good Market.
Saturday, December 8, 10–5pm
Sunday, December 9, 10–3pm
2900 18th Street, CA 94110
A guest post by Elizabeth Haidle, Illustoria’s art director.
I was recently visiting the Kansas City Art Institute, as a guest artist this fall. I ran a special assignment, asking students to illustrate a topic related to food & to pair words with their images in any style of their choosing. I was pleased with their surprising variety of responses—family recipes, history of food, cultural traditions, comic journalism featuring food, and food-related ethical concerns. Some went the scientific route, with food diagrams and food traveling through the digestive tract. (Yuck, but fascinating!) Here are some of my favorites, with comments by the artists about their choice of imagery / subject matter:
We at Illustoria are always so amazed to see how various artists and writers interpret a theme—often in ways that we would have never imagined ourselves, and certainly in styles and voices that are original and captivating. Thanks to Elizabeth and the students at the Kansas City Art Institute for sharing their beautiful, thoughtful, and inspired illustrations with us!
Don’t we all love giving as much as we do receiving? Now through Dec 10th, gift Illustoria and we will custom gift-wrap your magazine (or magazine bundle!) and hand-letter your gift message. At checkout, just type “WRAP” along with your gift message. Offer good for a limited time so don’t delay. Every issue of our magazine is packed with activities, interviews, original stories and art, DIY crafts, a recipe, playlist, book recommendations, music playlist, and more. Illustoria is a highly popular gift item for kids, parents, siblings, grandkids, teachers, librarians, artists, writers, makers, kid-lit lovers, and creative souls of all ages.
Running a publication while a mom of three can be so chaotic. Emails get missed, lunches get skipped (mine, not the kids’), and deadlines are usually, eer, on the soft side. It’s been a while since I stopped from all the busyness of running a household and this publication to really reflect on and appreciate how we pull off this incredible indie mag. (Hint: huge kudos to our amazing art director, Elizabeth Haidle, and superstar publishing assistant, Claire Astrow.) Thanks to the talented and thoughtful ladies at Handmade Charlotte, one of my fave go-to craft blogs for family-friendly DIY projects—check out the adorableness of this and this—I had the chance to slow down and consider how Illustoria has changed, my favorite part of of the magazine-making process (hint: it’s not doing the books), and my own creative time with the kiddos. Here’s an excerpt, but I hope you’ll head to their blog to learn more about what happens behind the scenes and the labor of love that goes into making each issue of Illustoria.
Excerpt from the Handmade Charlotte interview:
How do you pick the theme for each issue?
I am inspired by universal themes that we experience in life and literature. When I consider a theme I always think about how open-ended it is for interpretation. The more open-ended, inevitably the more varied and unexpected the contributions will be. I love the idea of readers discovering something new, being challenged to see things from a different perspective, and getting into worlds they haven’t experienced before. More specifically though, “Beginnings” was an obvious and apt theme for our premiere issue because it is so full of possibilities as we set out on this journey. The idea for “Canvas” was sparked by a love of art and paintings, “Outside-In” by fairytales and sculpture, “Grow” by nature and childhood, “Motion” by actions and the impact of our actions, “Symbols” by the way we make sense of the world around us. The hope is that every theme speaks to the curiosity and wonder of children and adults alike.
Read the full interview here.
Delve into the world of shadow and light with a Issue #7 playlist filled with black and white themes, whether be it in the album cover or the songs themselves. We had so much picking out our favorite black and white themed albums for this playlist! There’s so many great ones out there. What’s your favorite black and white album? Let us know on Instagram with the hashtag #ILLUSTORIAplaylist! Hope you enjoy this eclectic mix, perfect for art making, hanging out at home, or dancing around your living room. Listen in the link below, or on Spotify.
Fantasizing about what it would be like to be seven years old again is something I do quite often. And if seven-year old me was around right now, she would without a doubt idolize singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett.
Courtney Barnett, for those who are new to the name, is a Melbourne-based indie rock musician whose deadpan songs find hilarity, beauty, and angst in the mindless everyday rhythms of life. Ultra-cool yet still approachable, with a killer sense of humor and a laid-back attitude, Barnett makes the perfect role model for any budding artist. I say this with mild envy because when I was growing up, it felt like bands fronted by the likes of Barnett, with her low-key, tomboy aesthetic, were few and far between. I adored Meg White, the shy drummer of The White Stripes, but other female rock stars of the time like Avril Lavigne or P!NK were too intimidating for me to relate to.
In the hopes of sharing the joy of Barnett’s music with young readers, I added the musician’s collaborative album Lotta Sea Lice with another garage-rock hero, Kurt Vile, to ILLUSTORIA’s ongoing feature “On Our Playlist” in the recent Issue #7: Black and White. I was then thrilled to be able to speak with Barnett over the phone about her creative process, childhood and advice for young musicians, and to be able to share it with you, our readers.
I hope you enjoy our chat, and if you’re as bummed as I am that you didn’t have Courtney to listen to as a kid, remember it’s never too late to have a music crush.
What was your childhood like growing up in Sydney?
It was great. I lived out of the city and near the beaches and the bush; around a lot of nature and water. So I think I’ve been lucky in that regard. I started drawing, making music and I would go to the library everyday after school. I found myself in this great position of discovery, knowledge and creation the whole time I was growing up.
Where you get the inspiration for your lyrics from?
[The inspiration] is everywhere. I think ideas are hidden, sometimes right in front of us. For me it’s just slowing down enough to recognize and see them for what they are. Sometimes when I start writing a song I try to put all of these big ideas into it, but I think it’s when you step back and focus on one small thing the good detail and emotion behind [a song] can blossom into something bigger. Kind of like a backwards step.
When do you feel the most creative?
I’m not really good at routine but I’ve tried. I’ve tried to experiment with routines and discipline. For me that’s not when it happens, when it happens seems to be in procrastination. I think normally I’ve tried to get up and work in the morning with a fresh brain to be creative and write. But I discovered that I work best at night or at the end of the day. So a lot of the time I go through this pain of you know, the daily kind of “trying to get things done” and the kind of up and down of whatever is going on. It’s not until I’m ready to call it quits for the day that things start happening. Maybe it’s a kind of tricking the mind into thinking it’s ready or thinking that you’re done and that you can move on and allow your other side of the brain to keep on going.
Our upcoming Issue #8 is themed “Home”. What is your definition of “home” ? Do you ever get homesick while touring?
I think at the moment for me, home is kind of up in the air. But my definition of home is either where family is or where all my stuff is, or both. So I guess I kind of feel like my home is Melbourne and where I have all my boxes, journals, photos, clothes and stuff like that. But then Hobart in Tasmania, (my mom and dad still live there) so I kind of consider that home. Sydney is kind of a spiritual home with some other family [living there].
And then I’m so lucky I can travel all the time so I am away from home a lot. I don’t really get homesick. I think it’s fluctuated in the past, but I’m trying to live in the moment now and be grateful for where I am, for discovering new places and for taking an adventure and experiencing the moment instead of wishing to be somewhere else.
We love your hand drawn album covers! Do you still make time for drawing with your busy schedule?
I kind of stopped drawing and then started again recently. Drawing for me is harder than writing because it’s a little harder to visualize an idea. It definitely doesn’t come as naturally to me as playing guitar or writing lyrics. I think it can be frustrating and sometimes [my ideas] don’t come out as good as I hoped, but I think that when I overthink things is when they become worse. So I think trying to [draw] for fun or without an expectation of what it’s going to be, look like or used for is a big thing for me. I’m always like, “I’m designing a t-shirt to sell at a show” and then I put this undue pressure on myself, like the expectation of what it is instead of just letting it happen.
What was your favorite music to listen to when you were growing up?
When I was growing up I listened to a lot of Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, No Doubt, Red Hot Chili Peppers, all that kind of 90s and earlier music.
Rad! I watched your What’s In My Bag interview that you did with Kurt Vile a little while back, and I heard that your dad had a big jazz record collection. That’s so cool, like you had a built-in music education.
Yeah definitely. I thought it was really uncool but I kind of enjoyed listening to it. I probably didn’t know the gravity of who the musicians were until around when I started high school when I started learning about the history of blues, jazz and rock and roll.
Did you have any mentors that guided you towards your creative pursuits?
Kind of, in a more casual way. I looked up to my brother and his friends who played music. And then I started getting guitar lessons and my guitar teacher was a huge inspiration. He made it fun. I think having a patient and encouraging teacher makes such a huge difference. Just as a young person being gently pushed in the correct direction makes a huge difference. And I think I always had really fun art teachers at school, like the art teachers that traditionally are kind of quirky, laid-back and fun and you can go hang out in their classroom at lunch time. I think that so much of music and art is a journey of your own, like your personality taking an adventure. More so than the actual work, theory, or practicality, [art] is about having that space to explore.
Definitely. Are you still in contact with any of your teachers?
Yeah, my guitar teacher lives in Sydney so I often invite him to shows!
We featured Lotta Sea Lice on our playlist feature in Issue 7-- we love it! What was one benefit and one challenge of this collaboration?
It was so fun working with Kurt! We joked and really laughed a lot; it was a really fun process. Not to say that my other times making music hasn’t been fun but I’ve been a huge fan of Kurt and his music. We became fast friends and we almost think of each other like brother and sister. Hanging out and making music in the studio was just a really fun process. I guess a challenge would be working with someone’s different process or schedule. Kurt’s a bit more like a night worker. And I kind of prefer that but for some reason when we were in the studio the days were starting earlier, and so it was just like meeting someone’s schedule is kind of tricky but not much.
What are some musicians / bands you think every kid should know about?
Wow ! I think when I was growing up I kind of discounted [older artist] because I thought they were just old people. But I discovered people like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone… just kind of people that I never listened to growing up. Then there’s classic bands like Patti Smith, Talking Heads, X Ray Spex, Lauryn Hill…
What advice to you have for young people who want to become musicians?
My advice is just to do it! To get a guitar or whatever you want to do from somewhere and don’t let anyone tell you it’s too hard or it won’t get you anywhere, just have fun. Just have fun and do it your own way.
Thanks for reading our chat with Courtney Barnett! We hope you truly enjoyed it. Don’t forget to check out Issue #7: Black and White where we feature Barnett in our On Our Playlist, and listen to our new Issue #7 playlist on Spotify, which is filled with music by Barnett and other black and white related songs. Cheers!
It’s Halloween, and you know what that means—time to gather around and trade scary stories! A treat of a graphic novel released this year, That Night, a Monster, is perfect for the occasion. You know that feeling after watching a scary movie where everything feels haunted? Even the tree right outside your window? That’s what Tommy, the little boy who went to wake up his parents on a Saturday morning, felt when his mom turned into a fern! Of course, she did not really turn into a fern, but rather had a bad hair day that got out of control.
That Night, a Monster is a graphic novel that plays with our worst fears, but in a light-hearted way that makes you turn around and appreciate what you have. Plus, the illustrations are so silly and relatable at the same time that they remind us that our fears can be the scariest thing of all!
We had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Marzena Sowa and Berenika Kotomycka, the Polish artists behind the graphic novel. That Night, a Monster was originally published in Polish and re-released with an English translation by Uncivilized Books. We hope you enjoy learning about their inspiration behind the book and their advice for young artists.
If you dig our interview, don’t forget to check out our giveaway of the graphic novel via Instagram! Have a happy, spooky Halloween.
Marzena Sowa is an internationally renowned Polish graphic novelist. Her best known work Marzi—a memoir of Communist Poland through the eyes of a child—has been translated into several languages. She loves dictionaries and cheesecake, hates spiders, and is crazy skateboarder (even if she is not very good!). Marzena lives in Brussels.
Berenika Koâomycka is a cartoonist, sculptor, illustrator, and recipient of the Grand Prix at the odz International Comics Festival. She's also the author of Tiny Fox & Big Boar series of comics for kids. She lives in Warsaw, Poland.
1. What was your inspiration for That Night a Monster?
Berenika: This was my first comic book for kids. I built a model of Thomas’ parents' room for this project in order to get into this story as much as possible. Playing with the light and taking pictures of such a model is very inspiring and sometimes the effect may surprise you. Sometimes your imagination is not flexible enough to find solutions completely out of your head, sometimes you need help. I really loved watching concept artworks of artists such as Eyvind Earle, Walt Peregoy, or John Hubley and many others. Watching the achievements of those fantastic artists helps me grow.
Marzena: With That Night a Monster, I wanted to dive into a child's imagination: how it can deform and transform reality, and how it can be rich and wild without borders. I also wanted the story to be a little funny and not too scary.
2. What was your favorite children's book growing up?
Berenika: I was totally devoted to children's poems written by our Polish poet Jan Brzechwa. I knew them by heart and kept images from these books, some of which I still have at home. I loved the illustrations from these fairy-tales and sometimes when I was a kid I fantasized and finished the stories myself. Polish illustrations from the 50's were amazing. Besides, I'm still a huge Moons fan to this day.
Marzena: I grew up on Andersen's stories, Grimm brothers', and of course Polish and Eastern European tales and poems. My favorite was Baba Yaga, and it still is. I am fascinated by this witch who scares generations of kids, and each time I go to the forest, I ask myself if she was ever there. And obviously Tove Jansson's Moomins.
3. What advice do you have for aspiring comic book writers and artists?
Berenika: Watch the world around you, take notes, and sketch, because human memory is unreliable. Above all, be honest and be humble. We are not the center of the universe and we can learn a lot of good things from others, so let's try to listen to them and not pretend that we know everything.
Marzena: Like our [character of That Night a Monster] Tommy, be curious without borders. Explore everything. Go where you never go. Surprises are around the corner. You don't have to go far to find them.
Thanks for reading, don’t forget to check out our giveaway of the That Night a Monster via Instagram! Have a happy, spooky Halloween.
Have you always dreamed of customizing your own pair of sneakers? It’s way easier than you ever thought. In honor of #Inktober, we thought we’d share a favorite DIY activity from ILLUSTORIA Issue #2: Canvas. Check it out!
-pair of canvas sneakers (or a piece of fabric if you don’t want to draw on your shoes)
-sharpie, fabric paint, or stamps with an ink pad
-brush, if you’re using fabric paint
-scrap piece of paper and pencil
Ask for your parent’s permission before decking out a design on a fresh pair of shoes!
Sketch out your shoe design on a piece of paper. Challenge yourself to come up with your very own logo or catch phrase!
Once you’ve settled on a design, grab a sharpie, fabric paint + brush, or stamps and ink and doodle to your heart’s content.
All done? Now it’s time to show em’ off! Head outside and display your awesome new kicks to the world.
Loved this DIY activity? ILLUSTORIA #1—7 are filled with even more rad do-it-yourself art projects, recipes and story telling activities from fabric painting to delicious cherry almond bars. Take a look here, and happy drawing.
In the past few months, Illustoria has received a tidal wave of support from librarians, independent shops, book reviewers, and readers across the country. We are incredibly humbled by the thoughtful reviews and positive feedback given to us from both seasoned Illustoria subscribers and new readers, and wanted to take a moment to share some of the kind words we’ve received. A very big, warm thank you to everyone who continues to support our indie mag, whether by ordering Issue #7: Black and White, pre-ordering Issue #8: Home, checking us out at your local library or bookstore, or sharing the mag and our mission to inspire creativity in all with your friends and family. We highly encourage you to check out the work of Fab Book Reviews, Let’s Talk Picture Books, Book.Nosed, Happily Ever Elephants, J.T. Moore Library, Sarah Walsh, and Ziraffe Store —all high quality advocates (and creators!) of art, literature, and children’s goods.
Michelle, Fab Book Reviews
It might be safe to say that I quite love this magazine- such a terrific and welcome surprise! It is a keeper of a magazine- and it is one that you really do want to happily save (and re-read) alongside comics, art books, graphic novels, etc. I could see this magazine making a home in an elementary and/or middle school; maybe even at a high school or at an art program/institution. It might even be worth exploring for a library whose patronage is especially art/comic-focused. On the whole, ILLUSTORIA is beautiful and high-quality. As someone who is so entrenched in kid lit (and delighted to be familiar with some artists featured), ILLUSTORIA is a special delight; I feel that the magazine is just perfect for other children’s librarians! Teachers and educators would find much to love in the magazine as well and want to share with colleagues and students; but the reach of the magazine really does extend to any individuals- kids and grown-ups alike!- who enjoy any of the aspects and topics that the magazine focuses on.
Mel Schuit, Let’s Talk Picture Books
Though I've already seen a few other issues I still gasped when I opened this one. Basak Agaoglu? Rebecca Green? Natalie and Lauren O'Hara?? If these names sound familiar, you're on the right track: they're all people I've interviewed here on the site! And with good reason—they're all immensely creative and relatively new to the industry. What a unique and creative way to showcase new and talented illustrators and still keep things cohesive under a general theme. Not to mention there are a ton of people included within that I cannot wait to go out and research!
I dragged out my copy of @illustoria_mag from my inspiration box (nestled next to my twice-used watercolors) today as I geared up to create. The article on creating natural dyes inspired me to fill my watercolor pen with my leftover morning coffee! 🙌🏼💥☕️✊🏼
@illustoria_mag’s issue 6 - The Symbols Issue is here! We LOVE it. The new issue explores the meaning we find in letters, shapes, objects and more through the eyes of many creative artists, writers, and makers. It is packed full of original and inspiring stories, art, interviews, and DIY that will get the creative juices flowing in readers of all ages.
Lauren Davis, Happily Ever Elephants
How many of you adored reading Highlights as a kid? If you were anything like me, you ❤️loved ❤️getting a kids’ magazine in the mail just for you! Well how about trying a super cool, super artistic, and super educational new magazine for your kids and students? Illustoria is a tri-annual print mag and a new fave of ours, and it’s one I definitely recommend checking out and getting a subscription to! The magazine celebrates storytelling, makers and DIY culture, and it’s just awesome. The edition featured here, the seventh issue entitled “Black & White,” features interviews with illustrators, fun comics, black and white crafts and more. It’s a stellar read, informative, and fantastic for both kids and grownups alike. Check out @illustoria_mag now! This also makes a fantastic gift for the holidays which will be here before we know it!
Joanne Meiyi Chan and Mark Rogero imagined a magazine for kids ages 6 to 12 that concentrated on visual storytelling, DIY activities, and creative collaboration with up-and-coming writers and illustrators that are new to the playground of children's publishing. Chan and Rogero's vision debuted in 2016 to critical acclaim from School Library Journal, Library Journal, and award winning children's author Cece Bell to name a few…. The writing is challenging but accessible, making this a read that is most beneficial with a grownup alongside to give some of the authors, artists, and histories context.
Andreas Frisch, ILLUSTORIA subscriber
I really love the magazine as do my two daughters and we consider issue #4 the most perfect magazine ever printed. We frequently browse through it and always, always find something new and inspiring in it. Almost as if something essential in the universe aligned perfectly and as a result produced that magazine.
Sarah Walsh, Illustrator
AMAZING MAGAZINE ALERT! Wow, finally able to look at my first issue of @illustoria_mag that came in the mail weeks ago! It’s absolutely gorgeous, fun to read and you can tell it’s made with the utmost care and consideration. It’s really giving me life right now as I’ve been functioning in burn out mode 😣 There’s even a piece about the quilts of Gee’s Bend which if you’re not familiar I highly recommend learning about. Truly inspiring 🌈💙✨Thank you Illustoria Mag for putting something so beautifully inspiring into the world! Lovely cover image by @marinamuun and wonderful Gee’s Bend piece by @clur_astroid
Looking for a fun and simple art project to do with your kiddos or friends? Look no further! With just a few simple materials you can make upcycled paint chip banners (or individual bookmarks) and fill an afternoon with art-making, collaboration, and silly antics around the table. Here at Illustoria we believe in inspiring creativity every day with the simplest of materials and the best of friends and loved ones. Enjoy!
Paint chip cards
Collage paper (old magazines, tissue paper, construction paper, etc.)
Pens or Crayons
For 3 or more people
1. Each person is given a paint chip, box of collages papers, pen, scissors, glue.
2. Set time for 2 minutes! Personalize the paint chip as much as you can, snip it/ glue stuff on it, doodle!
3. When the timer goes off, pass it left for your partner to continue for another 2 mins.
4. Keep going ‘round and add paint chips when you feel like one is complete.
5. Hole punch your paint chips at the top and use twine to string through.
Ta da! A collaborative paint chip banner made by you and your friends :-)
It's clear that we love Lindsay Stripling here at ILLUSTORIA. Not only did she do the breathtaking cover for Issue 4: Grow, but she does regular features with Alexis Joseph (hi, Case for Making!) on the brief history of all of the coolest colors. A master of watercolors, she creates amazing fantastical worlds and nature-infused portraits that make you contemplate what your inner animal would be. From creating a booklet series to teaching classes, Lindsay puts her expertise to spread the good word of watercolor. We were able to pick her brain on all things creative, so be prepared to get inspired by her rad art!
What are you currently working on?
Currently I am working on the second booklet in my watercolor booklets series, this one will be for people looking for expanded information on how to paint with watercolor. I planned a mural for Point Reyes Bookstore which is nautical themed, I just hung a tiny show in June at Fayes Video in the Mission District here in SF, and I am always working on commissioned paintings.
How did you transition from your day job to being a full time artist?
Well, honestly its still a work in progress. I currently work full time as a restaurant manager for my friends at Outerlands here in the Sunset, I teach watercolor classes at Case for Making regularly and I try and have a regular painting schedule when I am not doing those things. It is hard to balance and I think I will be taking the plunge soon into working freelance full-time, but that is a scary and exciting step, and one that I don’t take lightly. I believe in checking in with myself regularly, assessing where i am at mentally as well as financially- being an artist requires a lot of administrative work that isn’t as fun as the painting part, but over the years I have come up with my own systems that work for me.
Can you talk about your process of creating a work/project/book/zine/product from start to finish, and share some process pics with us?
When i am working on a painting or an illustration, I first start with really loose sketches. It is hard for me to allow myself to make quick doodles and concept sketches, so I do them as really small thumbnails. Then I choose my favorite layout from there and do a more detailed sketch- or sometimes I move straight into my under drawing. I typically draw out my painting first in a 3H or 4H pencil on watercolor paper and then before painting I erase the majority of it. I like to erase it because it gives me the freedom to adjust small things, and also removes most of the pencil lines from the final. THEN i get to move into the fun part. I typically start with light washes to cover larger areas and then move into the detail colors and pieces. There is usually a part in the beginning as I am laying down washes where I hate the painting, or I can’t see it coming together. It is hard to push past that sometimes, but when I do and I trust in the process I am usually really happy with the result. And if I am not, I do it over again...
What makes watercolor your medium of choice?
Watercolor is so vibrant, accessible and easy to take with me on trips- and I LOVE watercolor paper. In the last few years I have gotten to work with Alexis at Case for Making to make watercolors from scratch and experiment with color in a different way than I ever have before.
We love the Brief Histories of Color series in the mag! What is your favorite color?
I don’t really have a favorite color, I love all of them too much. But I do have favorite color combos- a tried and true combo is dirty pink and burgundy with a splash of neon orange but recently I’ve been really into lemon yellow and brown (think old banana).
Much of your work involves half-human, half-animal characters. What would the animal-half of your body be?
Probably a coyote!
What were you like as a kid?
I was always swimming and playing different sports, and when I wasn’t doing that or going to school I was reading and drawing. I would make maps of stories that didn't exist yet because that was my favorite part of the books I would read. So many maps. I also would practice my handwriting all the time, my friends and I would spend hours drawing, making maps and copying our favorite handwriting.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist and writer?
I think I have always wanted to do that, I just didn’t know I actually could until I was much older. I had no actual examples of people around me who were artists or writers so it didn’t feel like something that was attainable. When I got older I realized that the best thing about this world we live in is that if you want to achieve something, you just gotta hustle. The best part of that is maybe you don’t achieve that thing that you were initially hustling for but you’ll figure out what it is that you want along the way, through many failures and mistakes and realizing who it is that you are and where it is that you actually want to go.
Come celebrate the release of #7: The Black & White Issue with some black-and-white activities and crafts! We will provide all supplies to make zines, cards, and drawings using white ink on black paper. Also make your own adorable b&w pom-pom bookmarks!
Our issue #7 sponsor Sakura of America will be giving away these FREE sets of Gelly Roll and Pigma Micron pens + pouch and stickers with every Illustoria Magazine purchase. All this at the lovely neighborhood shop, Morningtide, during the family-friendly, annual Solano Stroll. We look forward to seeing you there!
WHAT: ILLUSTORIA POP-UP + ISSUE 7 RELEASE!
847 Cornell Ave
WHEN: Sunday, September 9th, 2018
We hope to see you there!
xoxo ~ ILLUSTORIA
Today our art director, Elizabeth Haidle, shares a few tips on how to spark a certain magic with a simple tool which has quickly become our current best-ever, favorite doodle pen: Sakura's Gelly Roll White!
On the days when I put pencil to paper and nothing is coming to mind...or that point in a project where I've worked myself into a corner and none of the results are satisfying...I find that switching things up can work a certain magic.
Just reversing the light and darks—starting with black paper and drawing with white lines—usually leads to something refreshing, new and unexpected.
My son Eli and I tried out a thin black Strathmore paper and also their thick and luscious 'blackboard' paper, more like a cardstock.
(Which we both prefer, as more effects are possible....like smearing the paint before it dries and even layering more lines on top of that.)
We churned out a few as unusual birthday cards, with notes on the back—so much more interesting than buying something at the store.
Create your own original art. With these white pens you'll be guaranteed to get some stunning and impressive results.
Thanks to Sakura of America--our longtime sponsors--who will be giving away free Gelly Roll and Pigma Micron pens at the Illustoria pop-up shop at Morningtide next weekend, Sunday, Sept 9th.
If you haven't heard of the multi-talented, rad cartoonist, teacher, illustrator, and writer Jess Smart Smiley, you're in for a treat. Smiley is based in Utah and has created six rad kid's books including Upside Down: A Vampire Tale and Rude Dude Book of Food. His bold drawing style and witty characters are not only smile-inducing, they're approachable. By creating hilarious, instantly love-able personalities out of simple shapes and lines, Smiley makes illustration inviting for readers of all ages and drawing skill. In his latest book Let's Make Comics Smiley leads readers through a roller-coaster ride of 90 jam-packed activity pages that offers a foundation for any budding cartoonist. Best friends Peanut (a turtle donning a top hat) and Bramble (a lady-bug loving bear) star as the teachers of the activity book, creating mischief and adventure on every page. Because the book is set up with its own comic book narrative, Smiley makes learning the ins-and-outs of drawing feel just like watching Sunday morning cartoons. And for kids and grownups that have a paralyzing fear of picking up a pen, this book is a refreshing antidote. We were lucky enough to pick Jess Smart Smiley's brain a bit about the joys and challenges of being a professional artist, the process of making Let's Make Comics, and some of his favorite graphic novel and comic recommendations. We hope you enjoy, and don't forget to check out ILLUSTORIA's Instagram giveaway of the book running now until June 31st!
Hi Jess! Tell us about yourself.
Jess Smart Smiley is a joke. Seriously. He makes rad pictures with his bare hands and has helped more than 1,000 children, teenagers, and adults create their very first comics. See more at jess-smiley.com.
What was the last thing you made with your hands?
I drew this tiger face in my sketchbook.
In your latest release, Let’s Make Comics, you offer tons of creative, engaging ways for comic book beginners to start creating their own story lines. What was the inspiration behind this book?
6 years ago I was invited to teach a week-long comics workshop to teenagers. I came up with the activity pages as a way for students to complete a comic while also exploring the nature of comics, the role of words and pictures, and a variety of tools, methods, and techniques for creating comics. Since that very first workshop, I’ve used the activity pages to introduce children and their parents to the exciting world of storytelling through comics!
What do you love most about creating comic books?
Because a comic can display several illustrations on a single page, it gives me the opportunity to draw a character I love from a bunch of different angles, in a variety of situations, and with a range of emotional expressions.
Can you talk about your process of creating Let’s Make Comics from start to finish, and share some process pics with us?
Sure! Once I had created a handful of activity pages for my workshop and had seen how helpful they were for beginning creators, I started writing ideas for other possible pages onto index cards. I used something like 350 index cards and then picked my favorite 100 or so from the stack.
From here, I grabbed a bunch of blank 8.5" x 11" copy paper and spent some time drawing very rough versions of each activity. The drawings were sloppy and the writing wasn’t usually well-thought-out, but my goal was to get the idea down on paper in a way that I could understand and make a final version from.
I scanned each rough activity page and pulled them one at a time into Photoshop, where I created new layers for my final drawings, colors, and text.
(As a side note, there was one Sunday when I still had something like 20 activity pages to rough out. I was starting to lose steam from so much drawing, but there was a sudden rainstorm and our power went out. I love a good rainstorm, so I sat on the porch and drew the final 20 pages, charged by the energy of the storm.)
If you could be any comic book character from history, who would you be and why?
Probably Snoopy. Now THERE’S a dog who knows how to have a good time! Plus, his dog house can fly!
What were you like as a kid?
Quiet. Timid. Always drawing in class. I loved playing basketball and kickball at recess and reading everything from Roald Dahl and Beverly Cleary.
What is the most challenging part about being an artist/writer/maker?
Pitching a new idea. Publishers want to make great books, but they can’t just trust a creator to do whatever they want. Publishers want to know what your next book will be before you’ve made it. That means a creator has to prepare some illustrations and writing that demonstrate and describe a book before it ever exists. If I don’t put enough thought into the drawings and writing in my pitch, then I leave too many gaps in the story and holes in the idea for publishers to guess at. It’s like not finishing a sentence—and how often do people guess at exactly what you were trying to say?
Where/ do you feel your most creative?
When I’m working on a project I’m really enjoying, but also have time to explore doodling in my sketchbook and time to read.
What is your favorite activity from Let’s Make Comics?
I love watching children, teenagers, and adults complete the “Let’s Take a Walk” activity on page 26. The comic is missing backgrounds and environments, so it’s up to the reader to draw their own into the comic.
What are some comics every kid should get their hands on, ASAP?
There are so many great comics out there and I’ll never be able to list them all. That being said, here are some of my favorites that I often recommend:
Bone by Jeff Smith is a wonderful fantasy adventure centered around a lovable cast of friendly cousins who find themselves in a magical and terrifying forest, where they encounter horrific creatures, the Great Red Dragon, and a host of mysteries.
The Hazardous Tales series by Nathan Hale recount true tales from history in an incredibly informative and entertaining way. There are currently 7 books in the series, covering everything from the Revolutionary War to the Donner party and World War II.
The Unsinkable Walker Bean by Aaron Renier is the book I’ve gifted the most—to young readers, to my cartoonist friends, and to anyone who enjoys a good story. Walker Bean is a young boy who takes to the high-seas in an attempt to relieve his grandfather from an ancient curse. Along the way, Walker Bean encounters pirates, sea witches, mysterious machines, and a magical glowing skull. Do yourself a favor and read it before the sequel comes out this October!
Raina Telgemeier’s Smile tells the story of the author’s sixth-grade experience with injuring her front teeth, getting braces, trying to understand boys, and finding her true friends.
Luke Pearson’s Hilda books are incredibly charming, filled with beautiful illustrations, giants, sprites, trolls, and hounds, adventurous stories, idyllic landscapes, and a curious blue-haired girl named Hilda. (Did I mention Hilda is coming to Netflix this Fall?!)
What is the day in the life of Jess Smart Smiley?
On any given day I might be working on a new comic, illustrating a picture book, designing a video game, creating character designs, developing story ideas, drawing in my sketchbook, teaching a comics workshop, or doing some combination of these things.
I prefer to wake up and get right to work, usually by finishing something I started the night before. (It’s helpful for me to finish something early in the day, so I can stay motivated to keep going.) I keep a to-do list in my sketchbook of different things that need to be done for each of my projects, which makes it easy for me to know what to do next. I’ll often prioritize my projects by ranking them in the order they should be completed, and then I’ll try to come up with a rough idea of how much time any one task with take. I never have to ask myself What should I do next?, because I’ve already thought through what needs to be done.
After writing, drawing, and planning at home, I might spend a few hours working at the library, the local Barnes & Noble, or my neighborhood comic shop, Dragon’s Keep. I meet up with local business owners, friends, and fellow creators to talk about upcoming projects, or I might take the role of consultant, offering what I hope are helpful thoughts for writers, artists, comic book creators, and others in the community.
In-person events are also a big part of my schedule. Over the last few years I’ve been able to help more than 1,000 children, teenagers, and adults complete their first comics. I started with a week-long comics workshop, and have since introduced others to making comics at school visits, library events, Girl Scout meetings, comic conventions, book festivals, writing and art symposiums, and Skype visits. Last month I was able to visit a group of schoolchildren in Pakistan and a comic festival in England, all thanks to the magic of Skype!
I love seeing people’s reactions to Let’s Make Comics, and knowing that I’ll be teaching others about the things I’m learning about making comics helps me stay committed and really consider what I’m doing and how I’m doing it.
My family and I spend time together and I like to get a little reading in, maybe go for a walk, and then I do a little more drawing or writing before bed. Pretty exciting!
We hope you enjoyed this interview with Jess Smart Smiley! Don't forget to head on over to our Instagram for a chance to win Let's Make Comics in our giveaway (closes 7/31).
If you've got the comic-loving-bug, you will obsess over ILLUSTORIA's Issues #1 - #7. Each issue of ILLUSTORIA is filled to the brim with comics, illustrated short stories, interviews with artists, coloring pages, DIYs and more. Order an issue or a subscription today and fill your days with creativity!