One year later…

Next week will be my one year anniversary as a children’s book illustrator.
Wow-wee, where did that year go?!

So I thought to mark the occasion, I would write a little something about how this year has been. How I started, how I got here, where I might be going.
Maybe I’ll even end it with some stuff I’ve learnt.
Some stuff I’d like to learn.
Some stuff.

How about I just start typing and see what happens…

In the beginning…

A thousand years ago I studied illustration at university but, back then it was all about illustration for the advertising and graphic design market, never once in my three years of study were children’s books mentioned. Kind of sad really because, had I been pointed in that direction all those years ago, that’s exactly the area I would have pursued. Instead, I became a graphic designer, and I loved it, I did it for 10 or so years, but I was always the graphic designer in the studio who illustrated most of their design jobs…the pull to draw pictures was always too strong!

Needing a break from computers, I owned a Florist for a while. I just taught myself how to do it, jumped in and had a ball! It was lovely to be creative in a whole new way with whole new thing, but again, I sort of ended up drawing a lot of pictures…that pull was just too strong! My shop was well known for the paintings I had done and had hung on the walls (I even sold a few), and my window displays were almost always paintings or something made with paper. Flowers played a part too, I guess.

Then, when I had my son four years ago I gave up the florist (too many weekend weddings for my liking) and just did the mum thing until I discovered a certain little book … If you’ve been following my blog long enough you’ll know that a few years ago I bought Noah Scalins “365 – A Daily Creativity Journal” and started my own 365 project where I did one illustration every day for 365 days. Now, I say “illustration” but it was really a mix of any kind of drawing – I drew on paper, on food, on me, on wood, on bricks…I may have even, one time, drawn on my child. As long as I drew or created something everyday then I was within the rules I had set myself.

It was a brilliant year of being creative and towards the end of it, as I became more familiar with illustrators and what they did and who they were, the whole world of children’s books opened up to me. AMAZING. I wanted in!

I went searching the internet for local illustration groups and found SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). Initially I wanted to join purely so I could enter the Tomie DePaolo award (the prize was a trip to NYC, hello!) but then as I kept researching the group there was no question, I had to join SCBWI because I had to join SCBWI! And joining SCBWI was one of the best things I’d ever done because shortly after joining I was off to Rottnest for the Rottnest Retreat and I was meeting authors and illustrators and publishers and editors and it was the best thing in the world.

I came back from Rottnest ridiculously giddy and inspired.

A couple of weeks later, sitting on the sofa one night in my pyjamas, I was scrolling though Twitter and saw a retweet of a Tweet from Vicki Lebrecht – Founder of The Bright Agency in London. Her tweet said something along the lines of … “Looking at folios right now if you want to send me a link”. Now, I’m not one to wait around so I tweeted Vicki a link to the gallery page of this blog immediately. She saw it. Told me to email her and later that week documents were signed and I had agent representation!

I was a Bright Artist!

And I drank champagne to celebrate.

And I started to write. Not on the same day, just kind of around that same time.

The first story or two I wrote were terrible! Awful! (But one day I might go back and revisit them because perhaps they aren’t as bad as I remember them, maybe, we’ll see). I wrote fast and furiously, day and night, until I wrote something that I actually thought probably wasn’t so bad and then I spent the next six months editing and riding the “I’m so great at this / I’m so bad at this” roller coaster.

In the meantime, I was getting some lovely work coming in from The Bright Agency… a chapter book to illustrate, an educational book to illustrate, a colouring-in book to draw, a whole bunch of samples were requested, another colouring-in book, a science book…books books books and the Rottnest Retreat came around again. This time I was designing the t-shirts for it!

It’s been a busy twelve months, thats for sure, and it’s only getting busier.
A few months ago I got my own work-in-progress (a children’s book) to a point where I was happy to start showing people. I dummied it up roughly and sent it to The Bright Agency who found a publisher that wanted to publish it within about a month of them having it (thank you, James Burns!!). So right now I’m smack bang in the middle of working on my own author/illustrator picture book which will be out next year 🙂

So, what have I learnt about becoming a children’s book illustrator (and do I have any tips)?

Yes, I probably do.

• I’ve learnt to just go for it! If there’s something you want to do, do it. Throw yourself into it. Meet the people you need to meet. Get in there! Make yourself known. What’s the worst that can happen, honestly? Nothing all that bad.

• Don’t be afraid of hearing NO. NO is not a bad thing, if anything it’s a way to make yourself more creative. Challenge yourself. A chance to look at what you want, or what you’re doing from a different angle. A chance to plan new strategies. NO is just a chance to try again, thats all.

• SOCIAL MEDIA! Get on it. No one is going to know who you are or what you do if you don’t tell them!

• Research. Buy, read, live and breathe children’s books. Learn who’s doing what. How they do it. Why they do it. When they did it. What they’re doing next. All of that stuff!

• Draw!! Every day. Seriously. If you want to be good at drawing, do it every single day. At the last SCBWI Rottnest Retreat, author/illustrator extraordinaire Alison Lester said the one thing she wished she’d known when she first started illustrating books was that drawing everyday would make her better at it.
I couldn’t agree more. I did it every day with my 365 project and I was amazed at how my style developed and at how much better I got at it.

• Don’t be overly precious with your work and be open to ideas and input and constructive criticism. It’s only going to make you and your work better.

• DON’T MISS DEADLINES! I try to get work in usually at least a day before the deadline. I’d much rather be remembered for being super prompt than horribly late. Plus it’s very unprofessional.

• Talk to other illustrators. Again, social media! Follow illustrators on Twitter, join drawing groups or critique groups or SCBWI. We illustrators spend a whole lot of time working alone, our heads buried in a sketchbook or glued to the Mac. It’s important to open up your world. I can’t imagine you learn too much when yours is the only voice you’re hearing. Talking about my work with other illustrators has been one of the greatest things, if only because I found other brains that work like mine!

I think that might be it!

I think that’s all I have to offer for the moment.

To be honest, I still haven’t done as much as I’d like to do as far as throwing myself the industry is concerned…but I’m getting there. Iv’e made some pretty good leaps so far.

Oh! Last tip… HAVE FUN!

It’s like a little interview, kind of.

Good morning everyone!

I woke up this morning to see that Noah Scalin, the man who wrote 365: A Daily Creativity Journal, the book that inspired my 365 project, had posted the little Q&A we did when I finished my project.

I thought that maybe you might like to read it…

IT’S RIGHT HERE – CLICK ME!

So thats it, guys, the official end of the 365 days of illustrations.

Don’t forget, if you want to see ALL 365 illustrations, watch the 3 minute video I made for my finale, simply click here!

Thank you Noah Scalin for your inspiring book, I urge anyone feeling a little stuck creatively, to pick it up and flick through it, even if you don’t commit to 365 days its just a wonderful source of inspiration.

Right then, time for a cuppa!

There’s an app for that?!

Please forgive me being all 2012 here but, there’s an app for making stop motion movies!!

There really is.

And I only discovered it because earlier today I thought “Gee, those stop motion movies look fun to make, wonder how I’d….WAIT A MINUTE…MAYBE THERE’S AN…APP!”, and sure enough, there is.

This is my very very first attempt EVER, so please be kind. Please. Also, its very quick, blink and you’ll miss it, seriously. It’s quick.

Here’s the little star of the show though…
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So that was fun. Slightly tedious, but fun.

Q & A? Q & A!

I was asked recently what my top ten posts were from the 365 project, so, in no particular order, I think it was these…

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And the whole cardboard dollhouse, that was so fun…
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There it is, I think, my top 10. Maybe? Yeah why not?!
I was also asked if I have a favourite illustration from the last 365 days… Yes, I do! Its any of those in the top 10. It’s very hard, there are so many of them, but I think wherever I learnt a new technique, or discovered my style a little more, or conquered something that scared me (like watercolour!), then that, it, or they, are my favourite.
I was asked what I thought I’ve learnt from the last 365 days…
Well. I’ve learnt it might be some time before I take up another 365 challenge, for starters!! I also learnt to just “give it a go!” and as a result I discovered new ways of doing things. I played with different paints and pencils and glue and pieces of wood,  and I cut stuff and I drew stuff and I built stuff. I learnt how to really be creative and that’s a pretty great thing to learn.
And then I was asked, did my style change? Heck yes! ENORMOUSLY! Although I don’t think it actually changed, really, it just developed. And it’s still developing. Does it ever stop developing? I hope not.
Feel free to ask anything else, if you have a burning question. Or even not so burning. Just like, a little bit warm is fine, too.
There’s fun to be had with this stop motion stuff….I can feel it.
G’Night!

Day 365 of 365 illustrations

So, you guys, it’s all over!

This is it. Day 365.
Now I know I technically still have one more illustration to do as I started this project on a leap year, meaning there should be 366 illustrations, and I will do that 366th one, you can count on it, but it just feels right to make a big deal of Day 365, you know, given it’s a 365 project.

So tomorrow is just a bonus day.

Today, we celebrate!

I can hardly believe it’s here, to be honest. For a while it looked like a long loooong road ahead but then, all of a sudden, BOOM, three hundred and sixty five days. Just like that. Done. It’s been interesting looking back over all the illustrations, I can pretty much remember exactly what I was doing on the day I drew that days drawing and now I have a visual diary of my whole entire year. That’s quite cool, it’s been a year like no other.

For those of you who have been asking, “what’s next?!”, I say “more stuff!”… just not “more stuff” very single day. There will definitely be more stuff from me though. I have a head full of plans and ideas and dozens of sketches for this little book I have in mind. Maybe this years challenge is to get this baby published!

Actually. That is this years challenge.

So watch this space!

And with that, I give you, todays illustration.
You’ll have to pay attention to find it (or, them, there’s a few), as they’re embedded in a little thing I’ve created to fanfare my finale. Get the ticker tape ready…

Aaaaannnd ACTION! (press play on the video below ;-))

 

 

Now, before I get a little choked up, I just want to say a HUGE THANK YOU!
Thank you for the follows, for the comments, for the shares, for all of your wonderfulness.

It’s been lovely having so many of you join me for the ride xxx

 

 

Day 362 of 365 illustrations

Just in time for ‘STRAYA DAY…

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Its taken me a couple of evenings and few sneaky hours here and there but its coloured! And I kinda like it. (Click on it to see it bigger, if you want).

Big plans for Australia Day, Aussies?
Let me guess…BBQ’s, pools, beaches, fireworks, beer, wine, champagne, sunscreen, hats, prawns maybe even crayfish, friends and family?

Am I right?!

Have a happy and safe Australia Day long weekend xxx

(Todays…)362KellyCanby

(close-ups…)
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Day 360 of 365 illustrations

Tomorrow is orientation day for 3 year old kindy.

3 year old kindy starts the first week of February.

I know every parent says this but…HOW IS HE GROWING UP SO FAST?! MY BABY!

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You’d think you wouldn’t have to remind someone to “keep their clothes on” but with Will it’s kind of necessary, he likes to feel …free.

So. Pretty soon I’ll be handing the most important thing in my life over to someone I don’t know for four hours a week. She better look after him.

No seriously. She’d better!

Day 358 of 365 illustrations

First things first … a sneak peek!

I started colouring yesterdays illustration, I’ve only done a little bit so far but its looking kind of fun, I think. I have high hopes for this one.
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And now todays illustration.

There’s actually two. Two little ones as I’m trying to fill up my Moleskine so that I can crack open the new one I got for christmas. Plus, colouring the one above took up most of the time I had for drawing today soooo, quick pencil sketches, thats what we’ve got!

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I need to start thinking of a big way to end this project, only 7 days (plus 1 for the leap year) to go. WHAT will I do?!

Thinking caps, on.