Episode 1 Homework

In Illustrator Life Episode 1, Mark asks questions an aspiring illustrator should answer before choosing a professional illustration career path.

Homework: Inside your sketchbook…

  • List 5 illustrator related resources you bring to prospective clients. (Examples: caricature artist, art degree, typesetting church newsletters, etc.)
  • List 3 reasons you haven’t become a professional illustrator. (Examples: no family support, time limitations, lack of clients, etc.)
  • List 3 reasons you want to become an illustrator. (Examples: money, have a published book, fun, etc.)
  • A sketchbook or the Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook can be purchased at your favorite book retailer. The handbook may be available at local libraries. Both books are used in future episodes.

The most important part of being a professional is time management. If completion of these four simple tasks isn’t possible, this channel may not be for you at this time.

 

“Do you make money for public appearances?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: You were drawing for visitors to your booth at the ALA. I believe you also do these types of drawings during your art presentations at schools. Do you do these public art projects because of your desire to perform your art before a live audience? Do you ever make money on these appearances? Do you use them for research or to market your illustrations to kids? At ALA, were you giving any of the resulting drawings away? You had tossed a few of them onto the carpet in front of you at ALA, and you toss them on the floor of auditoriums etc. in your school presentations. Do you toss them down for symbolic reasons or to illicit sympathy, or because you want to display them and you don’t have board to clip them onto? Were you drawing what visitors asked for, or whatever came to mind? Do you doodle and free-draw to come up with ideas for your illustrations? If not, what do you do to research ideas or to come up with initial character sketches?

AdamsDrawing Is My Super Power! That would be my t-shirt slogan. I find an audience, whether drawing on a pad, a napkin, or in a Best Sketchbook. I drew for free when I was younger. Some people appreciated the gesture, other discarded my effort. In the 3rd grade, I began to charge for my time and the appreciation level increase. This remains true today.

My first professional illustration contracts came from tossing drawings on the floor at Book Expo America in Los Angeles, California. I did this both for symbolic and sympathetic purposes, depending on the audience.

Publishing (writing, illustration, and marketing) is about inspiring an emotion. I can’t keep every drawing, so I give them to conference audiences who feel sympathy when they step on a “pretty picture.” I also joke, “This drawing is worthless until I sign it!” Publishing audiences find my personality a plus in the working relationship.

IMG_6356I’ve meet over 1 million students through paid elementary school visits. I walk on “pretty pictures” to show students and teachers sheets of paper have less value than the pages within a book. This reinforces the need to journal in hardbound books.

Do I give away drawings for free? Yes, I’ve given away over 45,000 drawings in eight years like the ones you mentioned at ALA. My gift makes others happy and in return makes me happy. I do have two rules. Children are the recipients of most drawings unless it’s for a teacher’s classroom or at a conference. Also, I only draw one picture per person, per day. This rule stemmed from my own children asking me to draw instead of doing it themselves. My children get one picture, just like anyone else’s child.

IMG_3952I have over 100 journals (23,000 pages of drawing and writing). These journals are 20 years of research and inspiration. Illustration clients are asked to provide me a list of 5 of their favorite children’s books, 5 new books they discovered at the library or bookstore, and 5 things they’d do for free. Their favorite children’s books tell me who they were. The new books tell me what they expect based on paper types, finishes, and dimensions. Lastly, incorporating something they love in the illustrations will boost discussion topics with readers.
Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

“Is there pressure to mimic popular books?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: Most illustrated books today look very similar to each other in style and technique. Why do you think this is the case? Is there pressure to mimic popular books in any genre because failure to conform to genre norms is seen as a mistake by reviewers, award organizers and others in the publishing industry? In other words, the styles of classical painters such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo are sharply different, but if an art historian attempted to tell two popular illustrated children’s illustrators’ work apart, they would be stomped as to how to tell them apart. For example, paint types, brushstroke style, and various other elements differ in the best canonical painters, but modern digital illustrations lack most of these characteristics, and frequently top illustrators mimic techniques others utilize to conform their art to the industry standard. If an illustrator attempts radically different art, the work is typically either ignored by reviewers or negatively criticized as a mistake. Have you made any attempts to break with these formulaic requirements, and if so, what was the result of this experiment?

Adams: Fine artists and illustrators are educated using not only paint mediums, brushstrokes, and art history, but also computers. My college drawing professor, Dale Leys, refused to let me draw cartoons during my four year degree program. He believed a fine artist could become a great cartoonist, but not the reverse. Talented illustrators rely on art techniques that apply in a variety of medium using any tool.

Many of my clients are independent authors or publishers who take liberty in pushing the bounds of traditional publishing. Reviewers, award organizers, and publishing purists stubbornly hold to publishing tradition and labels.

Nicholas,That's Ridiculous!-Carpenter-www.mwa.companyWith Nicholas, That’s Ridiculous! I learned even “mistakes” add value. I had flooded an illustration with water and dropped magenta paint onto the page of a story about being a boy. Rather than discard the illustration, I submitted it for author approval. Author Christa Carpenter loved the liberty I took. Many clients request my bold color choices for their books.

When I was younger, my librarian mother never allowed me to fold pages, write in margins, or cut my books. I experimented doing this in my Best Sketchbooks. In the illustrated edition of OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters, readers are allowed to cut or fold the over 100 illustrations. Each illustration is an experiment from the first sketch to the final cut illustration.
Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

Student Question: What should I draw?

23-MWA_Inc-Activities

Draw about your life. Things you enjoy: animals, home, school, or write about someone in your family.  The illustrations from The Invention of Hugo Cabret and OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters are about adventures in everyday life.

Draw about places. Boring places become interesting stories when people write about them. Driew Qweepie played on his farm, which he called Outback. Author Jules Verne included illustration about his Journey to the Center of the Earth. Document the seasons, birds, or activities that happen in your backyard using a Best Sketchbook.

Put your drawing skills to the test with this drawing challenge. Can you create all the related activities in Challenge 2?

See how many fun challenges you can create with this free drawing game. This teaching resource is a fun and easy activity that will keep students creative and save teachers time.

Student Question: “Do Your Children Draw?

Yes, both my children are unique artists. When each was around six years old, I gave her and him a Best Sketchbook. I told each “I’ll only draw with you in your journal so our drawings won’t get lost.” They were only allowed to start a new journal upon completion of their last.

My daughter, Isabella, would ask me to draw things once. Then a few days later she’d ask me to draw something else. She learned to draw by copying and listening to my instructions. Since then she’s won numerous competitions for drawing. Her goal is to become a singer, not an artist.

My son, Carter, was completely opposite. He rarely asked me to draw. He observed me with my journal and while I drew with Isabella. I discovered his journal filled with Lego patterns. His talent was spacial and usually consisted of rooms or building plans. He is a talented artist in a completely different way.

No matter who you are, time in your Best Sketchbook is inspiring to people around you. One of my favorite pastimes is flipping through other artists’ sketchbooks and journals.

King for a Day Book Giveaway!

To celebrate March coming in like a lion and going out like a Unicorn? MWA, Inc. is giving away one copy each of King for a Day, the Story of Stories, Best Sketchbook, and 1011 Uma Unicorn Pattern (Size Medium).
Is it possible to change an ordinary day into an extraordinary story? Russell,  a Jack Russell terrier, believes so. Learn how, with the help of his friends: a boy named Carter, his stuffed toy lion Litto, and stuffed toy unicorn Uma. Carter is supposed to write a story for Momma Gi Gi’s Jamboree. The best storyteller of the Jamboree is to be crowned “King for a Day.” Carter really wants to win the crown, but can’t do it alone. Discover how journaling saves the day.
King for a Day, the Story of StoriesBest Sketchbook, and 1011 Uma Unicorn Pattern (Size Medium) are popular books and pattern created by MWA, Inc. To celebrate, MWA,Inc will give away one copy of each book and one pattern. (Total retail value: $39.85) To qualify for our giveaway; like, share, or post this blog on your social media before March 31, 2015. Persons posting must live within the continental United States. Giveaway will not be shipped outside the continental United States. Winner will be randomly selected and notified April 1, 2015.
Items Given Away:
ISBN:  9781596160088
Retail Price:  $16.95
ISBN:  9781596160057
Retail Price:  $12.95
ISBN:  9781596160217
Retail Price:  $9.95

LOVE YOUR BOOKS!—Jackson

Jackson’s letter is why authors and illustrators should not only create books, but visit with readers.

“Dear Mark Wayne Adams,

Thank you for coming to Julington Creek Elementary School, I am glad that I got to sit next to you while the 5th Graders were performing their story. I was wearing a blue Under Armor long sleeve shirt with a white stripe going down the shirt. My friend, a girl with a long sleeve pink shirt and you signed her notebook and drew a picture in it.

I love your books, especially “Nicholas, That’s Ridiculous!” I would like to order the “Best Sketchbook.” But I would not like to order “Nicholas, That’s Ridiculous!” because we read it at the assembly.

In the notebook (on the first page) I would like you to draw a baseball player because I am a baseball player. And if you could please give me an autograph.

Your friend,

Jackson

P.S. You are a really nice and funny man. I loved your “stories” that you told us at the assembly. LOVE YOUR BOOKS! Write back if you get the chance. You are my favorite author now!”

February 18, 2015

Jackson, thank you for being a fan. You’re an inspiring friend! —Mark Wayne Adams

Sketchbooks: Artists’ Best Portfolio

Anyone who knows me, knows drawing is a huge part of my life. Obviously—since my Best Sketchbook is usually in hand. Drawing in public creates magical moments for me and people passing by. Inspired by what they see, onlookers pause to share stories or ask questions.
The most popular question is: “Do you illustrate for a living?” I kindly respond with “Yes, how did you know?” The conversation steers in one of two directions. First, people tell me about someone they know or themselves, who has the same gift. I offer words of advice from personal experiences about following their passion. I also recommend a Best Sketchbook for continued practice.
The second conversational direction is: “I know someone looking for a book illustrator. Do you illustrate for people?” My response, “Yes, I do. If you have their contact information, I’ll email them.” A random person can become an instant professional lead, without advertising. Using my handy sketchbook, I write the contact information on a blank page. Yes, smart phones are faster, however my smartphone didn’t stop this person.
Fill your sketchbooks with memories of where and who you met along the way. The benefits are practice, exposure, and leads. Plus make new friends doing what you love, creating your portfolio!
—Mark Wayne Adams, Professional Doodler