“Do you currently have a great studio?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: In the OUTBACK, one of your characters, Marq, seems to reflect some of your thoughts when he tells Driew, “‘I think I-4’s been under construction since they started. It’s like a house or this studio – a perpetual work in progress. Seventeen years of seeking a studio when what I wanted was out back all along.’” Then Driew proposes visiting a Kentucky State Park, and Marq agrees, and then he says he admires Marq’s drawings, and asks if they are for a new book, but Marq explains: “‘Actually, they’re not for new books. They’re from thoughts – past and present. I figured getting them on paper would free me to focus on the money makers…’” (148). Have you had any difficulties building an art studio in terms of constructing it, gathering funds for it and the like? Do you currently have a great studio? Is it open to the public? Do you think a modern artist needs a studio, and if so why?

AdamsI-4 (Interstate 4) is the highway that extends from the East Coast to West Coast of Central Florida. Informational text is included throughout OUTBACK and the series to educate both U.S. and international readers who may visit the places in the books. The continuous construction of I-4 and of a home is to show how environment shapes family life. The Family Tree Novel Series will have two editions: a novel and an illustrated novel version.

As an illustrator no one asks me, “Which character are you?” As an author, that’s the first question readers ask. My answer: I’m every character, action, and moment. In OUTBACK, Marq, Driew Qweepie’s father, is a freelance illustrator who never became a professional. I won’t cause a spoiler, but Marq’s back story is reveled throughout the series. His character is a compilation of numerous illustrator friends and the challenges we all face. Marq voices his concerns, like a parent, to help Driew and readers understand an illustrator’s career. Rarely do illustrators have a studio bigger than a table in a remote corner of their house. And when we get a studio, it’s years in the making.

Mark Wayne Adams and Elaine Goldberg.

I do think some artists need a studio, not a hideout. Every book I illustrate is created remotely: kitchen table, poolside, gymnastics practice, airport, or a Costa Rican rooftop deck. I’m an illustrator dad. While my children finish homework at the kitchen table, I work. During gymnastics practice, I work. Even while the family sleeps in on vacation, I work. Author/Illustrator is a family friendly career. Managing and committing to a work schedule is the greatest challenge.

I have three main “studios”: an outdoor patio table by my screened pool, the Kentucky book warehouse, and a Panera Bread. My best work is created in public. While illustrating Parts of Speech Parade: New York City, written by Irina Dolinskiy, I painted in various Orlando, Florida Panera Bread locations. Patrons compelled to comment would say, “I’ve been to New York City before!” Instant feedback and a new fan eager to purchase a prerelease copy of the book!

Ciao Rolling Carry On BagHonestly my art studio is a rolling bag, stocked with several pads of watercolor paper, Prismacolor pens, five favorite brush sizes, and a Grumbacher watercolor set (24 colors). One $40.00 watercolor set creates illustrations for approximately fifteen children’s books. The watercolor paper investment in each 32 page book is about 3 pads of 12 sheets (roughly $30.00). Gathering funds to start an illustration business is easy. For under $100, anyone can start an illustration business!

IMG_3796My business model is unique in that I license the digital illustrations to the publisher. All physical artwork remains property of MWA, Inc. The words “digital illustrations” in my contracts helped my business make choices. MWA, Inc. owns illustrations from over 40 children’s books (approximately 1,200 original illustrations). My CPA says the art is valued at the cost of the paper, $1,200.00. When sold as art, the value ranges from $500–$1,000 each. Most fine artists don’t consider illustration as art, but I beg to differ. This children’s book illustration collection could cover a football field; fill multiple art galleries at once; and continues to generate an annual income through reproductions. The reproductions generate more money than the original is worth. I’ve only sold a few originals to serious collectors.
Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

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“If you love Kentucky so much, why move?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: Last year I did a Kentucky Historical Society short fellowship for my Radical Agrarian Economics: Wendell Berry and Beyond book, spending some time at the society, and at neighboring archives, as well as talking to the region’s farmers. You mention in the version of your bio in the OUTBACK book that the magic there was based on your childhood experiences with the “creeks, caves and bluffs of western Kentucky.” Can you elaborate on what about Kentucky, as opposed to other states, makes it a place that so many American writers from Wendell Berry to Abe Lincoln were inspired by or wrote about? Is the nature in Kentucky somehow more magical; is it more accessible; are people living there trained to love it more than in other places? And if you love Kentucky so much, why did you move to Florida? Do you want to go back? In the Acknowledgements you thank your parents, Larry Wayne Adams and Mary Francis Adams, “for sharing their Kentucky childhood memories” with you, so are the reminiscences in this novel theirs more so than your own? It seems that Australia’s Outback is as different in climate to the bluegrass Kentucky as a place can be, so why the parallel?

Adams: The OUTBACK magic is based on my Kentucky childhood experiences. My grandfather, Eliose Trotter, worked for the Kentucky State Parks’ Department of Forestry. Eliose harvested nuts, nurtured saplings, and planted acres of trees. My father, Larry Adams, worked 40 hours a week in a plastic factory. Every afternoon and weekend he farmed until late at night. If dad took a day off, he was fishing or hunting. My two male role models respected the earth and everything that came from it.

Why did I leave? I was told if you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s meant to be. I moved to Florida to chase my animation dream. When I left, family and friends said, “You can always come home.” As a public speaker in elementary schools, I return “home” to Kentucky often. I’m greeted with, “Welcome home!” I don’t get this greeting in the suburbs of Central Florida.

IMG_0153I spent eight years shipping books from Florida across the United States. I realized shipping from the central United States reduces shipping cost drastically. In 2015, I moved my book warehouse/distribution center to Dawson Springs, Kentucky. Kentucky is a better location, if you’re in the distribution business. I now understand why factories locate in the Central United States.

My parents’ childhood stories encouraged me to explore the simple pleasures of being a kid. I ran barefoot and rode horses bareback because luxuries like shoes and saddles weren’t required for adventure. Books were required. My librarian mother made sure the Adams kids were registered for the Dawson Springs Branch Library’s annual Summer Reading Program. We read for points and for fun!

Reading is a powerful tool in the hands of children. Words change the world. Peter Pan flew to Neverland, an imaginary place without problems. I traveled to the Never Never land, a vastly remote area of Australia’s Outback that I read about. Kentucky “out back” where I played and Australia’s Outback parallel not in “temperature” climate, but as Never Never lands where a lost boy like me played.

Climate, like many words, has alternate meanings depending on who, what, when, where, and how it is used. Anna, you see Kentucky and Australia as vastly different. I see them as two sides of the same coin. I folded a rectangular world map in half and half again. The United States and Australia are similar in size; located in the same position in opposite hemispheres; and both had natives displaced by western civilization. Digging a hole from Dawson Springs, Kentucky to the other side of the world, would place me near Dawson CityVictoria, Australia. Dawson Springs, Kentucky once thrived, and Dawson City, Australia did too. Coincidence or a great story of parallels?
Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD