Christian Robinson sent a delightful thank-you-note for sharing his work here at the Countdown last month on Harlem’s Little Blackbird (text by Renée Watson), along with answers to my nosy questions about his process. Hooray! — JC
Poster from Christian Robinson‘s Etsy page (right-click to enlarge)
Christian Robinson: Oh my word! What a wonderful thing it was to wake up reading your lovely and very flattering post!
I’m really beside myself. Thank you so much for the unbelievably kind words, and for shining a little more light on my work!
This whole children’s book illustrating world is still very new to me, so to think that someone might reference my art is still so unreal… it’s still so amazing to me to have folks interested in what I do.
Joy Chu: The more I gazed at your art, the more involved [my examination] became.
Couple that with in-coming phone calls asking for portfolio consultations [for the upcoming SCBWI Conference]. Then it suddenly hit me: I must share why your samples are so irresistible to my art director eyes!
Did you use cut paper for Harlem’s Little Blackbird? Or a combination of collage, ink drawing, and scanning?
CR: I used collage and acrylic paint for the original art; then I would scan, and edit (color, lighting effects, composition) if needed.
JC: Did you provide your own scans to the publisher?
CR: Yes! I like being able to go in and correct colors myself — control freak here!
JC: Do you have any examples of your preliminary sketches, or thumbnails, or character studies of Florence Mills [the subject of Harlem's Little Blackbird)?
CR: Here are images that shows the process I used:
Thumbnail sketches on post-its (a);
. . . color and shape exploration in Photoshop (b);
. . . then final art using collage plus acrylics (c).
More process examples:
JC: Did you draw many rough dummies?
CR: Yes, I went through a lot of post-its :O)
I had to make several edits so that the editor (Suzy Capozzi) and art director (Ellice Lee) felt confident with how the layouts were flowing and communicating. Read an interview about their collaboration here.
(a) sketch on post-its
(b) Photoshop rendering
(c) final art, using collage plus acrylic
JC: And did you apply pure pen-and-ink for your b/w illustrations?
CR: You are referring to the Illustrations I did for the LGBT teen guide, Queer. Those were digital rendering, drawn on my Wacom tablet into Photoshop.
JC: Cheers, and many thanks again for sharing the fruits of your labor!
Check out editor Suzy Capozzi‘s commentary on the book’s genesis, plus an interview between art director Ellice Lee and Christian Robinson on their collaboration at the R.H. blog, Random Acts of Reading