Tag Archives: Society of Illustrators

From UCSD Extension: An Interview with Joy Chu *

*  NOTE: The above is from an interview that was featured in UCSD Extension’s Blog last fall, just before I began teaching the on-line version of my class, “Illustrating Books for Children”/Winter 2013 Quarter. Special thanks to UCSD Extension for allowing me to re-blog this feature. — JC

Illustrating Books for Children / Art 40011 Instructor:  Joy Chu June 26-August 21 Wednesdays, 6:30pm-9:30pm extension.ucsd.edu  Register before June 25!

Illustrating Books for Children / Art 40011
Instructor:  Joy Chu
/ June 26-August 21
Wednesdays, 6:30pm-9:30pm

Register before June 25!


UC San Diego Extension

“Sure, it’s simple, writing for kids…just as simple as bringing them up.” — Ursula K. LeGuin

We recently had a chat with art director, graphic designer, and UC San Diego Extension instructor Joy Chu about her taste in children’s literature and for some advice on entering the field. Joy teaches children’s book illustration online and onsite for us. Here’s what she has to say about working in the business:

1) What’s your favorite children’s book and why?

Tough one. I keep discovering new favorites. A few have remained timeless:

Because it carries themes on multiple levels that both young ones and adults can relate to. It has pitch perfect text. His “monsters” are friendly, and cuddly, while the main character, Max, is the real monster, and he too is tamed by the end of the book. Totally minimal. But every word, every…

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Original Art 2012, A-to-Z


Are you as curious as I am to get a peek into the latest and greatest children’s book illustrations of 2012, as selected by a jury for the Society of Illustrators Original Art?

My plan is post a few books a day, at intervals, over the next several weeks. Just glimpses, with artist links. I figure it’s handy to see visuals of the selections, all in one place.

This feature is dedicated to my UCSD Extension students, past, present and future. Comments from visitors are welcome, as always!

The judging process is spelled out here. And here (below) is this year’s esteemed jury:

Judges for the 2012 Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators

Front row: Laurent Linn (OA Advisor), Carson Ellis, Carin Berger, Leonard Marcus, Sophie Blackall (2012 Chair), Brian Floca (OA Assistant Chair). Back row: Zachariah OHora, Marcia Leonard (OA Senior Advisor), Christy Ottaviano, Raúl Colón, Dan Santat

Illustrators featured at Original Art 2012, A-to-Z

Illustrator:   Barroux
Title: My Dog Thinks I’m a Genius


About Barroux / Barroux’s portfolio


(click to enlarge)


(click to enlarge)

Louie loves watching his young master paint, and when the boy puts his finishing touches on a particularly good self-portrait, Louie barks enthusiastically. One day, when the boy is at school, Louie tries his own paw at painting a still life. Is this purely an accident, or is Louie a “genius,” just like his master?


Illustrators:  The Brothers Hilts
Title:  The Insomniacs


About the Brothers Hilts

Interview with the Brothers Hilts @ the 7-Imp blog

Double page spread from THE INSOMNIACS

“But when Mrs. Insomniac found a new job, Mother, Father, and little Mika traveled twelve time zones to their new home.” (click to enlarge)

The Founder’s Award is given to the most promising new talent in the field of children’s book illustration. To be eligible, an artist can have no more than three books published, and his or her work must be juried into the year’s Original Art show. The award carries a cash prize from the Dilys Evans Foundation and a Certificate of Merit from the Society of Illustrators. The 2012 Founder’s Award winners are the Brothers Hilts for The Insomniacs (G.P. Putnam’s Sons).

“Mika wrangled her nighttime pets—an aardvark, an angel shark, a bandicoot and a small-eared zorro frisked in Mika’s room. A fennec fox lived under her bed, and she fed him night beetles.” (Click to enlarge)

The wonder of nighttime comes to life in this breathtaking debut. When the Insomniacs move twelve time zones away for Mrs. Insomniac’s new job, the family has an impossible time adapting to the change. They try everything to fall asleep at night–take hot baths, count to one thousand, sip mugs of milk–but nothing helps. Venturing out into the dark, they learn there is a whole world still awake and a beauty in their new and unconventional schedule.

Illustrator:  Jim Arnosky
Creep and Flutter: The Secret World of
Insects and Spiders


Jim Arnosky’s website

In his fourth stunning nonfiction picture book for Sterling Children’s Books, acclaimed naturalist and illustrator Jim Arnosky brings out the beauty–and the “wow!” and the “yuck!” factors–of hundreds of insects and spiders. Eight spectacular gatefolds show moths and mosquitoes, butterflies and beetles, spiders and silverfish life-size, up-close, and personal!

(click to enlarge)

[Next group posting: Patrick Arrasmith, Amy June Bates, Carin Berger]

“A” is for Amy and the Original Art …

I was delighted to learn that this year’s chair for The Original Art 2011 was Amy June Bates.

Her skill in drawing people and animals is superlative. You want to know how children move differently from grown-ups? Seek out the people in her books, and peruse her renderings closely. Prepare to be enthralled.

a cross-section of the many books illustrated by Amy June BatesI became acquainted with her work while working as a free-lance  art consultant, with an editor who ultimately selected Amy to illustrate  I Will Rejoice (Zondervan Publishing) written by Karma Wilson.  She conceived a visual subtext about the joys of a typical day in one girl’s life to complement accompanying verse.  The vitality in her line work is based on solid anatomy drawing skills.

(click on any of the images below to enlarge)

from "I Will Rejoice" from "I Will Rejoice"

Here (below) are images from her most recent book, The Dog That Belonged to No One (published by Abrams) written by Amy Hest.

Amy June Bates’ interview with Julie Danielson* can be found here.

(* special thanks to Jules for the Hest and Original Art Jury images —JC)

cover and text illustration from "The Dog That Belonged to No One", by Amy Hest & Amy June Bates_____________________________________

Here’s Amy (back row, 2nd left), with the rest of the 2011 Original Art jury:

Jury for The Original Art 2011: (front row, left to right) Hyewon Yum, Julie Danielson, Sophie Blackall (next year’s chair), Cecilia Yung, Erin Stead; (back row) Scott Gustafson, Amy June Bates, Sean Qualls, John Bemelmans Marciano. (photo by Laurent Linn, last year’s chair)


And now, on to more Original Art selections to share. . . .

Little girls can be inspired to ditch their princess gowns, in favor of dressing as great women in history by perusing Selina Alko‘s book, Every-Day Dress-Up (Knopf). And you dear reader, can see original pieces at the Original Art!

Amelia Earhart spread from "Every-Day Dress-Up"

Amelia Earhart spread from "Every-Day Dress-Up" (click to enlarge)

Here's Selina's daughter, dressed as Amelia Earhart

Here's Selina's daughter, dressed as Amelia Earhart

cover image from "Every-Day Dress-Up"

cover from "Every-Day Dress-Up"

Medium: Gouache & collage
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Art Director: Melissa Greenberg
Editor: Erin Clarke
Author: Selina Alko


It’s a family affair! Selina Alko‘s husband, Sean Qualls, has images from two books at the show.

art from "Giant Steps to Change the World" by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee

art from "Giant Steps to Change the World" written by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee (click to enlarge)

Here’s Sean demonstrating his steps in creating his illustration  from Giant Steps to Change the World.

Medium: Acrylic, gouache, pencil, & collage
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Art Director: Laurent Linn
Editor: Courtney Bongiolatti
Authors: Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee

Visitors to the Original Art will also preview selected originals prior to official publication date, such as the following piece from Sean Quall‘s Freedom Song, due in bookstores January 2012:

art from "Freedom Song: The Story of Henry "Box" Brown" written by Sally M. Walker

art from "Freedom Song: The Story of Henry "Box" Brown" written by Sally M. Walker (click to enlarge)

Medium: Mixed media on paper
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Art Director: Martha Rago
Editor: Anne Hoppe
Author: Sally M. Walker


Beware of catching a cold (a funny one, that is) from the pen of artist Nora Krug at the Original Art Show. When she’s not creating art for children’s books, graphic novels, and other international publications, you’ll find her professing illustration at Parsons The New School for Design.

cover from "My Cold Went on Vacation"Medium: Brush and ink and digital
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Inc./ G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Art Director: Cecilia Yung
Editor: Nancy Paulsen
Author: Molly Rausch


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The picture book as memoir

In a recent School Library Journal article, Anita Silvey reflects on the current state of affairs regarding children’s books. She writes:

“…Our children need picture books — all kinds of picture books. I can’t imagine a children’s book world without this glorious form. We’re demographically moving into a new baby boom. . . . We need real stories, and long stories, that can be read more than once…”

The picture book as memoir offers infinite possibilities. Reminiscences about family are an invaluable treasure trove of ideas.

Sharing stories can unplug a well-spring of long forgotten tales from family and friends that might not otherwise surface. Yes, you can collaborate with your family on a picture book story!

Here are a few examples:


click to enlarge

I’ve been a long-time fan of Marisabina Russo‘s work, from her early beginnings as an artist for newspapers and magazines like The New Yorker, to her current career as picture book author/illustrator.

(click to enlarge)

Here is the trailer for her latest book, I Will Come Back for You: A Family in Hiding During World War II (Schwartz & Wade/Random House), about being separated from one’s father and fleeing into the mountains against the backdrop of the Holocaust. It’s a true story, as told to the author by her grandmother.

Her debut, The Line-Up Book (Greenwillow), was a well-worn out family favorite in my household. It recalls one special day in the life of a mother and son. Still in print (first published in 1986), it continues to strike a universal chord. Revisiting that story brought back a rush of remembrances of how inventive my little son was during his cozy ‘alone’ moments at home.


click to enlarge

Encountering the above mentioned picture book memoir  brings to mind Giselle Potter‘s  The Year I Didn’t Go to School (Atheneum/Anne Schwartz).  Of particular note is the clear voice of the narrator, who doesn’t find it unusual to take a year off from school to join her bohemian family with a circus troupe in Italy. I felt the concern of the grandparents through the illustration, as they watch Giselle’s family take off at the airport.


Ed Young shares vivid memories of his childhood in Shanghai during WWII in The House Baba Built(Little Brown)Cited by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Children’s Nonfiction Picture Books of 2011, it is also a Junior Library Guild Selection.  It also garnered wide critical acclaim plus  starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Booklist.

The book is chock full of rich anecdotes, sumptuously illustrated with torn and cut paper, pencil, chalk, pastel, ink, paint, and photographs. A labor of love, it features eight (yes 8!) gatefolds.

jacket illustration from "The House That Baba Built" by Ed Young

jacket illustration from "The House That Baba Built" by Ed Young (click to enlarge)

As World War II was approaching Shanghai, Ed’s father worked on a plan to protect his family. From The House Baba Built :

“…The safest part of Shanghai was where the embassies were. . . . But the only land for sale there cost far more than my father could pay. So he offered to build a big brick house on it, with courtyards, gardens, a swimming pool, and let the landowner have it all. . . “

provided that Ed’s family could live there for twenty years. The landowner agreed.

Ed’s father, a trained engineer, draws up the plans…

One of 8 gatefolds, featuring an overhead view of the house Ed Young's father built, with swimming pool (click to enlarge)

The house was transformed as needed to a place for games, for relatives to gather, and to be safe.

The house was transformed as needed to a place for games, for relatives to gather, and to be safe. (click to enlarge)

Cousin Sonny spontaneously draws the cowboy Ed describes, as more relatives are sheltered in the house.

Cousin Sonny spontaneously draws the cowboy Ed describes (click to enlarge)

See Ed Young discuss children’s book illustration and his previous work on Shanghai Messenger, written by Andrea Cheng, published by Lee & Low (below).

Medium: Mixed media
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Art Director: Saho Fujii
Editor: Alvina Ling
Author: Ed Young

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Wait, wait, there’s more! 

If you’re in NYC, don’t miss your chance to view an Ed Young original up-close, from The House Baba Built at the Original Art Show.

Also on display is an illustration from Giselle Potter‘s latest book, The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece (Schwartz & Wade), written by Anthony L. Manna and Soula Mitakidou.

And watch for more from our series covering The Original Art Show, right here at the Got Story Countdown!

cover from "The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece"

Cover from "The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece" (click to enlarge)

Medium: Watercolor
Publisher: Random House/Schwartz & Wade
Art Director: Lee Wade
Editor: Anne Schwartz
Authors: Anthony L. Manna and Soula Mitakidou


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Original Art, up close and in person . . .

If you are in the NYC area between now and December 29th, don’t miss the opportunity to see The Original Art Show for this year’s pick of the crop. We’ll also peek at a cross-section of selections here at the Countdown over the next several weeks. Join us, and spread the word!

Illustrator Floyd Cooper writes:

I have a couple of pieces in the show:  One from the book A BEACH TAIL, written by Karen Lynn Williams, published by Boyds Mills Press, and one from the book THESE HANDS, written by Margaret Mason, published by Houghton Mifflin. . .

OK, I just had to check them out .

Seeing the actual art itself provides a unique learning experience for students, art directors, and industry colleagues. Every piece — aside from being exquisite to behold — must be prepared to the highest professional standards for print reproduction. This includes keeping the sizes of each piece within specific size dimensions for drum scanning.

It’s almost impossible to make identical color matches from original art to the print media, though every effort is made to do so.

Here’s one of Floyd’s pieces from the Original Art show. Click on it for larger viewing…

original cover art from "These Hands"

Here is the same piece, in the book itself, with text in position.

Opening spread from "These Hands"

Note the continuity from this spread to the next...

text spread from "These Hands", illustrated by Floyd Cooper

...via those red sneakers.

text spread from "These Hands", illustrated by Floyd Cooper

See that baseball? Note the delight in the boy's eyes...

cover from "These Hands" by Margaret H. Mason, art by Floyd Cooper

Art students benefit by peering further into the art itself, eyeball-to-eyeball with its actual colors and textures. Click to zoom in on  details from  A Beach Tail:

Here’s the full-frame version. Don’t miss the crustacean behind our main character:

Here’s the completed jacket, with type.

Special thanks to Floyd Cooper for sharing his images.

cover from "A Beach Tail" by Karen Lynn Williams, art by Floyd Cooper

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In celebration of Original Art…

Illustration by Rosalyn Schanzer, from WITCHES! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem Starting next week, we will launch into a series featuring selected works from the Original Art 2011, the annual exhibition that honors the fine art of children’s book illustration.

Behind every picture book project is a team. For our first series feature, we meet both the editor and the art director behind Rosalyn Schanzer‘s Gold Medal winner, Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem  (publisher: National Geographic Society).

title page spread from WITCHES!

title page spread from WITCHES!

We will continue with more selections that feature   the story behind making of  many other wondrous pieces, over the duration of the exhibit at the Society of Illustrators / American Museum of Illustration, October 27- December 31st, 2011. We will have surprise guests from the industry, discussing each selection. You won’t want to miss the banter. And you can add to the conversation.

The show features 150 books published in 2010-11, chosen from 590 entries submitted nationwide. The official press release featuring Gold and Silver Medal winners can be found here.

The Opening Reception is followed by an Awards Ceremony. In addition to the Gold Medal, there are Silver Medallists, plus one Founder’s Award.

So if you cannot make it to the Original Art show itself, visit The Countdown, from now through the end of 2011, and experience a sampling of the Original Art Show vicariously with us…

Kadir Nelson (Silver Medalist)

Lane Smith (Silver Medalist)

Zachariah OHora (special Founder's Award)

This year’s distinquished jury:
Amy June Bates (chair), illustrator
Julie Danielson, blogger, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, and Kirkus Reviews
Scott Gustafson, author/illustrator
John Bemelmans Marciano, author/illustrator
Sean Qualls, illustrator
Erin E. Stead, illustrator
Hyewon Yum, author/illustrator
Cecilia Yung, art director and vice-president, Penguin Books for Young Readers

A visit with Zachariah OHora

Images from "Stop Snoring, Bernard!"

Illustrator Zachariah OHora made his debut as a picture book author with Stop Snoring, Bernard (published by Henry Holt, released April 2011). His work, rendered in acrylic on Stonehenge printing paper, features strong black outlines combined with crispSociety of Illustrators logo hues of warm reds, teal, brown, black and ochre. He also provided the hand-lettered type. His work was cited a special Founder’s Award at this year’s Society of Illustrator’s Annual Original Art Show.  I was delighted when Zach agreed to visit The Countdown.

Would you tell us briefly your road to illustration? And to publication?

I always wanted to be a children’s "Stay fuzzy and hopeful"book illustrator except for a couple years after high school when I flirted with being a “fine artist,” whatever that means.

Illustration appeared to be a more realistic way to get paid to draw, plus I didn’t have any other job skills.

The road to publication was a long and circuitous route where I did everything you shouldn’t do, until I learned what I should have done. And I’m still learning.

Preliminary rough, plus final version from, "Stop Snoring, Bernard!"

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire, a classic depressed milltown in New England. In high school, I became obsessed with The Beats, and in emulation of my hero Jack Kerouac, I hitchhiked across the country and stayed in San Francisco for the next ten years.Another rough sketch, with final art.

I love the sound of your name. Very exotic! Would you share its roots?

The first part is a result of my parents being pseudo hippies and then going 70’s Jesus movement. As a result, I have four brothers and sisters;  all Z’s and somewhat Biblical (Zara, Zelinda, Zephaniah and Zared respectively).

My last name is a bastardization of the Irish O’Hara, someone changed it to O’Hora at Ellis island. For years, the apostrophe stumped computers. I never had dinner or car reservations, so I dropped it. Not really exotic….slightly weird though.

Did you have to go to school to learn to draw?

I always drew, If you were in Mrs. Clements 4th Grade class and you needed a Smurf or a Garfield drawn on your book cover, I was the guy.

I went to school to learn how to think and I graduated from CCA (California College of Art) with a BFA in Illustration.

Zachariah Ohora's studio

Who are your favorite illustrators, and who influenced your work?

Richard Scarry, Syd Hoff, and Margaret Bloy Graham are childhood favorites. I’m hugely influenced by Ben Shahn and Raymond Savignac, Roger Duvoisin and a lot of non-illustrator artist’s and designers.

Current children’s book illustrators who I love are Lane Smith, Marc Boutavaunt, Kevin Waldron, Sean Qualls, Calef Brown and Jon Klassen.

What are your favorite books?Richard Scarry books

This changes constantly, but at the moment; What do People do All Day? and Rabbit and his Friends by Richard ScarryEvery Friday by Dan Yaccarino; and Naked Mole Rat gets Dressed by Mo Willems. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Lane Smith and Jon Scieszka was life altering.

What art media do you use to make your pictures?

I paint in acrylics, usually on paper or wood with occasional electronic embellishments.

from "Stop Snoring, Bernard!"

Do you have any kids? Pets?

I have two sons, Oskar who is 4 and Teddy who just turned 2. I also have a cat named Teddy….don’t ask.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Hard to say (See question one above, for other job skills), but it would probably be something quasi-legal that also helped people. Like Fake Passport Maker.

What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I’m scared of birds, like, REALLY scared. I think my fear originated on an ill-fated day at Benson’s animal farm when I was 4 or 5. The sign said something like “Don’t stick ANYTHING into the Ostrich cage!” But I couldn’t read yet.

from "Stop Snoring, Bernard!"

Are you working on any new projects that you can tell us about?

I’m working on an Ann Wheeler book that I’m excited about; and a book that I wrote about a gorilla named Nilsson who has huge fits and his best friend, a little girl named Amelia, who patiently helps him to not throw fits. Both will be out early 2013. And I’m playing around with ideas for a follow-up to Bernard, but we’ll have to see.

Would  you point us to your web site and/or your blog?

My main illustration site is zohora.com but my blog gets a lot more updates and new stuff and that’s at zachohorastudio.blogspot.com
I have a blog for all things Stop Snoring, Bernard! related at stopsnoringbernard.com. Please come by and follow if you like!

The Original Art: Celebrating the Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration, is on display at the Museum of American Illustration, at the Society of Illustrators, from October 26 through December 29, 2011.

Medal winners are listed here.

Click here for the complete list of illustrators whose works were selected for this year’s show.

Society of Illustrators building, in New York City

The Society of Illustrators is located at: 128 East 63rd Street
(between Park and Lexington Avenues)
New York, NY 10065
Tel: (212) 838-2560
Fax: (212) 838-2561
E-Mail: info@societyillustrators.org
Gallery Hours:
10 A.M.– 8 P.M. Tuesday
10 A.M.– 5 P.M. Wednesday – Friday
12 noon– 4 P.M. Saturday
Closed most holidays

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Cover from "Stop Snoring, Bernard!" by Zachariah Ohora

A snoring otter? Just ask Zachariah OHora!

Meet the creator of the otter that won the special Founder’s Award at the upcoming 2011 Original Art Show of the Society of Illustrators. Zachariah OHora will answer ten questions about his life-in-art.

[Portrait of the artist as a second-grader, above]

Check out his book, Stop Snoring, Bernard. And add your two-cents plus nosy queries when he visits the Countdown on Wednesday, October 12th!

scene from "Stop Snoring, Bernard!"

Read more about The Original Art Show, and the jury behind the selection process here.

elephant-in-pants, by Zachariah Ohora

Come as your are to the Got Story Countdown!

The Original Art Show 2011

This October will mark the 31st year anniversary of the annual show, Original Art: Celebrating the Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration. Founded by artist-agent Dilys Evans, this coveted exhibition showcases the best illustration produced from books carrying a 2011 publication date.

Selections were culled from 150 children’s books, which in turn were picked from 590 entries submitted nationwide. The works will be on display at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators (128 East 63rd Street, New York, NY 10065), from October 26 through December 29, 2011.

Juried by illustrators, art directors, and editors, they also choose the winners of two Silver Medals and one Gold Medal. This year’s Gold Medal winner is Rosalyn Shanzer for Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem, (above left; National Geographic Society; publication date August 2011).

The Silver Medal winners are Kadir Nelson for Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans (left; HarperCollinsPublishers / Balzer and Bray; and Lane Smith for Grandpa Green (below; Roaring Brook Press). Cover from "Grandpa Green"

A special Founder’s Award went to Stop Snoring, Bernard! by Zachariah Ohora (below; Henry Holt and Company Books for Young Readers).

This prestigious show is open free to the public to demonstrate the importance of books for children and the enormous range of creativity they represent. It’s a fabulous opportunity for students, artists, and industry professionals to experience the original art itself. And each work is archived permanently via the Society of Illustrators Annual.

Logo of the Society of Illustrators

View the complete list of artists and works here.

E-Mail: info@societyillustrators.org