Thanks to today's Guest Blogger, Max Elliott Anderson! Max is also represented by Terry Burns, of Hartline, and has several books for young boys published. Max has generously provided this recent interview with the illustrator for his latest book, so you can see how things work in another area of publishing. Pretty cool stuff!
So much attention is given to the author, when a new book is released. However, many times it's the cover that draws in potential readers, or turns them away.
Following is an interview with Holly Heisey, the artist and illustrator for my (Max's) new book, Lost Island Smugglers, which will be released on August 1st.
MAX: It’s often said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” However, in this case, I hope people will be drawn to the cover of my new book. Explain your initial thoughts as you approached this project.
HOLLY: I've always been drawn to vibrant covers that seem to come alive with the story. That's what I wanted to do for Lost Island Smugglers--give the readers a slice of the action so they'd have to know more.
MAX: writer sees images and words in his head. When you approach an art project for the first time, what are some of the elements that you see, before you begin painting or drawing?
HOLLY: This depends on if the drawing is from my imagination, or based on a story I've written or read. If it's from imagination, I'll often sit down and either start randomly doodling with a pen or painting bold colors until shapes start to emerge and I have an idea of what the drawing could be. Art from stories is a little different. When I'm reading, a concrete image in the words will jump out at me, and I'll scribble down a very loose sketch. I rarely deviate far from my original "flash image." If it's strong enough for me to see in living color, it's strong enough to paint.
MAX: Explain the different steps you took in producing the cover art for Lost Island Smugglers.
MAX: Authors talk about facing writer’s block, where it seems impossible to go forward with a writing project at times. Does an artist ever experience this sort of creative block? And if so, how do they get past it?
HOLLY: A lot of artists are very much like writers in that they are visual storytellers. If I can't find the right story to tell with my art, I will get blocked. A lot of times I get past this by looking at paintings by artists I love. It's so inspiring and freeing just to appreciate art at its best that it often gives me the idea I need to keep going. Good books and movies will do that, too. It's all a big creative melting pot!
MAX: What would you say was your biggest challenge in creating the artwork for this book cover?
HOLLY: My biggest challenge for this cover was painting the waves. I've never been out on the sea and certainly not in a storm, so I had to pour over many paintings and photos of waves in storms until I got my painting to just where I liked it.
MAX: You also did some pen-in-ink illustrations for the interior of the book. Could you talk about those, how you approached each subject, and any other details that readers might find interesting?
HOLLY: I don't know if there's any I'd say I'm most proud of. I learn so much with each painting that they're all special to me in some way. I can look at my paintings and say, "Here's where I lerned how to handle textures," or "Here's where I learned how to paint with colored pencils." In that sense, every piece of work is a badge of accomplishment to me. I can say about the Lost Island Smugglers painting, "Here's where I learned how to paint the sea!"
MAX: What are your hopes and dreams for your art in the future?
HOLLY: I really love telling stories with my art. I hope to hone my skills enough to do illustrations for the top science fiction and fantasy books and magazines. I'd also love to do concept art for movies--that would be just amazing.
MAX: Many people what to know how they can break into the writing and publishing field. How would you advise young people who are interested in a career in art?
HOLLY: The first step in anything creative is just lots of practice. Lots of doing it and finding things out as you go. Look all over the internet--sites like deviantart.com and conceptart.org are a great place to start--and find what kind of art you really like, and then study the paintings to find out how the artists did it. Study the lives of artists and how their lives influenced their work. Take art courses online and buy art books and look at everything, study everything, and draw. You will never regret honing your drawing skills, and they will always serve you, again and again. And while you're at all this, plug into groups of area artists and online forums like deviantart.com, conceptart.org, cghub.com, and cgsociety.org where you can get and give feedback from other artists and gain contacts in the industry while you go. You don't have to go to an expensive art school to succeed in the art industry, you just need a passion to grow in your art and a constantly improving portfolio.
MAX: Please list the links where people can learn more about you.
HOLLY: My personal website is: http://hollyheisey.com
My portfolio is at: http://hollyheisey.carbonmade.com
And you can follow updates on my art on my Facebook fan page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/manage/#!/pages/Holly-Heisey-Artist/119051711443606
MAX: Is there anything else you’d like to share?