Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Interview with author/illustrator CLAIRE LORDON

Having your very first book published is super exciting and fabulous! This spring not just one, not just two, but THREE people, who were all in my SVA class at one time or another, are having their picturebook debuts. Each wrote and illustrated their books, each has had a different experience towards reaching publication, and each are going to do a Q&A here. I'm thrilled to introduce to you these new author/ illustrators! First up is Claire Lordon:

Lorenzo the Pizza Loving Lobster is about a feisty creative little guy who wants to share his love for pizza with his friends. Eelgrass or algae pizza anyone? After a few silly mishaps that will make kids giggle, there is naturally a delicious pizza party at the end!

It is exciting to hear about each artist's journey to publication – can you tell us about yours?
I took my children's book class at SVA (with Monica Wellington) in January 2014 and in June 2014 I attended the New Jersey SCBWI conference. There I made a contact with a publisher. I sent them my dummy and my portfolio and after six months I received a response. They said that while they didn't want my story, they loved a few pieces of art and wondered if I had any stories about them. They happened to love an illustration I made of a lobster, and I was just finishing up my dummy for "Lorenzo, the Pizza-Loving Lobster". When I was finished with my dummy and some sample art I sent it to them. After a few rounds of revision I received an offer! I believe my art and illustration background gave me a bit of a head start.

How did LORENZO get started? What were some the stages? 
The idea for Lorenzo started as an inside joke between me and my boyfriend. I gave him a stuffed animal lobster for his birthday and somehow we decided he was Italian and loved pizza. I thought this would make a great character in a children's book, so I made one piece of art and wrote a story.
The story for Lorenzo was very different at that point. Originally it had Lorenzo as a child and then grew up to a grownup lobster. I made a "dummy" book and had a few samples of what I thought the final art should look like.  After submitting my book dummy, my editor and I went through a few rounds of revisions and the story changed - all for the better. Then I had to make a new storyboard and rough sketches of all the pages before going into final art.

What was your favorite part of working on this book?  
Besides all my pizza breaks? 
My favorite part was creating the storyboard. When I created the storyboard I particularly enjoyed figuring out the pacing and thumbnail compositions because that is what the rest of the work is going to be based on - it's very exciting!

And the most difficult part?  
The most difficult part was the waiting! The publishing industry is very slow and waiting to see the actual physical book from when all the artwork was complete took almost a year.

Where do you live and what is your studio like? What are your art materials?
I currently live in Brooklyn, New York. My studio is very small, but since I work mostly digitally it's fine. I use Photoshop with my Wacom Cintiq monitor to create most of my illustrations. Occasionally I start out with a pencil sketch or thumbnail, but otherwise I work using my computer.

What were you like as a child?  Did you always draw and paint since you were very young? 
I was always drawing and announced to my parents when I was three years old that I was going to be an artist. I continued to study and make art all the time, even taking art classes on Saturdays for many years. I loved exploring different mediums and my favorite subjects to draw were always animals.

How did you decide you wanted to be an author and illustrator of children's books?  
I studied and made art all throughout my childhood and decided my junior year of high school that I wanted to further pursue art. For college I chose to go to the Rhode Island School of Design. There I had one foundation year and three years of studying illustration.  In my last semester I realized that I loved creating art for kids. I dabbled in a few industries doing various illustration work when I decided that taking a picture book class sounded like fun. I decided to take the children's book class at SVA. I have always loved telling stories and found that children's books are a great fit! I can combine my love of storytelling and creating art for children with picture books.

Did you have some rejections along the way?
Yes! I received some rejections, some were silent (they didn't respond), some were filled with encouraging notes, and some were form rejections. The rejections that were more personal and had suggestions really encouraged me to keep working.

What are some of your other projects that you are currently working on?  
I recently completed a few pieces of art for a story about a penguin named Bento who is apprehensive about school picture day that I'm going to shop around. Right now I'm working on a story called "Santa Jaws" which is about a shark who takes on Santa's duties underwater. I'm also working on a story about a fox who wants to go camping. There are a few other drafts in progress, but they are very rough.
I'm also working on art for my portfolio, as well as various illustration projects for clients.

Is there anything that you remember from SVA class that has been particularly helpful?
There were many things that were helpful from the SVA class. Learning how to pace a story and how to storyboard were greatly helpful. Also learning how to create a "dummy" (rough draft) book really helped me before I started submitting my work.

Do you have any special words of advice or encouragement for illustrators/writers starting out now?
1. Join SCBWI
2. Read many picture books so you can learn more about the industry
3. Write and illustrate - lots!
4. Find a critique group that will give you support and good feedback
5. Share what you make - through social media and to art directors and agents
6. Repeat steps two through five.
7. Don't give up. Keep making new work and keep trying!

To find out more about Claire and her work take a look at her website here 

1 comment:

Patricia Keeler said...

Lorenzo the Pizza Loving Lobster is such a fun book! Something lots of kids will enjoy and relate to! Thanks for the post!