Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Interview with author/illustrator JASON KIRSCHNER

We are on a roll with picture book debuts from amazing illustrators from SVA! This week we are celebrating Jason Kirschner's MR PARTICULAR. This tale in comic book style is filled with warmth and humor: our super-hero is just a bit fussy and quirky, and SUPER appealing!  MR PARTICULAR has gotten off to a flying start. Congratulations!

How did MR PARTICULAR get started? What were some the stages? 
My son was a picky kid. When he'd refuse to eat something or he’d make a fuss, we'd call him Mr. Particular. As a comic book fan, I thought it would be the funniest name for a superhero. After a few different book dummies that no one was buying, I wanted to write something that was closer to my heart which ended up being Mr. Particular: The World’s Choosiest Champion. I went through several stages of story revisions with my agent and then started drawing.  I produced a fully illustrated dummy with a few color spreads which we shopped around and sold to Sterling last April.

What was your favorite part of working on this book?  
I loved just about every stage of this project. The story was fun to write because I knew all the characters intimately and I got to add a lot of comic book homages to the script.  Having said that, drawing these guys was my favorite part. I'm an illustrator first and bringing these characters to life on the page was tremendous fun.

And the most difficult part?  
Honestly, it was the unknowns that were hardest.  As a first time author/illustrator, I just didn't know what to expect and I was continually surprised by the amount of work that happens even after you sell the book. It wasn’t bad — it’s just a lot of work.  Thank goodness I had tons of support from my editor and art director.

Where do you live and what is your studio like? Your art materials?
I live in a lovely house in NJ where I've stolen the finished attic and made it my studio.  It’s as quiet as a room can be in a house with two 9 year-olds.  I’ve got a large drafting table with a lightbox for drawing  and a computer workstation with my Wacom palette for Photoshop. 
As for materials, when I use expensive paper I tighten up so I draw everything on cheap photocopy paper. That way, I don’t worry if I mess up — and I often mess up.  I like 11”x17” so I've got some room. I draw with brown and black Prismacolor pencils. Then I scan it all in and color digitally.

What were you like as a child?  Did you always draw and paint since you were very young?  
Yes. Always. I’ve got sketchbooks from when I was three and four years old.

Future projects? 
I’ve just finished a new manuscript and I’ve started drawing the dummy. I've also mapped out the next two Mr. Particular books -- not that anyone's asked for them. I just love the characters so much. I hope it does well enough to warrant a sequel. I’ve also started fiddling with a chapter book because I’m so wordy.

Is there anything that you remember from SVA class that has been particularly helpful? Do you have any special words of advice or encouragement for illustrators/writers starting out now? 
I loved meeting the guest artists and hearing their stories.  Each one went about things differently which was reassuring.  
As for advice— Do tons of work.  If you write, write every day and if you draw, draw every day.  (If you do both, alternate days or something.)  I go up to my studio every day after my day job and work. And get a good critique group. I’ve been with mine for several years and they’ve been instrumental in raising the quality of my work. 

To find out more about Jason and his work visit his website here
Also check out the blog Drawn to Picture Books created by Jason and five other illustrator friends. SUPER GREAT!!!

1 comment:

Patricia Keeler said...

It's been so fun to know Jason! He is really talented and knows what it takes to get a book done. He is also generous with his time, funny and gives a wonderful book critique! Go Mr. Particular!