Friday, November 29, 2013

Hometown Visit

Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday!

Authors and illustrators everywhere are spending the day at local independent book shops recommending books to shoppers and signing their own books. I've gone ultra-local and am in my hometown! I'm hanging out at Brilliant Books on Front Street in Traverse City, MI from 11-2 tomorrow so please come say "hi!" if you're around.

Not only has this past week been filled with my loud, lovely extended family and lots of good turkey, I also got to take a nice walk down memory lane. On Monday I spent the day with some exceptional 2nd, 4th, and 5th graders at Old Mission Elementary School, which was my elementary school once upon a time. I met some future authors and illustrators in that bunch. Hopefully I'll see some of them at Brilliant Books tomorrow!
What am I doing here?? I think asking the kids if the pond behind the OMS playground
is still haunted. They said no, but ponds don't just suddenly get un-haunted, guys.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to Make Ink

More books about ink! If you like Ike's Incredible Ink you'll love this book by the amazing Pintu. He came to the event at McNally Jackson earlier this month and made a very cool collage. He then went home and began working on How to Make Ink. Obviously, it's super awesome.

Also available in hardcover! Thanks so much for sending me these photos, Pintu!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Spellbound Bookstore

This weekend I did two of my favorite things; hung out with my sister and her husband, and collaged with kids. Thanks again to Spellbound Children's Bookshop in Asheville, NC for hosting an hour of reading, drawing, and mess-making.

A good story has good descriptions! After reading Ike's Incredible Ink, the awesome kids you see here helped me think of creative ways to describe the color blue. We filled this drawing of a blender to make our own blue ink. This particular ink was made with squished blueberries, ocean sounds, cold snowflakes and soft furry monsters. We have some little Yves Kleins here! (Eh? Nerdy art joke? Anyone?)

Then, the kids filled blenders and bottles with collages of their very own story-telling ink. These are some serious author/illustrators in the making. You saw them here first.

Photos courtesy of Leslie Hawkins at Spellbound Children's Bookshop

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dressed for Success

Photo belongs to Atlantic-Pacific
Hey guys, I'm reading at Spellbound Bookshop in Asheville, NC tomorrow and I'm going to DRESS THE PART. Just kidding. But this skirt is pretty awesome, right?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

McNally Jackson

Photo by Jenny Song
Check out the awesome kids that drew blenders with me this Saturday at McNally Jackson! We made some pretty great collage art, too. This weekend: Spellbound Children's Books in Asheville, NC. It's a collage-off!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Not Afraid of an Elephant

Happy Halloween! In honor of this great holiday, I present you with a gif of me making and wearing a cardboard elephant mask.

This gif was made by the amazing Thyra Heder. She wrote a truly wonderful book called Fraidyzoo, which is getting rave reviews and just won a 2013 Family Choice Award. Check out the other cardboard animals she's making here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ophelia's Dramatic Reading

Well, this is officially the cutest thing on the internet. This is my coworker's three-year-old daughter "reading" Ike's Incredible Ink out loud (colds be damned).

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Making of Ike's Incredible Ink

Ike's Incredible Ink, is a book! A real live book! In book stores! and the internet!

I'm pretty darn excited. I'm excited that Candlewick let me make something that I had a blast making. And I'm excited that they did such a lovely job printing it. And editing it, and designing it, and marketing it. They are just great.

It started with a manuscript, lots of loose sketches, and research (click to enlarge images).

Then on to thumbnails. Here are two alternate thumbnails for one page.
From there the manuscript and sketch dummy went to my amazing editor, Liz Bicknell; art director, Ann Stott; and designer, Heather McGee. They came back with lots of suggestions for both the text and images. From there I moved on to tighter sketches.

After these were approved, it was time to ink. The art for this book was created using a combination of traditional and digital techniques. I compiled a "library" of ink blots and bits of colorful paper that included everything from Japanese printmaking paper to vintage graph paper to dry-cleaning tags. These were scanned and digitally collaged onto the line work, which I inked by hand. Then I chose an ink blot for Ike's body that I thought matched his mood or his motion across the page. For the larger, more elaborate spreads the ink work looked like this.

For smaller, simpler drawings, it looked like this. Because I hate wasting paper and am a horrible person. Don't do this! It's insane. I'm horrible.

Then, through the magic of Photoshop, the drawings go from chaos to this. Less chaos! Did I forget to leave space for text? Huh. Photoshop! The sky in this illustration is a beat-up sketch book cover. The grass is a combination of two papers, one green and one kind of aged and splotchy. The booga-bird's body is a swirl of gouache I painted for a different illustration.

From here, Candlewick worked their magic and turned something that just existed on my little laptop screen into a real book that is big and beautifully printed on beautiful paper. They pick and place the type, arrange the spot illustrations, design the cover, pick the get the idea. And now I can hold it in my grubby little hands, which still may have ink under the nails from that darn blender illustration. THAT is not digital.

Thanks, Candlewick. Thanks, Prof. Drummond. Thanks, SCAD friends. Thanks, pb. Thanks, Team Rodeen. Thanks, family. Thanks, friends. Thanks, friends with kids. This is so much fun.

Friday, July 26, 2013

This American Life

The radio show This American Life celebrated their 500th episode on July 12th with a favorite moments episode, and by commissioning nine illustrations from different artists. I really think This American Life is awesome; maybe sometimes it makes me cry on the the subway, maybe sometimes Adele makes me cry on the subway, WHATEVER you've done it too. I know you have. So I was really excited (but didn't cry) when I was asked to make an illustration for their 500th episode. A big thanks to Seth Lind for the project and for art directing me to, basically, "make it weirder."

Here are some initial sketches (click to enlarge):

And the work in progress:

And a bonus! Here is a hi res jpg of the brayer texture I used. Any digital artists out there are welcome to borrow it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Passing Romance

This Valentine's Day is dedicated to those moments when you fall in love for half-a-second with the person you're passing on the sidewalk.  Happy Valentine's Day.

(You can see the non-animated version here.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Too Many Design Magazines

When I was in Michigan last month I read many interior design magazines. Maybe too many.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Knee Story

This is me right now. I am down to one crutch! I have one extremely strong leg and one skinny leg with a big swollen knee. In early December I had surgery to replace my ACL. I tore it playing soccer, though, I have mentioned some alternate explanations. 

I took six weeks medical leave from my job and went to Michigan for the surgery so I could stay with my parents while I recovered. Now I am back in Brooklyn but the old knee is still on my mind.

To replace an ACL, the surgeon removes the middle third of one's patellar tendon and a bit of bone from the patella and tibia. Then they drill a hole through your femur and tibia and string the patellar graft through the hole, connecting them at the same spot your ACL once did. Like they're sewing your knee back together. Eventually, your tibia and femur fill the holes, which secures the graft, and your body grows a new ACL around the graft. What??? Yes. Your new ACL will eventually be even stronger than your old one.

For the first week after surgery, however, I could do literally nothing without help. Luckily my parents tended to blob-me and my blob-demands well and I slowly got better. I also went to physical therapy three times a week, and did even more physical therapy at home. 

Still, to do anything--like, get the TV remote from a few feet away--took concentration and planning and some pain. I would plan my trip to a new room like I was entering a foreign and possibly hostile country. Are the lights on? Do I need food? Where is the nearest blanket? When do I take my next round of meds? Where are my meds? It took seven minutes for me to walk from the couch in front of the TV to the microwave and back with a cup of coffee. I timed it. Because here is the joke with crutches: you can't really hold anything but the crutches. You can crutch to the coffee pot, but how do you carry the cup of coffee? When I graduated to one crutch, it was amazing. Maybe the ability to hold things is not what separates man from animals, but I felt human again. 

All that to say, when I was at home I spent A LOT of time thinking about my knee. I still do. I can think about my knee, uninterrupted, for like half an hour. Like a zen master. I practice bending it and straightening it and strengthening the muscles and I think about whether it's more or less puffy or hot or painful or if the scar looks weird or better or what my knee will be like in a year or tomorrow.  

I've learned a lot about the science of how your knee functions and heals, but I'm still amazed by what your body can do. What magic, exactly, is going on in there?? Your body is basically building a new knee out of sandwiches. Or whatever you eat. In my case, mostly Mexican food. For the last month I did nothing but eat and sleep and move my knee around in front of a therapist and my body was like WE GOT THIS HERE IS A NEW KNEE BAM.

Now, I'm back at work and things are going back to normal. It's incredible. If anyone else is getting surgery, listen. Here are two things that I wish I had listened to when people told me. First, sure you're taking time off of work, but you won't get anything done. Don't beat yourself up about it. You won't get a chance to draw more or work on the computer or even read many books. Because you can only lay on your back, holding the book/computer/sketchbook above your head. Just rent every 007 movie and call it a day. And take lots of naps.

Second, it gets to your head. You'll have good days and bad days. But the magic healing genies don't care if you are feeling good or bad or bored or get cabin fever. They just want you to keep doing your PT and taking naps and eating sandwiches. And then one day you realize that you're better, and you adapt, and before you know it you're down to one crutch. Which means people give you a seat on the subway every day, so maybe hold on to that crutch for a while. Good luck, future zen masters.