Leave a Comment · Posted on November 7, 2016
Today I am taking a moment of my time to express my worries about tomorrow. Because tomorrow is election day and I am not sure that America, my homeland, really understands that this election will effect the world.
I am writing without knowledge of what tomorrow will bring. I am writing with a pit in my stomach that I will wake up on Wednesday to see that the catastrophe has happened. We, the People, seldom learn from the past. We, the People, are participating in an election which not only shows the faults in American politics, but also the growing chasm among the American people.
My eighth grade History teacher taught us that history moves as a spiral. There are times of peace. There are times of greed, hunger for power and war. We are basically just repeating the deeds we always have done, just in different places, at different times and our heroes and enemies carry different names. The acts, however, are the same.
From experience I know that my country—at least since my earliest childhood—needs an enemy to function as a whole. I worry, though, that the enemy that we are searching for, can be simply found in a mirror.
Leave a Comment · Posted on October 26, 2016
It was "The Fair", expressly spoken with a long sounding 'e' as if there were never any other fairs. But for book illustrators everywhere, especially in Germany, it is "The Chance" to make yourself known.
It was also one of my best fairs, having come back with three new projects for the coming year and more than a ton of impressions, inspirations, and memories of good conversations.
How to be successful at the fair? You often hear that you absolutely need to print postcards. Well, no, you don't. You just need a really good business card, a well organized portfolio, advanced planning, some time and some patience.
This year, I skipped the postcards—I didn't have enough time to make any, feeling like the shoemaker whose children always run around barefoot. Instead I made a Book Fair Survival Kit consisting of some home baked chocolate chip cookies (to emphasize the American me) and some tea for the frazzled nerves of the editors who had to spend the whole day in their booths. Of course I attached my business cards that I printed at moo.com so they could remember me. Everyone seemed extremely grateful to be just given something just for them to enjoy. It was my way of thanking them for listening and for exchanging ideas.
I think one of the nicest things said about my portfolio was that it was 'stimmig', which means harmonious even though I did show different styles of illustration. The other was one editor's delight because of the emotions my figures display.
This year my visit at the fair was much more relaxed, I had three appointments with editors, one about a book I am doing, one to talk about a future project and one to meet the art director of a publishing agency with whom I had contact this past year.
It always is a good thing to keep up personal contact. My first appointment was with someone who I had met in 2009 with whom I'd kept in touch with and who would like me to illustrate his project.
Plan in an extra day just to enjoy the wealth of literature. It is a great source of inspiration.
I only approached a stand if I really felt there were similarities in the styles of books they offered. My motto "Do you suit my style?" keeps me confident.
My decision to visit three "Portfolio Reviews" was a spontaneous one, the lines weren't long and I felt like introducing myself. (While I was heading towards one at Compact Kids, I saw the line for Carlsen… it was already 30 illustrators long queuing around the corner. That is the kind of line you want to avoid.) Again, having my portfolio prepared so that all of the pictures read in one direction made a more coherent impression and a professional impact.
Acknowledging the editor as a person and not just as a way of getting business is another way of connecting in a positive way. Even if they laughed and called my cookie packages "bribery", I had some really nice conversations at the fair because of them.
Although the Guest Countries were Flanders and the Netherlands, you couldn't help but feel the current conflicts around the world. Refugees were a big theme, be it writing about how to help them, listening to prominent speakers speak about refugees or as I found at a small stand carrying books from Iran and Irak, how a war could be seen through a child's eyes.
The book "Tales of the Open Window" by Mohannad Alaqus and illustrated by Fereshteh Najafi nearly brought me to tears. It tells of a child whose father's atelier becomes the only peaceful place around him, but also about how the child rises above his fears to help his friends through his drawings. In the end, he made the war planes into birds of peace. When you read this one quiet and beautifully illustrated book, many other things become insignificant.
But if that book can have a happy end, then I can, too.
There were coloring books 'for Real Men', cut-out board books, stickers, cups, journals (and I thank the representative from Arti Kalender and Promotion Service for the lovely travel journal. My other one is nearly full (I'll post some more pictures from that soon here and on Instagram) as well as pop-up books.
There were some great little meter-long pop-up city skyline books from an English publisher, Walker Books Limited, and some beautiful design books to dive into at Verlag Hermann Schmidt, a publisher dedicated to typography and design…and whom I've promised to make room on my bookshelves for more of their books, I think I might start with 'In unsrer Küche wird gedruckt' (We Print in OUR Kitchen) to help me with the annual Postcard Dilemma.
If you are an illustrator and haven't been to The Fair yet, then put it on your bucket list. It is worth every minute!
Leave a Comment · Posted on October 13, 2016
October is the most exciting time of the year for illustrators. It's time for the Frankfurt International Book Fair. The whole international book industry is going to be there. I'll be there, too, meeting with publishers, editors, art directors and colleagues and will be reporting via Instagram about what I see and experience. Every free minute I get will be invested in enjoying the latest novels, art books and cover designs, uncovering upcoming trends and getting many new ideas for the coming year. I'll be sure to share them with you on my After-A-Fair-Blog-Post. Are you an illustrator with questions about planning a successful Frankfurt Book Fair visit? Then post your questions in the comments below.
Even though I am almost drowning in work, I treated myself this Sunday to with Johanna Fritz and Rebekah Ginda, who held an exciting workshop on textile design for illustrators in Hanover at Limetrees. The photos show the course in different stages, e.g. How do you get inspiration, practical things like stamp-techniques, and for me especially important: how to create a rapport–a print which can be repeated seamlessly. I really enjoyed learning and networking with so many talented colleagues. This workshop is highly recommendable to any illustrator interested in pattern design. Johanna and Rebekah offer not only really great know-how, their instructions were clear and easy to understand, and are both great fun and friendly to boot. Thanks to this workshop, I now have another way of marketing my illustrations
And now back to work. There's a double page of the "Heidelberg wimmelt", which wants to get finished today.
PS last-but-not-least! Can find me on RedBubble! Just in time for Halloween, I have a monster picture in the shop. Trick or Treat! After the Frankfurt Book Fair is finished, I'll be uploading more work to embellish great shirts, cups and cell phones. And you'll profit from what I've learned this past Sunday at Johanna's and Rebekah's pattern design workshop. If you are looking for a particular picture that you want to buy on a RedBubble product post here in the comments. I'll be happy to whip something up.
Leave a Comment · Posted on September 30, 2016
I’m sending a big thank you out to Conny Danner for solving a problem that had been holding me back from working on my website and my other projects: At the beginning of the week, the WordPress Dashboard disintegrated into plain, barely navigable Text. Nothing worked as it should have.
I couldn’t blog (see, now I can) and couldn’t get my other work done properly because I was looking for a fix.
And apparently this is a problem showing up in other websites that are connected with my host: Strato, who denies that it has anything to do with it.
Leave a Comment · Posted on September 20, 2016
I've finally joined those who seek perfection in a square—that's right. You can find me on #Instagram!
And I'm learning Italian from the ground up. To help me, I am sketching my way through the language, noting in pictures what words and expressions mean.
Learn along with me and enjoy my sketchbook project 'Imparlo Italiano,' which is also going to help me get around the International Children's Book Fair in Bologna, where I hope to get a bite of real Italian spaghetti and acquire a few new book projects.
Leave a Comment · Posted on September 9, 2016
Why is there a 'K' behind a rattlesnake wrapped around a cactus?
Well, that isn't too difficult to explain. You see 'rattlesnake' and 'cactus' both begin with a 'K' in German, and both being nouns, they begin with a capital 'K'.
Test your German and your ability to speak a foreign tongue twister:
Die Klapperschlange klapperte bis ihr Klapper schlapper klang.
(Try it with my American pronunciation: Dee klah-per-schlahng-eh klahp-pear-teh bis eer klah-per schlahp-pear klahng.)
This silliness means: The rattlesnake rattled till her rattle rattled out.
Leave a Comment · Posted on August 22, 2016
I can’t believe all the hype my new search-and-find book, “Heidelberg wimmelt” is getting. Last week, I was in Heidelberg for a second to for research and two event drawings (I even got to draw the Oberburgermeister (Mayor in Chief)). All in all there were seven interviews: one tv, two with radio stations and four with print & online journalists, including the German national press association, the DPA.
I’ll be adding more links to this and showing off my event drawings as the week goes along.
And I’d like to say here thanks to all the Heidelbergers who showed up to have their portraits drawn and to be included as figures in ‘Heidelberg wimmelt’, including Frau B. who wanted to be drawn directly as a figure for the book.
Leave a Comment · Posted on August 11, 2016
A rough life at sea on board tight quarters, it must have felt like a blast of adrenaline and a a sense of freedom flying from ship to ship. But most of the pirates couldn't swim. Modern kids with their beginner's swimming insignia probably are stronger swimmers than any a pirate who went to sea ever was.
Often the 'pirates' were sailors hired by monarchies to plunder their enemies' treasure chests. "I don't think much of our profession, but, contrasted with respectability, it is comparatively honest.". (The King, Pirates of Penzance)
And many a pirate had never set out to be a pirate. Some were just kidnapped and set to sea. From there there was no going back to 'normal' life, because once you'd been forced into piracy, you could be hung for piracy.
Leave a Comment · Posted on August 2, 2016
Who never wanted to live the adventurous pirate life as a kid? Find buried treasure? Living life with just a bit of larceny in their heart?
The Pirate Kids are part of a personal project for a birthday planner, full of ways to involve the whole family in the preparations, with easy pop-up invitations and party favors to make. My book project includes original fun, pirate themed recipes and activities with a special secret bonus in the back of the book.
Leave a Comment · Posted on August 2, 2016
If you have been following along with attention, you'll already know that I am an American illustrator based in Germany. And that I do enjoy funny tongue twisters. Here is one that is a little long: Die sieben Riesen niesen, weil die Nieselwinde bliesen. Liessen die Winde das Nieseln, dann würden die Riesen nicht niesen.
And all that boils down to: The seven giants are sneezing because the drizzly winds are breezy. Were the winds not so breezy, then the giants wouldn't be so sneezy.
(Admittedly not as cute as in German, but you get the idea).
What is your favorite tongue twister? Maybe I'll sketch it for you.
Here you see the idea behind the tongue twister drawings. Tongue twisters are great for children who have speech deficiencies (and are really good for adults who need to keep a nimble mind). Children can color during speech practice and laugh while they are doing it, too.