Right about this time last year, this happened:
That's me, holding my freshly signed book contract from Chronicle Books. I look deceptively calm in that photo when really I was over the moon giddy. That contract was for my very first book illustration project, making it a very huge deal for me.
I knew that I wanted to illustrate children's books. Eventually. I didn't think my portfolio was good enough yet though so I figured it would be something that happened down the road a bit. When I felt more prepared. More confident.
But you know how the universe is, it likes to drop big, scary surprises in your lap that make you grow and blossom and all that.
In my case, I was deep in the grip of some artistic blues. My shop wasn't very busy. I was between freelance projects. And I was just generally feeling a bit lost about where I wanted to take my artwork. I was literally in the grips of wallowing in a bit of self-pity when an email popped up from Kristine Brogno, art director extraordinaire at Chronicle Books. She said she really liked my work and wanted to know if I'd be interested in working on a new project with her illustrating a book and some companion pieces to go along with it.
I think my jaw probably dropped to the floor when I read the email and my heart soared to the sky. I'd wanted to work with Chronicle Books for awhile but my fear held me back from submitting my work and here Chronicle Books was wanting to work with me.
Needless to say, there was a lot of jumping up and down and some giddy screaming which I'm pretty sure freaked out both my husband and my dog at first.
Kristine and I talked out the details, signed the contract and within a week we were off and running.
Only then did I realize that I had pretty much no idea what I was doing and needed to figure it out quickly. Up to this point, I worked in a bit of a ramshackle style that didn't pose much of a problem for the small projects that I worked on. But with this project I was doing a book, a growth chart, some wall art and a few other pieces which meant I needed a learn a whole new, more organized way of working.
During the first couple of weeks, I cried a bit, freaked out about not being good enough, procrastinated as much as I could and then finally just jumped in. Isn't that always the best way to go about it anyway? Just jump in and figure it out as you go along?
And over the next six months or so I did figure it out, with the help of the endlessly patient and wonderfully kind Kristine Brogno. She dealt with my sloppy sketching and my neverending questions all the while being the nuturing, warm art director who made me want to do my best work, who made me push the boundaries of my comfort zones. And I like to think that I came out on the other side a much better illustrator, with lots of lessons tucked away for future reference.
And now, guess what? This little book and all the pieces that go with have been sent out into the world. It's part of a fun new site that Chronicle Books just launched that allows customers to perosonalize books, wall art, placements, growth charts and all sorts of other things.
You can find my book, A Day in the Life of Princess, here. If you order a copy for the little princess in your life, you'll get to personalize it with her favorite color, her birthstone and even some details from her life that will appear in the text of the book. It's really quite charming, if I do say so myself.
Here's a look at a couple of my favorite spreads from the interior of the book:
And some close ups of the growth chart, which is one of my favorite pieces from this collection:
So that's it, the story of me illustrating my first children's book!
What do you think?