Tag Archives: When Your … series

Interview with illustrator Daniel Wiseman; & book giveaway!

I am excited today to welcome you all to my first ever interview with an illustrator! Daniel Wiseman, illustrator of When Your LION Needs a BATH, and When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles – both written by Susanna Leonard Hill – is participating in Susanna’s blog tours. I am thrilled that he graciously consented to an interview for Polilla Writes

Welcome to my interview corner, Daniel! I’m happy to have you as the very first illustrator I’ve interviewed. By way of introduction, could you tell us a little about yourself?

 

Thanks! I’m flattered that you decided on me as your very first illustrator interview! My name is Daniel Wiseman, and I’m an illustrator from St. Louis, MO. I live here with my wife Elizabeth, my son Henry, and another soon-to-be son who has yet to be named! I love the outdoors, specifically the mountains. I miss them almost daily. I grew up in East Tennessee, where I suppose I took the plethora of beautiful locations for granted, because now I’m surrounded by miles and miles of flat, corn-covered farmland. I like to bike, hike, cook, watch new movies, re-watch old tv series, and listen to music while I have a beer on my patio. I also work A LOT. In addition to illustrating picture books, I co-founded a company called Pixel Press. We created a product called Bloxels. You can find it at your local Target or Toys ‘R’ Us. 

Triple Congratulations on your expected new little boy, your co-founding of a company, and for the game you helped create! (Bloxels looks interesting – I checked.)  🙂

When did you first know you wanted to be an illustrator? Who or what inspired you, and what keeps you motivated? What do you remember about the very first time you received an assignment?

I’ve always known that I wanted to be some type of creative. During my adolescent years I was in love with Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side. I was convinced that I would someday be a cartoonist. When I got a bit older I began playing music and joining bands. I ended up playing drums in a locally successful band for basically my entire 20s. We all had stars in our eyes, and wanted to be rock stars. During that time is when I picked up Photoshop and began making album art for my band as well as all of my friends’ bands. That’s when I realized I could make money by making art. It opened up a whole new world for me. Since then I’ve learned to do many design related tasks, but I’ve always been drawn to illustration (pun intended). It’s the only thing I’ve picked up that’s felt completely natural. I’m inspired by a mix of the world around me, and other illustrators. Music and pop culture find their way into my work pretty regularly. Nature as well.

As far as other artists go, there are quite a few who I really admire. Christian Robinson, Zachariah Ohora, Greg Pizzoli, Quentin Blake, Nicholas John Frith, Roger Duvoisin, Charles Dutertre, Alice and Martin Provensen, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian…just to name a few. Taking breaks outside keeps me motivated. I tend to get bored easily. I’m not one of those people that can just sit and grind away on drawings for 8-10 hours at a time. I need to get up and move around. Give my brain some time to wander. Having multiple projects going at once sometimes helps with this, but it can also make things very difficult. I find that if I’m having a hard time coming up with ideas, or even just finding it impossible to actually sit and work, I will go on a bike ride and all of the sudden new ideas will just start flowing.

My very first assignment was album artwork for a band that was really popular in my hometown of Knoxville, TN. I got the job through a local producer, and at the time it all felt extremely professional. I remember that I had to teach myself a lot about print design in a very short time, as I knew nothing about how to set up album artwork. I worked so hard on that album. It took just a ton of hours. I had no idea what I was doing, but trying really hard to come off like I did. All in all I probably averaged about $1.50 an hour. Not bad, huh?!

Better than for nothing, and you can’t put a price on the learning experience of it, right? 🙂  You have a very interesting background and lead-in to what you do now.     What process do you go through when preparing a project?

My process varies a bit based on the project. Normally there’s a good amount of brainstorming and research up front. I like to focus on character building first, if that applies. One of the things I love about illustration and story telling is that you can create whatever universe you have in your head. There are no rules. A book can be just as powerful whether its main characters are a group of kids, or a group of highly intelligent woodland creatures with the ability to talk. Once I have a good idea of the characters and setting, I usually get down to sketching. I like to sketch and take notes on the same page (or file if I’m doing it digitally). While I’m sketching, I’m also doing a lot of Googling. I like to build a stock pile of inspiration and create secret Pinterest boards for every project. Once I’ve done enough sketching and inspiration gathering, I’m usually ready to dig in. With all of that said, the process can change at the drop of a hat. Sometimes I have to knock something out in an absurdly short amount of time. When that’s the case, all bets are off and I just start making final art and hope it looks good!  

Challenging and exciting! Can you tell us a little about your technique and choice of medium?

As unexciting as it is, almost everything I do is digital. I use a Wacom tablet, Photoshop, and custom brushes that I sometimes tweak to fit my mood. This is done purely for efficiency’s sake. I can work much faster and more confidently this way. However, I love real ink and I love watercolor, and colored pencils, and tons of other traditional mediums. I worked on so many books this past year that I didn’t allow myself to divert from my typical medium, but my goal this year is to slow down and experiment with others. I’m even taking a watercolor class this weekend! (first weekend of July)

I hope that course was inspiring for you. How do you decide on how the characters you’ll create will look?

Most of the time I have an immediate picture in my head right after reading a manuscript. I think this is probably the case for most illustrators. Growing up I’d do this with any book I read. I’d imagine what the characters sounded and looked like. It’s just part of being a visual thinker, I suppose. For LION and ELEPHANT I wanted to make sure that the characters first and foremost were human, and represented a diverse cross-section of society, because it’s important for children to relate to these books. This will become even more apparent as subsequent books in the series are released. 

Your imagination must be a wondrous place. 🙂 How much is your own idea when illustrating a book, and how much direction is decided for you? In other words, how much freedom are you given? Do you brainstorm with the author at all?

So far my experience has been that it varies from publisher to publisher. For the most part I have creative freedom, but for some books I’m put in more of a box than others. The brainstorming usually happens with either the art director or the editor. For LION and ELEPHANT Susanna and I have been in contact about a lot of marketing materials such as activity kits, bookmarks, etc… With that being said, I’m very new to the world of picture books, so I could see in the future doing more collaborative type work with authors as I progress and make friends with them. 

Your illustrations for Susanna’s books, When Your Lion Needs a Bath and When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles, are wonderful. Approximately how long did it take you to complete each book?

Thank you! The process took between 4-5 months per book. A lot of that time is spent waiting for different sketches and illustrations to pass around the powers-that-be at Little Simon. Because my process is mostly digital, I can usually knock out a spread or 2 (or more) a day. Although, all of that may change since we’re about to go from a family of 3 to a family of 4 in November. I foresee some of my drawing time being taken up by baby time! 😃 

Oh, yes! And your wife will thank you. 🙂 What is it about illustrating children’s books that appeals to you?

Pretty much everything! It’s been a dream of mine for quite some time, so finally getting to really do it is a wonderful feeling. I love taking a manuscript and pushing the story even further with pictures. That’s really what picture books are about. You need the images to fully tell the story. That really appeals to me. The idea that I’m not just drawing pictures, but I’m visually story-telling. That’s just fun! Also, there’s something about creating a tangible product that is super special to me. I’ve spent a lot of time working on digital products. Things like apps, websites, etc… As an artist, I work just as hard on that artwork and after a few months it just disappears, and it’s replaced by something else. Picture books are the exact opposite of that, and I love it. I love the fact that I can create things that my sons will be able to pick up and read to their kids someday and say “Grandpa Daniel made this book!”. I mean, what’s more special than that?

Indeed! Is being an illustrator all you had hoped or thought it would be?

It definitely is! I’ve been lucky to have an agent (Teresa Kietlinski at Bookmark Literary) that has really encouraged me to work on projects that are fulfilling and fun. I’ve heard much different experiences from other illustrators. In some ways this first year has been even more than I thought it would be. Immediately after signing with her I began work on LION and ELEPHANT, and soon after that I began work on 3 other books for 2 other publishers. It was shocking how quickly things took off. It’s been a whirlwind year, and it’s super exciting to have the first books I’ve worked on just days away from being out in the wild. I can’t wait to see what else is in store for the years to come. 

A year that got you off to a flying start! I’m sure we’ll be seeing much more of your work.    Writers have critique groups, editors, agents, how does that work for illustrators? How did you get your agent?

While I’m sure there are formal critique groups for illustrators…outside of art school of course…I don’t know of any in my immediate area. My version of that is sharing a lot of the things I do on Instagram and Tumblr. I get pretty decent feedback on there. I also have a few illustrator friends that I occasionally share my work with. Lastly, I show my agent pretty much all the book related things I do. She has a lot of experience in the agency world as well as past experience as an art director and writer. My agency is Bookmark Literary, which is run by Teresa Kietlinski. She is one of my favorite people on the planet. I owe every ounce of success I’ve had in the picture book world to her. She’s believed in me from the very first email exchange. You know how you can meet certain people and you feel like you’ve known them for years?…I definitely feel like I’ve known her my whole life. I’m truly grateful for finding her, which was just by a simple Google search for “children’s illustration agencies”. I just sent her my portfolio and she got back to me almost immediately. Everything has been smooth sailing from there!

Wow, that’s amazing! You must credit the fact, too, that she has good work to promote, Daniel. 🙂  Do you have any advice for hopefuls?

Sure! If you want to make picture books, then just start building a portfolio of work that looks like it should be in picture books. Research what other illustrators are doing. Read a lot of picture books. Study them. What do you like about some, but don’t like about others. Spend as much time as possible writing stories and illustrating them. As you do it, share it with the world. Get feedback. Reach out to illustrators and authors that you admire. I guarantee most of them will respond. People that make books for kids are really nice…that’s why we chose this medium. Basically spend as much time as you can thinking about picture books. This should come pretty easy if you really love them. I firmly believe that if you just set your mind to something, and really take action towards that goal, then you will eventually achieve it. How could you not? If you spend all your hours pouring your soul into something then you will become a master of it. Just make sure that goal is something reasonable like making picture books, and not something unreasonable like turning yourself into a robot in order to move to another galaxy…

Also, listen to Alan Watts. He will help you through anything.

Thank you so much, Daniel, for this very interesting peek into the world of an illustrator. 🙂  It’s been an enjoyable interview. I wish you much success.

Where you can find Daniel:

WEBSITE
http://yesdanimal.tumblr.com/
Instagram: @d_wiseman
Twitter:  

And now …

Susanna Leonard Hill, and her publisher, Little Simon, are offering to one of you a copy of When Your ELEPHANT Has the SNIFFLES! Yay!!!

The rules are simple. Leave a comment on this post telling how you would take care of your elephant or amuse him when he has the sniffles, and your name will be entered into the draw. 🙂 You have until Saturday, July 22, at 9:00 PM EST to enter. Using the “random name picker” I will select one name, and the next morning – Sunday, July 23 – I will announce the winner. Be sure to check your email Saturday night because I will be contacting the winner for a mailing address.

Don’t delay, comment today! And please pass the news on to your friends; post on Twitter, FaceBook, or what ever way you communicate with the world. We thank you.

To keep up with the exciting things happening here all month read about it.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

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Book Review: When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles – by Susanna Leonard Hill; fun activity, & announcements!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book: When Your ELEPHANT Has the SNIFFLES
Author: Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustrator: Daniel Wiseman
Publisher: Little Simon
Date: July 11, 2017
Genre: children’s – age 2-4; Preschool & up
Pages: 26; board book
Price: $7.99 US; $10.99 CDN
My rating: An enjoyable story for picture book lovers of all ages

This is my fourth post (I’ll have 12) as my part in the back-to-back blog tours for Susanna Leonard Hill‘s three books coming out this month.

When Your ELEPHANT Has the SNIFFLES, written by Susanna Leonard Hill and illustrated by Daniel Wiseman is the second delightful story just right for little ‘uns in the new series of When Your … books.

The very exciting thing is that – as of TODAY – both books are available for purchase!

As with When Your LION Needs a Bath, the first thing you’ll notice about this board book is the adorable illustrations. On the front cover is a miserable-looking elephant with flushed cheeks and lots of tissues. He obviously is not well. Oh dear.

From the beginning of the story you know this little elephant needs some loving care. He is sniffling and has a fever, and the reader is informed that “you don’t want your elephant to start sneezing!”

The little girl in the story sets out to care for her elephant. She removes anything that will make him sneeze. The illustrator, Daniel Wiseman, came up with a funny idea for this visual included below; see it? She tucks her elephant into bed and makes sure he has all he needs. The clever touch you will notice as you read this book is his favourite stuffed toy is … the lion from the first book!

 

 

 

 

Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Daniel Wiseman
Used by permission of Little Simon

The real challenge begins when Elephant becomes bored as a patient but who is not yet well enough to get out of bed. The little girl is reminded to not make him sneeze as she tries to entertain him with props she chooses. But what if it happens anyway? You find out on the very last page. It’s a cute ending – an awwww moment – that will make you smile with Elephant.

This story, as with the first one, is not written in little words, or only three or four per page. It is written to be read to little ones. The uncomplicated, muted – with occasional splashes of bold colour – illustrations are well-suited to calm the child who is sick with the sniffles. When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles has definite child appeal so the child can fully appreciate what is being told. It will be fun for beginning readers to figure out the bigger words through remembering the story while feeling accomplished with the easier words. This story is for everyone’s reading pleasure.

When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles is the second book in the When Your … series, and there are already two more being released later with more planned.

BONUS: To add to the fun, Susanna has provided us with an elephant game! 

*** Elephants On A Tightrope Game

This is a fun activity for a group of preschoolers – at home, at the playground, or at school.  (Plus they’ll think it’s a game, but they’ll actually be practicing their balance and coordination 😊 ) It can be played indoors or outdoors.

Make a “tightrope” line with chalk or tape.

Start with one child balancing on the line while everyone sings: (to the tune of 5 Little Ducks)

“One elephant went out to play

On a tightrope string one day.

He had such enormous fun

He called for another elephant to come!”

The child calls out the name of another child who comes and joins him/her on the “tightrope”

Then the song starts again with:

“Two elephants went out to play

on a tightrope string one day…” etc.

The cycle repeats until all the children are balancing together on the “tightrope” and the last singing verse ends with:

They had such enormous fun

The tightrope broke and they all fell down!”

And all the children can collapse on the floor 😊

If you want to make the game a little harder, or appropriate for kindergartners or slightly older kids, use the raised edge of a sidewalk or patio or wooden border at the park or around landscaping or a floor-level preschool balance beam if you have one as the “tightrope”. ***

Wait! Before you go I have two other important things to tell you.

Come back on Thursday, July 13, for my first interview with an illustrator! Daniel Wiseman, illustrator of Susanna’s Lion and  Elephant books, shares some fascinating info. And we’re having a giveaway! (Be sure to follow the fun and easy rules to get into the draw.)

Exciting things are happening all month! Read about it HERE

We look forward to your supportive comments.

You can find When Your ELEPHANT Has the SNIFFLES by Susanna Leonard Hill on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and on Chapters.Indigo if available there. 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: When Your LION Needs a BATH – by Susanna Leonard Hill; fun activity, & announcements!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book: When Your LION Needs a BATH
Author: Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustrator: Daniel Wiseman
Publisher: Little Simon
Date: July 11, 2017
Genre: children’s – age 2-4; Preschool & up
Pages: 26
Price: $7.99 US; $12.99 CDN
My rating: An enjoyable story for picture book lovers of all ages

 

This is my first post (I’ll have 12) as my part in the back-to-back blog tours for Susanna Leonard Hill‘s three books coming out this month.

When Your LION Needs a Bath, written by Susanna Leonard Hill and illustrated by Daniel Wiseman is a delightful story for little ‘uns.

The first thing you’ll notice, besides When Your Lion Needs a Bath being a board book, is the vivid comical illustrations in this little book. On the front cover is a lion dripping beside a bubble-filled bathtub. He is looking a little disgruntled. Now you know bath time was a challenge. 

Inside it starts out with the lion looking very happy, very dirty but very happy about it. The instructions begin with the warning that to give your lion a bath you must be a little sneaky. There are several failed attempts at tricking the lion into a prepared bubble bath; however, the little boy who is intent on getting him in there does not give up. He’s prepared for almost anything.

 

 

 

 

Text copyright © 2017 by Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustration copyright © 2017 by Daniel Wiseman
Used by permission of Little Simon

Children will giggle over the illustrations that show the lion dizzy from chasing a toy mouse ’round and ’round, getting tangled in a ball of yarn, and always managing to escape the bath somehow.

Here is where author Susanna Leonard Hill‘s love of desserts, especially with chocolate in them, comes into play …  try tempting your lion with a tasty treat such as … a brownie banana butterscotch berry marshmallow strawberry-smothered caramel-covered peanutty-buttered double-dip chocolate-chip triple-whipped jelly-bean sundae supreme. Oh My! Daniel Wiseman‘s illustration for this one makes the reader want to start off to the ice-cream store! 

When the right idea is hit upon, bathtime is quickly accomplished, until …   😉  I’ll just say it’s a funny ending.

This story is not written in little words, or only three or four per page. It is written to be read to little ones. The bold-coloured, uncomplicated illustrations have definite child appeal so the child can thoroughly appreciate what is being told. Later, when learning to read, it will be fun for children to figure out the bigger words through remembering the story while feeling accomplished with the easier words. In short, this story is for everyone.

When Your LION Needs a BATH is one of the first two books of a series called WHEN YOUR … books. (Watch for the other one coming here July 11.)

BONUS: To add to the fun, here is an extra created by Susanna for kiddies:

*** After you’ve read WHEN YOUR LION NEEDS A BATH, you might want to play a lion game – I know I would! 😊  This game requires at least 4 or 5 children – the more the merrier! – and works well at the playground, at preschool, at a birthday party, or just at home in the living room or the back yard.

Catch The Lion’s Tail

Catch The Lion’s Tail is a twist on Duck, Duck, Goose!  Make a lion’s tail using yellow felt, string, or yarn with a knot tied in the bottom.  (And if you don’t have anything like that on hand, a regular old belt will do 😊 )  Give the tail to one player and have her tuck it into the waistband of her pants at the back so it hangs down.  All the other players sit in a circle.

The lion walks around the circle tapping the sitting players on the head saying Lion each time.  When she says Hyena, that player must chase the lion around the circle and try to catch her tail before the lion gets back and sits in the hyena’s spot.  If the hyena catches the tail, the lion must be lion again.  If the lion makes it to the hyena’s seat and sits down, she gives that player the tail and the hyena becomes the new lion. ***

Wait! Before you go I have two other important things to tell you.

Come back on Thursday, July 6, for my interesting interview with the author, Susanna! And … we’re having a giveaway!

Exciting things are happening all month! Read about it HERE

We look forward to your supportive comments.

You can find When Your LION Needs a BATH by Susanna Leonard Hill on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and on Chapters.Indigo if available there. (After its release date I will post my review on the above sites.) 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂