Tag Archives: My Foodie ABC

baby, let’s go OUT

7 Jun

WheelerforLamay&Duopress-1

Last fall, my family moved to a new city. I introduced myself to the manager of the neighborhood Barnes and Noble, showed her my books, and got invited to participate in two in-store signing events. The manager, an advocate of the arts, slipped me an invitation to exhibit the books at a larger event: the Chronicle Autumn Leaves Book Fair in Glens Falls, New York. My stuff was set up across the aisle from the table of The Hyde Collection, a local art museum. The B & N manager, my new FRIEND Beth, had told me to find them and introduce myself, because you just never know.

It was a busy day but I made sure to stop by The Hyde’s table, show my books, and drop a card or two before packing up. The lovely young lady at the table—Courtney Nettleton—told me she was about to leave her museum job to throw herself full-time into PJN Photography, the business that she ran with her husband Pete. But. She loved My Foodie ABC enough to buy a copy, and we stayed in touch.

Courtney is heavily involved in Glens Falls, New York’s thriving arts community. I think she is the unofficial mayor of GF, actually, and I have no doubt that we will collaborate somehow or other in the future. Meanwhile, she and Pete are using My Foodie ABC as a prop in their photo studio, to the delight of baby Sadie, her mom Shannon, and, of course, my favorite publisher, duopress.

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WheelerforLamay&Duopress-3*

Class: Illustration can be a lonely business, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of local, regional, and national groups to join—the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Graphic Artists Guild, the Society of Illustrators (NYC or LA)—groups that thrive on semi-regular meetings. If that’s not your cup of tea, you could participate in a show, teach an art class at your local community center, or assemble an artists’ group in your town. Getting out will not only stimulate your creativity and nurture your soul, but could also further your career.

In his book Imagine, How Creativity Works, Jonah Leher describes the importance of “interpersonal collisions” (p190). It’s important to get out because you just never know who you might meet, and what will happen as a result.

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I visited PJN Photography’s studio and can’t recommend it enough. Fun, unique, artful photos, made by wonderful folk. Check out their on-line portfolio, and be sure to like them on facebook.

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NOOK: A String of Lovely Surprises

15 Jan

When Duopress called and asked me to narrate Nook books, I was completely surprised. You just never know what life will bring. Lovely Surprise # 1: “The Invitation.”

Zenkel Practice RoomA Yeti microphone arrived at my door and I got busy talking into it, and learning how to use Garage Band, Apple’s recording/editing software. Sitting in my home office, I made some sample recordings. The result was disappointing. It sounded as if I were reading children’s books from the bottom of a well… or, perhaps, near a construction site. The underlying hum was unacceptable. Lovely Surprise #2: “The Echo.”

My hero-husband (a new hire at Skidmore College) presented my dilemma to Professor Joel Brown, chair of the Music Department. Via e-mail, Joel invited me to use a practice room on campus. Lovely Surprise #3: “Northern Hospitality” (or, “Padded Room for M’Lady”).

As soon as I got everything set up on the piano of the elegant, acoustically superior practice room at Skidmore’s Zankel Music Center, the campus ground crew’s Annual Leaf Obliteration Campaign started up outside, directly below the window. Perfect. Imagine the hum from my un-padded studio at home, times about a thousand. I called Duopress and offered to rush outside and whack them with my purse old-lady style, but my friend Mauricio talked me down. (“Please don’t do that, Violet.”) We decided to opt for patience. Lovely Surprise #4: “The Industrial Leaf Blower.” 

Joel BrownSeveral weeks after the recordings were finally wrapped up and safely in the hands of Duopress, my hero-husband took our family to Beatlemore Skidmania, a musical event at the Zankel, in which a variety of music students (solo artists and groups) performed Beatles songs. What. A. Delight. The final band to take the stage was comprised of profs from the music department—including, as it turned out, the esteemed Professor Joel Brown! His performance of Rocky Raccoon on the electric guitar was, well… electrifying. Especially for me, the old lady in the third row who was not only enjoying the music but also putting a face to the name. That’s him, on the left. Lovely Surprise #5: “Joel Brown, Literal Rock Star.”

Yesterday, Duopress called to tell me that the audio books are finally available. So there you have it, Class. Lovely Surprise #6: “Nook Books, Narrated by Violet Lemay.”

The moral of the story? Persevere! When you expect good things to happen, they will… and you’ll probably get to meet some really cool people along the way.

p.s. Again, Joel… Thank you!

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Now available from Duopress at Barnes and Noble for the Nook:

3 covers

New York Baby (by Puck, illustrated and narrated by Violet Lemay); 123 Beach, A Cool Counting Book (by Puck; illustrated by Rey David Rojas, narrated by Violet Lemay; and My Foodie ABC, A Little Gourmet’s Guide (by Puck, illustrated by Violet Lemay).

 

joy

14 Nov

“Whatever feeling, whatever state you have at the time of the stroke will register in the stroke.” ~ Robert Henri

Class, if you struggle in your work, we can usually tell. If you hate your topic, it shows. Love it, and we sense that, too.

Of course, illustrators don’t get to pick their paid assignments; that’s the nature of commercial art. Oh sure, when jobs are storming in it’s easy for an artist to turn down the ones she’d rather not do. I have often said no to illustration jobs—usually  because of an over-crowded schedule, but also, occasionally, because I didn’t believe in the content.

Alternately, sometimes jobs that seem wonderful can but turn out to be a headache. That can happen when the illustrator and art director end up having conflicting visions for the assignment or a basic personality conflict, or late breaking news changes the layout of the paper at the very last minute and the beautiful horizontal illo you’ve labored over for a day and a half is now vertical (seriously?!?) and you have an hour and ten minutes to make the change.

Anything can happen in the process of a paid job. You are hired to make the art, but your design decisions are trumped by those of art directors and editors. On the other hand, when you have time to make self-directed projects for your portfolio, you are in complete control. Use that freedom! Choose topics that make your heart sing, because you can! Create lots of what you do well, and of what you love to do. Sell your joy.

I made the above coffee shop image for fun years ago because I love coffee and coffee shops, and, at the time, I really enjoyed incorporating pattern into my work. My sweet friend Kim Rosen graciously offered a bit of art direction. (Future blog topics: collaboration / two heads are better than one / working with friends makes life fun.)

When I ask clients to send me samples from my website of the work they love and want me to emulate in the jobs for which they are hiring me, more than any other image, they send me the coffee shop. I’ve gotten a ton of work from this one image, including My Foodie ABC, the first of more than ten books I have now illustrated for Duopress.

Several years ago at a college illustration conference, Yuko Shimizu told us how clients began asking her to include elements from her personal work into paid assignments. A quick look at her amazing website shows this principle in action.

Use your personal work to develop as an artist, but also to attract work that you will enjoy doing. In other words, don’t make business art if you’d rather draw dinosaurs. As my friend Jillian‘s dad (Jimbo) likes to say, Do what you love, and you’ll always love what you do. We sense your joy in creating; use that pervasive sense of joy to your advantage.

Joy is highly attractive.