Monday, September 24, 2012

Faye Hsu

How did you become an illustrator?
I’ve love drawing since I was a kid, whenI was 23, I decided to chase my dream.I am happy that I can consider art as my career now. I feel lucky that I am passionate about my work.
Did you go to art school?
I went to Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I am in MFA illustration program. There are a lot of amazing instructors in AAU. Learning from them is a valuable experience.
Was there anyone that was an influence in your becoming an illustrator or anyone that continues to influence your work?
John Singer Sargent, Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth have been huge influences to me. I remember when I started to learn painting, I stared at these Master's artworks, learning how they handle brushstroke, edge control, composition etc.
What inspires you now?
Bobby Chiu&Nicolas Marlet! Their designs just brilliant!!!

From looking at your portfolio I can see that you do fine art as well. Can you tell me a little about that?
I am lucky that I have amazing fine art instructors in my school. For portraits, before I started learning how to paint we spent a long time learning how to draw. Portraits really need great understanding of anatomy, facial proportion, etc. For Landscapes, I always worked on toned canvas. I learned from my instructor that the sketch is really important.This stage could solve many issues, such as composition, value contrast, focus point.etc. Another thing I learned from my instructors is have great respect of old masters' art! 

Also are there any games that you can name that have done work for?
I am currently concept artist for CastleVille. It is a great team to work with:)
Would you like to share anything about how you work?
If I am hired to do an illustration,I will talk with my client about what they want, then I will do sketches (2-3 thumbnails) for them to chose one. The next  step iis doing a couple quick color studies of it, then I can have a can of coke while I build up all details.
 I use Photoshop and my Wacom tablet. Even my sketches are all digital now. In this industry digital really make things faster.
What types of markets do you illustrate for?
I used to do concept illustrations for commercial and film, I hope to get the opportunity to illustrate a children's book. It will be awesome years later I can read my book to my child when I become a mom.
Do you have links to sites with your work you would like to share?
Here is my online portfolio:)

Are there other creative interests that you do like writing, music or teaching?
Cooking~! i am a terrific cook.
 I love to create new recipes when I am cooking. I am happy when a new yummy dish done. I keep photos of things i cooked in my album. 

Do you currently have products with your images on the market?
Most of my recent illustrations are for gaming industry.
What do you love best about what you do?
I love the very beginning part of a project! It´s the most creative and playful.  It is awesome that I get paid for doing something I LOVE.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Liora Grossman

How is it that you came to be an illustrator/artist?
I was born in Lithuania in 1966, during the soviet regime. Western children's literature was strictly forbidden throughout the Soviet Union. 
My parents, who where active freedom fighters back in the day, would not put up with this form of intellectual oppression. They have spent every Rubal they could spare on smuggled books from Europe and the U.S.A (That was a capital offense that could have gotten them a one way ticket to Siberia).
One time my mother managed to buy a torn up copy of Rudyard Kipling's "Ricki Ticki Tavi", and smuggle it to our apartment under the watchful eye of the K.G.B officer, who worked the 
Lift in our building. She sat me down and read it to me, before she even took off her coat. I thought the story was amazing but the illustrations – not so much. I forced my mom to go back (after all, she did have her coat on) to the store, and get me a notebook. Then – I made her rewrite the story on the left pages of that notebook, 
And carefully added a more suitable illustration to the right side of every double spread. That was my first experience as an illustrator. I was 3 years old at the time, and never looked back. There was nothing else I wanted to do with my life ever since.

Did you go to art school?
I have studied in the Bezalel academy of fine arts in Jerusalem. 

Were there one or more individuals that were an influence in your becoming an illustrator/artist?
Is there anyone that continues to influence you?
To me, that is a 2 part question. When I was in art school I had 2 teachers who have influenced me in very different ways. The first teacher thought my work was terrible.
She once called me after class and told me, that I should probably go to a technical school, and become a printer, as I will never ever become an illustrator.
The 200 children's books I've illustrated since were motivated by this grim prophecy. The other teacher, was a painter, who studied in Florence, Italy, and used to teach in many art schools in Europe before returning to Israel. He told me to listen to no one. "You have an exceptional gift, and one day you will show them all" he used to say. Showing them all is what I live for to this day.
Contemplating on my career, I think that the people who have influenced me the most were other artists. I adore the old masters of European illustration such as Edmond Dulac, Kay Nielsen, Howard Pyle, Arthur Rackham, Beatrix Potter, Walter Crane and Ernest. H. Sheppard. The work of Ralph Steadman (not a children's book illustrator, but still) had a
Huge influence on me. I have studied for hours the art of artists such as Brian Selznick, Chris Riddle, Anna Juan and Wolf Erlbruch. However, the artist who has influenced me the 
Most, would have to be the Russian illustrator of the early 20th century – Ivan Bilibin. I basically owe him everything I've got.

What inspires you now?
I'm inspired by the great changes in the editorial world, and the opportunities presented to us by the new technologies. I think that the ability to create a moving and talking story in the form of digital applications is incredible. I have just finished my first app. It was made by a magical collaboration with people with enormous talent, and for no money at all. Everybody contributed just out of sheer joy and curiosity. We felt like the Wright brothers, working in their home garage, on the impossible machine that can make you fly. An amazing experience indeed.
Also I'm inspired by my students, who keep sending me all kinds of experimental stuff – from music clips to crazy art performances. They got me hooked on racy kinds of manga,and now I'm taking some classes on that subject. They help me feel young, and that's kind of nice…

Is there anything you would like to share regarding your technique or style of Work for instance?
What types of medium do you like to work in?
My technique is mixed media. Initially, I used to work with colored pencils – a technique that requires applying many layers to get a good result.
 At some point I have strained my right hand muscles while trying to meet a dead line on a book, and realized I need some kind of base before using the pencils.
The way I work now is by applying a first layer of soft colors to my drawings (I might use aquarelle or Pantone markers), and go over it with Prisma pencils.

What types of markets do you do art/ illustration for?
I usually make books for children between the ages of 3-5. Sometimes I do books for young adults.
Are there links to your images you would like to share?
Please visit my site: . The illustrations there are a few years old. I'm working on a new wonderful site right now, so until it's ready –
Please befriend me on facebook, where I post my newest stuff: 

Do you do other things regarding art like teaching, or Classroom visits?
I actually do both. I teach in various academies in Israel, but usually take a couple of years off between teaching jobs. It's kind of tough for me to be away from my work for long periods of time, although I do consider my students to be a constant source of inspiration. Classroom visits on the other hand, are something I do very often.
I'll go every time they ask me to, and visit any kind of school or kindergarten. I did classroom visits in foreign countries as well, such as Mexico, Argentina (I speak some Spanish, and illustrate for the Spanish market) and Denmark. If my students are my biggest source of inspiration – children are my biggest source of information. Children see everything,
notice small details, have a very clear opinion on what they like and dislike, and can't be fooled into thinking a boring book is actually interesting, and an ugly drawing is actually beautiful. They are the people who are most worth listening to, in my opinion.

Are there other creative interests you peruse like writing or music?
I read a lot (6-8 books per month), I write children's books (my first one is to be published in Israel by the end of 2013), and I paint on walls and objects whenever I have the chance. Basically, though, my work is also my hobby.
Do you currently have product with your images on the market? Books, gift or home products?
I have illustrated many books that were published in Israel and in Europe, but I am a newcomer to the American market. My first application, "Boxes", that was both written and illustrated by me is to be issued in October. 

What is the thing you love best about what you do?
The publishing system in Israel and Europe is a lot different than the one used in the States. Here we get to work very closely with the authors of the books we get to illustrate. That is actually my favorite part of my work. I get to meet, chat, fight and make up with some truly great minds. That is such a privilege.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ronnie Herman Children's Book Agent for Writers and Illustrators

Instead of having an illustrator featured this week I have the pleasure of sharing an interview with Ronnie Herman of the Herman Agency Inc. She represents both illustrators and authors for children's books. You can visit her site at

How many illustrators do you represent?
Well, at the moment I represent 50 illustrators, though a few of the artists are not up on my web site. At this point I am taking on VERY few new clients.

 What do you look for in an artist's work?
Originality, a style that doesn't directly compete with one of the artists I am already representing, and a style that is fresh and irresistible.

I know that you also represent authors. Do you think it is an advantage to be able to write as well as illustrate?
It is a real plus if an artist can also write their own stories because that way you, the artist doesn't need to wait for an editor to find the perfect manuscript for your art. Editors have long working relations with artists, and they give them preference, so if you write and illustrate your own books, then you have much less competition since you are the only artist who can illustrate the manuscript. Also, many editors these days prefer author/artist projects. BUT, the writing and art need to both be excellent, and most illustrators are not authors, and fewer authors are illustrators. I like to help my artists develop into authors, whenever possible, being an author myself and having been an art director.

I would think being in NY you would have a good view as to how publishers are changing with the shifts in publishing. What do you think are the most significant changes happening with traditional publishers?
I do not think that one needs to be in New York to learn what the shifts in publishing are. Being in New York helps only because it is easy to meet face to face with editors and learn what they are looking for. The major change in publishing is the shift from picture books to middle grade and YA books. 12 years ago, children's publishing was 80% picture books, now it is reversed. I remember when YA was a genre that publishers shied away from. Now look at the tremendous shift and emphasis towards this genre. I think Harry Potter had a lot to do with this reversal. Also, since 9/11, the high cost of picture books has been a real problem for consumers because of the country's economic problems, as well as the rise in computer/ electronic games. Parents have less discretionary money and need to cut some spending. Why not get picture books out of the library and buy the kids computer games?
Then, of course, there is digital publishing. This has not hurt the picture book market significantly as of yet, but I believe in 5 years we will see ebooks, enhanced ebooks and apps competing significantly with the printed picture books, because of the high cost of picture books compared to the digital formats.

Is there still a lot of educational work for illustrators? 
When I started representing illustrators, 12 years ago, (I had previously been the art director at two major NY publishers), educational assignments for illustrators was so plentiful that not a day went by when I didn't get at least one job, usually several, for my illustrators. Educational work was our bread and butter and a great way for new artists to cut their teeth. Educational work has quick turn-arounds and there are no worries about reviews or sales, because the agreements are flat fee, often work-for-hire, with no royalties. But nowadays, the school budgets being what they are, there is much less educational work and this is really hurting illustrators tremendously, not to mention the agents. It is terribly sad that it is harder and harder for illustrators to earn a living from their craft, not only because there is less work, but also because  most fees and advances have not increased in 12 years; we aren't even keeping up with inflation! I used to encourage artists to give up their full-time jobs so they could dedicate their time to their art, being confident that I could get them enough assignments to make it worth their while. These days I encourage artists to keep their full-time jobs or to find part-time work, as I find it hard to sleep at night when I know that they are trying to raise a family only on the money they are earning in the children's market.

Have the changes affected the way you work?
Because of cut backs in the number of picture books being published, and the shrinking of educational work, I have cut back on the number of picture book authors I represent and am taking on extremely few new illustrators. I am also more likely to take on author/artists if I love their art and manuscripts and I think they are marketable. I am particularly interested in very young, short works with terrific art and a strong central character, as this is what editors are looking for in picture books..

Do you see trends in what publishers look for in illustration?
There are always trends, just like the fashion industry, and, as in fashion, the trends disappear and then return years later. There was a point in children's books, roughly between the late 80's through the early 90's, when the art was all important. Many established artists who had never illustrated picture books before, started working in the field. Adults were collecting picture books and the art was of an extremely high quality and polished; the books appealed to adults as much as to children. The trend, up to a few years ago, was computer art that was, what we call, "in your face" art. That seems to be much less popular these days, and I think the best way to describe today's look is graphic with European influences. It is young and very strong.