Note: I will announce the FOLLOWER winner of the marketing consulting session this week.
Hi Realm, I'm so excited you have joined us today. I LOVE your work and we haven't had an illustrator in a while.
Before we get started, tell me a little about yourself.
I grew up in the snowy mountains of Nagano, Japan, before moving to the state of Washington. My father is a Japanese ex-monk and my mother an English teacher from Rhode Island. The influence of both Eastern and Western culture was a big inspiration in my art style. (Being bilingual didn't hurt, either.)
I'm a full-time 3D and 2D artist over at Valve for video games and I am also a writer and an illustrator on the side.
Currently, I am illustrating my own novel, titled CLAN, which is currently out on publisher submission. CLAN begins on an abandoned planet, where a single survivor refuses to live alone. Fifty years later, the Clan has emerged: an all-male society of the survivor's clones, who live harmoniously with an ideal of no personal identity and label each other with numbers. Three teenage clones meet.Apart from having the same body, they have nothing in common. CLAN will be an illustrated novel for young adults (ages 16+).
Can you tell us about your creative process? How you come up with your illustrations?
I first write down my illustration goals and constraints for the piece I'm about to work on. I usually have a good idea about the style, palette, and composition at this stage. Then I research real-life things relevant to my project to learn more--could be an environment, time period, prop, anatomy, texture, and such. I sketch out some rough ideas, pick one I like, and start working on the illustration. Once I have the outline and line weight done, I start painting or shading, depending on the art style. Once that's all set, I crop it, adjust contrast, soften edges, and do all the other presentation tweaks until I'm happy with it.
Your heritage sounds so interesting and I'm sure it is where you got your cool name. I know you have a beautiful web site and blog. I assume you maintain those yourself?
Yes. My website launched last April and Little Willow helped put my design together. I also have a blog full of interviews, drawings, news, and other things. I maintain it regularly to connect with book industry people and readers.
I know you are on Twitter a lot. In your opinion, how important is social networking today?
VERY important. Almost every opportunity in my life came from networking, reaching out, being open, and letting others know about my goals. (For instance, I'm doing this interview thanks to Shelli contacting me through my blog.)
I know the answer to this question, but I want you to explain the unique and creative way you do interviews on your blog? IT is such an interesting way to promote your work and yourself as an illustrator?
Right now I am running a series of five-question interview for authors, editors, agents, and illustrators. The unique part about the interview is that I am providing the author with an illustration of his or her character drawn by me. (Other industry people like agents get a picture of him/herself.)
I wanted to share the ability to visually manifest a character with the authors. It's been incredibly rewarding reading emails from happy authors about the illustrations and a great way for me to connect with them. Readers also get an idea about the author's story with one look at the picture, so it really enhances the whole interview experience for everyone. In the process of supporting others, everyone gets to know me better as an artist as well.
I love your interviews and always look forward to seeing your interpretation of the author's characters. How how this helped you in landing your agent?
I am agented by the fabulous Joanna Stampfel-Volpe at Nancy Coffey Literary. When I went on my agent hunt, I got lots of rejections and I assumed it may be because of CLAN's topic: clones.
I felt like I was fighting a stereotype - the emotionless image of what the word "clone" conjures up for most people. I knew I needed to get beyond the stigma and instead, show the complex and drama-riffic characters in CLAN and how distinct they were from one another.
I couldn't really do that depth justice in a one-page letter, so I made a whole bunch of self-addressed, stamped postcards with paintings of my characters on the back to show my vision. (A picture says a thousand words, right?)
I included this with the query instead of the SASE. Ever since, I got more detailed replies and requests for the manuscript. Soon, Joanna offered representation and she was interested in having CLAN be an illustrated novel.
I really like Joanna! I had a great experience/interaction with her during my agent submission process :) What other advice do you have for illustrators regarding marketing?
Focus on what sets you apart and use it to be memorable. Also, reach out! You have to make friends. Don't go into what I call a promo-bot-mode and talk only about your book everywhere you go. That kind of promotion is forgettable. The authors that stick out in my mind are ones that are friendly, conversational, enthusiastic, and supportive. Think of networking as way of keeping the door open to others.
Thanks Realm for stopping by today!