Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Kaz Windness Shares Advice and the story behind her writing/illustrating picture book debut, "Swim, Jim!"

Debbie Ridpath Ohi interviews Kaz Windness at Debbie's blog, and it includes so much great stuff. Like the wacky real-life origins of "Swim, Jim!"

two photos of a crocodile swimming in a canal on top of a yellow pool noodle, and a cartoon balloon of dialog next to a photo of Kaz saying "Please help me find Jim. I wrote him a book"

I particularly liked Kaz's advice for other authors and illustrators:

Children’s books is a career that requires a deep and abiding passion. It’s not like in the movies where you have a book idea one day and get a huge book deal the following week and save the family farm from foreclosure. SWIM, JIM! is my debut picture book, and I’ve been out of art school for 20 years this summer. It’s also not the kind of money that saves the farm. But it is a career that saves kids (books saved me!) so it’s worth being persistent– but only if it’s something you can’t not do. If you can’t quit, keep going. Your breakthroughs are coming!    

My advice for illustrators is cast a larger net for art inspiration. While it’s important to be on social media and also devour children’s literature, especially recent publications, if we only look Instagram and other picture books, we’re just stylistically regurgitating what’s already been done. Go to the museum. Get inspired by musical theatre. Fall down the rabbit hole of Victorian fashion or hip-hop music or cave paintings. You are standing on the creative shoulders of thousands of years of artists and its a proud and inspiration-rich heritage. That can all becomes compost and fertile ground to draw inspiration from.   

Read the full interview here.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

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