April 2021 Featured Illustrator
Elizabeth Baddeley is the New York Times bestselling illustrator of I DISSENT: RUTH BADER GINSBURG MAKES HER MARK. She has illustrated many other biographies and non-fiction books for children including THE CAT WHO LIVED WITH ANNE FRANK, AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET, THE GOOD FIGHT, A WOMAN IN THE HOUSE (AND SENATE), and more! Elizabeth has also self-published the leading /only Kansas City-themed coloring book for adults and children: Color Me Kansas City as well as the very personal Swimmer Girls which earned her a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators in 2011. She resides in a historic neighborhood in Kansas City with her husband and young son.
How did you get started in illustration?
What is your background?
Put simply, I majored in Visual Communications at KU, worked as a designer for 6 years at Hallmark, and then got my MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay at the School of Visual Arts. But most people want to know how I got started in picture books. I had been doing various freelance jobs while I was attending SVA. A lot of these involved hand lettering—a skill I had picked up at Hallmark. An art director at Simon & Schuster hired me to design a book cover for her. It was a great fit, and I would up illustrating a picture book for the same editor the next year. That book was I Dissent and things have sort of been rolling since then.
What is your preferred medium, method of working?
I don’t have a lot of loyalty to one particular medium. I like to let the subject matter and the mood I am going for dictate what I use. That said, I’m really a drawer at heart. I tend to focus on line first—sometimes I use pen and ink, sometimes pencil. I’ve even been going digital more and more lately. After that, I will add color. A lot of time I use watercolor right on top of my linework, other times I scan in washes and other textures and composite digitally.
Once all the surfaces are ready, I spread as many as will fit on a large table and work on several at a time. Paintings are swapped in and out throughout the process so all have touches of each painting session included. Once colors are blocked in on the entire project, I move on to detail work and am not quite as rigid with the color distribution. I use Adobe Photoshop often for quick edits to hand-drawn sketches or to rearrange elements within a drawing during the early stages of a project.
How did your style and technique develop?
I drew a lot. And I mean A LOT. I had the immense privilege of going to grad school where it was essentially my full-time job to develop my voice as an illustrator. The majority of this development happened drawing from observation within the pages of my sketchbook. This is something I still do on a regular basis (though it ebbs and flows). I’m always amazed at people who can come up with stories just within the inner-workings of their own brains—my ideas all come from the world around me.
What do you find the most challenging in your work?
For me, it’s really challenging to illustrate a character (especially a real, human one) accurately and consistently throughout a book. It’s probably the thing I struggle with more than anything. It involves a lot of prep work and many, many revisions.
What would be your dream project? Or what was your favorite project?
In the short term, I would like to write and illustrate my own books and work outside the nonfiction realm. Long term, I’d love to explore storytelling outside of books—perhaps in the form of set design, environmental design or even animation. I’ve always had this secret desire to pair my artwork with music.
Do you have a favorite book(s) from your childhood?
Picture books were a huge part of my childhood and likely the number one reason I’m an illustrator today. I have a unique perspective right now as I’ve been reading some of my old favorites to my son. I either read them and think, “Wow! That book has really stood the test of time!” or “Yeesh, why did I love that?” Favorites then and now include QUICK AS A CRICKET, THE NAPPING HOUSE, IMOGENE’S ANTLERS, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, A YEAR AT MAPLE HILL FARM, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE and CHICKEN SOUP WITH RICE. These are definitely the more popular ones, but many of my childhood favorites are pretty obscure. And they’re still great. I like to keep that in mind when working on my own books—it’s not always the story that wins the awards and gets all the stars that holds a permanent place on a child’s bookshelf.
How did you get signed with Alexandra Penfold at Upstart Crow Literary?
After I DISSENT came out, I was chatting with an art director friend of mine who was completely aghast that I was still unagented. To be honest, I was terrified of contacting someone who would say no and also signing with someone who wasn’t the right fit. My friend said she’d think about who might be good for me. In about 15 minutes, I heard back from her with Alex’s name. I reached out and we started working together soon after.
Do you have any art supply-type tips you can share with us? Paint, paper or software that you love, a favorite art store or website to buy supplies or a new product that you’ve tried, etc.?
DRAWING: I love Uniball pens and Faber-Castell PITT pens because they are both waterproof. If I’m using pencil, I like to fill one mechanical pencil with soft lead and one with hard—the trouble is always remembering which is in which.
PAINTING: I have expensive taste when it comes to watercolor. A few years ago I splurged and filled a palette with mostly Schminke paints. I adore them and they last forever. However, with acrylics, I ONLY use the cheapest of the craft store variety. They dry super matte and chalky and are really easy to draw on top of. I also have a jar full of old toothbrushes I use frequently.
PAPER: I almost always use Arches hot press watercolor paper for final art. My sketchbooks are the traditional Moleskine with the slick, cream-colored paper. They take absolutely everything and have more pages than any other sketchbook. I really wish Moleskine would sell that paper loose!
DIGITAL: I just got an iPad last winter and am fully obsessed with it. I love drawing in Procreate using the 6B pencil and dry ink brushes almost exclusively. I don’t love doing colorwork in procreate, though. I use photoshop for color, compositing scanned art, and making final adjustments.
Any words of advice for those just starting out in illustration?
What do you wish you would have known sooner in your author/illustrator career?
I wish I would have more patience earlier in my career. When you are in school you only hear about the success stories. You want to win all the awards and get all the flashy jobs right away. But trying to force art to be good is a true exercise in futility. When I was at SVA, a very successful illustrator came to one of our classes and showed some of their earlier work—and it was BAD. They knew it was bad, we knew it was bad, and we all had a great laugh about it together. But I really appreciate that illustrator showing us that what looks like overnight success on the outside, rarely is. There is a lot of hard work and learning done to get to that point.
What’s next for you? Any upcoming book releases we should be on the lookout for?
My newest book GRACE BANKER AND HER HELLO GIRLS ANSWER THE CALL, (written by Claudia Friddell) just came out in February. I’m looking forward to the release of THE FASTEST GIRL ON EARTH (written by Dean Robbins) this August. Details for both are on my website. Other than that, I’m looking forward to writing and illustrating my own books and getting a Covid vaccine.
Previous Featured Illustrators
Lois Bradley is an author, graphic designer and visual artist working in acrylics, watercolor, pen/ink and mixed media. She served as ARA for the New Mexico chapter of SCBWI from 2008 through 2012. She now lives in Kansas City, MO. www.loisbradley.com
Phyllis Harris is an author/illustrator who has illustrated over 35 children’s books. Her debut book as an author/illustrator, GIFT SHOP BEAR is scheduled for publication on Oct. 5, 2021. She lives in Kansas City, MO with her husband and pup, Brinkley. phyllisharris.com
Il Sung Na is an author/illustrator and illustration teacher. He lives with his wife and small dog in Kansas City, MO. ilsungna.com
Heather Bell is a picture book author and illustrator. When she’s not illustrating or writing, Heather searches out story ideas as an undercover school bus driver. heatherbellbooks.com
Sandra Ure Giffin is an author and illustrator. Her creative work depicts our relationships with each other and our planet. She lives in St. Louis, MO. instagram.com/sandraugriffin
Wendy Leach is a picture book author and illustrator. She lives and works in Overland Park, KS. artofwendyleach.com
John Hare is a picture book author and illustrator. His latest book FIELD TRIP TO THE OCEAN DEEP comes out Sept. 8, 2020. He lives in Gladstone, MO with his wife and two boys. john-hare.squarespace.com
Daniel Miyares is a picture book author and illustrator. Some of his books include FLOAT, NIGHT OUT, THAT IS MY DREAM and BRING ME A ROCK! He currently lives in Lenexa, KS with his wife, their two wonderful children, and a dog named Violet. danielmiyares.com
Violet Lemay has illustrated nearly 40 books for children, several of which she also wrote. Her husband’s job as a PGA teaching pro has taken her family all over the world. Her family lives in the St. Louis area, so Missouri is Violet’s home base. violetlemay.com
Morgan Hutcherson is an illustrator, graphic designer, and author. Morgan is currently enjoying first-time-homeownership in Maplewood, Missouri with her rescue Corgi Scout, and her long-time boyfriend, Rutger. morganhutcherson.com
Dayne Sislen has enjoyed a career as an art director and an instructor in Design Graphics and Illustration at Maryville University. After retirement, she reinvented herself as a children’s book illustrator. Dayne lives in St. Louis with her husband Don and their wee Scottish Terrier, Ghillis. daynesislen.com
Stephen T. Johnson is an author and illustrator of many children’s books, including ALPHABET CITY, a Caldecott Honor and a New York Times Best Illustrated book of the year. Look for his upcoming book MUSIC IS, which is slated to be published in the fall of 2020. stephentjohnson.com
Heather Hatch is a writer and illustrator. She teaches art classes and volunteers on the board of her local art museum. She lives with her family on an Ozark, Missouri farm with a Big Red Barn and a chicken-coop-turned art studio.
K.L.B. Barsotti (Kate) is a writer and artist specializing in illustration for children, special commissions, fiction (middle grade and below), and poetry. Kate lives in downtown Kansas City, Missouri with three cats, a bundle of rats, her husband and father. snawfus-tracks.com
Jeanne Conway has written and illustrated many children’s picture books. She has also been an art teacher in elementary and secondary schools. Jeanne lives in St. Louis, Missouri. jeanniespaintings.com
Polly Alice McCann is an author-illustrator, critical writing professor and managing editor of Flying Ketchup Press. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri. pollymccann.com
Joe Mohr is the author/Illustrator of ROBOT+BIKE=KITTEN: 34 OF JOEM’s POEMS. He is also a cartoonist, dad, hubby and bicycle lover. Joe lives in St. Louis, Missouri with his wife and three kids. joemohr.com
Daniel Wiseman is the Illustrator of over 16 children’s books. Daniel also hosts a podcast with his friend Rob Bennet called REMOTE with Rob & Dan about working remotely. He lives with his wife and two sons in Knoxville, Tennessee. danieldraws.com
Lisa Harkrader is the author of many children’s books, including the award-winning middle grade books AIRBALL: MY LIFE IN BRIEFS and THE ADVENTURES OF BEANBOY. She lives with her family in Kansas. ldharkrader.com
Lynn Alpert is a writer, illustrator and graphic designer. She can usually be found reading, writing or drawing in St. Louis, Missouri, where she lives with her husband. lynnalpert.com
Kathy L. Perry is an author, illustrator, speaker and publisher at Chicadee Words. A former elementary teacher, Kathy still wants to make a positive impact in today’s youth. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri. kathyjperry.com
Ed Koehler is an illustrator living in St. Louis and working nationwide, primarily for the Christian publishing market, creating art for children’s books, curriculum, activity books, and a variety of kid-friendly products. edkoehler.com
Kim Wilson is an illustrator, designer, artist and writer. She runs the Dittmer ArtBarn, which offers year-round art classes for children and adults. Kim lives just outside of St. Louis in Dittmer, Missouri. kimwilsonillustration.com
Karen B. Jones’ illustration work has been featured in magazines, books, and the educational market. She lives in living in Olathe, Kansas with her husband and two daughters. karenbjones.com
Brad Sneed has illustrated more than twenty picture books. He enjoys visiting schools to talk with students about illustrating picture books. Brad lives near Kansas City with his wife and daughter. bradsneed.com
Maja Anderson creates illustrations for greeting cards, apparel, gifts, home decor, memory keeping albums and books. She lives in the Kansas City area. majaandersen.com
Deborah Zemke has written and/or illustrated more than fifty books for younger readers. These include picture books, chapter books, drawing books, early readers, and humor books. She lives in Columbia, Missouri. deborahzemke.com