Coffee & Conversation with Lulu Delacre

Tuesday greetings everyone! This is your new co-bloggers, Larissa Graham and Susan Mannix, coming to you with our first assignment. Yes, it takes two people to post the work of one fabulous Laura Bowers! Before you break out in a cold sweat, Laura is just taking some time off and will return in the new year to give you a trio of bloggers.

Let’s cast the spotlight on Lulu Delacre, an illustrator and bilingual author of children’s books.

Here’s two examples of Lulu’s gorgeous illustrations that are very different from one another. Magic Fingers is a story from RAFI AND ROSI, a formerly Harper Collins I Can Read book, now available through UTales. The artwork is done in watercolors and color pencils over Arches Hot Press paper.

She’s also created the illustrations from JAY AND BEN in comic strip style to reach children with autism or developmental and language delays with sequenced panels of pictures .

And now that Lulu is ready to go with her favorite coffeehouse beverage, green tea with floral undertones brewed at home (shhh . . . we had to sneak it in the cyber cafe, don’t tell,)

. . . and her favorite snack, spicy roasted pumpkin seeds . . .

Let’s get the interview started! First off, Lulu, when did you decide to be an illustrator?

When I was in my last year of a masters in graphic arts.

How long did your path to your first sale take, and what were your biggest hurdles?

One week. Back in 1981 I made 22 appointments at different children’s publishing  houses in NY City. I traveled to NY by bus and stayed at the YMCA. Since I had graduated from ESAG, in Paris, France, I had no connections. In the city I met with all  the editors, assistant editors, and art directors that would see me. By Friday I had my first assignment–illustrations for Sesame Street Magazine. The rest is history.

Since hindsight is 20/20, what advice for beginners do you wish you would’ve followed?

Hmm…the advice I give is the one I’ve always followed: believe in yourself, be persistent, do your best, be flexible, and you’ll get there!

What’s your favorite medium?

I relish in challenging myself. Therefore, I’ve used color pencil, watercolors, linoleum prints, collage, mixed media, acrylic and pen, pen, pencil, soft pastels (sennelier are the best!).

Where’s your favorite place to work?

I love my sunlit studio. Living in the suburbs of Silver Spring, Maryland, I have a large room with lots of windows and no window treatments. All neighbors know that I prefer light to privacy!

How do you describe your style and has it changed throughout your career?

I illustrate according to what the manuscript calls for. Therefore, I don’t have a style I am known for. Rather, my style and technique changes according to what I feel better suits the story.

How were you inspired to illustrate your current or upcoming release?

Jay and Ben, Lee & Low Books, is a perfect example of going entirely out of my comfort zone in order to reach the audience the book was created for – autistic children. At the start of the project, I learned from a survey of special educators, speech therapists, child psychologists, and behavior analysts what the characters should look like and what the pictures needed to accomplish. I had to paint pictures that would be very clear in telling much more than what was conveyed by the simple short sentences in the manuscript. Among other things, these pictures would help educators and parents teach daily life skills to these exceptional children. One specific request from these experts seemed particularly daunting: they all wanted the main character to be a child of nondescript age and race. How to achieve such a feat?

The answer came to me at Belgium’s Centre of Comic Strip Art, in Brussels. I had never been attracted to comic strips; my relationship to the art was limited to the Little Lulu comics I read as a child. However, as I walked through the exhibits at the Centre, the solution to my dilemma became clear. If I could create a highly stylized character like the ones I was seeing, the cartoon form would allow me to make him a bit ageless and less specific in terms of race. The comic strip style also allowed for sequencing of events, a feature needed in order to deconstruct a task or action into its many steps and make each sentence in the book crystal clear to the child.

Time for the lightning round!

Do you . . .

Work from photos or imagination?  Both

Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped?  I talk about work in progress, since it sometimes leads to knowledge that improves the illustrations.

Prefer sketching or final art?  I love all steps!

Dread marketing/blogging or love it?  I like marketing, although it is sometimes too-time consuming!

Read Kindle or traditional books?  I read on my ipad and traditional books.

And finally, what’s your favorite:

Guiltiest pleasure? Dark Belgian Chocolate

….sorry, Lulu, we were fighting over the dark chocolate. Thanks for sharing your insights and beautiful work with us!

About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger/vlogger at Write, Run, Rejoice and Joyful Miles, mom of two awesome boys, wife of one fantastic husband, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She loves run-on sentences and adverbs. She also still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that.
This entry was posted in Interviews: Authors, Interviews: Illustrators. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Coffee & Conversation with Lulu Delacre

  1. ediehemingway says:

    Great interview! Thank you to Lulu and to Susan and Larissa, who make a great team. And everyone else, be sure to keep an eye out for many more interviews with our regional illustrators this month.

  2. Hi Lulu! I love your work and hearing about your inspiration for Jay and Ben (I enjoyed Little Lulu comics as a kid, too). I admire your variety of style and use of different media. Thanks for a fun interview.

  3. Larissa and Susan, it was so great to see you blogging together. What fun! Lulu, it was also great to learn more about your work. I love your “child of nondescript age and race.” I’m sure a lot of kids will be able to identify with him 🙂

  4. Hi, again. Just wanted to let you know that after reading this post, I told a new friend of mine about Jay and Ben, and she ordered a copy of the book. (She’s a speech-language pathologist and yoga teacher for kids with developmental disabilities.) Yeah for this blog and for helping get the word out!

  5. Pingback: December Illustrator Spotlight Recap « As the Eraser Burns

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