Coffee & Conversation with Jaime Zollars!

T.G.I.F. once again, friends! Joining us in the cyber cafe is yet another illustrator extraordinaire, Jamie Zollars.

Jaime teaches illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She is the founder and contributor to the popular contemporary paper arts blog, Paper Forest and has been recognized by numerous publications and societies, including Taschen’s Illustration NowAmerican IllustrationCommunication Arts3×3SpectrumDesign Taxi, and BBC’s Culture Shock. She served as the 2010 Programming Chair for The Illustration Conference in Los Angeles.

Here is a lovely example of her work:

And now that Jaime is settled in with her favorite coffeehouse beverage–normally, she gets a small latte, but tis’ the season, so today it’s a seasonal pumpkin or gingerbread latte,

And her favorite snack, an eclair,

Let’s begin the interview!

Okay, Jamie, when did you decide to be an illustrator?

I decided to be an artist very young, probably when I was four.

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

It took me about 2 years out of school to get my first book contract. I sent out lots of postcards, went to lots of SCBWI conferences, and took trips form Los Angeles to New York a few times just to meet with art directors and editors.

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

I think for me I wish I would have been clearer about putting my own visual ideas out there from the start. It took me a long time to break the habit of trying to deliver the work I thought the Art Director wanted to see, instead of the work that came most naturally.

What’s your favorite medium?

I work almost exclusively in Acrylic paint, though recently I’ve been experimenting with spray paint!

Where’s your favorite place to work?

I have a studio on the third floor of my Baltimore row home. It is an insane mess at the moment, so there is conveniently no attached picture, but my new website (being built right now) will have a studio tour section, so you’ll be able to see my cleaned-up-for-the-photo-op space soon.

Which illustrators inspire you? 

You know, I am inspired by so many artists it is difficult to name names. I really have been quite inspired by the Flemish Painters of the 16th Century. In contemporary circles, I keep coming back to Chris Ware, even though his work is so different form mine.  Jillian Tamaki is making some insanely beautiful work these days as well.

What were your favorite books as a child?

I loved Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and the books of Shel Silverstein.

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

I would say my style is somewhat whimsical and surrealistic. I would say that it is generally quite narrative, often obsessive, and sometimes filmic.

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

I have a book coming out in Spring called The Shabbat Puppy, published by Marshall Cavendish and written by Leslie Kimmelman.  I was having a hard time in the sketch phase of this title, and went walking around my Baltimore neighborhood to think about what I should do. While exploring my neighborhood, I realized I could incorporate the city where I live into the title, and it all fell into place from there, becoming more interesting for me to dive in successfully.

What was one of your favorite assignments?

I worked with United Airlines on a few big projects, but really enjoyed conceptualizing and painting their holiday card a few years back.

Time for the lightning round!

Do you . . .

Work from photos or imagination?  Mostly imagination, photos here and there.

Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped?  Talk. I bounce ideas off my art friends often.

Prefer sketching or final art?  Sketching.

Dread marketing/blogging or love it? LOVE!

Enjoy brainstorming more or researching?  Both. This is my favorite part of each assignment.

Read Kindle or traditional books?  Traditional

And finally, what’s your favorite:

Time to work? Late night or early morning.

Music to listen to while drawing? I go with audio books or NPR. Keeps me sitting and working longer.

Traditional media or digital? Mostly traditional, sometimes digital.

Pair of shoes? Grey heels with bright yellow accents.

Guiltiest pleasure? Eating sweets about three times as often as normal people.

Line from a movie? Oh, wow, I wish I had something here, but I rarely get a chance to watch movies these days. I have a three-year-old, so I’m afraid the only lines coming to me are channeling some horrible Dora movies. Therefore I will spare you.

Thanks for stopping by and making us feel better about the mass quantities of sweets we ate while writing this blog. Good luck, Jamie, with your upcoming release, The Shabbat Puppy.

Happy illustrating and writing everyone!!

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.
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2 Responses to Coffee & Conversation with Jaime Zollars!

  1. Jaime, I am a big fan of your artwork. I love the way that your images invoke a sense of mystery… sometimes a touch of darkness can be so inviting!

    I wonder if having a young child has changed the way you work — I’m sure it’s impacted your schedule, but what I mean is how have your images have been affected?

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

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