Happy first day of winter, everyone! Today, we have the very talented Erin Rae Watson in the cyber cafe with us. While I warm up my chai tea, I’ll let Erin introduce herself:
Just this year I graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland with a BFA in Illustration. I very much want to break into the field of children’s illustration: Children’s illustration has been an increasingly important subject for me in the past few years, and I spent the better part of my time in college writing and painting with children (of all ages) in mind.
The images I’ve attached are a sampling of my thesis work. The book jackets for Dahl’s books are my own handiwork: the layout, the handlettering, and of course the images.
“The Bone Needle” is from an original story I wrote specifically for my thesis project about a young troll woman who gets mixed up with the temperamental Norse god Loki and the mysterious witch Ivona, who seemingly controls the destinies of men and gods alike. The characters pictured are Gerda the troll and Ivona the witch.
I tend more towards traditional painting (in watercolors and gouache), but I have been pushing myself through a crash course in digital media in the months after I graduated.
A simple mocha is just perfect.
And your favorite snack?
More often than not, something chocolate (the darker the better!)
When did you decide to be an illustrator?
I remember wanting to be an artist before I even started grade school, and I first drew my stories before I learned to write them down.
What’s your favorite medium?
I enjoy working in a number of media, including Photoshop, oils, acrylics, and even clay, but I have always preferred watercolors.
Where’s your favorite place to work?
That changes depending on the season and time of day – in the winter the last place I want to be is my basement office because it gets so cold, but I enjoy working upstairs in a corner of the living room, with my family nearby. Even better, right now it’s full of Christmas cheer!
Which illustrators inspire you?
Charles Santore, Leo and Diane Dillon, Lauren Child, Peter De Sève, Jon Foster, John Jude Palencar — really, the list goes on.
What were your favorite books as a child?
The one book I really remember loving was Debi Gliori’s, The Princess and the Pirate King. Princess Podkin desperately wanted some excitement in her life, and one day she gets her wish when a pirate shows up at the castle. The two wreak havoc together, but things quickly turn sour when he imprisons the king and queen and it is up to Podkin to save them.
How do you describe your style and has it changed throughout your career?
Whimsical, I think – and very much inspired by animation in how my figures move across the page. I grew up watching Disney cartoons, and I sometimes wonder how much that shows, haha. I don’t think that my style has changed that dramatically in a long time, just in slight increments as I have discovered how I draw certain things.
Time for the lightning round!
Do you . . .
Work from photos or imagination?
I work largely from imagination, but I often use photos for general inspiration.
Prefer sketching or final art?
There are aspects of both that are enjoyable, but they both have their own challenges as well! Often the challenge for me is keeping some of the easy grace of the sketch in the final piece.
Dread marketing/blogging or love it?
Oh, I absolutely dread it but there is little that is more important at this point in my career.
Enjoy brainstorming more or researching?
Again, I enjoy both for different reasons, but I really love researching because I learn something new each time.
Read Kindle or traditional books?
I will always love traditional books – the smell and feel of ink on paper, the weight of the book in your hands, the act of turning the pages… small things, but some of the most important for me.
And finally, what’s your favorite:
Time to work?
Early afternoon always has the nicest light.
Music to listen to while drawing?
I have an impossibly long list of impossibly long playlists on iTunes, all with different themes. I’ll usually choose one depending on what I’m working on.
Traditional media or digital?
Nothing wrong with digital, but I find traditional media a little more fulfilling somehow.
Pair of shoes?
Currently a pair of blue-grey ballet flats. Fun fact: I take my right shoe off when I drive for some reason.
Writing and occasionally reading fan fiction.
Line from a movie?
I have a favorite line from nearly every movie, but if I really had to pick I’d have to say the entire movie Clueless. I think that says a lot about me, haha.
Thanks for joining us, Erin. We wish you the best of luck with your illustration. Happy illustrating and writing, everyone.