Inspiration of the Visual Kind

Hello, my creative tribe!

It is November, the month of new ideas for children’s books, and in keeping with that theme I’d like to explore some ways illustrators might come up with new ideas, rev their creative engines and be inspired.

To start with, there are books. I admit to being a collector of books for children; my family might use words like hoarder or packrat, but darn it, I just dearly love them, especially the ones with beautiful illustrations. So my shelves are bulging for good reason! It can be hugely instructive and motivating to study a gorgeous picture book and analyze what makes it work so well. A trip to the children’s section of my local library or my favorite bookstore is something I treat myself to on a regular basis.

When I find an illustrator whose work I admire, I save a labeled sample or two — formerly as a print in my file cabinet, but now as a jpeg in a digital folder. Sometimes another artist’s style can be used as inspiration for a new way of working your own images.

Here are a couple of my favorite children’s book illustrators:

Cathy Gendron     izzys-breakfast-for-kathy

Cathy Gendron is an illustrator who lives and works in Ann Arbor, MI. She was featured on Kathy Temean’s blog Writing and Illustrating last spring.


JaimeZollars   JaimeZollars2

Jaime Zollars, formerly an educator at MICA in Baltimore, now lives and works in Charleston, SC. She gave a great presentation and workshop at our SCBWI region’s summer conference in Buckeystown in July 2012, where I got to know her a bit.







And then there are books which give you a window into the head of an artist, such as Shaun Tan’s The Bird King an artist’s notebook. Each page is a revelation into the way this artist uses his imagination. I cannot think of enough good things to say about this delightful book; it makes me want to draw! Shaun Tan is a highly successful illustrator/author, concept artist and director who lives and works in Melbourne, Australia. He is fun and creative and off-the-wall, not to mention humble… if you ever get the opportunity to hear him speak, I highly recommend it.



Well, that’s it for starters. I have a few more ideas to share with you later this week, and I’d love for you to share in the comments how YOU get you illustration inspiration!

About susandilldetwiler

Freelance illustrator living in Baltimore
This entry was posted in Illustrating & Cover Art Tips and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Inspiration of the Visual Kind

  1. mikecrowl says:

    Very nice post. I’m a writer, and I can draw a bit… But, you make me want to illustrate. With just a few more hours in the day, I’d give it a try, too.

  2. Thanks, Mike. I do hope you give it a try!

  3. Pingback: An As The Eraser Burns Goodbye to Susan Detwiler | As the Eraser Burns

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