I have invited for Laura to share her insight about the world of illustrating children’s books. She is an amazing artist whose talent and love for fun and whimsical colors and movement throughout her work brings much delight for all those who pick her books up.
Images courtesy of Laura Huliska-Beith
1. Can you give us some background info about yourself?
Born and raised in Nebraska, the oldest of five children. My siblings were BIG inspiration for my first picture book “The Book of Bad Ideas” (but I take full credit for Bad Idea # 143). I am a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, worked at a greeting card company for a while, and then set out on my own to explore the wild world of children’s books and visual story-telling. I also got married along the way to a wonderful guy who is also an artist (animator) and we now have 3 dogs.
2. What inspires you?
Kindness, humor, nature, young people, old people, middle aged people, animals, travel, movies, books, and music.
3. What do you do if you’re uninspired or have a lack of ideas?
I will look through my books, sketch at a coffee shop, or lately, I will paint without anything in mind; free-forming ,watching the paints mix with each other. It’s kind of meditative and will quite often lead to some discovery. OR I will do something completely different and not art related. Usually that means eat.
4. What’s your advice to others who would like to be an illustrator?
DRAW! And then draw some more. And observe, and then draw what you observe. And be prepared to do some crappy drawings! You have to do those to get to the good ones.
Also, be on the look-out for artist’s work you admire and ask yourself what it is about that work that inspires you, how they did what they did, and what their point of view is.
Keep yourself open to experimentation, but also, think about forming your own voice and visual language.
5. Name something not a lot of people know about you.
I used to be terrified of dogs.
6. What are your plans in the future for your work?
More writing, more life drawing, and more dimensional work. I have also enjoyed facilitating art workshops and talking with students at school visits so I would love to continue more of that.
7. How long does it usually take you to finish a project?
Roughly, 2 or 3 months for sketches, and then 3 or 4 months for the finishes. (This is for illustrating a 32 page picture book)
8. What do you do to celebrate when you have finished a piece of work?
Ideally, road trip! If that’s not possible, a glass of wine will do.
9. What is the hardest thing about your job?
Since books are such long-term projects, keeping up the momentum is probably the most difficult… but I do enjoy the process and try to give each project its own unique look … with color, technique, the characters, and/or something within the layout.
10. What was the worst memory/experience you had when working?
Hmmmmmm….. well one summer our house became home to about 20 bats. They roosted in our chimney and then came in through the fireplace as well as the hot water heater in our basement. Every once in a while we’d wake up to a bat flying over our bed at night. I didn’t get much sleep that summer. And since my studio is in our attic, that gave a whole new meaning to “bats in the belfry.” We couldn’t remove the bats because they are protected by law in the state of Missouri, so we needed to wait until September to put a bat cap on our chimney. Since then, we have not had any bats, although one time, a bird made its way into my studio, and wouldn’t you know, it left a little poop on a sketch I was working on.