Today my guest is Hazel Mitchell who has illustrated Hidden New Jersey, a book designed to appeal to both children and adults and written by Linda Barth. Hazel's publisher is offering a free print copy of this delightful book to one person who leaves a comment. Be sure to leave contact information, so we can arrange for a way to send this book if you're the lucky winner.
How much time does it take you to illustrate your books and what's your process?
Time depends on the amount of detail required in the illustrations. With Hidden New Jersey, I had to do a lot of research first on the places I would be illustrating, so that took more time. From start to finish this book took about 5 months. After I have done the research, I begin sketching and working on the layout. As this is non fiction, and there is no continuing narrative, each page was a kind of 'puzzle' that I montaged together. The M/S consisted of many different facts about each area of New Jersey that had to be illustrated -- it was quite a challenge! After the rough sketches (which were then approved by the developer), I did a finished drawing in pencil using my lightbox. Usually I work 50% larger than the finished page. Then I scan at high res. In this case I was using photoshop to colour the images digitally. Then it was back to the publisher for final approval. The images are sent as digital files for the designer to lay right up on the page. The main concern with digital images is that the colours and density will translate to the finished printing, as the only reference is really on screen, and that changes from computer to computer.
What comes first for you--the story or the illustrations?
The books I have in print are all illustrated by me and written by an author, so I usually just get to work on a manuscript sent to me. I AM working on my own stories, and it's hard to say which comes first. Sometimes it's a character that springs a story - sometimes a title or an idea. I will usually start with rough thumbnail layout of a PB with very sparse words, and then it kind of develops alongside each other. But it is always pictures that I see in my head.
Do you illustrate stories for other authors as well as your own books, and if so, how do you connect with these authors?
All my work comes through publishers, and so I have little contact with the author. It is nice to talk to the author afterwards and get together to do some publicity. When I first began illustrating I thought this was odd and must be hard for the author, but now I understand the process and the need for the illustrator to do their job and have their own vision. I have worked with independent authors in the past, and it does cramp your creative vision when you are aware of what they want to see. So I much prefer to work in the traditional way with publishers -- or even better, on my own stories!
I also have a book trailer:
'Paddle your way through the various regions of the great State of New Jersey. This whimsical and magical book is your pass to learning and fun as you explore all that makes New Jersey unique and uncover hidden items on each and every page. Children, parents, teachers, librarians and anyone who loves New Jersey will become enthralled with all the historical, cultural, and just plain fun things to see and do in the 3rd state of the union. Each spread features a rhyme that helps bring the illustrations to life. Hidden New Jersey is a great stage to encourage children to learn more about this state.'
The buy link is: