Did you have a favourite classic as a child? My picture favourite book as a child was ‘Whistle for Willie’ by Ezra Jack Keats. My favourite classic was, and still is, ‘Alice in Wonderland’.
Were you good at art as a child? My mom thought so! But she had to, it’s her job. I certainly loved art, it was definitely my area of interest and my mom and I always did a lot of creative projects together.
Who inspired you to start illustrating? I think I always had it in my head that I wanted to illustrate professionally, and I worked as a graphic designer for years before I attempted it. Then, I had a character I kept thinking about and decided to try to make a story about her. I got a book agent who tried to sell it and all the editors who turned it down said they liked the art but not the story. That really refined my focus to just work on my art for a while. And I believe that is eventually what led me to this series.
Looking back, which experiences, jobs and personality traits do you think have really helped you? I had a really encouraging art teacher in high school, and that is always very beneficial and encouraging. I think one of the most important things is simply recognizing what makes you happy while you are doing it and pursuing that thing despite what conventional wisdom tells you (like, ‘you can’t make a living doing that’, etc.)
Which are your favourite images in your books? Right now I am really happy with the illustrations in ‘Don Quixote’.
What are your favourite tools and products to use? Wacom tablet (!!!), my iMac, Sakura pens and the Pentel brush pen (love that pen), I also have a LightPad lightbox that I really adore.
What was one of the best things that happened because of this book? The best thing that happened was a gallery show of the artwork from ‘Jabberwocky’. And I got to make some Jabberwocky wallpaper for the installation, that was fun!
Do you have a favourite location, museum or place? So many. I love New York City and all the great art that happens here in the museums and out on the street. But I also love being far away looking at nature. There is just so much to be inspired by. Last year I got to go to Peru and I think Machu Picchu and the majestic Andes will inspire me for a long time to come.
Do you collect anything? I have collected so many things—from vintage swizzle sticks to Russell Wright dishes. But I had to stop—I live in a tiny apartment!
What is something that most people might be surprised to know about you? When left to my own devices, I read non-fiction.
What are you working on next? Right now I’m working on ‘Emma’ and ‘Treasure Island’.
Read my review of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Sense & Sensibility’ here.