Friday, February 15, 2013

Interview with Illustrator, Emmeline Hall

On Tuesday I sat down with my friend,  Emmeline Hall, to interview her because her first book came out this month.

The book, Voices Across the Lakes by Anita Pinson is a collection of folk songs about the Great Lakes with stories to accompany them. Music for each song is in the book and readers can go to the website to listen to the songs as well.

Here is a link to Emmeline's Illustration page on Facebook as well as the book's page on Facebook.  Like her page then come back. Don't worry, we'll wait.
Emmeline's Illustration Page on Facebook

Voices Across the Lakes Facebook page

When did you know you wanted to be a children's book illustrator?
"I always liked to draw. I have a theater, costume design degree, even while working on this I kept thinking I'd like to be an illustrator."  "I had a lot of false starts but I kept at it"

You won the Minnesota SCBWI 2011-12 Illustrator Mentorship Award, how did that help your career?
"It was huge. This book wouldn't be here. David Geister mentioned me to the editor otherwise I never would have been introduced to her."
She does remind people that seeing a book published is not part of the award "Every experience with the mentorship is different. My goal was getting my name out there and getting my first book published. I was a success." Her other goals for the award include building and online presence and building her portfolio.

Do authors need to find their own illustrators?
"So many people tell me they are writing a children's book when they find out I'm an illustrator."
"The editor and/or art director make the match between author and illustrator. It's handed to you, like an assignment. If you're a writer don't worry about finding and illustrator. They(editors) have a vision for the book, trust that their vision is right."

What is your illustrating work day like?
Emmeline is a busy mom to four girls. She also works full time at a theater so no day is typical.

"I start with emailing, the business side of things. I have a calendar and a running to do list. I have a couple things going at once. I'm working on writing my own picture book. I'm working on a picture book dummy with my mom."
"I have a lot of lines in the water, you can't just focus on one thing, you have to have a lot of things going at once."
Art Cabinet-photo by Emmeline Hall

Art Cabinet- photo by Emmeline Hall

   Tools of the trade- photos by Emmeline Hall

With a full house her artwork day ends at 3 when the kids get home from school although sometimes she is able to go back to a project after the kids are in bed.

Since she has a full house she does most of her work at the kitchen table, keeping her supplies in an art cabinet. When she's drawing or sketching at the table she wears a Drawing Hat. When she's wearing the drawing hat the kids know she is working.
The Drawing Hat-photo by Emmeline Hall

"My youngest now wears a drawing hat when she's drawing."

"They are all into books and illustrating books, cartoons, or journals. It's really a family thing. They are all working on a book."

What is your favorite part of the process?
"I love researching. It's easy to do too much so you have to know when to stop."

While researching the song Follow the Drinking Gourd she learned about Quilt Code. Much like songs this was used by escaping slaves on the underground railroad.  "Each symbol means something like safe place, or water nearby."

Quilt code spot art
Spot art sketches- photo and art by Emmeline Hall

Advice to writers and illustrators who are just starting out.
"Meet as many people as you can who are doing the same thing and who have the same goal."
"Learn how the industry works so you don't waste time submitting the wrong thing to the wrong place."

"Spend as much time looking at children's books as you can!  Study how the artwork and text play off of each other in the layout.  When creating art for books you need to be mindful of details that you wouldn't need to in fine art, such as leaving blank space for text and avoiding the 'gutter' (the seam in the middle of the book where the pages are bound---details get lost here!)."

Are there revisions in illustrations?
"There are changes with the process. You go into it knowing you'll have to do several versions before the final. But sometimes it's hard not to get emotionally attached."

Below are samples of sketches side by side with their finished product. All art and photos from Emmeline Hall.

Art and photo by Emmeline Hall

Art and photo by Emmeline Hall

Art and photo by Emmeline Hall

art and photo by Emmeline Hall

Photo by Emmeline Hall
"I realized that my bible is still labeled with our working title, 'Voices of the Great Lakes.'. The published title is 'Voices Across the Lakes.'. A great example of just how much can change during the creation of a book!"

Favorite Illustrators: Trina Schart Hyman, Edward Gorey, Quentin Blake

Illustrating music: Classical Christmas music in the early stages, Rap near the end of the project

To learn more about Emmeline follow her illustrator page on Facebook

To lean more about the book Voices Across the Lake including information on buying the book visit the books website here.

1 comment:

KatOwens: Insect Collector said...

WOW Carrie-- what a fantastic and informative interview. You and Emmeline have answered lots of questions for me.
What a cool project-- I love the combination of social history, art and music.
I am totally stealing the art cap idea-- I need to implement this today!