Today we’re talking with the lovely and animated Debbie Ohi, who is a renaissance woman with all the pots she dips her inky fingers into.
I was lucky enough to met you at the
SCBWI Friday evening meet and greet, with the Illinois members having the good
fortune to be thrown in with the international set (you are from Canada, eh?).
The next day, you received two awards for your work (placing in the top three
works from the Illustrator’s Portfolio Showcase for an Honor award, and a
Mentorship award)! Congratulations! I just love the look on that little robot’s face, and can see why the judges fell for him as well. Were you surprised to receive the awards?
What is involved in the Mentorship award?
“yes” would be a vast understatement.
workshops and events for writers, not illustrators. This past event was the
first time I had attended any tracks for illustrators, and the first time I had
entered the Illustrator Portfolio Showcase.
Beckett Gladney, nagged me into signing up. When I almost pulled out because of
lack of time, she went into my Flickr account (I don’t have a proper online
portfolio), picked out the pieces she thought were my strongest, and printed
them out for me.
night before the showcase, and she helped me put together the portfolio. Beckett
also handmade a gorgeous cover for my portfolio!
group to introduce ourselves and our backgrounds (I was the only one without
any art training), and to find out more about each other.
15-minute sessions to discuss our portfolios as well as ask questions.
shared what we had learned from our sessions as well as having a final
opportunity ask the Mentors questions.
am grateful to the SCBWI for providing the opportunity; the Mentorship Award
Program was just launched last year.
together on our own to chat. It was fun hanging out with them for fun, and
we’re going to keep in touch. In fact, we’re launching our own blog! I’m
setting it up now. We hope that it will be a useful resource for other
illustrators who are interested in the children’s publishing field.
In addition to your fabulous illustrations and obvious talent as an artist, you’re a very active middle grade writer as well. You’re represented by Ginger Knowlton of
Curtis-Brown, you’re a member of MiG writers, AND part of torkidlit (Toronto MG/YA Author Group). Is there anything you don’t do? Seriously, what MG
projects do you have in the works?
“FREAK CLUB,” which is illustrated by Beckett Gladney (yes, the same
Beckett who convinced me to enter the Portfolio Showcase). I’m doing final
edits on the script before we send out the proposal package, which includes
title: “TOMGIRL”). I originally submitted this to the SCBWI
manuscript critique at the conference, but it was rejected because of the
cartoons. This turned out to be a good thing, however, because I wouldn’t
have been able to enter the portfolio showcase if I was already registered for
the manuscript critique; you only attend one or the other.
proposal is out circulating now, so please cross your fingers for me!
considered writing or illustrating one until recently. I’ve been diving into
research, reading as many as I can find, and also learned a ton in Diane
Muldrow’s Picture Book workshop at the conference.
The Inkygirl comics are hilarious! Good luck with the subbing for those! Being both an illustrator and a
novelist, how do you feel one influences the other?
the scene or character I’m writing about. This has its advantages and
disadvantages. One advantage is that I already have an image in my head when it
comes to writing a description. The disadvantage is that the visual image is
sometimes so closely integrated with the scene or character in my head that I
don’t write it down.
pops into my head. Many of the Mentors commented on this in my one-on-one
sessions, that the images they liked the most in my portfolio were the ones
that had a story behind them.
Having that keen sense of story definitely comes through in your illustrations (and of course comics!). Thanks so much for sharing your work with us!
Our last day of Art Appreciation Week is tomorrow! Remember to leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a copy of Amazing Faces. Winner will be announced in the morning, along with a fantastic post from artist, writer, and critique partner Laura Leifield.