Illustrators’ Network show and silent auction to benefit the Art Creation
Foundation for Children in Jacmel, Haiti which suffered, like many
organizations, as a result of the earthquakes there.
I met Debbie Topolski on the way to the airport (SCBWI* conference in LA), where we discovered a mutual love of Big Bang Theory and obscure SF trivia. I also found she’s one of those tremendously interesting people to chat with, as well as being a great supporter of SCBWI.
*I highly encourage you to join your local writing organization. SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Illinois region is filled with helpful and enthusiastic fellow-writers. My local conference was great last year, and I’m planning on going again in November. SCBWI also provides a network for authors once they publish to get their books in front of teachers and librarians, as well as many other resources.
This double-page spread is from Debbie’s dummy of Rafter. Her final art for Rafter will be at the PWD
Illustrators’ Display that will be held during the lunch break on November 13 (SCBWI-IL).
Today’s interview is a bonus post, continuing on from Art Appreciation Week, wherein Debbie shares a bit about herself and her work.
Me: Although I met you at the SCBWI LA
conference this summer, children’s illustrations are just one of the many
things you do! Can you tell me a bit about the other ways you use your artistic
field like architecture, I think one is always multi-tasking their craft. I’ve
used my skills in design concept, industrial design and architectural
illustration; for corporate identity imaging such as artwork for logos,
convention booths, and packaging; and in promotional pieces for communities and
clubs. I still do this type of work to keep me “in lattes”, so to speak! I’ve
always had a sense of whimsy in my illustrations and felt that they might be
well-suited to children’s book illustration. This is a discipline in itself and
I’ve so enjoyed studying this art form as well.
Illinois’ local chapter newsletter, summarizing last year’s regional
conference. It was an amazing conference and I can’t believe I had to travel to
California to meet a fellow Illinoisan! At that conference, you were working on
your picture book Baker’s
Dozen. What’s the status of that manuscript? Did you do both the writing
working on Baker’s Dozen in Esther Hirshenhorn’s Newberry
writing class, she again encouraged me to “write the book you need need to
write – NOW!” Rafter is that book but was too personal a
story to express at the time. It took me a year of studying picture book making
and attending conferences and classes to find the courage and confidence to
express myself whole-heartedly. I just completed the dummy in July and
brought it to Los Angeles with me. I got the story down on paper and put
it out there – literally – in the Portfolio Showcase. It still needs work and I
have to complete a few pieces of final art, but I feel a terrific sense of
accomplishment having done this much so far. I am going to submit one of
these soon-to-be finished pieces to the 2010 Prairie Writers’ Day Illustration
Display. I hope you’ll all look for it at lunch on November 13th!
As for Baker’s Dozen, I am
going to exhume it’s story-line and characters. They took a trip to Italy last
fall as (5) original finished
pieces for the Illustrators’ Exhibition at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair,
held in March 2010. Now that they’re back and well-rested, the images are
informing the manuscript as much as the manuscript informs the images. I
will resume work on it with all the encouragement, critiques and classroom advice I received before
setting it aside. I am still in love with my characters, but I’m not totally
convinced that it is still a picture book. I’m going to pursue it and let it
evolve to dictate its own format by and by. Good storytelling is the key,
whether it is expressed in chapters, a 32-page format, on an i-Pad or up on the
Silver Screen. As long as I am true to the story, I think this Yuletide tale
will entertain audiences as much as it does me!
you in to all the work you do with the organization?
Two years of selfish behavior After attending my first SCBWI network
meeting in Oak Park two years
ago, I remember telling my husband that I had found ”my tribe”. I felt at home for
the first time in a long time. I was –and continue to be-so consistently
invigorated by this dynamic, talented and generous group, that I soon realized that I selfishly
wanted to spend as much time as possible in its glow! I accosted Esther
at an event the following winter and told her that I was upset that I had not
yet been asked to help out. Happily, that was all it took to get on a
task for the 2009 ALA Conference! It was especially meaningful then, later that
month when I attended the 2009
Summer Conference, that Lin Oliver should refer to the SCBWI as “the tribe.” Now I just
need to keep working at my craft so I don’t get “voted off the island”!
Thanks for stopping by Ink Spells and sharing your work with us! You can check out more of Debbie’s work here, and be sure to look for her work at SCBWI-IL’ s upcoming Prairie Writer’s Conference in November (if you’re a local)!
This image from Debbie’s picture book manuscript, Baker’s Dozen.