Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wise words from Amy June Bates, Illustrator.

Hi everyone -
I'm delayed at posting the wonderful tips that I was fortunate to have heard at the SCBWI Northern California's 3rd Annual Illustrator Day up in San Francisco. I wanted to be sure to ask Amy (Amy June Bates) if it would be fine to post about what I heard her say, and she said, "Of course you can blog about it!" here they are:

1) Draw, draw, draw.....and then...
2) Draw some more. It's the surefire way to work on your weaknesses and to hone your strengths.
3) Illustrate the story...not just an image. Give your character surroundings. This is a huge "must-do" if you would like to get into the picture-book industry. Many illustrators provide a beautiful illustration, exquisitely rendered, yet do not give the piece depth, emotion, surroundings, context...
4) illustrate more than one character in a piece..(so as to help context, provide a story to the reader)
5) this one's quick (5 seconds a piece) gestural drawings of figures, poses...etc. Check this illustration out swan. Pretty amazing...Amy said that she had to stand up and do this pose to "feel" how to illustrate it.
6) If you don't know what it feels like physically, it's difficult to try to draw get up out of your chair and do the pose..feel the position your body goes into and then sketch. She mentions how she had to "roar" like a lion to help her illustrate illustrations in this book: Christian the Hugging Lion whom she worked with Laurent Linn on. Laurent was the art director for this book as well as this book, which was fascinating to hear Amy speak about: Hillary Rodham Clinton dreams taking flight . She tells about how she had to envision what Hillary looked like as a child, as a teenager, etc..because there were not many photos of her youth. This book was made swiftly during the elections, and it turns out that Hillary loved it so much that she used it to give out to people during the election. (I hope I got that story right!)

7) keep drawing....she says that the endpoint for each illustration is not the illustration itself, it's .....the BOOK. : )

Next up..I have to check in with Mr. Laurent Linn to see if I can also share his insight from his Art Director's position for Simon and Schuster....stay tuned.


  1. Hi Shirley! How have you been? Your artwork is looking GREAT!! Thanks for posting this.. It really helps me out as im sure it will help others as well!#3 is what I seriously need to work on. I have always had a really hard time making the surroundings. I have made myself a nweekly challenge at my blog so maybe one of my next challenges will be "surroundings".

  2. This is such an amazing piece of advice. Fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing. I'm planning on joining this wonderful organization as soon as my funds allow.

    You have a great day, my dear.

  3. Thanks for sharing this information and very useful tips!

  4. Wow great advice, Thanks for sharing it with us and for the lovely comments on my blog.

  5. Such great and important information to have. I am never to old to learn. I take this to heart and will remember it was well. We need to talk I know. I've been finishing up some jobs on my desk. I will call you I promise. If not the weekend, next week. What's a good time?

  6. this is so incredibly kind an generous of you to share such great interesting information with us, sounds like a fun conference and I looks forward to part II
    Thanks Shirley

  7. Hello Shirley,
    Look like you are so busy lately.
    Same here.
    Thanks for sharing and I wish you the best of luck:)

  8. Will come back to read more, sorry i am rushing to teach now...

  9. Thank you for sharing what you learned, Shirley!!


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