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Claire studied graphic design and minored in printmaking at Drake University, where she says she “developed an understanding of the interplay between text and imagery.” But by the age of six, she already knew she wanted to be an illustrator.
“Everyday experiences, such as childhood dance classes, working in the garden with my mother, and cooking dinner with my sister, have provided inspiration for the words and pictures that fill my sketchbooks.” — Claire Sedovic on what inspires her
After graduating, Claire started to work more consistently with watercolor, and ultimately left her corporate graphic design job to pursue her dream of becoming a published illustrator.
Odd Animal ABC’s!
One thing that Claire hopes readers get out of Odd Animal ABC’s is understanding how diverse the animal kingdom is. “Of course I hope they laugh along with all the wonderful, and often weird critters as they travel from A to Z,” she says, “but on a deeper level, I also hope that it sparks new curiosity about the natural world and a desire preserve and protect it for future generations.”
The Artist’s Process!
In her own words, this is Claire’s artistic process:
I work primarily with traditional media: paper, pencil, watercolor, and brush. I begin by lightly sketching my illustrations (and always keep an eraser close by!)
When I am satisfied with the pencil drawing, I fill it in with watercolor. I especially love to add a little more life to my creations with a light touch of the magenta on cheeks, noses, and chins. After the watercolor is dry, I retrace the pencil with a softer lead for added detail and contrast.
Once I’m happy with the finished illustration, I scan it so I have a high-resolution digital file that matches the color of the original work as closely as possible. From here, I take that file into Photoshop, drop out the white paper background, and clean up the edges. Finally, I take the edited illustration and add it as a layer to the storybook spread.
Her Favorite Odd Animal!
With so many fun animals to choose from, we were curious which was Claire’s favorite. “I fell in love with the Tree Kangaroo!” she says. “They look more like cuddly teddy bears than they do kangaroos, and I enjoyed mixing the paint for their reddish fur and pale pink noses.
“The animal that gave me the most difficulty was the leaf-tailed gecko,” she adds. “These amazing amphibians look more like a piece of dried foliage than they do a living animal!”
Advice For Young Artists!
Claire has simple but important advice for children who show an interest in art: Make art, and lots of it! “The old adage of practice makes perfect really is true,” she says. “The more you practice your craft, the more you will improve your skills and build confidence in your own abilities.
“And most importantly, draw what you know, what you love, and what you’re curious about,” she adds. “If you’re not first and foremost making art for yourself, then what’s the point of making it at all? We make time for the things we love, so if you want to keep yourself coming back to the drawing board, make art you are passionate about. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Every doodle, every scratch and scrawl of your pencil is mark closer to becoming the illustrator you wish to be.”
Do you have any young artists in your family? Share their work in the comments below, and make sure to follow us on instagram @bluemanateepress for your daily dose of books, art and inspiration!
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Have you ever tried something and the first time around it didn’t go how you wanted? It can be disheartening for something to not work out how you envisioned it!
Well we’re here to tell you that it’s okay to make mistakes, and the important thing to do is to try again! But don’t just take our word for it—Cincinnati-based illustrator Erin Barker says that trial and error is all part of the process.
Who is Erin Barker?
Erin graduated from Asbury University with a fine arts and painting degree in 2011. After graduation, she went on to work in graphic design before dabbling in the world of illustration.
“I didn’t take it seriously as an option until I took a desk job that was a bad fit for me. I was really creatively starved during that time in my life, so I took on a lot of illustration projects on the side and worked on those in the evenings,” she says.
Try and Try Again!
Erin’s experience illustrating What Is Soft? put to practice the age-old advice we’ve all heard: If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again!
“A book is a totally different medium than anything else I’ve done,” she says. “It was a challenge for me at the beginning. I had some confidence issues. A couple of the first pieces I worked on, for whatever reason, they weren’t turning out the way I wanted them to. I think I set myself very high expectations that I have to get something right the first time. So it was slightly discouraging that I had to do something over again.”
That process of trying and trying again became an important life lesson for her. “You cannot always get things right the first time, and that’s okay,” she says. “In fact, the more you do it, the second or third one is always going to be better than the first one because you’re solving problems along the way. There are instances in the first one where something is captured that you cannot duplicate. But sometimes you don’t know the first trial is the best one until you do a second or third.”
We’re so excited about Erin’s future book projects with blue manatee press! “I definitely want to keep making books,” she says.
“I love storytelling! I’m working on two book projects, one I’m illustrating, and one I’m writing and illustrating. I’m really excited, but also a little nervous. They’re both really fun projects!”