Interview With Kristen Nobles
Describe a project you have worked on recently, taking us through the key stages.
After reading a manuscript, do you instantly have a sense of the illustration style which would bring it to life?
I do, though it’s not necessarily a style but rather a quality. Generally I write down three or so adjectives when reading a manuscript and I’m looking for those same qualities in the artist’s work.
Who has been your greatest mentor in the world of children's publishing to date and what pearls of wisdom have they imparted?
Kristine Brogno... taught me the importance of page turns, the consideration of composition as well as perspective, and the craft of a writing a persuasive art directional letter. She also taught me a lot about having a vision and being able to back up that vision with reason.
At Candlewick, Creative Director Chris Paul... has instilled in me her nuanced affection for typography and the ability to work on a project with gravitas.
What general advice would you give an illustrator looking to improve their children's portfolio - what should they include/not include?
First and foremost unique characters with a variety of emotions – children, adults, animals. Some example of environment, either indoor or outdoor. Unusual perspectives. A range of color samples and palettes and black and white work. Give yourself an assignment each day and share it with others. These days blogs (such as those featured on Childrensillustrators.com) are a wonderful way for art directors to get a sense of an illustrators range, working style, and personality. Most importantly, imbue your work with what drives you – illuminate your passions. Don’t draw a preconceived notion of what you think children’s book art looks like.
Love this last reply! Of course, most art directors and professionals will tell you some of the same things: draw a variety of characters. Show multiple environments and perspectives. Use color well. Draw good. Etc. But I really like the comment of making work that inspires you, of doing things in just your own way. Sure, not everyone will love your work if you have a very different style than what they expect, but it's pretty likely that no one will love your work if you don't. Deep thoughts.