I'm fascinated by the ways that some romantic and married couples in the children's book field manage to balance the whole work/life thing by working together. Couples like Leo and Diane Dillon met at Parsons Design School in the 1950s when it was a scary thing to be an inter-racial couple (sadly it still is in many places) and opened the doors for other African American artists to follow. They also created some exquisite major award-winning books like these.
There's this great quote in Locus magazine that I found here, http://www.librarypoint.org/thedillons
"'People often comment on the 'Dillon style.' I think that someplace, the two of us made a pact with each other. We both decided that we would give up the essence of ourselves, that part that made the art each of us did our own. And I think that in doing that we opened the door to everything.”*
In the same interview, they spoke of “the Third Artist,” a concept which gave them the freedom to work in tandem while ultimately making a work that was different than either of them would do separately. Radical changes might happen in a design, but it seemed to be the result of the Third Artist’s vision."
Another favorite couple is Lane Smith and Molly Leach. Lane is a super generous multi-award winning illustrator (including the Caldecott) and Molly an award-winning designer. Together they helped usher in a new aesthetic in American picture books while creating some of my all time favorite books. I'm so thrilled to say that Lane is a wonderful contributor to our upcoming Craft and Business of Illustrating Children's Picture Books course, where he spoke of things that would be specifically helpful for our students.
Sean Qualls is a major award-winning illustrator but recently he and his wife Selina Alko have been writing and illustrating together in delicious ways. Here's a glimpse at some of their work together. Rather than reinvent the wheel, they have a beautiful video on Sean's website where they talk about their collaborative process together. It's really fun to watch. www.seanqualls.com/
This next couple is the dynamic writing duo Miranda and Baptiste Paul. Miranda is a former student who is now wildly successful having worked her butt off writing brilliant stories. I've met her husband Baptiste several times, and like Miranda, Baptiste is one of the nicest people on the planet. I'm so delighted that they are now writing together as well as separately. I just put together this wee video review of Baptiste's book The Field where you can exult in Baptiste and illustrator Jacqueline Alcántara's delightful story of team work and community come rain or shine. And as soon as I get my hands on their new co-authored book Adventures to School I will make a video of it as well. Other former students/friends, Carrie Charley Brown and Kirsti Call have a super helpful blog where they wrote about using this book for a mentor text. It's a terrific article, which I encourage all kid's book creatives to read. And while you are there, think about applying those concepts to your own work. http://www.reforemo.com/2018/05/the-adventures-of-exploring-mentor-text.html
My final two couples are also former students. First up is married writing and illustrating duo Jorge and Megan Lacera who are now agented with their first two picture books coming out from Lee and Low. I had the great honor of working with them in the early stages of this book through our illustration course and can't wait to see it finished. I'm really hoping that they will also be joining us in the next course. :) Jorge met Megan at American Greetings in Cleveland, Ohio before having a child together and moving to the West Coast. While they work collaboratively on all aspects, Megan is primarily a writer, while Jorge is a fantastic illustrator. They describe their awesome kid Kai as, "Studio Lacera’s Chief of Research and Story Development in the delightful "About" section of their website. http://www.studiolacera.com/about.html
And I have a special treat for our last "couples in kid lit" section. This one's a video interview with former students Chantelle and Burgen Thorne who live out in the wilds of South Africa. I've had the honor of working with them at Spork on yet another former student, Sandra Foreman Sutter's, manuscript, The Real Story of The Farmer and the Dell, which is shaping up to be truly fabulous. We made this interview daylight here, night-time there and as it turns out, having built their amazing home themselves, they mostly use candle light at night so it's a bit atmospheric. They'll be sharing more about their process and techniques in the illustration course (we'll be making the video for that during daylight there). In addition, they are going to also be live mentors to students during one of the Friday Facebook group mentorship sessions. It's super exciting.
After we finished the interview, Chantelle brought up the fact that they sometimes do have differences of opinions about how to approach things but after going separate ways to figure it out, they invariably come back to really similar approaches like in these examples here. Weird huh! Can you guess where these characters might be from?
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We are so excited to be mixing things up at the Children's Book Academy, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with new books coming soon.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature the fabulous soon to be debut author/illustrator Sarah Momo Romero.
And 5th Mondays will feature awesomely irreverent and super funny Aussie author Brydie Wright.
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