One of my eagle-eyed friends spotted A HOP IS UP peeking out of the bookshelves in this amazing nursery makeover on 100 Layer Cake-let blog! Photos are by Heather Moore and the styling is by Shannon Althin.
Thank you to students and teachers at Hamilton Park Montessori School in Jersey City! I had the pleasure of spending the morning with all of their kindergarteners. We read A HOP IS UP and played my favorite drawing game -- I start with a prompt, and then the kids call out what we're going to add to our characters. The results are always super creative and funny!
Thank you so much to Riley at Powerhouse on 8th! This special little store in Park Slope is such a neighborhood gem. Our reading of A HOP IS UP was followed by a drawing game... which resulted in a dog with an orange (!!) mohawk drinking a pumpkin spice latte near the subway.
What a picture-perfect fall day in Princeton! This book fair is bustling and oh-so-much fun to attend. Every last one of our board books of A HOP IS UP went home with adorable kiddos. Thank you so much to Princeton Public Library and JaZams for a wonderful day!
I've been going to BookCourt as a customer for the past 11 years. To be there for my own book event was so, so amazingly FUN (and mind-blowing!) Thank you to Aubrey and the rest of the BookCourt team for being such lovely hosts to me and A HOP IS UP. Friends and family, you are amazing.
I had the pleasure of being part of September Picture Book Bonanza alongside Jon Agee, David Soman, and Todd Kessler at the iconic Books of Wonder in Manhattan. It was a fun surprise to top off our panel presentation with CUTE PUPPIES (!!!) from R.E.A.D., a literacy organization that uses therapy dogs to help children with reading. The kids got to share our books with these adorable, furry friends.
Even sweeter is this note that just came to my inbox:
"My son stayed up late last night and I couldn't figure out why. This morning, I discovered he was drawing the dog from your book! He was practicing it over and over. I've never seen him do this before ... You inspired him!"
You can order signed copies of A HOP IS UP from the Books of Wonder website.
I love making illustrated notes. This summer, I immortalized our family vacation as a visual journal in the pages of my Moleskine. People think this is hard to do, but, it's not... I promise! It IS NOT about perfection -- it IS about documenting something you want to remember. Here's a little behind-the-scenes look at how I created this travel journal:
I start by quickly jotting down some notes. Very messy notes. I scribble down what we did each day, something funny that happened, quotes, objects... anything I would want to remember. Ideally, I write down the notes at the end of each day so I don't forget anything, but, that doesn't always happen, especially when traveling with kids. I didn't write any notes until day 4 of this trip... whoops.
I start on a clean page and draw the title -- usually in the top left corner, and then fill in the drawing to the right and down. There's no real reason why I do it this way, it's just my preference. The title can also go in the middle, and the drawing will fill in around it.
Now comes the fun part! This is like doodling on the back of your notebook in 7th grade. I refer back to the notes and start filling in the page with detail. I try to make the details as rich as possible, so that the memory will be equally rich. Documenting the littlest of moments is what makes it interesting!
I write in different lettering styles, use words for some memories, and draw objects for others. I draw things close together because I like the density, and my drawings seem to get more dense as I do them. I fill in any holes with dots, expression lines, stars, and other random doodles. I play with scale by making the drawings larger and smaller. As I go, I use markers (list of tools later in the post!) to add shading and visually separate the objects. Think of it as a visual brain dump. There's no planning... just drawing.
Sometimes I finish a page or spread in one sitting, and sometimes the drawing builds over several days.
....And that's it! I keep going until I fill up the entire spread all the way to the edges, and then I turn the page and begin again. Voila. I got our entire 11-day adventure into these three spreads. My kids really enjoy exploring all the details and finding their cameo appearances in the drawings!
I use pens only (no erasing allowed!) I like Microns in varying weights for line, and Faber Castell PITT markers for shading (but sometimes I use a brush.) If I make a "mistake," I just keep going and work it into the drawing. The lines will be wonky, my renderings will be imperfect, I'll forget something and have to sneak it into the drawing later... but that's why it's fun.
I always use a hardcover Moleskine notebook -- either the regular unlined drawing paper, or the books with watercolor paper (the thicker, toothy paper is really nice.) A hardcover notebook is helpful when drawing in the wild, where I may not have a good surface to lean on.
Tips and Tricks
Are you ready to make your own journal this summer? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. I feel strongly that the travel journal should be completed while traveling, and not at home. The energy of travel comes through in the drawing. I work quickly so I can finish it all in the duration of the trip. And for my fellow parents asking, "WHEN the hell do you this while traveling?!" -- I feel you. My kids are at a good age where I'm not constantly running after them. I suggest you steal time when they are asleep on a flight, late night, or early morning. Or just hide in the bathroom with your sketchbook. :)
2. Don't be afraid of the gutter (which is the middle of the book, where it folds.) Sometimes it is tricky to draw around. Don't get nervous, just pretend it's not there, and keep going! I like to draw right over it, and have my artwork extend across the entire spread.
3. If you really don't know where to begin, draw yourself a tool box of elements you can keep reusing -- different types of lines, shapes, type styles. You'll see that I often use the same shadowed hashed line element to separate the days of travel. No pressure to think of something new. Just use what you've already done!
Now, go draw! I have more illustrated live notes and journals here for inspiration.
So exciting to find proofs of my friends PAX AND BLUE in my mailbox upon returning from vacation. It's thrilling to see the next step in the process of these two becoming a book! Holy moly... what started as a class project in 2013 will be published in Feb 2017, and is now available for pre-order!
This year I got to work with a repeat client, the Consulate General of Switzerland, on their program ad for the Northside Festival in Brooklyn. We updated the art to include all the cool stuff at their booth this year!
It was a super-fun dream come true to bring proofs of A HOP IS UP to my son's class for a visit! His gracious teachers let me take over the class for 45 minutes. We started out with a show of hands to see how many authors and illustrators are in the class... looks like a lot to me!
Holden, my trusty assistant, got to wear the special dog cap I made to match the book.
We shared a couple of easter eggs hidden in the book (shhh... don't tell anyone.)
Sometimes the pencil sketches can look different from the final art in the book. Holden is showing one of the sketches for this page, and I asked the kids to spot the differences!
Next up - doggie drawing demo.
Then we got to work creating our very own dogs! It was inspiring to see what designs the kids came up with: yellow dogs, striped dogs, rainbow dogs, dogs with spots, dogs with names on their collars... SO fun!
While getting ready for a group photo, the kids showed off their adorable dogs for my friend and photographer Tory Williams and we all made our best doggie 'woof' sounds!
Remember to look for A HOP IS UP (by Kristy Dempsey and illustrated by me) in both hardcover and board book in stores September 13. You can also pre-order now!
Hey children's book enthusiasts... I've designed some products for us! I'm a fan of the totes (look for me wearing both of these at SCBWI Winter Conference!) but this art is also available as prints and pillows. More designs are coming soon... Click here to buy these totes on Society6!
I am starting this year off with a clear strategy thanks to my session with BossLady and career coach, Tara Newman! Tara helped me recognize and cut through all the distractions in my daily schedule. She helped me articulate my goals and focus my energy towards them by creating a detailed action plan. Here is a little illustrated testimonial I created for her as a thank you!
The first project I designed for my 4th and 5th grade drawing workshop was to create a set of graphic notes (or "visual notes") on a topic of the student's choice. But first we needed to do some idea collecting! We developed a tool kit of design elements by doodling arrows, lines, shapes, and type styles into little sketchbooks. Then, we sketched some iconography and words related to our chosen topic... 'favorite foods' and 'video games' were quite popular. :)
We then combined our tool kit design elements with the topic sketches into an organized composition, focusing on details, scale, and communicating the information in a fun and visual way.
Finally, we colored in our pieces with bright marker to make them POP! Every student's piece was very personal, and their individual voices really shined through. They did an amazing job!
The fine folks at Tendr invited me to create a fun, baby themed e-card for their cash gifting service. And, since new parenthood = lots of poop, I knew I had to incorporate it into my card! I sketched baby tushies until I got a composition and leg position that I liked. At first, I was going to dress the baby in a striped pajama suit, but in the end I decided that seeing the actual diaper was more... poopy. I kept the stripes on the teeny socks.
POOP, THERE IT IS.
Amy Fuller, one of my talented friends at Friends Work Here, connected me with Chris O'Falt of Gowanus Houses Art Collective. This organization brings arts programming to children of all ages living in Gowanus Houses in Brooklyn. I had the pleasure of working with them last weekend by leading a workshop for ages 4-9. We read two of my favorite concept picture books, PERFECT SQUARE by Michael Hall and BEAUTIFUL OOPS! by Barney Saltzberg, and then created our own artwork based on the books. These kids (and their parents!) were so creative and enthusiastic. They quickly got to ripping, tearing, coloring, gluing, drawing, and crumpling to create some wonderful OOPS! art pieces.
I just started teaching a drawing workshop at PS372 in Brooklyn. These lucky 4th and 5th graders get to choose an elective studio taught by an outside expert and attend every Friday for 14 weeks. I am paired with a certified teacher who is in charge of the all-important kid-wrangling, but I get to develop all of the curriculum and teach the class. I have TEN BOYS (a total coincidence) and they were all so engaged the first session. Our first project is illustrated notes -- I can't wait to see how their creations turn out!! Here are some examples and worksheets I brought to the first session. Once we're finished, I'll publish the lessons here with PDFs you can download.
Your book birthday is finally here and it’s time put on your promoter hat. With a little hard work, you’ll book appearances as a conference speaker, panelist, or voice on a podcast — and the thought of that might make you want to crawl into a hole. But don’t worry — you got this! I’m here to help with some pro media training tricks I learned doing dozens of TV segments as a spokesperson for pregnancy and parenting brand, The Bump:
1. Really know your pitch
Can you tell someone what your book is about in two sentences or less, with confidence, and without pause or umms and uhhs? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Practice your pitch over and over again. Commit to saying it out loud, 5 times, every day. Over time, you'll develop muscle memory and the pitch will just flow out of you without much thought, even when you’re nervous. It works!
2. Familiarize yourself with the format
As soon as you book an appearance, do your research. Many conferences post videos of past speakers on YouTube, and, of course, you can easily find podcasts online. Knowing what to expect with the environment and format will make you feel more prepared. Talking to the interviewer or organizer in advance, if you’re able to, will dramatically help your prep.
3. Listen to your own voice
We never like the sound of our own voice! But, recording yourself and listening to it will help you tweak your delivery. Do you sound confident? Are you speaking clearly? As a listener, does it feel the same to HEAR your pitch, as it does when you SAY it? You’ll know when you listen to yourself, and you can change accordingly.
4. Ladies, invest in some solid jewel tones
Clothing in solid jewel tones — emerald green, cranberry pink, or royal blue, for example — look flattering on everyone. They help you stand out in a crowded conference and look great in photos and on camera. Unlike patterns, solid colors will work with most backgrounds you may be photographed in front of and won’t look dated when that photo of your book launch shows up on a website years later.
5. Take a moment
If your appearance involves a Q&A session, you might get thrown a random question that you’re totally unprepared for. It’s better to take an extra few seconds to compose a thought before speaking than it is to answer quickly and stumble your way through. As the speaker, those extra seconds will feel like a silent, painful eternity… but your audience won’t even notice.
Remember, everyone is rooting for you. Now go get 'em! Want to see my tips in action? Watch my TV segment reel
YAY! YAY! All the YAYS! I'm so thrilled to finally announce my 2-book deal with Scholastic, starring BUNNY'S STAYCATION coming in 2017! This story is so special to me and I can't wait to share it with children and parents everywhere. Read the full announcement at Publishers Weekly.