It's with great excitement that I return to this blog after a summer hiatus to share a recent interview with illustrator Audrey Lopata. I met Audrey a year and a half ago at a local SCBWI conference and was immediately impressed by her personal style (she was sporting an uber-cool layering of woven garments and illustrated galoshes!). And this interest in textiles and layering is woven right into her art, along with some amazing linework and sense of fairy tale. Not to mention that she's equally comfortable creating her characters on paper or with fabric. You can check out her work on her site and blog. So, without further rambling on my part, here is Audrey in her own words (and images):
1. How would you describe your illustration style in one sentence?
Whimsical children’s book style art…I think that’s a fragment….
2. Where did you go to art school and what was the most important thing you learned there with respect to your illustration career?
I got my Illustration degree from Northern Illinois University. And I’m sure this isn’t what you meant, but I feel like pointing out that it wasn’t an “art school” per say, just a plain ol’ state school. It was an important distinction for me when I was picking out where to attend college. I wanted to go somewhere that had a good illustration program, but also somewhere that I could take some other subjects as well. I loved studying anthropology, linguistics, film, astronomy, and racket ball. I also learned how to be less antisocial, which was actually good for my art as well. I love to draw people, and it seems much easier to be inspired by people and their stories when I could actually talk to them. As far as my illustration career, I probably learned something but it didn’t seem so much about “career” in those days as just a crazy passion for drawing and trying to do my best and actually get good grades.
3. What do you feel is the most important thing you've learned actually working as an artist/illustrator?
As you might have guessed from my last answer and the “not really thinking about my career in those days” the transition from college to the real world was a bit of a doozy. I had to learn, and am still learning all sorts of things about business and scheduling and actually making money.
Then at the end of the day I’m learning to still love the art and the craft of it all in spite of how annoying and time consuming the technicalities can be. Always remember why you loved art in the first place, and why you still care now. I may have learned that from the movie “Kiki’s delivery service,” but it feels extra true today so I’ll claim it as my post college lessonJ.
4. What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?
I normally start off with some business investigation on the computer: reading my e-mail, checking my etsy account, filling out a form for an art festival etc. Then I get organized with whatever my current project is, gather my supplies and get started. If I'm working on something a bit more "mindless" like inking in pencil drawings, I'll listen to an audio book. This helps my mind not melt from boredom, and keeps me in touch with children's literature. I actually gone through a crazy amount of books this way, so I'm always scouring the libraries for a new one :)
Just in case you're looking for a recommendation some of my recent favorites have been:
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Gideon Trilogy by Linda Buckley
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
5. Who would you most love to work with (publisher/AD/artist)?
I feel like this answer may be cheating, but I'd say Pixar! I'm a storyteller at heart, and that tends to lend itself to book illustration, but I think I'd also enjoy concept art or storyboarding for a company as absolutely brilliant as Pixar.
6. What children's book character would you most want to have over for tea (or other beverage of choice)?
Tough choice! I think this may be cheating again, but I’m going to have to say one of the Harry Potter characters, though *SPOILER ALERT* I’d want to meet them when they’re older, in the epilogue of book 7. I love the idea that they went through the whole adventure and then went on to have happy, vaguely normal, lives where they all stayed friends. I’d probably choose to meet with Hermione since she seems like she’s actually enjoy a tea time, and I get the idea that even when she was living out her “normal life” she was doing epic things and learning a lot about her world and how to change it for the best. She just seems like that type of character.
7. If you had to choose a theme song to accompany your work, what would it be?
Only one? I really love musicals, and so I like to imagine my work and life with all kinds of different songs. Though recently, since I'm in the middle of a move, and I've got a couple new projects going, ”The start of something new" from High School Musical might be my song. I know, it's so cheesy, but I can't help but love it!
Okay, now I am totally adding some audiobooks to my library list. And for the rest of the round robin interviews, check out Audrey's Q&A with illustrator Dallion McGregor here. And Dallion's interview with Ellen Murray. Ellen's interview with Marsha Riti. And Marsha's chat with Tiffanny Varga.