Sep 28, 2009

My Amazing Encounter with Cathrene Valente Youngquist

This past June I was shopping and strolling through Westport, CT with my husband.  We walked into a bath and body store where we were greeted by a very pretty and friendly salesperson.  Needless to say, we decided to buy a few bars of soap and shaving lotion.  After our sales lady rang up the purchases I handed her my card.  She took a look at my name, longer than one normally would and asked, "You wouldn't happen to be an illustrator would you?"

My heart skipped a beat.  Perhaps she had seen my work before, was a big fan and recognized my name.  The possibility did come to mind for a split second.  Then she said something like, "Cathrene Youngquist, who wrote the Three Billygoats Gruff and Mean Calypso Joe, is my mom.  You illustrated that right?"  I answered with a resounding squeak, "Yes!"

Well, the encounter brought me even greater delight in this astonishing coincidence!  When I worked on the book, I never had any contact with Ms. Youngquist.  Children's book publishing works this way, in that each creator works directly with the editor, not with each other, except in rare circumstances.  Apparently, Cathrene, had written a sequel to the story and this chance encounter seemed the perfect impetus in trying to get it published. 

The Billygoats Gruff and Mean Calypso Joe

That very evening, I had a chance to speak to Ms. Youngquist.  She told me about the many young audiences she has entertained by reading the Billygoats Gruff story aloud and using stuffed animal goats complete with beanie and scarf, and a stuffed Mean Calypso Joe with "seaweed hair flying" to reenact the scenes!  She then read to me the sequel, Mean Calypso Joe and the Pirates of the Caribbee, and so beautifully she told it, this time in rhyme.  I told her I'd be happy to illustrate the story and even contribute a piece to help sell it.

We talked for over a half hour on the phone.  Finally, just this past Sunday I had the pleasure of meeting her in person over lunch and a tour of my studio.  We talked about our work, she gave me valuable advice with my own manuscripts and I had the pleasure of reading several of her works that I hope to see in print one day.

Cathrene and I behind the starring characters of the book
I hope a talent like hers does not continue to go unnoticed especially since Billygoats is now out of print and going for an astounding $95-$200 a copy!  I dare you to pay dah toll and pick up a copy!  Moreover, the sequel is worth taking a look at, publishers, if you dare to take a chance on talent.

I'm Blogging About Blogging at Pratt Institute!

I've been invited to be on a panel of bloggers at my Alma mater, Pratt Institute.  This means, I have to gear up and know what the heck I'm talking about.  I've been taking the day to prepare so I'll sound like a competent panelist tomorrow.  It doesn't guarantee Pratt students will get their money's worth...oh wait, they're going to read this tomorrow.

Here's a link to the panel.  See you there and I'll tell you all about it when I get back!

Sep 23, 2009

The Art of Providence

Aside from the privilege of being a part of the University of Rhode Island's children's illustration exhibit, it was an opportunity to finally explore Providence, a city that I've always been curious about visiting.  After all, RISD was the school I was almost going to go to, but at the time I had my heart set on being a successful fashion designer, and Pratt, being in New York, well, the rest is history.  Now, as a working illustrator and, ahem, aspiring writer, I found a concentration of creativity in the small, pristine city of Providence, RI.

One interesting way to explore the city is to take a walking tour inspired by the works and life of H.P. Lovecraft, who was once a resident of the city.  I was accompanied by my husband and friends and we walked for hours around College Hill, strolling up and down some pretty steep hills and narrow streets. The tour lead us to uncover many wonderful things about the city, including its really old cemeteries (some headstones dated back Pre-Revolutionary War), graceful American architecture, beautiful libraries, and of course, the institutions of Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. We also stopped at the beautiful RISD Museum which housed an impressive collection of historical pieces and modern masterpieces in art and design.  I also highly recommend shopping at the museum's gallery, which includes works by RISD's alumnae and faculty. 

Imagination! The World of Children's Book Illustrators

All month long, the University of Rhode Island Providence Campus is showcasing a wonderful exhibit that I am proud to be a part of. It includes 15 published illustrators and work from RISD's Children's Illustration Certificate Program. It was also an opportunity to show off my latest published work, Groundhog Weather School (Putnam).

Last week was reception night and my first time in Providence. However, being the responsible blogger that I am (actually I didn't have the forethought to photograph the actual exhibit), I thought I'd marvel you with a few interior pieces from the show as well as the character sketches and layouts that are on display (the collection shows the creative progression of the book).

I also had the pleasure of chatting it up with fellow llustrators at the show, a few of whom I had met before and will be seeing again at the upcoming Annual Highlights Illustrator's Party, including Sharon Lane Holm, Nancy Cote, Jamison Odone and Mary Jane Begin.


Sep 1, 2009

Happy September!

What a nice way to kick off the month! Starting today, the University of Rhode Island will be hosting an exhibit entitled: Imagination! The World of Children's Book Illustrators. Sounds so sparkly doesn't it? Well of course, because yours truly will be one of the guest artists and I'll be bringing along some of my books to sign and, ahem, sell. I'll be showing off my latest book, Groundhog Weather School (G.P. Putnam's Sons), which will be previewed at the exhibit throughout the month of September (the actual release date isn't until December of this year). Lucky for you, you can be the first to see it! Check out the link to see the other talented artists in exhibit.