interview with an artist

Art comes to us in many forms and has changed a lot over the years and it is amazing as to how many different art forms we experience every day and probably not even realize it.

More importantly I often wonder where all this art comes from. Fortunately I happen to know someone that might be able to help unravel some of the questions I have concerning the development of the many artistic creations I see and how the creative juices keep on flowing.

My daughter Renee, was kind enough to take some time and answer my questions.

So here goes…

Q1. Although drawing is an art and many people, myself included, sketch and doodle for relaxation, we know we are not good at it. You however are good at it, but I have to ask what compels/motivates you to draw all the time?

I honestly don’t know, because I sometimes draw so much I start to develop so many projects that I get in to that I forget about the outside world. I just really love coming up with characters and putting them in scenarios interacting with one another. 

Q2. Where do you get your inspiration?

When I actually sit down to start drawing, I’m not sure…but while I’m drawing I start to think about a lot of things: friends, my childhood, my old bedroom, my old toys, books I love, high school, relationships, family, etc. My brain goes all over the place. I have to imagine that comes out a little bit in my art. 

Q3. You’ve drawn in many mediums over the years, e.g. pencil, ink, color, photoshop, etc, but do you have a favorite drawing medium?

Currently, my favorite medium is my Kuretake fountain brush pen and my watercolor set. I haven’t fully mastered either yet, but I am having a lot of fun trying. It’s not the same as mastering, say, photoshop…but it’s similar (and just as frustrating at times).

Q4. You’re big on the sketchbook. Any idea about how many sketches you actually have?

Hmmm, I have sketches and then I have FAVORITE sketches….but I don’t throw anything away. People always say you can revisit an idea years later and sparks will fly, I’m waiting for that to happen. Right now, I have filled a 52 page sketchbook for my Kickstarter project. It is compiled of over 150 sketches that I have done in the past 2 years. 


Q5.  Do you force a sketch quota on yourself (i.e. so many per day, per week?) or does that put too much pressure on yourself to draw and kill the thought process?

I used to, that’s how I formed the habit. I started by making a project for myself where I would illustrate the 12 days of Christmas in the days counting down to the holiday a few years ago. By the end, I loved sketching so much that nobody could stop me. Since then, I’ve discovered new mediums like copic markers that, I think, add a nice finishing touch to my sketches! 

During the year, I fall off the wagon a bit like everyone else, but I recently participated in #inktober…which is artists all over the world doing an ink drawing a day in the month of October. I’ll probably take a break for a while after this, but then again probably not. 


Q6. Does each sketch represent experimentation, playfulness, or have the possibility of transforming into something more? Or maybe a combination of all three perhaps?

It’s a combination of me attempting to figure out my drawing style, while trying to write stories. I don’t write words that often, I tend to write with pictures. 

Q7. I know cats are a favorite of yours, however, feline friends aside (A.K.A. TImmy) do you have any characters or anything in particular that you especially enjoy drawing?

Anything with fur is SO FUN. 

Q8. Do you incorporate painting into your artwork? If so, how??  Would it be through photoshop??

I try to add color with my watercolors, and sometimes I will do a little cleanup in Photoshop…it’s my goal in life to not have to use Photoshop to color correct at all. 

Q9. To what extent do you feel the Social Media has played in your career development? Has there been any one particular item or event that stands out that you feel provided the most benefit either through Social Media or somewhere else?

I wouldn’t have a career without it. Most recently, I would say Twitter has been the best thing to happen to me. It’s the one place where I follow only artists…so the community I’ve built is just all people like me who draw all the time and forget about the outside world…but we can talk about how antisocial we are. Haha. 

Q10. Your blog (located at contains many facets in the evolution of your art. You are very much a collaborator and somewhat an educator. Have you ever considered teaching either now or somewhere in your career path??

I don’t think I’m ready yet to be a teacher, but maybe someday. I’m too scatterbrained to focus that way…and I don’t feel like I’ve even gotten to where I want to be yet. Hopefully I will, someday. 

Q11. Do you remember your first character sketch you made when you were just two years old??  I certainly do.  🙂

Hey I got the features right! 

first sketch

Q12. At one time you did a lot of character design and animation when you worked for Soup to Nuts. One piece I particularly remember was your character animation for “Thadlowe’s Driving School” which appeared on the Cartoon Network. Although you seem more focused on traditional illustration, is animation more or less off the radar now?

I realized Animation, although fun, is not my real passion. I’d rather focus on making art from scratch and developing that way…it was sort of a decision I had to make at one point and I got lucky that FableVision hired some fantastic animators who can do the work better and faster than me. 

Q13. Besides fame and fortune, do you have a vision of where you see your career in 5 years? Do you intend to write and illustrate a book(s) of your own??

I have three books started right now and ideas for at least 3 more waiting in the wings. It’s just a matter of time and patience. 

Q14. You also do quite a bit of freelance illustration work. I know that every project you are awarded as a freelance artist results from a competition and never guaranteed. So, my last question pertains to published books you have illustrated.

You’ve illustrated several books for various Publishers, e.g., Holt, Penguin, Simon and Schuster, Charlesbridge, Lerner, Cloverleaf. I took the liberty of showcasing a representative sample of the books, many of which are a series of several books.


And the soon to be released picture book…


Q14. Although not surprising, few non-artists understand how much work actually goes into getting a book from pencil and paper to Printer. I would like to enlighten those who are not aware. Can you take me through the process?

Sure, every book is different, but typically, I get a note from my agent, Jen, saying that an Editor is interested in my trying out for a book. I have a few weeks to make a sample (finished color illustration) and then I wait some more. If I should be fortunate enough to get the job, then we negotiate a contract.

At this point I would receive a final manuscript to look over. I’m given a few weeks to sketch out the book…that means I have to think about flow, pacing, characters, setting, etc. it’s the most important part of the process because without a solid foundation, the rest becomes extremely hard. 

After I submit my sketches, I usually have a few weeks to work on other things and most likely I will eventually have a list of edits to pages, expressions, composition…..etc. I do a few rounds of sketch revisions before I “get it right.” 

At this point, months have gone by and I’ve used about 5 pencils and 2 tubes of ink.

In between the sketch and color stages of every book, I always have a mental breakdown. “I’m not good enough to do this WHOLE book…” Things like that. 

Sometimes there’s crying. Haha. 

When I finally sit down to color, it takes me weeks to get the style and color palette figured out. I redid the first page of Orangutanka about 5 times before I settled. After about the 5th or 6th page, you start to get into a groove. 

The mental breakdown comes again a few months later when your deadline is looming and you have one page left, but you decided to save it for the last minute and now you can’t remember how you drew the character and you only have 5 hours left. 

Then you finally commit to finishing…upload your files to the publisher…and then you wait again. Notes start to come in after a few weeks and you’re back at it again with a fresh eye. Then you have to design the cover….then you do a couple of more fixes…then you finish.

 And you wait, in some cases, a year and a half for your book to come out! 

 Publishing takes a long time. There is a lot of care that goes into making books. I have yet to experience what authors go through. By the time I get the manuscript, they could have been working on it for years. Yes, years!

Thanks Renee for taking time to answer my questions. It’s amazing how much time and effort goes into transforming an idea into printed artwork. You’re passion for art is evidenced by your published works, sketches and blogged art you do just for fun.

All artwork © 2014