When I was sending out invitations to the YA Fantasy Blog Event I stumbled, quite by chance, upon the most amazing storybook illustrations. It showed the work throughout the artist process, it was spectacular. Here's what I saw http://www.albaillustration.com/blog/?p=649
So I contacted Elisabeth Alba and asked if she would care to join in…timing was off on her end with several large projects in the works, one of which we'll be sharing today, so I quickly asked if she and her cohort would be open to come visit with us here at PLP…and that's how we all arrived here today. The more I studied and researched about these two remarkable people, the more I wanted to share with you. So please do enjoy your introduction to Heidi Bolton and Elisabeth Alba. Make sure you visit their sites if you would like a real treat as to how an author and an illustrator can share their world. And for participating in today's special post, I will be happy to
gift a copy of H.B. Bolton's first book,
gift a copy of H.B. Bolton's first book,
The Serpent's Ring, Book One of the Relics of Mysticus,
to someone who leaves a compelling comment about the
author and why they would like one…thx for stopping by,
and as always, leave us a comment so we know you
were here…enjoy! PLP.
"for "The Last Days of Jesus" by Bill O'Reilly,
Henry Holt Books for Young Readers"
|FIRST MAP EVER|
|GEORGELUCAS CHINESE THEATRE|
"The Premiere of Star Wars at the Chinese Theater for
"I Am George Lucas" by Scholastic"
"The Shadowhunter's Codex" by Cassandra Clare,
|"The Monster Realm by Nara Duffie - roamandramble.com"|
High school is when I really became interested in fantasy art and 'pretty ladies in pretty gowns.' In college I had to take a lot of 'fine art' classes and learned new paint skills, and in my free time I delved into the Harry Potter fandom and made a lot of artwork based on the books and fanfiction. This has all just been practice to get to where I am now, and I'm still learning! One of the great things about being an illustrator—I'm either learning new things because of researching for projects, or trying out new materials, or just getting better with lighting and anatomy. Being an artist is being a lifelong student!
I am also an avid reader and my favorite books are historical fiction, YA, middle grade books, fantasy and scifi books... so I enjoy drawing the genres that I read, and that is how I got into illustration, the thought that I could illustrate these types of books that I adore so much.
2. How did you and Heidi find each other?
Elisabeth: A fun story! Heidi was my art teacher throughout high school. She was one of my favorite teachers, and I was in at least 3 classes with her, including AP art. I believe she was in graduate school at the time, so she wasn't one of those ancient stuffy art teachers giving boring assignments. She was one of us! And she let us make work we were passionate about. She is one of the reasons that I kept up with art and made it my career. We lost touch for a while until one of my other favorite HS teachers who I've kept up with, my AP English teacher, messaged me that she had a possible illustration assignment for me. It was for Heidi! So that was in 2012 and the Dragon's Egg is my third book cover for her. It has been a great to reconnect with Heidi and to have this fun middle grade adventure with her!
Heidi: Thanks, Elisabeth I’m happy to hear I wasn’t a “stuffy” art teacher. Elisabeth has always been a talented artist — even in high school. I love the rich colors she uses and the unique perspective she chooses for her drawings. I’m extremely fortunate to have been reconnected with her and even luckier to have such an amazing artist design my covers.
Elisabeth: It can be challenging at times but I've found with most of my clients that it becomes a really fun brainstorming process. As an illustrator that has studied book covers and the publishing industry, and has been working in it for some time, I'd say I have a lot of knowledge about what makes a better book cover, the kind that would attract viewers. Many times an author gives me an idea of theirs that has way too many characters or too much going on and it needs more focus. Heidi has always been great about just giving me simple ideas and letting me roll with them. There are specific things I need to follow such as costumes, objects, locations, and colors, but overall she is open to my thoughts on the composition.
As a child, I would dive into fantasy stories such as Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit and so many others. As an adult, I still feel the thrill and enchantment of such stories. C.S. Lewis once said, “Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” My love for adventure inspired me to create my own story, my idea of what a hero should be, and my vision of other realms.
I wanted to include a quest where an average kid could encounter supernatural creatures, trinkets, and foods. I considered how to tie multiple books and multiple adventures together. That was when the idea of visiting a land where all of the great myths existed came to me. My characters would be able to visit multiple realms of mythology where they would be able to have many exciting escapades.
In The Serpent’s Ring, Evan and Claire travel — via the “rainbow bridge” — to Asgard and encounter their first goddess, Vor (she knows literally everything). I chose Norse mythology because of my family’s heritage — my father’s name is Thor (short for Torval). I’ve always felt connected with Norway and needed to start there.
Elisabeth: I had no idea that I would enjoy making maps so much. I did a commission in early 2012 that involved making a map on top of other more usual paintings/drawings. I was a bit nervous about it at first since I'd never drawn one before. But I have always loved a good map at the beginning of a book, and looking at maps that come with video games that I've played. So I did that one map (this one: http://www.albaillustration.com/images/as-map.html) and it has led to all my other map work! And I love them! It is a refreshing change from working on a big painting. It's like working on a puzzle (and I love putting puzzles together). And I like being able to help authors visualize their worlds.
If the map is for a fantasy world, I usually have the author give me a rough sketch of where they think everything should go. It's too difficult to describe that in words. I then give them my own rough sketch with everything in place and we discuss what needs moved around, if anything is missing, etc. Sometimes I notice things that the author hasn't realized was needed. For example, once I had to include a water mill in the map. It was an important location. But there was no description for a stream or river! So the author realized she had to put a river next to the mill.
In the case of the maps of Jerusalem for the Bill O'Reilly book, this was less imagination and more trying to nail everything accurately. I had to look at satellite images and make sure everything was to scale, and figure out how to highlight certain buildings and make them stand out in a cluttered city.
You can find Elisabeth Alba at: http://www.albaillustration.com