All posts in Interviews

How to contact an Art Director Part 1-Marc Scheff

Hey folks! I ran across this series of four interviews with Art Directors(primarily from the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre of Publishing) from Kiri Ostergaard Leonard. Where they go into some depth on the best way to approach them and your work and portfolios in general.  We will be highlighting one article per week. Please find a snippet below from the article and then a link to the full post. Enjoy!


As a young or new artist it can be intimidating to start contacting Art Directors, it is however a necessary part of the job if you want to make a living as a freelance artist. One of the more frequent concerns I have encountered from other artists and myself as well is how to contact them without being a nuisance. Naturally when asking for a job you want to come off as professional and make a good impression, rather than turning them off right away.

I asked a handful of art directors to answer 10 questions about their preferred method of communication with artists. I’ll be posting one interview at a time over the next month. Starting out with Marc Scheff who is an Art Director for Tree House Brand Stores. These interviews will be packed with good information on how to show your best side, so stay tuned and enjoy!

1. What is your preferred method of communication if a new artist is looking to make contact and why? (ie. Postcards/email/phone/facebook/meeting in person)
I have a form that new artists can use to send me a sample for consideration. I look at 100% of the submissions that come in, and categorize submissions into a few folders on my computer. When I need new talent, I look through most of them again. The form is here:

Other than that, I prefer email with a link or links to work. It’s easy, and it saves trees.
2. Social media is becoming increasingly popular amongst artists as a tool for networking, how do you feel about artists befriending you on Facebook? Is there a right and a wrong way to go about it?
Twitter and my Facebook page are the best places to connect with me. I accept friend requests if we have actually met, and I don’t share anything professional on my personal page anyway. I’m on there almost all the time, so I don’t miss much.

Find the rest of the article here!


Free Audio Stream of The Perfect Bait by Bobby Chiu

This month as a holiday gift Schoolism and Bobby Chiu are offering a free audio stream of Bobby’s book The Perfect Bait. The Perfect Bait is an audiobook about finding your natural style and creating demand as a creative artist. This is how he describes his book:


“When I was a student in art school, I had an idea of making a book. It would be about how to become a successful artist, as seen from the viewpoint of somebody who wasn’t successful yet. Continue reading


Once Upon a Sketch Podcast Episode 2 – Chris Lauria

This month Norman Grock and Wilson Williams, Jr. interview Chris Lauria about his work in the field of Toy design. Chris is an amazing illustrator with a 20 year career in the toy industry. He started in 1991 and has worked with a several well-known brands like Star Wars, G.I. Joe, and The Simpsons just to name a few. Chris shares with us his beginnings in the toy industry and talks with us about his process for creating unique toy designs and illustrations. To find out more about Chris’s work visit his portfolio site. Please note that our podcasts are released on the first Monday of every month.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Toy Fair


The Licensing Show


Past Series of Articles on Breaking into Toy Design:
Part 1 
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Check out Norm‘s portfolio and Wilson‘s portfolio!
Follow Norm and Wilson on Twitter!


Once Upon a Sketch Podcast Episode 1 – Claude Bonnaud

Norman Grock and Wilson Williams, Jr. interview Claude Bonnaud about his work in the field of Toy design. Claude created his own Design studio in 1995 and began creating children’s licensed properties Since 2008. He has worked with companies like Crayola, Disney and Pixar. Claude Bonnaud shares with you some of his tips and tricks for creating wonderful toy designs. To find out more about Claude’s work visit his website at Please note that this podcast is released on the first Monday of every month.

Links mentioned in this episode: (37:00)

ToyNews (37:55)

Subscribe in iTunes

Past Series of Articles on Breaking into Toy Design:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Check out Norm‘s portfolio and Wilson‘s portfolio!
Follow Norm and Wilson on Twitter!

Breaking In-Self Publishing-Doing It All Yourself!


In this candid video from Creative Talent Network. Four Artists; David Colman, Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, Stephen Silver, Kevin Dart and Chris Turnham share their experiences and wisdom from their self publishing efforts.

Very informative and insightful video. Enjoy!

Self Publishing – DIAY (Doing It “All” Yourself) from Creative Talent Network on Vimeo.

Today the roles of author and publisher have combined and are very much apart of the DIY (Do It Yourself) movement that include online animation media channels, blogs and self-publishing outlets.

Hear about the journey and the world of the creator/self publisher who has chosen this DIY route and who proudly wears the multiple hats of Author, Illustrator, Layout/Design, Printing, Publishing, Marketing/Advertising , Sales and “Creator”. Listen and gain first hand the knowledge, the rewards, the nuts and bolts, ups and downs, and reasons why these great talents choose to Do it All Yourself and publish without a third party company.

For more information visit:

Guest Post Feature from Will Terry-What kind of Illustrator are You?

Today we feature a post from Will Terry’s Blog that asks you to consider your role and purpose as an Illustrator within the Children’s Book Market.  Will Terry is an accomplished Illustrator and teacher whose work and contributions to the collective intelligence of the Children’s Book illustrator community is monstrous. Don’t believe me, take some time to peruse his blog and multiple videos that deal with multiple issues for up and coming Illustrators.  So read through the article and ask yourself the question, “What kind of Illustrator are you?”.

Find the original post here.

Will TerryI’ve been wanting to make this post for a long time and it’s taken a long time to formulate my opinions on this subject. If you’re an illustrator perhaps you really haven’t thought too much about who you are. One thing’s for sure – you need to know who you are to be able to exploit your strengths and work on your weaknesses.

1. The Gunslinger. Like Clint Eastwood wielding his Smith & Wesson the gunslinger illustrator wields his paintbrush, stylus, or drawing instruments with great skill. Great craftsmanship, design, and rendering skills are his/her trademark and the reason clients want him/her in their posse. This illustrator is typically brought in when the job has been defined and visual communication is needed. The skill level of the gunslinger can vary greatly. Most illustrators fall into this category. Examples: David Catrow, Dan Santat, Kadir Nelson, and Paul o. Zelinsky.

Continue reading

Breaking In: Interview with Children’s Book Illustrator Elizabeth Sayles

Our Breaking In posts will focus on Interviews, Articles and Resources we find that give good information and wisdom in regards to “breaking in” to certain aspects of the Children’s Market.

Our first post features an interview with Children’s book Illustrator,Elizabeth Sayles.

The first featured interview is given by Patti Simone of Flip Report.  Elizabeth gives tips for illustrators on how to work with publishers and how she managed to break in and maintain a career in the Children’s Market. She also talks about how integral social media is to promoting her children’s books.


Listen, Learn and Apply!


Be sure to check out Elizabeth’s website at this link.
Elizabeth Sayles on LinkedIn
Elizabeth Sayles on Twitter


Sites mentioned by Elizabeth;
Children’s Book Council-CBC

SCBWI-Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

16 Questions About Illustrator Norm Grock

Where do you live?

I was born on Maui Hawaii and now reside in Beaverton Oregon

Use four words to describe yourself.
Creative, energetic, hungry, and happy

What’s your favorite color?
Ever since I can remember my favorite color has been red.

What do you enjoy drawing the most?
My favorite thing to draw would have to be anything I grew up with like Comics, Cartoons, Video games, or whatever I’m into at that moment.

(Like now I’m reading the Chronicles of Narnia books)

What inspired you to illustrate for children?
To be honest I’m a kid at heart, so doing artwork for kids is a lot of fun and is a perfect fit for me.

What do you find difficult to draw?
Well drawing in general is not easy but if I had to pick one thing it would be… Dogs. I just haven’t figured out their anatomy yet.

What influences your art?
Like everyone, artists are influenced by the things and people that surround them. For me I would have to say my peers, video games and comics.

How has your style changed since you started illustrating?
I feel like it’s taken me a while to find my style. It started out very comic booky and now has turned into something a little bit friendlier, but you can still see the comic book influence.

When are you most creative?
I love it when I get up in the morning before everyone else. It’s nice and quiet. There are no distractions and I can just sit down and draw. That’s when I’m most creative.

What is your least favorite occupational hazard?
Marketing myself!

What is the strangest thing anyone has said about your work?
Umm… I’ll get back to you.

What was your favorite children’s book character growing up?
It would have to be Max from Where the Wild things are. Still one of me favorites of all time.

What was your favorite cartoon growing up?
WOW, it’s hard to pick out just one favorite because I loved cartoons growing up but if I had to narrow it down I would say G.I. Joe or Darkwing duck.

How many years have you had an email address?
I got my first email address in 1996. It was a hotmail account. (Do I lose points for that?)

Things you are looking forward to?
I always look forward to getting projects done because I love to see the final product.

What areas of the Children’s market do you wish to pursue professionally?
I love interactive books. It is such a cool idea and I’m hoping to have a few things out in the future.

To see more of Norm’s work visit his website or his blog.



Once Upon A Sketch Genesis-Part One

Times are changing and something new and different is needed to break into the industry. Sometimes it’s better to work as a group rather than alone.

A. Pool your resources.
B. Cut your costs.
C. Use the collective wisdom of multiple people rather than go it alone.

After seeing other Illustrator Collaborative groups who promote themselves together in marketing plans, I thought it would be a great idea to do this as well. The problem was finding artists that I respected, admired and knew well enough to do this with. I also wanted artists whose styles were different enough that we didn’t step on each others toes when it came time to landing job opportunities.

The first person I asked to join was Aja Wells. Aja is a spunky young illustrator with amazingly warm and comforting characters. She is currently in the process of getting her Masters degree from the University of Hartford. I fell in love with her work and had to correspond with her to tell her so! Aja and I built our friendship after she wrote me a scathing e-mail tearing into me for not having my e-mail address prominently featured on my websites. She told me, “I was too good to miss employment opportunities over such a simple error and oversight.” She was frank, honest and a firecracker of a personality that I immediately took an appreciation of. She always speaks from her heart and is earnest and dedicated to her craft. Luckily when I asked her to join, she was interested!

The second person was Norman Grock. Norman and I met and corresponded through a group called, Zero 2 Illo. I was immediately impressed by his imagination, characters and skill level. Norman has the rare talent of not only being able to create characters but also being able to build worlds and universes from his imagination. His work explores the young male imaginative fantasy world in a beautiful and fanciful way. After the group was over we continued to speak with one another critiquing our respective work and new pieces. We shared childhood interests and inspirations that made us want to draw. Needless to say of the group we would be the ones to geek out over comic books, fantasy, video games, MegaMan or sci-fi movies! Norman is a hard working, witty,sarcastic and intelligent individual with a heart of gold. Again, the stars were aligned for me when he expressed interest in my project.

The third person to join our group was Edrian Thomidis. We’d met through a number of Illustration critique groups, SCBWI and forums. I was always impressed with her ability to infuse her work with raw emotion and personal experience. Her illustrations focus on the strength and love of family. You can tell the difference between someone who is drawing something they know nothing about and someone who has experienced something physically and emotionally and are able to translate that to paper. Edrian has that magic. Edrian is the multi-talented, intelligent and wisest member of our group. Little did I know how strong a personality and business sense she possessed. She has an amazing talent for looking at the bigger picture and making sure we stay on track with our goals and purpose. She is never without an idea or vision of how to make things better and expand on the technical or non-conventional obstacles we come across that we hadn’t expected. It was an honor to have her agree to be a part of this! The group wouldn’t be complete without her!

With the core group of artists formed we set forth and named ourselves, the Once Upon A Sketch group and started the process of creating our identity and figuring out how we would market ourselves and to whom.

Our group is unique in that we try to represent as many aspects of the Children’s Market as we can. Each of us has interests in various aspects of it and we wanted to use our group and our blog to investigate those aspects and gather resources that have helped us and will help others.

We plan on doing a lot more than just sending out postcards together. We plan on expanding our communities knowledge of the opportunities that exist in the Children’s Market beyond Children’s books. But I’ll talk more about that in part 2 of this article!!! Until then feel free to browse our website and give input! We’d love to hear from you!

-Wilson W, Jr.

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