Sunday, May 31, 2009

Interview with an Illustrator: Laura Zarrin

This week I'm bringing another wonderful artist to your attention. Laura Zarrin's colored pencil work makes me gasp with envy. I love it so much! Her illustrations are bright and funny. She's been in the biz for a while and is still learning and doing new things. Be sure to visit her website and blog and check out her amazing art.

How did you get started as an artist/illustrator?

I’ve been drawing since I was very little. The illustrations in the Little House books inspired me. I began working as a designer while working on my illustration degree. Right after graduation, I attended Illustrator’s Day in Pasadena. I showed my portfolio to Art Directors attending the event and was hired to illustrate 6 books for a book packager. It was amazing!!!!

How long have you been doing this?

Since 1988 with a big break for the last 9 years while my kids were little. I'm now restarting my career and it’s a lot harder this time around.

What does a typical day look like for you

Up at 6:45 to get the kids ready for school. Drop them off. Walk the dog, then dig into work. I’m currently working on a lot of promotions for the children’s and educational market. Researching constantly. I’m also working on collections for licensing. This is very new to me, so there’s a big learning curve. Let’s not forget checking blogs and Twitter. The kids are home by 3:30, then homework, dinner, bedtime. Sometimes, if I’m very lucky, I get to work while they’re home. It’s getting better as they get older.

Who/what inspires you creatively?

Everything. My kids, the dog. A walk. Other artists. I’ve recently embarked on a new path after reading Kelly Rae Robert’s book, Taking Flight. I knew I needed a change, but didn’t know what it was. Her book launched me into collage and painting. I’ve been painting up a storm lately. I am not giving up color pencil, but it’s feels so good to work in a freer, quicker medium also. I love color pencil, but it is extremely labor intensive.

How has your art/style changed since you first started?

I’d like to think it’s gotten a lot better. I still cringe at some of my earlier work. I was lucky to work with a great art director, Annette Hollister-Papp, early on. She really pushed me in my style. I love to collaborate like that. A good art director can really get you to do things you didn’t think you could or hadn’t thought of before. I’ll always be grateful for her input and direction.

What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone just starting out?

  1. Draw, draw, and draw!

  2. Make art friends and support each other. I’m finding some great friends on Twitter. They inspire me daily.

  3. Know your market. Research. Get out to as many conferences and industry related get togethers as you can. If you want to illustrate children’s books, join SCBWI!!!

What do you hope to accomplish in the future (artistically or otherwise)?

I want to improve my drawing skills. Explore more. Add more fun and humor to my work. Illustrate more board books. License my work. Achieve balance.

What's one thing you've always wanted to do?

Be a great wife and mom. I’m a work in progress.

If you could meet anyone living or dead, who would it be & why?

It’s so hard to choose. Garth Williams—I’d like to just watch him draw.

I would love to shadow someone whose art is licensed. I want to see how they do everything from the art to the business. Mary Engelbreit would be at the top of my list in this category.

Thanks so much Laura! Go check out her work at:

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