Ginny Tilby is the author and illustrator of the children's book YOU SHOULD! YOU SHOULD! (Familius 2017) which is an adorable picture book about finding the courage to be true to yourself. Readers will love the fun, bright illustrations and cast of cute characters who each try to convince Hippo to do a variety of activities THEIR way, when all Hippo wants to do is take a swim. I fell in love with Hippo on the first two pages as his expression changed - a subtle detail that impressed me, along with the text, and showed me that this author/illustrator knows what she's doing. I am so excited to share YOU SHOULD! YOU SHOULD! and Ginny's advice and insights below. And you should definitely get a copy of this picture book for the children in your life (You should! You should!).
So sit back with your favorite coffee, tea, smoothie, or chocolate-fix and enjoy!
What is your favorite book as a child?
Yikes--hard question. I was fairly obsessed with Clifford the big red dog, and the Berenstein Bears. Maybe if I HAD to choose one: Dr. Seuss's To Think That I Saw it on Mulburry Street. That kid's imagination tickled me happy.
Do you illustrate and write at the same time? Or wait until the text is done?
I like to write the text first. I can usually see illustration possibilities in my mind enough to write without actually making art. Making the art and developing characters takes time, and the minute I decide to change a character from a mouse to a crocodile, all the time spent on mouse-making-art was a waste. Plus having well-flushed characters in writing helps me know what type of personalities and visual characteristics with which to design my characters.
That being said, I still keep the text very flexible once the art process does begin. Sometimes once I see things on paper, I realize that a stork actually needed to be a flamingo!
How would you describe your artwork? What is your favorite medium to create with?
Bright, colorful, whimsical, fun, expressive.
I would rather draw than paint any day. Pencil/pen on paper is my favorite medium forever. I'm growing accustomed to the Apple Pencil on iPad Pro; however, I don't think the real thing can ever be replaced.
When I do paint, I always prefer digital over the real stuff. I don't miss the color mixing or the mess, and I LOVE the "undo" command!
Do you have some favorite contemporary authors or illustrators or author/illustrators?
Will Terry, Scott Gustafson, Jean Baptise-Monge, Justin Gerard, Jon Klassen, David Litchfield, Pamela Zagarenski, and also Mo Willems is a genius.
Any advice for first-time or aspiring authors and illustrators?
YES. The biggest tip I would offer is to please please please AVOID keeping your stories and your art to yourself before you send it to a publisher or before you self-publish. Your closest friends and your mom do NOT count. Let other professional artists and writers take a look and ask them for honest feedback. Be open to suggestions. Be as open as open as open can be. If they aren't giving you real feedback, keep looking until you find someone who will.
Remember, children's books are meant to be read aloud - ask someone to read your story aloud to you. Then ask someone else. Tweak it when you find areas to fix (you will find them). Then ask someone to read it again. Then ask someone to read it to children in front of you. Are they reacting the way you hope? Is the reader tripping over words or sentences or do they flow easily and seem fun to say/hear? Is the audience laughing appropriately? Do they seem confused anywhere? Remember, every word counts in children's books.
Do these things, and the only outcome possible is a wonderfully polished, primed and primped, perfect children's book. You and your story deserve it.
Last, use Julie Olson's blog for how-to's, tips, templates, and more on how to write a children's book: http://jujubeeillustrations.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html
What is it like to work with a publisher as an illustrator? Have you had to make revisions to your storyboard or illustrations based on their feedback or vision of the book?
It's very helpful! I SO appreciated the feedback I received from my publisher as I made the art. I was working with professionals who have been in the field for years, who were able to tell me that my giraffe was too scary for kids, so I tamed her down to the perfect amount of intimidating and fun. Little tweaks like that. But the best part of working with my publisher (and maybe not all publishers are like this) was the emotional support when I went through times feeling very inadequate and unsure my work as any good. They readily boosted my confidence, assured me that my story and art are not just good, but great, and encouraged me to keep working.
What types of foods or activities help keep your creative process going while you work on a book or manuscript?
I have no idea, haha! If you find out, will you PLEASE tell me? When I worked on You Should, You Should!, I worked alongside other artist friends in their home. We kept each other motivated and accountable. We chatted and made art, we ate and made art, we jammed to music and made art. I even slept over a few times, going to bed painting and waking up to more painting. Now I'm working alone and the Struggle. Is. REAL.
Do you have any upcoming releases?
Give me a year or two, and watch for a book about Jeeps, and another story about a Catastrophizing Coyote. (Nothing is signed or contracted yet.)
You can learn more about Ginny at the links below.
Thank you so much, Ginny! I'm inspired! I am! I am!