10 Things That Surprised Me As A Children’s Book Illustrator

  1. I never thought that publishing for children would become so commercially integrated with toy merchandising.
  2. I never thought that being a celebrity would ensure you could write for children, just because.
  3. I thought that having children would affect my work for the better, but what I think makes an illustrator good for children’s books is one who still nurtures the child within him or herself. Having children only reaffirms what you already know about those fantastic imaginations.
  4. I thought I that I was set with publicity if I had a book published. Since I’m shy, that part would be mercifully taken care of. Had I known, I would have gotten over that belief much sooner and worked my end of it better.
  5. Who would have guessed that children’s publishing would get so saturated and become so difficult to break into? Is it that glamorous?
  6. The children’s publishing industry creates stars just like Hollywood. The same stars, as brilliant as they are, appear regularly. But newcomers with talent may never get a chance to shine because it’s expensive to take chances.
  7. Digital art seems to be the norm now. Is it because it’s fast and quick? I guess I’m still part of the old-fashioned paint by hand crowd. I think there are a few of us left.
  8. Books can sell well for many years. Some not at all. You never know. My book Wynken, Blynken, and Nod I illustrated 22 years ago still brings me great royalty checks every year.
  9. I never thought there would be trends in illustrating similar to those in fashion. Everybody has his or her own unique style, but I see a lot of the same look recently, and that’s boring. Some illustrators are copying what is deemed “popular” instead of honing their own talents.
  10. So many people choose the self-publishing route. This can be both good and bad. Instead of refining their work and taking criticism constructively, many shun what could vastly improve their work and self publish anyway as a way to beat the system. On the other hand, the red tape of getting published can be avoided by going it alone. If you have a story to tell, then damn it, you must!