Creativity is the spark of magic that turns the ordinary into the amazing.
Children’s book authors are very creative people. They have the ability to take a fragment of an idea and by just using their imagination fabricate a completely new world filled with unique characters. These characters will have dreams, a past and a new story to tell.
My main job as an illustrator of children’s books is to take that wonderful fantasy world the author has created and expand it even more. My job is to take their story and tell a little bit more about each scene. What happened just moments before the written action or what happens just after the action. My job is NOT to just illustrate the written action or repeat what is written on the page in a visual form. I must bring another dimension to the story.
To keep my mind flexible, it helps to exercise my creative muscles every day. I like to participate in online challenges to help me stay on schedule. I just finished Tara Lazar’s StoryStorm. This is a friendly challenge to come up with 30 new ideas for picture books one each day in January. My idea list this year has 36 ideas, last year I had over 40. That gives me a head start coming up with the perfect idea for the next picture book I want to write.
12 x 12 is another challenge by Julie Hedlund and Kelli Panique, that encourages authors to write 12 picture books from February to November. That’s more than one a month folks. I’m a fast first drafter, but my rewrites and editing take forever.
There are also challenges and competitions just for illustrators. Inktober by Jake Parker is every October and SCBWI has a monthly prompt called Draw This! for members. SVS Learn has monthly prompts at Critique Arena with personal critiques by Jake Parker, Will Terry and Steve Light. It’s a lot of fun to join in and have fun with other creative people.
I encourage you to participate: https://taralazar.com/tag/storystorm-registration/, https://www.12x12challenge.com/membership/, https://inktober.com/ https://www.svslearn.com/news/category/Critique+Arena, https://www.scbwi.org/calling-all-illustrators-2/