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10 August 2017

Laura Zarrin on illustrating the WALLACE AND GRACE series

e: What is your creative process, can you walk us through it?
Laura:
With Wallace and Grace, it started with the characters. I worked hard to give them lots of personality. Animal characters are my favorite. There’s so much opportunity to play and push the limits with them. For the story, I like to sketch my first impressions in the margins on the first read through of the manuscript.
Since this was a chapter book, I worked from a layout my editor provided to figure out the size of each illustration. The Wallace and Grace books have about 45 illustrations in them. They’re a mix of spreads, full and half-page, and spots. Once I have ideas for each illustration, I create more finished sketches to send the editor and art director. After revisions, I get to paint!
e: What is your medium?
Laura:
Palomino Blackwing pencils on Graphics 360 paper and painted in Clip Studio Pro and a little Photoshop. (Note from e: I love Palominos too!)
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
Laura:
For me, the characters’ interactions and reactions define the heart in a piece. It’s my favorite part of the process, the part I like to push the most.

e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of this story?
Laura:
Not really, but this project was a dream since I love illustrating animal characters and I fell in love with the story. I feel very lucky.

e: What was your path to publication?
Laura:
My path has been long and convoluted. It started out with a bang with eight books, then I took ten years off when I had my boys. The road back has been much bumpier and grueling, but worth it. I’ve worked hard to update my style, improve my drawing skills, and to define what I want to say with my art. I enjoy self-promotion. I send out 4-5 postcards a year and email a smaller list regularly. Wallace and Grace came in the first day I was with an art rep. My editor for these books, Mary Kate Castellini with Bloomsbury, had my postcard, so I can honestly say postcards work.

e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Laura:
To push through the sound of crickets (quiet times). There are so many periods of burnout and self doubt followed by excitement and joy. It’s definitely a roller coaster ride. My favorite part of being a creator is the community I’ve become a part of. I’ve ‘met’ so many great, supportive and creative people through this work. I have many close creator friends who I’ve never met in person.

e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Laura:
That Wallace and Grace are friends first and foremost and that curiosity leads to great things.

e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
Laura:
I’m working on writing and illustrating my own stories. I love illustrating other writer’s stories and want to continue doing that, but to be able to create the whole project, to tell my own stories would be amazing.

e: Thanks Laura!

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