This month's calendar art is by the lovely Gladys Jose. You might recognize her name and her art because she's kind of a big deal. You might recognize her work from Scholastic Book Fairs. Or perhaps you know her from this Entertainment Weekly article, announcing the picture book she illustrated, written by Denene Millner, and inspired by Will Smith's iconic character in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The book releases on April 2nd so be sure to snag your copy! If we know Gladys, it's going to be packed full of eye candy. Gladys is also the Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI Florida.
PuddleJumpers have been achieving big things in 2019! Before we get onto the interview, we wanted to share a little good news from our crew!
Congratulations to our Lynnor Bontigao who is now represented by the wonderful Caryn Wiseman, at The Andrea Brown Literary Agency! We are so excited for all our good news this month!
And another big congratulations to PuddleJumper Steve Asbell, who was a finalist in #PBParty for his manuscript titled Flap Your Hands. We are so thrilled that Steve is working to bring Autistic picture book characters to life for children everywhere.
PuddleJump: Hi Gladys! We are so excited to ask you all of our most pressing questions. :) Can you tell us what your studio is like?
Gladys: We’re currently packing for a move… so my studio is non-existent at the moment… I’m currently mobile, jumping from table to table. Using my laptop and iPad with a Luna display device to use it as a Cintiq-like monitor.
PuddleJump: What are your 5 most important work tools?
Gladys: My MacBook Pro, Cintiq, iPad, Apple pencil and my Epson printer because I like printing things and seeing it all pinned up on the wall.
PuddleJump: Describe yourself at age 7. What did you love to do, wear, eat, draw, etc.?
Gladys: I used to sing and dance around the house all the time! I was always listening to music. I was sure I was going to be a famous singer one day. I did draw a lot, but it wasn’t in the intention of it becoming my career, it was just for fun.
PuddleJump: Do you have a favorite quote?
Gladys: God placed the best things in life on the other side of fear. - Will Smith
Whether it’s quitting your job to pursue your dreams. Or approaching someone you’re interested in and getting to know them. Fear, nervousness, overthinking, tends to keep us from taking the leaps of faith to accomplish our dreams. Over the years, I’ve learned to be methodically impulsive (I don’t know if that even makes sense). But I try to fearlessly act on things and hope it turns out good. And if it doesn’t, then I learn from it and move forward. If I sit on things and think too long on it, I start overthinking and then fear and worry kicks in and then I end up never acting.
Puddlejump: Where do you envision yourself 5 years from now?
Still illustrating picture books, with hopefully a few of my own written projects.
Puddlejump: What projects are you working on right now?
Gladys: Currently, I’m finishing up the illustrations for this HILARIOUS picture book “The Elephants’ Hide-and-Seek Handbook” a tongue-in-cheek handbook meant to aid elephants in improving their hide-and-seek skills, (pub date: spring 2020) written by Kjersten Hayes.
I’ve also started working on Fresh Princess #2, I’m super stoked about this second installment to the Fresh Princess series!
Puddlejump: What is your best piece of advice for those looking to pursue a career as a children's book illustrator?
Gladys: Track your time. I know it sounds tedious. But its good to have an idea of how much time things actually take you. You don’t want to find yourself in a spot where you’ve promised a publisher that you could finish something in a month when you realistically needed four+ months.
PuddleJump: What inspired you to become an illustrator?
Gladys: I studied graphic design in University. I had planned on becoming a graphic designer at a design firm. With a goal of eventually becoming a Creative Director, maybe then starting my own firm. I had no intentions at all of becoming an illustrator. It wasn't something I had even thought of doing. The month before graduating we had our portfolio critiqued by local professionals. I had one-on-one sit downs with three art director that mainly focused on graphic design and I had a last minute sign up with author/illustrator, Ethan Long. I only had 1-2 illustrations in my portfolio. And though I had gotten positive feedback from the art directors on my other pieces. Ethan’s reaction and encouragement on the couple of illustrations really had me question where my heart really stood. I had always LOVED art, but I grew up always hearing the starving artist warning. Which was why I had initially gone with graphic design, it’d allow me to be creative… and still EAT. After the portfolio critique, I went home that night, ONE MONTH before getting a diploma in graphic design… and made the career switch to illustration. I never ended up applying to any of the local design firms I had been scouting. I never got a full time job. I went head first into the freelance world, because I knew it’d give me the flexibility to also work on an illustration portfolio. I started attending conferences. And the rest was history.
PuddleJump: What was the last picture book you read?
Gladys: Unicorns Are Real!, written and illustrated bu Holly Hatam
PuddleJump: Do you listen to music or podcasts while you are working?
Gladys: I have different phases. While I’m working on thumbnails and studying a manuscript I need SILENCE, so I normally work on the phase when everyone is sleeping and the house is quiet. While I’m working on clean sketches I’ll “watch” shows, listen to podcasts, or audiobooks. While I’m working on final art I need music. I love listening to music with a lot of energy and a good beat so its hypes me up and helps get me into a good flow.