August is here and so is our latest calendar page! Summer is for lounging in hammocks, or by the pool, or at the beach with your favorite book. If you haven't managed to enjoy some summer reading, we hope that our August illustration will inspire you to dive into a good book before school starts.
We are so in love with this month's calendar art by kidlit illustrator Lynnor Bontigao and can't wait to share her interview with you!
Download the calendar page here and then scroll down for the interview.
Interview with Lynnor Bontigao
PuddleJump: Hi Lynnor! Can you show us where you make your magic?
Lynnor:My studio is in the dungeon(my basement). I don’t have any natural light and as you can see in the 2nd photo, my laptop and tablet monitor is next to my kid’s drums set. Luckily, we haven’t had to work at the same time. In my new and bigger house, I will have a spacious studio with windows all around and enough storage to hold papers and art supplies. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?
PuddleJump: What are your five most important work tools?
My Yiynova tablet monitor and Macbook pro: my Macbook is old but runs well(knock on wood). My tablet is a 22” and comes with a set of 2 pens and a remote hot key. I’m constantly learning how to improve my digital art but these 2 tools have made me work so much more efficiently.
Prang Watercolor: Yes, this school-type pan watercolor set is what I love. I’ve been using the brand since I was in High School. It’s inexpensive and it’s what my hand is used to. I’ve tried tube watercolors and I haven’t gotten the groove yet. I would love to experiment with some other brands in the future but this hasn’t let me down yet.
Colored Pencils: I love the smooth and soft texture of Faber Castell’s Polychromos Colored Pencils.
Sketchbook: They are important to me for writing down ideas and sketches. My problem is that I have several “active” sketchbooks. Finding the one with the idea I want to work on is a challenge.
Camera: When I’m not doing the initial sketch directly in Photoshop, I use my phone camera. My scanner is old and unreliable so my trick to getting my initial sketch from paper into Photoshop is taking a picture of it and sending it to myself and then opening that file and use it as a reference layer which i will delete eventually. It’s unconventional, I know, but this is how i’ve learned to work around this. In my future life, I have a state-of-the-art scanner and printer and I won’t have to do this.
PuddleJump: What's your favorite quote?
Lynnor: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” - Will Rogers.
I came across this quote when I was younger and in my daily planner there was an inspirational quote for the day. This one stuck with me. I find this inspiring because at various times I did find myself on the right path. This quote reminds me that it’s not enough to be there and that I need to put in the effort for something positive to happen.
PuddleJump: What are you working on right now?
Lynnor: I finished the illustrations for a picture book (Jack Meets Agyu, Sawaga River Press, written by Justine Villanueva, publication 2019). I’m also currently working on illustrations for a magazine.
PuddleJump: What recent kidlit-related thing would you like to tell us about?
Lynnor: I felt so incredibly humbled to have been in Pat Cummings’ home with other kidlit folks as part of CBIG’s 30th Anniversary. To be in the same room with a legend and knowing that many authors and illustrators I also admire came through those doors made me incredibly grateful and inspired.
PuddleJump: Can you share your latest promo card with us and tell us a little bit about what inspired it?
Lynnor: This is a piece I made for the NESCBWI conference Illustrator Challenge. The theme was “A little kindness goes a long way.” I was at the grocery store and being vertically-challenged, I had a hard time reaching a product on the very top shelf. I was hoping somebody taller would pass by and kindly reach it for me. No luck. I managed to slowly topple it down -- onto my head!
PuddleJump: When not making art, what do you do? and what do you do for fun?
Lynnor: I enjoy cooking and trying out recipes. In January I started on a healthier journey and I’ve been setting time for myself to work out 6 days a week. I do a variety of workouts to keep it interesting and fun. I still have a ways to go but I feel stronger every day.
PuddleJump: What inspired you to become an illustrator?
Lynnor: I studied Fine Arts (Advertising) so I always thought the natural career for me was a Graphic Designer(which I did for a while before migrating to the US). In college, I joined a children’s book illustrator group. In the short time I was a member, we had an exhibit, we drew a mural for a children’s bookstore, and had a book published and released to South East Asian countries. I loved it! I got bit by the kidlit illustrator bug!
PuddleJump: What do you LOVE to illustrate most?
Lynnor: I love drawing kids’ faces. They are so expressive. I need to capture these better.
PuddleJump: Tea or Coffee?
Lynnor: I now prefer tea over coffee. Peppermint tea gets me zingy and ready for the day.
PuddleJump: What was the last picture book you read?
Lynnor: “God Got a Dog” by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Marla Frazee. It’s an interesting concept. I love Marla Frazee’s illustrations.
PuddleJump: What do you want to get better at?
Lynnor: I want to add more movement to my characters and to think more creatively about angles and perspectives.
PuddleJump: What do you listen to while you work?
Lynnor: I love listening to swing music by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and the like. They sound soothing to me.
Thanks so much, Lynnor, for allowing us to take a peek inside your space!