September Kidlit Calendar + an Interview with Author/Illustrator Kristin Wauson
September is here! It's time to download this month's Kidlit calendar! It's a little late because we've been busy with other projects, but you won't want to miss out on some of this month's great events for Kidlit creators!
This month's calendar features art by Kristin Wauson.
Download the calendar page here and then scroll down for the interview.
Interview with Kristin Wauson
PuddleJump: Hi Kristin! Can you show us where you make your magic?
Kristin: My studio is embarrassing right now. It's in my bedroom and I recently painted it, so there is nothing on the walls and it looks pretty boring. I always drool over photos of cozy little workspaces filled with books and art supplies, with inspiring art all over the walls. My books are stashed all over the house and my art supplies are hidden away in my Harry Potter closet (the one under the stairs) and inside an awesome filing cabinet my husband made for me. He is building me a new desk, but leave it to him to choose an unconventional design. He ran into a problem and says he needs to talk to a mechanical engineer to finish it. But, I’m sure it will be worth the wait!
PuddleJump: What are your five most important work tools?
My Cintiq monitor and iMac. For years I did all of my work on a 12 inch iPad Pro with Procreate, which I still love, but I recently switched to a 32 inch Cintiq and started using Photoshop again. I like the way brushes work in Photoshop much better and I have to say it is really nice to have all of that space. I love being able to work on a project and have several pieces of digital reference right there on the screen.
My sketchbook is really important for thumbnailing and brainstorming ideas. I like to use it to draw thumbnails and work out compositions. Then when I find something I like, I’ll take a picture and send it to my ipad or computer to finish.
I still love to use my ipad for sketching. It’s nice because I can take it anywhere, or draw on the couch in the evenings while watching TV with my husband, but now that I have the Cintiq I am finding that I don’t want to finish work in Procreate anymore.
Col-erase (mostly reds) and Blackwing pencils are my favorites for sketching on paper.
I keep my bullet journal with me all the time and it is my most important productivity tool. My entire life is in that thing. I use it to keep track of everything: my schedule, things I want to draw, books I want to read, artists I want to look up, book ideas, project ideas, to-do lists, meal planning. It’s all in there. Not everyone loves bullet journaling, but I have never been a big fan of digital calendars. I really just feel better when everything is written down on paper all in one place.
PuddleJump: What's your favorite quote?
Kristin: “Do your practice and all is coming.” –K. Pattabhi Jois
This is a mantra I repeat to myself often. I first came across it when I was in yoga teacher training, and since then I have found it to be true in so many areas of life. It means that if you put in the effort and do the work, eventually everything you want will come to you. You will evolve and achieve the things you are working toward. But you have to practice. I have always been fascinated with the idea that you can achieve big things if you put in small amounts of effort, consistently, over time. I love that it’s something that is universally accessible. You don’t have to be exceptionally gifted or lucky or born into special circumstances to make big things happen. You just have to be stubborn enough to keep trying.
PuddleJump: What are you working on right now?
Kristin: For the last few months I have been working with my wonderful agent on developing a picture book dummy. Yesterday I finished the last illustration I needed to do before it goes out on submission, so now I’m taking a weekend off to rest my arm. I’m pretty excited to get back to writing and drawing in my sketchbook again. Maybe I’ll also do a little Inktober pre-drawing.
PuddleJump: What recent kidlit-related thing would you like to tell us about?
Kristin: I recently signed with Adria Goetz of Martin Literary Management. I was also nominated for a writing mentorship award at the SCBWI Austin regional conference. This nomination was a big deal to me because I am much more comfortable with the illustration side of things. In the last year I’ve made an effort to focus on learning the craft of writing, so it was really encouraging get some positive feedback in that area.
PuddleJump: Can you share your latest promo card with us and tell us a little bit about what inspired it?
Kristin: Thanks for reminding me that I am behind schedule in mailing out promo cards! For my next postcard, I planned on using this piece that I did for a historical illustration class with Erin McGuire through the Writing Barn. It was one of the best classes I have ever taken. The woman with the hat is based on Diana Kennedy, who is credited with bringing traditional Mexican cuisine to the United States. I’m kind of a food nerd, and probably because I grew up in Texas I am slightly obsessed with Mexican food, so I couldn’t resist choosing her for my nonfiction project for the class. Since creating this illustration, I have had the opportunity to meet her twice, so I hope that the project will turn into something bigger one day.
PuddleJump: When not making art, what do you do? and what do you do for fun?
Kristin: I love to cook. I am always trying new recipes. I was recently gifted a very heavy book on Indian food by my mother in law. It would make a great panini press, but for now I’m just reading it. She also gave me a masala dabba which is one of those adorable little metal boxes that holds containers of Indian spices all in one place and I am dying to get to an Indian market so that I can fill it up. Exercise is really important to me. I find that my mental health really suffers when I don’t exercise. I try to practice yoga daily. I have been working consistently on my handstand for the last year and I am finally getting to where I can hold it for longer periods of time, but I still need the wall for moral support. I have a husband and two sons who are ten and four. They keep me pretty busy!
PuddleJump: What inspired you to become an illustrator?
Kristin: Drawing has always been a thing that I did. When I was in school, I was the kid who was invited to be in groups for class projects because people knew I could draw. Instead of socializing in high school I hid behind a sketchbook in a corner of the busy common area and drew horses. On a family trip to Disneyland I took a tour of the Disney animation studios and they showed us how the Lion King was made. I think my dream of drawing for a living was born right then. But I went to college and got a degree in Advertising and upon graduating took a job as an in-house Graphic Designer for a state government agency. For about 10 years, I didn’t draw much. But then I became a parent and picture books came onto my radar for the first time since I was a kid. At some point I realized REAL people were actually drawing these things and I wanted to be one of them.
PuddleJump: What do you LOVE to illustrate most?
Kristin: Oh, so many things. I love to draw kids and animals. When I was younger I drew horses obsessively and they are still a favorite. I love all things fantasy: storybook houses and enchanted forests full of gnarly trees. Anything that feels a little bit magical makes me happy.
PuddleJump: Tea or Coffee?
Kristin: I like both, but I drink a lot of coffee. I prefer cold brew, especially right now because while everyone is posting their fall photos wearing cute flannel and sweaters, it is still one million degrees in Austin, Texas.
PuddleJump: What was the last picture book you read?
Kristin: My 4 year old picked out Tricky, by Kari Rust from the library. I loved it. Her drawings have such great movement and character.
PuddleJump: What do you want to get better at?
Kristin: Everything and anything. I am still working at learning the craft of writing and storytelling. I’ve come to realize that the winner of this game is not the person who can render the most perfect picture book scene. It’s the person who can tell the best story. I feel like I still struggle with perspective so I want to study that some more until it comes to me more naturally. I have a long list of classes I want to take, or retake, on SVSLearn when I have time.
PuddleJump: What do you listen to while you work?
Kristin: I tend to work in silence. Sometimes I remember to turn on a podcast, which is nice when I’m doing something that doesn’t take a lot of thought like rendering a scene, but I find that when I’m really wrapped up in working on something I forget to pay attention. Usually I am listening to the sounds of my four year old ask me to get him yet another snack from the pantry. He doesn’t go to school yet.
Thanks so much, Kristin, for sharing a little bit of your world with us!