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Interview: Erin McGuire

September 28th, 2011 (09:27 am)
sick

Current Mood: sick
Current Song: The World You Love by Jimmy Eat World

Earlier this year, I had the good fortune to receive an advanced copy of Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, a wonderful story of fantasy and friendship complimented Erin McGuire's beautiful illustrations. The book, which is now available in stores, was inspired by The Snow Queen and other stories by Hans Christian Andersen. Erin McGuire created ten black-and-white illustrations that are featured throughout the book as well as the gorgeous full-color cover art. I had the pleasure of interviewing both the author and the illustrator, and I'm sharing my conversation with Erin today. (Come back tomorrow for my interview with Anne!)

Hi, Erin! It's a pleasure to meet you. I love your artwork, your style and sensibility. How did you get involved with Breadcrumbs?

The nice folks at HarperCollins saw my illustration online, and then contacted my agent Susan Cohen, who contacted me and asked me if I was interested in creating the cover and interior illustrations. After I heard about the story, I was very interested indeed.

What mediums do you typically use when creating your art?

My illustrations are painted digitally using a tablet and Photoshop. Usually I spend a lot of time sketching in pencil first to figure out compositions, then I scan the drawings and finish painting the illustrations in Photoshop.

Do you like to work in silence and solitude, or do you listen to music or anything/anyone else while you work?

My boyfriend is also an illustrator so we work together in the studio we've set up at home. I usually put on music or podcasts while I work. I think I listened to the entire archives of This American Life and Radiolab while working on this book.

That sounds cool. Did you use anything special to create the pictures for this story?

I used to work primarily in watercolor, so when I work digitally, I make watercolor textures that I scan and incorporate into the illustrations. For this book I used a lot of different textures and brushes to get the chilly snowy feeling.

Do you have a favorite piece in this story?

The illustration of Hazel laying down in the garden with all of the flowers growing around her is my favorite I think. I had a lot of fun doing the cover as well.

At your blog, you share art from your works-in-progress, collaborative projects, and personal pieces. What's the best response or comment you've received from someone online?

I've gotten some really nice comments and I'm always really honored when people like my work. I really like hearing from students, usually they have the nicest things to say and are still really full of optimism about the industry.

I like optimistic people! When did you first think, "I am an artist," and have confidence in your artistic ability? Were you creative as a kid?

In high school I started keeping a sketchbook, and people were incredibly supportive in pushing me to take art classes. I think the response from my friends and family really encouraged me to approach art as a career. I was a fairly creative kid, but it was more than
just drawing. I liked drawing, but I also liked writing, building things, making jewelry, sewing, and cooking. I was also (and still am) an avid reader, so I feel like I ended up where I should be.

What artists inspire you?

Too many to name, but my big influences are Lisbeth Zwerger, Tadahiro Uesugi, William Joyce, whom I've met and worked with, my old teacher George Pratt, Chris Appelhans, Hayao Miyazaki, and all of my mom's old Country Living magazines. Though I could never do interior design, I think it's influenced me to draw more interesting spaces in my illustrations.

What are you currently working on?

I just wrapped up a book cover for a very exciting series, wish I could say more than that. I also work at an animation studio and am currently working on some animated holiday spots.

To learn see more of Erin McGuire's beautiful work, please visit her website and blog.

Come back here to Bildungsroman tomorrow, Thursday, September 29th, for an interview with Anne Ursu, author of Breadcrumbs.

Read an exclusive excerpt of Breadcrumbs.