Joshua Smeaton

Animals

Joshua Smeaton was born on his birthday.

When he was a teenager, Josh jabbed a friend in the finger with a Rapid-O-Graph pen. The friend still has the single dot permanently etched on his skin. Josh is still waiting to hear from top ink recruiters in the tattoo industry.

Josh’s parents required him to become an Eagle Scout before he could get his driver’s license. He got his license the day he turned sixteen and was shortly after pulled over by the police for looking too young to drive. Josh then nearly caused an accident pulling back onto the road.

Josh won a Xeric award once. That was a good day. The Xeric grant was created by Peter Laird, one of the guys who created The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Josh’s favorite ninja turtle is Donatello. He used to own a first printing of issue 4 of the original comic book series. 

Bill Murray once ate Josh’s French fries at an In-N-Out Burger. They talked about music and driving across the country. They have not kept in touch.

Josh wanted to name his son Taylor Rex so he could call him T-Rex for short. His wife vetoed this.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I loved The Great Brain series of books by John D. Fitzgerald. In 7th grade, I won a contest to turn your favorite book into a poster using The Great Brain.

Favorite Comic Book, hands down, was Sergio Aragonés’ Groo The Wanderer. It was my biggest influence in wanting to draw comics. 

What is your favorite food?

Chocolate chip cookies.

Mediums:

Published books:

Haunted – Self published 2009

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT JOSHUA

Art Process:

I’ll do some sketching/doodling in my sketchbook or cheap spiral notebooks. (I have tons.) Mostly just loose unfinished things in pencil or ballpoint pen. I use my good friends Google and Pinterest to find reference or inspiration on the subject. I’ll grab a bunch of images and put them all in a program called Pure Ref. It allows me to view all the images in one place, zooming in or out. 

For the final work, I draw on my computer with my tablet. I primarily draw in Clip Studio Paint. Sometimes I’ll color in CSP but more often I still use Photoshop. 

Specialties:

Location:

Visit Joshua at:

Available for School Visits:

Make Your Own Graphic Novel

I show slides of my own process, from how I get my ideas and the steps of developing them, to how I turn pictures into words and ultimately, a finished graphic novel or comic book. We’ll then segue into creating, where I do live sketching and the students will follow along creating and drawing their own ideas. 

Awards and honors:

Xeric.


Chelsea Carr

Animals

Chelsea Carr is a cartoonist who lives and works in Street, Maryland. Her work has appeared in MAD Magazine, HuffPost Parents, and on Disney’s parenting website, Babble. For the past 16 years, she has been the editorial cartoonist for two of her local papers, The Aegis and The Record. Chelsea is an art teacher, and has worked with students from preschool through fifth grade. She is a graduate of The Maryland Institute, College of Art (BFA) and Johns Hopkins University (MAT.)

In addition to cartooning, Chelsea enjoys spending time with her family, gardening and taking on an assortment of increasingly ridiculous hobbies.

What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is steamed crabs, which is probably a very boring answer for a Marylander, but it’s true. I try to get steamed crabs with my friends every year on my birthday.

What cool travel spots would you most highly recommend?

I really enjoy traveling. My favorite place I’ve been internationally is probably either Japan or New Zealand. Locally, my family tries to visit Chincoteague Island, VA every year. It’s a small island on the east coast that has a beach and a population of wild ponies. 

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT CHELSEA

Art Process:

I start each project by staring off into space and trying to come up with an idea. When I think I have something good, I make a note in my phone’s Notes app. If you ever found my phone and looked at the Notes app, you would probably be very worried about me because it’s basically a nonsensical list of things that made sense to me at some point in my life.

Next, I take my notes and expand them into something that makes sense for anyone who might come across them. Usually this involves sitting in front of a computer and typing out a script. When I’ve finished a script and paginated it (if necessary) I go onto the drawing stage.

When I draw, I start with thumbnails so I can get an idea for the length of the project, page turns, etc. I usually do this in a sketchbook, and when I’m happy with the thumbnails I work on the iPad for the completed piece.

On the iPad, I start by making a rough sketch of what I did for my thumbnails, and then I refine it in a new layer, and finally I color it. 

Location:

Visit Chelsea at:

Available for School Visits:

I am a certified teacher in the state of Maryland, and I love to share my work with children. For a school or library visit, I do a short presentation on my work, and then conduct a workshop with students on writing their own comic. I tie these workshops into either ELA Common Core standards or the National Core Art Standards.

One thing that is particularly important to me is making sure less-privileged schools have access to special programs. If I were invited in for a school visit, I would also do the same program at a nearby Title 1 school for free. 

Awards and honors:

Chelsea has won several awards for her editorial cartoons from the MDDC Press Association.

In 2018, Scholastic invited her to NYC to help judge the Herblock Award for Editorial Cartoons.


Joe Latham

Animals

Joe Latham is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Bristol, UK. He cut his teeth creating custom MySpace Pages (RIP) for bands, which lead to a lot of interesting projects. From designing bespoke Golf Balls for celebrities to animating music videos for Cradle of Filth, Joe has done design work for Jilly Cooper, The Joy Formidable, Five Seconds of Summer, Uniform Dating, Ok Cupid, IndieGoGo, a number of UK Universities, Sony Music, and Warner Music, to name a few.

Joe has self-published a number of comic books and regularly exhibits at UK comic festivals. He’s planning to exhibit at other European and International festivals in the future. He loves meeting people and talking to them about his work.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Winnie the Pooh, or possibly The Giraffe, The Pelican and Me. It’s a tough call, because Roald Dahl was exciting in a way that other books have never been, but Winnie the Pooh has stayed with me forever. I used to take a collected version to my Mum’s piano lessons when I was a kid, and sit there next to a stinky gas fire with a tubby black-haired scotty dog. The dog would lay on its back getting a weird sunburn on its belly from the fire (and it would fart, all the time).

What cool travel spots would you most highly recommend?

Copenhagen, for its incredibly comfortable culture, amazing pastries (get a hot cinnamon swirl, your life will never be the same again), great coffee and beer, cool electric city bicycles, amazing museums and great food. 

I’d also recommend Berlin. It’s an amazing place, though it changes every year. It never sleeps. Seriously.

One of the happiest times of my life was driving up the West coast of the USA. We hired a car and drove from San Francisco up to Portland. It was the most free I’ve ever felt, and I hope to go back one day for longer adventures.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT JOE

Art Process:

I like my work to feel tangible and retain a sense of the energy you get from those early drawings, so I try to make sure the final pieces are refined enough, yet expressive. It means that each stage of the process is relatively quick in order to keep some of that feeling.

Typically I draw my thumbnail sketches with a Fountain Pen, then using a smaller paper size I will draw the final piece in rough using Blue Col-erase pencils (these are used a lot by animators – they don’t smudge yet aren’t too hard, so you can be nice and expressive). I then scan this, print it faintly on to smooth finish (hot press) Watercolour paper (it has a touch more tooth than Bristol board so I find it suits my inking style better – less smudges). Then I ink over this, mostly using a Kolinsky Sable no6 brush and a pot of ink, some fine liner work in there too. Scan it, colour it using Photoshop and an array of collected brushes that I’ve picked up down the years. I have a small handful that I return to most often.


Lindsey Leigh

Animals

Lindsey Leigh is an illustrator and comic artist originally from Maryland. She has a BFA in illustration from Syracuse University as well as an MA in graphic design from the Maryland Institute College of Art. In between, she also interned at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in the entomology department, diligently illustrating beetles.

Her work is inspired by mythology, folklore, and the natural world. Though her work ranges from the cozy and comforting to the unsettling and spooky, she aims to imbue even the scariest monster with a tender charm. She also has an encyclopedic knowledge of weird animal facts and a passionate love for snails and slugs. She currently lives in Massachusetts.

Who or what inspires you the most, and why?

I am endlessly inspired by the mysteries of our world, from the darkest depths of the sea to the furthest reaches of space.

What do you love to do for fun?

I love to go to art museums, natural history museums, and take long walks in the local cemetery.

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT LINDSEY

Art Process:

I typically start the process doing research and gathering reference material. This part of the process really appeals to me because I love to learn everything I can about the subject I’m drawing. 

Then, I usually create very rough, small thumbnail drawings (that only I can really read!) to help me figure out the composition.

Once I start the final, I start with a pencil sketch, then inking with a range of tools such as nib pens, technical pens, and brush pens. Once that is completed, I will scan the drawing in, and then clean it up and color it with Photoshop. As a final step, I will overlay scanned ink wash textures that I have made into the final illustration to give it some extra dimension. (Occasionally, I will use a photo I’ve taken of something more unusual, like moss or lichen, to overlay into the illustration!) My favorite step of the process is definitely inking; it’s where I have the most fun.

Mediums:

Location:

Visit Lindsey at:

Available for School Visits:

Yes! I love to speak with students about the process of creating their own stories and comics.


Ash Szymanik

Animals

Hi, I’m Ash! I’m a queer Los Angeles based artist who makes all sorts of neat stuff. I have a BFA in Traditional Animation from Pratt Institute, and work as a designer, illustrator, and comics artist/writer.

My art is defined by animal characters, moody colors, and a bit of dark humor. I’m drawn to slice-of-life stories with LGBTQ+ themes and am committed to making art about both the struggles and joys of LGBTQ+ youth.

What is your favorite food?

Anything that is a pasta or a dumpling. Just as long as it doesn’t have mushrooms in it.

What do you love to do for fun?

I love collecting manga/comics, watching movies, discovering little-known indie video games, and cooking.

Mediums:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT ASH

Art Process:

I’m a digital artist who does most of their work in Procreate! However, I have a little journal/sketchbook where I scribble down my ideas and doodles of concepts. If I’m experiencing art block, I like to skim through it and mine for ideas!

When I illustrate, I tend to make a very rough sketch to map out the drawing, and once the sketch is legible enough for me, I start inking. I try not to be too perfectionist when doing the lineart, especially since I love a bit of a wobbly line and texture. Then I start coloring. I love picking colors and settling on a palette. After editing, I’m all done!


Andi Watson

Animals

I was born and raised in Kippax, a small town in Yorkshire, England. I spent half my life playing outdoors with my brother and friends and the other half reading, drawing and watching TV. Despite being in awe of the power of stories I was intent on being a car mechanic. Eventually I realised I had no interest in cars and even less talent for fixing things and went to art school in Liverpool. I rediscovered comics, made one of my own, graduated and continue to make more.

I’m still in awe of the power of stories and the satisfaction and challenge of telling my own through words and pictures. I live in Worcester with my wife and daughter.

What is your favorite food?

I like Brussel sprouts and broccoli but shiver in horror at courgettes. Brrrr….courgettes.

Specialties:

Published books:

  • Kerry and the Knight of the Forest (graphic novel)  Random House Graphic, 2020

And many others… click here for a complete bibliography.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT ANDI

Location:

Mediums:

Art Process:

Everything starts with a pencil and paper, whether it’s noting down story ideas or thumbnailing images. I think with a pencil and problem solve on paper. No Moleskine notebooks for me, I use the back of old print outs and bills. Whatever’s to hand and I’m not precious about.

Once I have an idea I’m happy with I’ll move to pencil on paper. When I’m satisfied with the sketch I’ll use pen, brush, ink to complete the art. I try to balance a liveliness of line with control and clarity. Then I’ll scan it in and use Photoshop to tweak and colour.

Available for School Visits:

When I do school visits, I collaborate with the children to create an improvised comic story from their suggestions.

Visit Andi at:

Awards and honors:

Eisner, Best Graphic Album Reprint nomination 2000: Geisha

Eisner, Best Limited Series nomination 2001: Breakfast After Noon

Harvey, Best New Series nomination 2004: Love Fights

Eisner, Best Publication for Kids nomination 2009: Princess At Midnight

British Comics Awards, Young People’s Comic Awards nomination 2012. Gum Girl: Catastrophe Calling


Elizabeth Jancewicz

Animals

Elizabeth grew up in remote northern Quebec where she developed her love of natural landscapes and wild animals, which greatly influence her paintings.

She spends much of her time touring the country with her husband Eric in their band Pocket Vinyl, where she creates large fantastical oil paintings on stage while Eric sings and plays music. In 2019 they beat the world record for playing shows in all 50 states in the fastest time (45 days).

Elizabeth also writes & illustrates a twice-weekly autobiographical webcomic called The Touring Test, which focuses on the characters of Elizabeth & Eric, their two cats, and their experiences of being in a small touring band on the road.

Artist and graphic novelist Elizabeth Jancewicz headshot

Who or what inspires you the most, and why?

I love being around creativity. My walls are filled with other artists’ work, my shelves are full of graphic novels, and I love spending my time in DIY art spaces and seeing how other people interpret and express their individual creativity. I feel very fortunate to live and work with a creative person, whose artistic medium is so vastly different than mine.

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT ELIZABETH

Mediums:

Art Process:

I describe myself as purely a traditional artist. I’ll “clean up” pieces in Photoshop (brightening colours, or adding shading to my inked comics), but besides that I do not work digitally.

My comics are all penciled onto bristol paper, then inked in pen and marker.

My oil paintings are typically done on gessoed masonite board.

I like to work fairly quickly so that I can’t overthink an idea. I may then step away and let it sit for a while before either changing things up or deciding it’s finished.


Damon Lehrer

Animals

Born in Boston in 1967, Damon Lehrer attended Amherst College and apprenticed to sculptor Philip Grausman in Connecticut. He traveled in Eastern Europe and lived in London during the 90s, then taught art at schools including the Rhode Island School of Design, Boston University, and Lesley University. In 2010 he started the Boston Figurative Art Center. His first children’s wordless picture book, Rocket Boy, was published by David R. Godine in 2017. He lives with his wife and son in Lexington, MA.

What was your favorite book as a child?

It depends which age… In the Night Kitchen and The Phantom Tollbooth, certainly. And Susan Cooper’s books!

What do you love to do for fun?

Play soccer with my 12-year-old son!

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT DAMON

Art Process:

For a book project, I sit at my drawing table and visualize what I need to express. If things go well, I collect a few ideas that I jot down and use as the basis for pencil sketches. I often photograph these basic sketches and import them to Photoshop, where I can play with their tonal parameters and get new ideas. I might play with color at this stage, too. When I feel good about a small drawing, I make a larger drawing on Canson 14×17 drawing paper. I’ll import these into Photoshop and play with them in the same way, and if possible do finishing work and small adjustments.

I find the alternation between drawing with paper and pencil and working digitally really enjoyable. It helps me separate from the drawing and see it in a new way. It also makes me feel very free to take risks with color, image order, and pencil drawing.

Published books:

Rocket Boy, David Godine, 2017

Location:

Visit Damon at:

New website coming soon.

Awards and honors:

Massachusetts Cultural Council Award in Painting, 2000

Available for School Visits:

I do free-form author visits where I place enlarged posters of pages from my book  at the front of the room. I ask the kids about themselves to loosen them up (what they do, what they like, what they think of the illustrations, etc.) until they start asking me questions. We have fun and I enjoy it.


Kaia Tseng

Animals

Born in Syracuse, New York and raised in Cupertino, California, Kaia Tseng is a Taiwanese-American illustrator, designer, and entrepreneur. Kaia has been drawing ever since she learned how to pick up a crayon, and has always loved bringing ideas to life in the form of art. By age 15, she began selling her artwork and handicrafts at local conventions. She made her lifelong hobby into her profession at age 24, with the launch of her brand, Kaiami, with the goal of designing products that make people smile and brighten up their day.

Her artwork uses dreamy colors and brings a touch of the fantastical to ordinary moments. In addition to designing for her own brand, Kaia has also produced art for books, games, fashion brands, and galleries.

What is your favorite food?

Carrots have been my favorite food since I was a kid! I have eaten them to the point where my skin turned orange. I also generally like Asian noodle soups (Taiwanese beef noodle and tonkotsu ramen are among my favorites).

What do you love to do for fun?

I love to hold tea parties! I love to get dressed up and drink delicious tea and eat small desserts, but casual tea parties where I can get together and catch up with friends are great too. Aside from that, I’m also a big fan of birdwatching and reading comics.

Mediums:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT KAIA

Art Process:

I thumbnail my ideas in a sketchbook before starting, and usually the sketch will be done with pencil and paper before moving to the lining phase. I sometimes line using a lightbox on top of my sketches, or scan and line digitally. Nowadays, I do most coloring digitally, but I started out using traditional mediums so I am comfortable with markers and colored pencils as well.

Location:

Visit Kaia at:


Matt Loux

Animals

Matthew Loux is the author and artist of the graphic novels The Time Museum Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (published by First Second Books), Sidescrollers and the five volume series Salt Water Taffy (originally published by Oni Press).

Matthew also illustrated the graphic novel F-Stop and the board comic Good Night Gabbaland based on the Nick Jr. television show Yo Gabba Gabba and has contributed comics and cover art for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Matthew lives in New York and is currently working on his first watercolor-painted graphic novel aimed at early middle grade readers, soon to be announced.

Favorite food:

Pepperoni pizza

Favorite travel spots:

Just about any place in Japan but particularly the Shinsekai neighborhood of Osaka and the Shimokitazawa and Nakameguro neighborhoods of Tokyo.

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT MATT

Art Process:

Matthew’s art process involves a foundation of hand pencils, which are then finished with line art using a Winsor & Newton brush and ink.

Colors are either done using Photoshop, resulting in a slightly more polished and modern illustration look, or hand-painted with watercolor for a more classic, vintage feel.

Published books:

The Time Museum Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (First Second Books)
Sidescrollers (Oni Press)
Salt Water Taffy Vol. 1-5 (Oni Press)
F-Stop (Oni Press)
Good Night Gabbaland (Oni Press)

Awards and honors:

Starred Kirkus review (The Time Museum)
Texas Library Association’s Maverick list, 2018 (The Time Museum)
Panda Book Award winner, 2018 (The Time Museum)
RI Children’s Book Award nomination (The Time Museum)
American Library Association’s YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens, 2008 (Sidescrollers)
Texas Library Association’s Maverick list, 2009 (Salt Water Taffy)

Location:

Visit Matt Loux at:

Available for School Visits:

Matthew’s main school presentation (aimed at middle grade readers) begins with a personal look at the influences throughout his younger life that led him to a career in comics. He discusses the steps it takes to actually create a graphic novel from idea to finished book. The presentation includes live drawing and a slideshow.

Matthew’s second presentation (accessible for all ages) begins with a shorter version of what brought him to making comics, then quickly focuses on live drawing and an interactive “create a character” game. In the end, the drawings will be left for the school to display or give to student participants.