Ash Szymanik

Humor

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

Humor

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

Humor

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

Humor

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.


Corrie Young

Humor

Cor is an illustrator, visual development artist for animation, and your resident facts-about-bears supplier and rocket enthusiast!

Cor’s passion lies in creating media for children to entertain and educate. Children’s media helped her think of the world in new ways and sparked ideas in her head she wouldn’t have had otherwise. She graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design animation program in 2015.

What was your favorite book as a child?

“The Mermaid’s Ball” by Bea Sloboder

What do you love to do for fun?

Figure skating, learning about aviation science and aircraft, watching anime, belting showtunes

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT CORRIE

Art Process:

I work almost exclusively in Adobe Photoshop on my Wacom Cintiq. If necessary, I start out by seeking out reference or mood imagery, either online or by taking my own reference pictures. I start with a sketch in a light color, to get the feel for the composition or the character’s body language and expression. I refine a couple of details that might get lost, then I jump straight to color. I usually lay down flat colors with a large digital brush so I get an idea of the big picture, then go back and work on details, rather than focusing on one area at a time.

Location:

Visit Corrie at:

Available for School Visits:

I have presented at schools before on behalf of my alma mater. I love to present to students about drawing animals, specifically bears! For bear drawing, I teach the basics of how to study animal movement, how to find references, and then how to use shapes to incorporate character and expression.


Kaia Tseng

Humor

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:


Shauna J. Grant

Humor

Shauna J. Grant is a cartoonist and illustrator with the magical power to create cuteness. Born and raised in NYC during the boom of Japanese anime and manga, her artwork is heavily influenced by shoujo and magical girls, with a mix of Western cartoon flare. Adding diversity into the comic world is her biggest goal and she’s on a mission to create stories starring Black girls as the adorable heroines of their own tales.

She’s most proud of being part of Black Comix Returns, curated by John Jennings and Damian Duffy, and Encyclopedia of Black Comics by Sheena Howard. She’s currently signed onto two graphic novels to be published by First Second.

What do you love to do for fun?

For fun I love reading romance books! It feels like the dorkiest thing ever but I love seeing two characters butting heads as they get used to each other’s differences, and discovering a mutual love and respect for each other.

Who or what inspires you the most, and why?

It’s easy for me to say (and, well, I often do say) that Sailor Moon is my biggest inspiration! Watching it as a child made me want to create characters and stories of my own and even now, having reached my thirties, I still get swoony when I see anything Sailor Moon-related. There wasn’t a lot of media geared towards girls that felt so empowering while also recognizing the strength in femininity and relationships. Sailor Moon was clumsy, struggled with school, and preferred to just eat, sleep, and play games all day… but when duty called, she was always there to save the day.

Even more importantly than Sailor Moon, I must say my mother is a true inspiration. She has always been my biggest cheerleader from day one. She was a single mother who raised me on the tough streets of the Bronx and made sure I knew what love was and always put me in places that would foster my growth. Mother-daughter relationships can be very intricate, even when full of love, and it’s something that I’m interested in writing about in my stories as well.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT SHAUNA

Art Process:

I start my art process with lots and lots of doodles to get my ideas down. They tend to be very loose as I’m just trying to get down the feel of the piece. What emotion am I focused on? What composition best suits it?

From here, I’ll tighten up my doodles and start my penciling process. Either I’ll draw right on top of the doodle, cleaning up areas as I go, or I’ll put a new layer on top and redraw everything neater with the doodle being used as reference. Once I’m satisfied, I’ll ink the image on a new layer and from there I give the illustration a quick coloring to see what colors will work before I decide on a palette.

I tend to do best with pastel colors and go for a whimsical, dreamy, and eye-catching color scheme. I try to keep things as simple as possible with my coloring, with a little bit of airbrushed shading, some crisp shaded areas, and lots of highlights to make the colors pop. Once finished, I’ll color the lineart so the whole piece looks delicious like candy!

Mediums:

Specialties:

Location:

Visit Shauna J. Grant at:

Available for School Visits:

I’ve done school visits in the past where I show off my illustrations (on projectors) and read through my comics with the kids. I use these moments to encourage a love for creating art, being yourself, and feeling no shame for liking something that’s not stereotypically masculine. With older kids I go more in depth over the art process and pursuing art as a career.

Forthcoming books:

Untitled Memoir, First Second (TBA)

Published books:

Natural, Alien, Virginity, Backstage – Dirty Diamonds issues #6- #9, 2015-2018
My Cute Girl! – Can I Pet Your Werewolf, Kel McDonald, 2017
Our Story – Secret Loves of Geeks, Dark Horse, 2018

Awards and honors:

Top 20 Up and Coming Black Artists, Comics Alliance, 2016
Best artist, the Glyph Awards, 2018


Matt Loux

Humor

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.


Dave McDonald

Humor

Dave McDonald has worked as a television producer/director, a theme park entertainment show writer (Scooby Doo) and a puppet/costume (Rugrats, Angry Beavers, Richard Scarry) and mascot (NFL Panthers, NBA Hornets) designer and fabricator. He was a puppeteer for a kids TV series and for a touring school production.  He’s the author/illustrator of two humorous early reader graphic novels featuring his original character, Hamster Sam.

When he’s not freelance writing or illustrating, McDonald works as a visiting teaching artist in elementary schools throughout North and South Carolina. His teaching can be found online through the educational platform EPIC! as well as Professor Garfield and on Youtube.

Favorite food:

Steak, medium; with a local craft IPA.

Who were some of your influences growing up?

Silly, slapstick humor is at the heart of what I enjoy most, and so I consumed ample doses of comedy from television cartoons created by Jay Ward (Rocky & Bullwinkle, Super Chicken), Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones (Bugs Bunny), Jim Henson’s Muppet Show and from record albums featuring musical satire and parody by Stan Freberg and Spike Jones.

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT DAVE

Art Process:

The bulk of my work is black and white “comic strip” style illustration and spot art.  I work ‘old school’ using pencil, paper and ink pens. For contracted illustration work, I begin with pencil roughs; typically will send a pic or jpg to the client, and we’ll go back and forth until a “final rough” is approved.  I then ink the work and send along for approval. If color is desired, I’ll use Photoshop for a flat fill (I am not a colorist). Occasionally for puppet designs that include color costuming details, I’ll use Prismacolor markers to create a textured look.

Published books:

The Secret Adventures of Hamster SAM: Attack of the Evil Boll Weevils! (DM Creative) 2008
Hamster S.A.M.  Odd-ventures in Space! (DM Creative) 2013

Awards and honors:

Cartoonist in Residence at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA, 2011
Graphic novels panelist at the NYC School Librarians Conference, 2013
Featured guest author/illustrator and presenter at the South Carolina Book Festival, 2014

Location:

Visit Dave at:

Available for School Visits:

For over 10 years, “Mr. Dave” has presented education-based arts programming to schools, libraries and museums through his “Kids Make Comics!” assemblies, artist in residencies and workshops.  His programs have been accredited by several state and local arts agencies in North and South Carolina, where he works with hundreds of kids each year through grant-funded visits. His programs combine the best of a traditional author visit with dynamic interactive drawing and writing exercises.  School assemblies are 45 minutes long; students draw along step by step with Mr. Dave to create exciting and original characters, and discover that writing can be just as much fun as drawing!


Jenny Fine

Humor

Jenny Fine is a Brooklyn-based illustrator and designer. She got her start in Los Angeles doing posters and merchandise for comedians. Her work can be seen on television (Room 104, I <3 You America, Children’s Hospital), on the web (Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, Dreamworks TV), and in editorial (Vice).

Before moving to New York, she spent 3 years as a Digital Designer, first at Warner Brothers and then at the CW Network. She enjoys salsa dancing, karaoke, history podcasts, and creating comics about her quirky interactions.

Favorite food:

Chèvre with sweet potato, chèvre with honey crisp apple, or chèvre with cherry tomatoes and avocado and taco seasoning on top.

What was your favorite book as a child?

The books I favored most were the ones where I could pore over each little detail, like “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” and “The Littles” especially, with the detailed cross sections of the characters homes that were built into unconventional places with improvised furniture. I also loved books that I could experience viscerally. I don’t remember the title, but one I read all the time was about a man who needed to make his ration of cheese last while traveling a long distance. I would slowly nibble a piece of cheese while reading, finishing it at the end along with the protagonist.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT JENNY

Mediums:

Specialties:

Art Process:

I do “pencil push-ups” every day before I start on an assignment. I get to draw anything I want, but I stay within the medium and subject matter. This usually involves an ipad because most of my jobs are digital.

When I start a new project I stir up inspiration by searching through thrift store fashion Instagram accounts – they rarely have uniformity with regards to “traditional” beauty standards; and they have really fun color themes and locations.

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

Location:

Visit Jenny at:

Published books:

Not announced yet.

Awards and honors:

Member of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS)

Available for School Visits:

Yes.