Ash Szymanik

Ash Szymanik

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!


Duachaka Her

Duachaka Her

Duachaka Her is a Hmong-American cartoonist and illustrator from Wisconsin. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a BFA in Entertainment Design and concentration in Comics and Sequential Art. She creates graphic novels, illustrates picture books, and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators organization.

Hmong-American children's book and graphic novel creator Duachaka Her at her home in Wisconsin

What is your favorite food?

My mom’s slow-cooked pork and mustard greens. It’s simple, savory, and just melts in your mouth with each bite! Definitely one of my favorite comfort foods!

What do you love to do for fun?

Read my stack of unfinished books, watch movies, and spend time with family.

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT DUACHAKA

Art Process:

My process usually starts out with me doing research, reading, or getting inspiration. From there, I do rough sketches in a sketchbook and test out various ideas and compositions. The chosen sketch gets penciled and inked traditionally on paper. I start out with a rough sketch of the entire drawing on paper and then start refining the pencils. After that, I go over the drawing with India ink and brush. Once the ink is completely dried, I erase all the pencil work and scan the piece. I’ll retouch and edit the scanned artwork in Adobe Photoshop and then do my colors digitally.

Awards and honors:

2019 SCBWI Marvelous Midwest Conference Art Show – Honorable Mention

2018 International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival Poster Contest – Grand Prize Winner

Location:

Visit Duachaka at:

Available for School Visits:

Yes. My visits usually consist of me doing a reading of my book and/or a presentation about my life as an artist and my art-making process followed by Q&A.


David Pierce

David Pierce

Dave Pierce is an Author/Illustrator from the Northwest.

He re-discovered his passion for telling stories when he taught reading alongside his wife in the same Elementary classroom. Shortly after, he gained his certification to teach Art (K-12) and dove into the kidlit world via SCBWI. He is motivated by the “Ah-Hah!” moments that come when children read and stories that invite us to explore our place in the world.

He graduated from The Evergreen State College with an emphasis in Illustration, and studied Character Design and Digital Painting through The Oatley Academy of Visual Storytelling.

What do you love to do for fun?

Snowboard, Soccer, Hike, Music, Board and Video Games, and lots more. I probably have too many interests, but each one is so fun.

Favorite travel spots:

I’ve done a lot of travelling around Europe, but I have to say that Austria is my favorite. Go to Salzburg in the late spring and head into the mountains. Tell me you won’t have the Sound of Music running through your head!

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT DAVID

Art Process:

I try and leverage both digital and traditional media in my workflow.

One of the best things about working digitally is you can always undo things and make sweeping adjustments to composition by transforming and moving. This makes it a powerful tool early on when the ideas are just sketches. (Just don’t forget to click Save!)

As good as digital tools are, there’s something so *tangible* about creating traditionally. The feels and smells are wonderful, and I’ll get happy accidents that can inspire. Plus, you can work outside on a sunny day! (A rare treat in Washington State.)

I’ll usually make thumbnail ideas by pencil and scan them into the computer. Once in digital form, I’ll move its chunks around until I’m excited about it. From here I have a choice to continue digitally or print out the art for transfer via a light table. This works great for moving forward with Ink and Watercolor.

Sometimes I’ll stay traditional if it’s graphite or dry media, or go all-digital if it’s going to be something that demands more control. The important thing is knowing your tools and which approach will be most useful.

Location:

Visit David at:

Available for School Visits:

I enjoy doing visits in the classroom setting. This allows for hands-on learning with the students and making something collaborative together. My goal is to inspire the next generation of creatives, and to encourage anyone to try drawing and storytelling, whether they consider themselves an artist or not.


Elizabeth Jancewicz

Elizabeth Jancewicz

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.


Black Sands Entertainment

Black Sands Entertainment

Black Sands Entertainment is a production studio established in 2016 to develop comics and animated series aimed at African-American families. Their successful series The Seven Kingdoms, Sons of Nibiru, Cosmic Girls, and Mori’s Family Adventures have sold over 25,000 copies direct to consumers and generated $500K in revenue in less than 3 years.

Published books:

Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #1, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #2, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #3, Black Sands Entertainment
Sons of Nibiru, Black Sands Entertainment
Mori’s Family Advantures – South Africa, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands Ultimate Edition, Black Sands Entertainment
Mori’s Family Adventures – Rio, Black Sands Entertainment
Brazilian Culture Exchange, Black Sands Entertainment
World Traveling Coloring Book, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #4, Black Sands Entertainment
Cosmic Girls, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #5, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the First Pharaoh, Black Sands Entertainment


Shannon Slaughter

Shannon Slaughter

Shannon Slaughter’s artist’s name is Jazine (JazineDraws). She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. At the time of graduating, she specialized in oil paintings, but she later transitioned to digital mediums, where she is self-taught. Her style is inspired by fantasy, portraiture, semi-realism, and Japanese pop culture.

She currently works as an elementary school special education teacher.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman. I loved the dog’s hat and I wanted to make one of my own as a kid, but I never did.  Maybe it is not too late though?

What is your favorite food?

I love mashed potatoes. I know they are not the healthiest thing to eat, but if it is offered to me, I won’t turn it down. My mom told me that one day I will turn into a potato.

Mediums:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT SHANNON

Art Process:

For illustrations, I begin with several pencil sketches in my sketchbook or on Bristol paper. I may use Copic markers for shading. I will then scan the chosen sketch into the computer and open it in Clipstudio Paint.

I first create a grayscale draft that includes shadows and highlights. I choose a combination of digital watercolor and digital oil paint as my mediums. Once I am satisfied with the grayscale draft, I will use a combination of gradient maps, tweaking of layer attributes and overlaying layers of color at a low opacity to add color to my painting. Throughout the process, I am thinking of which colors can best convey the feeling I want for the final picture. I use the graphics editor Krita to assist in any additional color corrections.


Damon Lehrer

Damon Lehrer

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

Kaia Tseng

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:


Dave McDonald

Dave McDonald

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!


Mike Sgier

Mike Sgier

Mike Sgier is a cartoonist and printmaker based in Philadelphia. Born and raised outside of Denver, Mike received a BFA from Creighton University, and an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He has been making comics since 2006, exploring a wide range of genres in the medium, including autobio, indie romance, and humorous sci-fi. His current comics are based in the fantasy genre, following an array of characters in a world called Vespers.

Mike is an active member of BYO Print, a printmaking studio and collective in Philadelphia.

What was your favorite book as a child?

A tie between ‘James and the Giant Peach’ by Roald Dahl, and ‘The Mouse and the Motorcycle’ by Beverly Cleary.

Favorite travel spots:

Dublin, Ireland and Kyoto, Japan

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT MIKE

Art Process:

My creative process starts by drawing quick, small thumbnails of the image, trying out different compositions, and determining which visual elements will be used. Based on these quick drawings, I’ll complete 3-4 small drawings (around 4.25” x 5.5”) with the basic elements in play, but still not too detailed. These drawings help to give an idea of where the image can go, but also help to determine if different routes are needed to achieve the result the client is seeking.

Once a drawing is approved by the client, I transfer it to a fresh sheet of paper where I finish it, most often with pen and ink. Then I scan and clean it up, adding digital techniques if necessary.

For relief printmaking, I transfer the drawing to a block of wood or linoleum, carve it, and pull prints from the block. This process may add more time, but it can also provide the image with a singular expressive element.

Location:

Visit Mike at:

Published books:

Once Upon a Time Machine Vol. 2: Greek Gods and Legends (Dark Horse Comics, 2018)
Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream
(Locust Moon Press, 2014)
Quarter Moon
(Locust Moon Press, 2013-2015)
Colonial Comics – New England, 1620-1750
(Fulcrum Publishing, 2014)
Rock Ink Roll
(Altered Esthetics, 2013)
Lutefisk Sushi
(International Cartoonist Conspiracy/Big Time Attic, 2008 & 2010)

Available for School Visits:

I have worked with all ages of students to show my creative process for both comics and printmaking, from college level to elementary school. I enjoy teaching kids how to create their own characters, gadgets, and environments as part of a game.