Joe Latham

Writing

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

Writing

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.


Ed Masessa

Writing

Born in nineteen something, I am the second oldest of 10 children. I was raised in the small town of Middlesex, NJ and attended Rutgers University. As anyone who has met me can attest to, I live by the mantra “Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.” Formerly employed as a grease monkey, office cleaner, fast food manager, forklift operator, warehouse supervisor, sales rep, and automotive purchasing manager, I retired from Scholastic Book Fairs in 2016 where I was responsible for selecting many of the books that appeared on the fairs. While on the surface, it appears that I was unqualified for such a critical role, I earned my stripes through hard work and LOTS of reading – and I mean LOTS!

Twenty or so years ago, I turned to the wonderful memories of my childhood and began to write. My second book, The Wandmaker’s Guidebook, had a nine-week run on the NY Times Bestseller list, two weeks at #1!  Now a full-time writer, I remain active in the Kidlit community by participating in library, reading, and writing conferences throughout the year, and by visiting schools to share my writing techniques with students. And I am an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard

Who are your favorite children’s authors?

Jack Gantos, Neal Shusterman, and Jennifer Holm

Available for School Visits:

I love doing school visits! I can do up to three presentations in the same day that include grades 1-2 for picture books and early readers and grades 3-6 for my writing process and novels. Presentations can be customized from 20-45 minutes and only a laptop with a projector is needed (plus a microphone for large audiences). Fees are highly flexible.

Location:

Visit Ed at:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT ED

Specialties:

Creative Process:

I need to write outdoors. There’s something about sitting in a park, or near a lake, or by the gently rolling waves of the Florida surf that allows my mind to wander and opens it to unconstrained thoughts. This is especially helpful since I am an extreme pantser – that is, I write by the seat of my pants. I find it impossible to create an outline other than a general synopsis of the beginning, middle, and end of a book. I am constantly amazed at what has taken shape on the page at the end of my writing block of time. I love when I can look at my words and say, ‘Wow! I never saw THAT coming!’

I also hand-write everything and every project has its own notebook. My first pass at revision is when I sit down to type what I’ve written into a word doc.

Awards and honors:

The Wandmaker’s Guidebook:
#1 NY Times bestseller for four weeks
ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults

Wandmaker:
Parent’s Choice Award for “Fun Stuff”

Wandmaker’s Apprentice:
Florida Book Awards gold medal in the middle grade category

Scarecrow Magic:
starred review from PW

Published books:

Backpack Kitty Goes to Camp (early reader)
Travel-size Pups Around the World (early reader)
Mixed-up Pups (early reader)
Real Life Monsters (non-fiction)
Wandmaker’s Guidebook (novelty)
Wandmaker (novel)
Wandmaker’s Apprentice (novel)
Time Traveler’s Journal (novelty)
Scarecrow Magic (picture book)
Pumpkin Magic (picture book)
There Was an Old Dog Who Needed a Nap (forthcoming picture book)
Snowman’s Big Adventure (forthcoming picture book)


Ash Szymanik

Writing

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

Writing

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


Duachaka Her

Writing

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

Writing

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.


Black Sands Entertainment

Writing

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

Location:

Visit Black Sands Entertainment at:

Available for School Visits:

Yes.


Damon Lehrer

Writing

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:

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

Writing

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: