We are excited to launch a new series of blog posts, highlighting our published members and their work. So join in me giving a hearty SCBWI Switzerland welcome to Simona Ceccarelli!
Her new book is called “SOIC and SOT: The Microchips” and it’s a lovely picture book.
Tell us about your new book.
“SOIC and SOT”, written by Jeffrey C. Dunnihoo, is a friendship story…only the friends happen to be microchips! After a harsh separation at the assembly line, they experience all the scary stages of electronics production and finally get to meet again in the most fantastic of ways: through the network.
The book is published by Pragma Media, which has set itself the goal of making electronics approachable and interesting for children. It is part of a three-book series, with the next two scheduled for next year.
Every page of “SOIC and SOT” has QR codes that link to a webpage with additional information about each step of the friends’ journey - for the most curious engineers-to-be.
What inspired you when working on this project?
I had to learn a lot about electronics myself to illustrate this book - and it’s a fascinating topic. It was thrilling to have experts review my illustrations and provide feedback. The author, Jeff Dunnihoo, is an electronics engineer. He was always happy to explain the hows and whys behind every detail: I ended up learning a lot more than what is included in the book and stand in wonder at what happens inside all our electronic devices.
Having a scientific background definitely helped.
Tell us about the creative process for this book.
It was a fun challenge to make microchips interesting and relatable as characters, convey emotions and have some dynamic range of expression. That’s why the first step of the process was extensive character design.
Finding the right style for the final illustrations also took some time. We wanted the book to have a painterly feel, but there had to be sufficient details as well. At the end, we settled for a colored-pencil look, which allowed to have both texture and fine linework.
I work digitally, but in a way that emulates traditional media.
The hardest part of creating the illustrations was collecting the right reference, because all technical details had to be caricatured yet accurate. There is a circuit board on many spreads: to keep consistency, I created a model of it in a 3D software to use as reference. Pragma provided a lot of images as well as technical files of the components and there were many changes before the board looked right: it’s completely fictional but looks like it could work!
Did you encounter anything unexpected while working on this project.
I found myself watching factory training videos to know how the inside of the assembly machines looked like.
Now for something completely different! Autumn or Spring, Why?
Autumn. Red and yellow are my favorite colors!
Thank you very much Simona for giving us an opportunity to learn more about your new book and your creative process. I must say it’s so interesting to hear how much you had to learn in order to produce accurate yet charming illustrations.
We wish you all the best on your continued journey as a children’s book illustrator and look forward to more books by you.
Bio – Simona Ceccarelli
After an exceptionally nerdy childhood, Simona left home with a passion for both art and science, a large library – which has been growing out of control ever since – and a dream that life would offer wealth beyond riches and several roads to travel. Her first journey was to study science and, after earning a doctorate, she worked as a medical research scientist for more than 10 years.
Art eventually lured her back to follow "the road not taken.” She studied illustration and visual development at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, and since 2013 she’s been happily doing illustration and animation projects for magazines, advertising and scientific education.
In 2016 she joined SCBWI and focussed almost exclusively on children’s book illustration. She has since illustrated two direct-to-school reading books for Rubicon Publishing (“The Horse of Seven Colors” and “Circle of Friends”), designed the cover and characters for a successfully crowdfunded book by the Microactivist Foundation and illustrated the “SOIC and Friends” book series for Pragma Media, of which “SOIC and SOT” is the first book. She is currently working on several educational titles for Rizzoli/Mondadori and Scholastic. Her first trade book as illustrator: “If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon” with Sterling Children’s Books (written by Joyce Lapin), will be released in April 2019.
Simona lives in Basel, Switzerland, with her husband and two children.
For children’s books, she is represented by Andrea Cascardi, Transatlantic Literary Agency
BY MONIKA BAUM, ILLUSTRATOR COORDINATOR
There are a few things to be said about children’s book illustration and twitter: Twitter can get you work as an illustrator, but mostly because someone has tweeted a link to an external site. Because of this, the platform is more suited towards networking, tips and chats.
It is also a secondary platform to Instagram where illustrators share their artwork and tag it with strategic hashtags.
You do not need to have an account to have a look around and explore, as everything is public, but it helps in case you want to keep track of a few things or to network. Keeping that in mind, twitter can be extremely helpful but also time-consuming.
To write this blog, I thought I would compile a list of art directors and illustrators that post content relevant to illustration and how to get work opportunities. However, that proved to be rather time consuming and would have had to be periodically kept up to date at a later point in time.
So instead, I will write about how to make Lists to help you create your own groups of people you’d like to collectively keep an eye on.
“A list is a curated group of Twitter users and a great way to organise your interests.”
To create a list:
1. Click on your profile picture on the top-most ribbon and then click on “Lists”.
2. On the page that opens up next there’s a button for creating a list.
These lists can be set to either public or private. (This means that you can see other people's public lists and you can subscribe to them, which can potentially save you a lot of time but is possibly not fully meeting your children's book illustration interests.)
Here you will also see the lists you have
- subscribed to and
- been added to by others.
Ideas for Lists:
• Art Directors
• SCBWI / PB / MG / YA /… authors
• SCBWI / PB / MG / YA / digital / traditional/… illustrators
• Europolitan attendees
• Frankfurt Book Fair stuff
• Bologna Book Fair people I need to make sure to say Hello to
To add people to existing lists:
1. Go to their main twitter page.
2. To the left of the “Follow” button, click on the “settings” symbol and then on “Add or remove from lists…”
3. These people will get a notification that you have added them to your list.
4. You can now see the extra ribbon item “Lists” on your own Twitter page.
Click on any list and you’ll see only the tweets by people who are on it.
Hashtags and how to save them
Some of the main (children’s book) illustration hashtags that you might want to check out are:
There are so many more hashtags that have to do with sketching and doodling, but for the purpose of this blog post, we’ll stay with the children’s book hashtags.
Rants, problems, vents, praises and delights can be tweeted with #amdrawing, #ampainting and #amillustrating, analogous to the writer’s hashtags of #amwriting, #amrevising and #amplotting.
To save one of these hashtag searches, click on:
1. “More options” on the search result page,
2. and then on “Save this search”.
The hashtag search will then appear in an auto-complete-like drop-down that appears when you click into the empty twitter search box.
It is possible to search for (and save) all tweets containing a specific hashtag by a specific account with: "#hashtag from:username".
For example, to see all tweets from Susann Spann, a publishing attourney, about publishing law, you would type in the search box: PubLaw from:SusannSpann
Let’s continue though with the relevant and specific children’s book illustration things to be found on twitter.
This is the fun part!
The KidLitArt ChatThere is one chat that illustrators of children’s books should probably follow - if they are awake:
The KidLitArt Chat on Thursdays at 9pm Eastern Time (which is 2 am for Britain and 3 am for most of mainland Europe).
To participate, make sure your tweets and replies contain “#kidlitart”.
Topics are announced on @kidlitart and kidlitart.blogspot.com, and by the moderators: @DiandraMae, @rubinpingk and @blythe_russo.
Art Tips, online illustration schools ...
Guiseppe Castellano @pinocastellano, Executive Art Director at Penguin Random House, regularly posts art tips on his twitter account.
They are extremely helpful to go through for when you are not sure about your promotional postcard, your artistic voice, things to avoid, interesting kidlitart podcasts to listen to, portfolio tips, website advice and external links to even more art tips. To view all of his art tips, copy and paste the following into the twitter search box: #arttips from:pinocastellano.
Do check out Susann Spann @SusannSpann, publishing attourney. Her #PubLaw tweets are helpful for both writers and illustrators for dealing with contracts, agents, editors, copyright, licensing and much more: #PubLaw from:SusannSpann.
Worth mentioning here is also the twitter account “Tips from Jesse Hamm” @Hamm_Tips by @jesse_hamm whose posts focus most on design, composition, visual storytelling, comics.
The following illustrator resources should also be included because they are active on twitter and announce upcoming classes, podcasts and other happenings regularly. The majority of their kidlitart-helpful content is outside of twitter though:
The School of Visual Storytelling @SVSLearn
"Specializing in illustration education in fields of visual storytelling." Some their instructors are: @willterry333, @mrjakeparker, @sillybeast_ltd, @paintFACT, @yangmeister, @deniszilber, @ZacDRetz, @annwhitfordpaul, @tycarterart, @jimmadsen.
The Oatley Academy of Visual Storytelling @OatleyAcademy by @ChrisOatley
"The most personal art education you can find online." Chris Oatley teaches you how to paint digitally, illustrate stories and design characters.
... and more
• KidLit Artists @KidLitArtists Tips, resources and news for children's book illustrators & writers from @SCBWI-LA Illustration Mentees, past & present.
• Illustrators @cillustrators Children's Illustrators Showcase - promoting the best #kidlitart & #illustration.
• The Children's Writer's Guild @CWGORG The Children's Writer's Guild is an online magazine and community for children's writers, illustrators, educators–and anyone interested in children's media!
• SCBWI Illustrators @SCBWI_illustrat Illustrator members of the British Isles Region of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).
• CBC Book @CBCBook The best in children's and young adult literature and literacy news!
• Children's Bookshelf @PWKidsBookshelf A free e-newsletter from Publishers Weekly that reports on children's and YA books.
• Directory of Illustration @DirIllustration Art buyers, art directors, and creative directors discover outstanding artists for commercial assignments through the Directory of #Illustration.
• KIDLIT411 @KIDLIT411 Everything kid lit- in one place! Your one stop info. Shop!
Other fun illustration hashtags and challenges
#scbwidrawthis by @scbwi
#colour_collective by @Clr_Collective
#IllustrationFriday by @ifri
#sketchdailies by @SketchDaily
#monthoflove by @MonthofLove
#Inktober, @Inktober by @mrjakeparker
#draw100somethings by @mrjakeparker
Twitter for children’s book illustrators – never mind illustrators in general! - is far bigger than what I have posted here, but I hope I have given a good starting point from where to build your network, lists and hashtag searches.
Tweet us @SCBWISwiss or email us if you have further helpful kidlitart-twitter-info to add!
Willkommen! Bienvenue! Benvenuto! Bainvegnì! Welcome!