Wednesday , April 17 2024
"Be helpful and concerned for others – if you care for others, usually, God provides someone to help you."

Interview with Children’s Book Illustrator Kim Sponaugle

Kim Sponaugle is the illustrator of 13 children's picture books.  When she was 8 years old, her grandmom entered her picture in a "color the bunny" contest. She won. The prize was a paint-by-numbers set. But Kim soon got bored with the numbers and began painting on her own. With time, her love for drawing and painting grew stronger, which led her to earning a degree at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. She has sketched hundreds of children as a cartoon pastel and mural artist. Many of her children's books are to be released in 2008.

Thanks for being here today, Kim. What do you do for inspiration and unleashing your creativity?

I like to research projects before I begin. I like to develop character backgrounds, so I sometimes ask authors a list of questions about their characters likes, dislikes, backgrounds. It helps me know them better before I bring them to paper. I also like to go to auctions, flea markets, and yard sales. You can be inspired by an old tin, beat up toys and stuffed dolls, or piece of pottery. I especially love magazines like Ladies Home Journal and Family Circle from the '40s and '50s. Great family images of moms, dads and children – and I love the advertising.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?

Yes, it's Picture Kitchen Studio, which is my main site along with a “display case” for Picture Kitchen Studio which features authors and the books we have worked on together, new releases, sketchbooks and helpful links for a picture kitchen at my blog.

What are you working on now?

I am working on the first picture book in a series entitled “Randy Kazandy” that is a rhyming book about a little fellow who refuses to wear his new glasses! (wish I had that one for my son when he was five!) I have been working on a Tibetan folktale chapter book (The Little Swan) for Keene Publishing which I am really enjoying. The Oriental patterns, faces and landscapes are so rich and far different than what I am usually illustrating and is a great challenge regarding the research. I try to be as accurate as possible, so good research is vital to make the story believable. I am also finishing A Very Dragon Christmas for Dragonfly publishing which will be out in September/October and have just begun

 sketches for a little Christmas elf book which looks like a lot of fun. Thanks to God for being able to do what I really enjoy and the great projects and great folks I have been able to work with.

Where are your books available?

I think they are all available on Amazon and there are links on my site for purchase.

What was your experience in working with an authors?

I have had mainly terrific experiences working with authors. I try to find out what they envision for their book, clearly define the project, have a good basic contract, honor deadlines and keep in good communication with authors. This helps to make a great working relationship.

What advice would you offer aspiring illustrators?

Keep working at your craft and do your best to be the best that you can be. Try to be teachable — there will always be someone who knows more than you do and has a skill better mastered, so accept that and try to learn what you can. Be helpful and concerned for others – if you care for others, usually, God provides someone to help you. Don't take yourself so seriously, sometimes a good laugh helps when “it's hitting the fan!”

What was your favorite book as a child?

We did not have many books when I was a kid, but there were friends like Winnie the Pooh, Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham and the Little Wonder books were floating around our house. I don't know why, but I happened to love the Dick and Jane books when I was a 1st grader. What also enchanted me was when the book mobile would come to our school and I would walk into the trailer and see all the beautiful book covers, with princesses, fairies, monsters, trolls and bright Disney books.

What is the best advice on illustrating you've ever received?

Keep seeking, keep asking and keep knocking – be persistent and work hard. I think that may make the big difference between dreaming about something and actually living out a wonderful dream.

About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.

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