Romi Caron is a professional illustrator with over 20 years of experience in:
– Children books
– Children’s magazines
– Annual reports
– Informational booklets
– Association magazines
– Museum kiosks
She mostly uses the following mediums – Watercolors – Pastel – Airbrush – Colored pencils – Pen and ink – Acrylic paint.
Here is Romi talking about the making of a beer bottle label:
First I start with b/w sketches. I discuss with client direction, movement he prefers and finalize in b/w.
I use any kind of aquarelle paper with low grain texture. I like change. This one was handmade.
Mock-up for Client.
Final Sketch: I transfer final b/w sketch on light table and put light base color over all drawing.
For better idea I add color with airbrush and pencil.
Gradually I add more and more details. Finally I adjust contrast. I must be able to see well all details without my glasses.
Finally, this is how it looks on the bottle.
How long have you been illustrating?
I started as a fine art university student. I was living 5 years in my aunt’s house with her 3 children 9,12 and 14. Their father was very, very famous Czech TV writer. He died one month before I moved in. Kids wanted to make anything to cheer their mother for Christmas. So they wrote a story and I made illustrations. In school I learned handmade professional binding and first books were born. We did 1-2 books a year. I discovered passion!
What was the first thing you painted where someone paid you for your work?
I started very young working for my father. He was an architect and did a lots of work at home. We were all family members sitting around the big dining table and hand coloring plans. As I was older I started drawing trees, than people between houses and I finished with technical 3D perspective drawings.
I had also passion for portraits. I did hundreds of them. But I was paid not in money for that :D.
What made you decide to attend the Prague University of Fine Arts?
I never ever thought about doing different thing than my parents, grand-parents or relatives. Architecture or art. My sister and brother are architects I did art.
I was admitted on extremely selective secondary school of art in Brno. I was 14. We were one class, 36 students from all region. Drawing and painting exams were the whole day and I won the first place.
I studied there 4 years and LOVED every second of it! We were 6 students in paint specialization. No math’s, no chemistry or physics but lots of drawing and painting, history of art, axonometry, technologies of colors, calligraphy, photography…
University of applied art in Prague was my dream and it was not easy to get in. I draw not only in school but minimum 2-4 hours after school every day. Talent exams for University were two eight hour days. I was accepted as youngest student. We were 37 from 750 students from the whole republic.
What did you study there?
I studied glass atelier. It was said to be the best atelier. We were only 3 students in my year. Our Professor, Libensky, was the only one from university who was not in communist party. He was so good and so famous, that communists allowed him to teach.
Do you feel College helped develop your style?
I am not sure I developed style but I certainly trained hand and perfect observation. We were every day 4 hours standing in front of 2m paper on frame and drawing and painting naked figures. Afternoon we had other drawing and glass techniques. Our fingers were constantly bleeding form touching paper. I don’t think anyone can go through 5 years of this training without learning to draw with closed eyes :D.
What type of work did you do after you got out of school?
Actually my first work was drawing perspectives for architect company in Montreal.
Did the University help you get work?
No one ever ask me about my diploma in Canada. I was asked to show portfolio. My work was so different that usually editor or art director call special meeting and show my work to his colleagues. It does not mean it was easy to get work. I had no connection or help at all. I had only love of my husband and love like ours I wish to everyone.
Have you seen your work change since you left school?
Of course I did. I studied more fine art. In Canada I had to survive and learned to do anything. Thanks to my training, I dare to say, I can do almost any style in any media. I don’t have one style but many.
When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?
Since and when I was illustrating books for my young cousins.
How many picture books have you illustrated?
If I count also book covers with b/w inside illustrations it would be over 70.
What was the title of your first picture book? What year was that?
I’ve got this contract by being at the right place at the right time. I went for 3 days in Toronto and knocked on closed doors. One of them was “Owl communication” I actually only let there my flier with exams of my work.
It was 1996 and title “Time to eat” with Marilyn Baillie. Books won several prices.
I see that you illustrated six books written by Marilyn Baillie. How did that happen? Where you friends?
We met only ones after first 4 books were published. I was visiting Toronto and asked the publisher if I can meet her. We were both very happy with our collaboration.
What has been your biggest success?
My family life :D! Ones I will write and illustrate a book about it.
How did you get the contract with Accord to illustrate Baby Turtle’s Tale: A Mini Animotion Book?
Iv’ got contract by internet. I am on “childrensillustrators,com”. It was very tight deadline trough summer, I guess their usual illustrators were not available :D. May be my experience in animation company as assistant animator helped. I had such a wonderful time doing it!
What is an animotion book?
Just buy it and see. It is simply amazing. Every kid must love it! No battery and picture moves as you move pages. I was told, It was second colored animotion book in the world.
Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own picture book?
I did 5! They are not with or about my art but about kids doing art.
My real dream is to do a book with “native” Americans or Inuit kids. They have great art potential. I am art teacher and know a lot about illustration. If I find editor and author willing to help, we can have award winning book done entirely by kids. You have no idea how being published can change self esteem in kids!
Have you ever thought about doing a wordless picture book?
I did several mini books for my kids when they learned to read. It was not completely wordless. But on the page was only aaaaaaaaa or ooooooooo or iiiiiiiiiiiiii and than simple but fanatical words. They loved it and I would love to share these ideas with others. My kids red simple messages 4- 5 years old. They are quite normal, just had different learning methods.
Do you have an artist rep.? If so, how and when did you connect? If not, would you like to have an agent?
I don’t. But why not.
What types of things do you do to get work?
Nothing :D. I did 22 years ago. I dressed well when I had interview :D. I had 2-4 in the same day. I never ask for employment I wanted to be freelancer.
Childrensillustrator.com works well for me now. I do also a lot teaching in schools. All is only word of mouth. If you would see what kids can do in 1-2 hours art course with me, you would be jealous! I am.
Have you ever worked with a self-published author? Would you be open to that?
I did at least 10 and have great satisfaction from it. If I am allowed, I also supervise book design. Results are quite nice.
Do you do any other type of illustration other than for children books?
Of course. I live in Ottawa area. Federal government, museums and advertising business are very good clients.
Do you have a favorite medium you use?
Most probably aquarelle combined with classic airbrush and pencils. It is very fast drying technique. But I love almost as much pastel or acrylic. I love to try something new every time.
Do you take research pictures before you start a project?
It is absolutely mandatory, especially with animal drawings.
Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?
I recently learned working on Photoshop and am progressing with every job. It is a must even for traditional illustrator as I am.
Do you have and use a graphic tablet?
I am very seriously thinking about it. But then I would not hold at the end this beautiful original :(. so may be next or after next year?
Have you done any illustrations for educational publishers?
Yes I did. In past and right now I finished some illustrations for “Pearson”.
Has any of your work appeared in magazines?
I had 2 regular columns for 4-6 years about art with kids in magazine for parents “Enfants” published in Montreal/Quebec. I was working for them occasionally for 10 years at least.
Do you have a studio in your house?
Very nice studio with 5 windows and marionettes theater! I have over 120 classical Czech marionettes. When my kids were young I would play at least 2 times weekly for kindergartens.
Do you follow any type of routine to attain your career goals?
No, but I draw every day even on vacation. I make sketches or portraits of people around me, country, animals. Or I teach kids around me to do some art work. May be I am workaholic or hyperactive or I simply love what I do?
Any exciting projects on the horizon?
hahaha, I will go for 11th time to cook as head cook on boys scout camp. (I published also a cookbook about cooking with kids). When I have spare time I paint castles and knights on walls there and make portraits of boys. Everyone needs some honest admirers :D.
Do you think the Internet has opened any doors for you?
What are your career goals?
To do what I love and share it with others as long as I live!
What are you working on now?
I am working on a book about animals trough Dinardo design. I can’t yet say the name of editor or any other details. I published this year 3 books. “J’aime ma mamie” and “J’aime mon papi”. Adorable two books for 2-4 years old and their grandparents. And one book for self publishing author about apparition of virgin Mary in Medjugorje for 5-12 years old kids.
Are there any painting tips (materials, paper, etc.) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?
Artist who “knows” can use any material. Good material does diference The clue is drawing every day. It is the same for concert musicians or successful sportsman 🙂
Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?
When you are surrounded by people you love, everything is so much easier. Draw/paint every day. It is like religion, if you don’t pray (draw) do not expect miracles :D.
Do not believe anyone saying: “You can’t do it” or “Artists are poor”. It all depends on time and energy you put in it. Every form of any art takes enormous quantity of energy!
Dress well, when you meet client ;).
Thank you Romi for sharing your talent, process, and journey with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us.
To see more of Romi’s work, visit her Web site, http://www.romicaron.com
If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Romi. I am sure she’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!