Sue was born in the Sunflower state (Kansas), now living in northwest Arkansas with her husband, two cats (Lily and Luna), and a dog (Dobby).
She recently left the corporate world where she was a multimedia designer for nearly 20 years. For as long as she can remember, she has wanted to write and illustrate children’s books. Now she’s working full-time on this dream.
Most of her drawings are about the antics of her furry friends, but food, flowers, and memories of a great childhood inspire her. She’s the oldest of seven children so she has lots of tales!
Here is Sue discussing her Process:
I always start by creating a few thumbnails.
Once I’ve decided on a design, I use tracing paper or vellum to draw it. I use a lightbox to experiment and help place things on the page.
When the drawing is done, I print a copy of it and make a value study.
Using the lightbox again, I will redraw the image onto watercolor paper using ink. Then I’m ready to start adding color.
I like to work in light layers and build up the color.
I let each color dry before glazing with new paint or color.
Slowly, the colors get brighter and bolder.
How long have you been illustrating?
I’ve been illustrating for 25 years.
Where do you live?
What was the first thing you painted where someone paid you for your work?
I used to design t-shirt artwork. I’m not sure I’ve done any paintings where I’ve been paid. I tend to give them away!!
Did you go to school for art? If so where and why did you pick that school?
I don’t have an art degree. My first time in college, I had a scholarship to study foreign languages. In my early 30s, I returned to school to take graphic design courses.
What did you study there?
I have a degree in Graphic Design. I also took Multimedia courses.
Do you feel College helped develop your style?
Maybe not my current painting or drawing style but I did learn a great deal about design layout and color theory.
What type of work did you do after you got out of school?
For the past 30 years, I worked for a large corporation. The first 10 years my job was in the word processing department. That job is now extinct! I returned to school to study Graphic Design. I changed to a new position in the company where I did mostly print design. Then everything went digital. So I did multimedia design – created websites, video, animations, infographics – things like that.
Have you seen your work change since you left school?
Oh, sure. Hopefully for the better!
What type of illustrating work have you been doing?
I was laid off from my corporate job last December. It was then that I decided to give myself permission to work full-time on my dream of becoming an illustrator. So, I’ve been putting together a portfolio. I give myself assignments. I’m hoping to find an agent and keep illustrating full time.
When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?
Probably ever since my mother read stories to me at bedtime! I studied the illustrations as she read the words. I knew then that I wanted to draw pictures for storybooks!
Have you illustrated a book yet? If so, how did you get that contract?
No, not yet.
Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own book?
I have written a few books and illustrated them. Maybe someday I will be published. A girl can dream!
What do you think is your biggest success?
Raising a wonderful daughter and getting her through nursing school. As far as my artwork…it hasn’t happened yet.
Have you ever tried to do a wordless picture book?
Yes, it’s very difficult!
Do you have an agent or an artist rep? If so, who and how long? If not, would you like to find an agent?
Not yet, but that would be great!
Do you illustrate full time? If not what other things do you do?
Since I got laid off, I still get up early every day and head to the studio instead of the office. I love putting in a full day doing artwork. I always have something to work on and the days really fly by.
Once a week, I go to the library and read books in the children’s section. I find this comparable to visiting the Louvre and studying the Masters.
Do you have a favorite medium you use?
Watercolor and ink.
Do you take research pictures before you start a project?
Sometimes. Especially if I’m drawing a person in a certain pose. Mostly, I just use myself as a model or use a mirror to help see poses or facial expressions that I’m having trouble drawing.
Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?
Yes, mostly just to clean up a picture or tweak it a bit.
Do you have and use a graphic tablet?
Has any of your work appeared in magazines?
A few years ago, I submitted some drawings to Weight Watcher magazine. They did a small feature on me because instead of WRITING everything I ate I used to DRAW it.
Do you studio a studio in your house?
Do you follow any type of routine to attain your career goals?
I start early every day. Most days I’m in the studio by 7:30. I’m definitely a morning person.
I give myself assignments. I write stories and illustrate them. Sometimes, I just illustrate a fairy tale or a fable.
Do you think the Internet has opened any doors for you?
Most definitely. I’ve met some great illustrators through their blogs and websites. I’ve been blogging for many years. It motivates me to keep creating and to share my work.
Earlier this year, I joined SCBWI so I’ve met a few writers and illustrators there.
What are your career goals?
I would love to find an agent and work full-time illustrating books and magazines for children. That’s my dream!
What are you working on now?
I have a series of picture books about a very imaginative little girl. I’ve been working on making dummy books for these stories.
Are there any painting tips (materials, paper, etc.) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?
I prefer Arches cold-press watercolor paper. My paintings are layers of glazing and Arches seems to handle lots of water very well. I like to start light and build up to dark, bold layers of color.
Micron pens are great but I also use Uniball Vision pens. Both of these are waterproof and come in different line weights.
Vellum or tracing paper helps in the early stages of a drawing.
Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?
Draw every day. No one gets good at anything unless you work at it.
Create a website or a blog. Put yourself out there!
Never give up on your dream.
Thank you Sue for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us. To see more of Sue’s work, you can visit her at website at: http://www.suetinchermaib.com/
If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Sue. I am sure she’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!