Shiho Pate is a New York based Illustrator. She is originally from Japan and has lived in USA for 10+ years now. A Japanese artist living in America, Shiho Pate is passionate about creating art for children. A graduate with honors from Savannah College of Art and Design – and a winner in the International Award Citta di Chioggia put on by the Associazione Culturale Teatrio of Venice – Shiho started her career as an artist for several indie gaming studios in NYC. In her ten plus years in that industry, she published many social games and mobile games but her passion has always been children’s book illustration. Now, with her recent move to Southern California, she has turned her focus to breaking into our industry. (Break out is more like it!) With a playful, bold style that combines all of her talents – gouache, watercolor and digital media – Shiho creates both warmth and a kind of simplistic imperfection in her Work that is both endearing and enduring. Support and inspiration comes from her daughter, husband and an old yet still very energetic Jack Russell Terrier.
Shiho Pate’s Illustration Process:
I start with thumbnails, then…
After thumbnail sketches and couple of rough sketches, I do one tight sketch to use as a guide.
Using the lightbox, I trace the sketch and create shapes. I use brush and ink for bigger shapes. I usually leave them uneven to give it more texture. For small or intricate areas, I use pencil. I also create textures.
I scan in all of the pieces and start laying them out over the sketch in Photoshop. I have a color palette on the side as a guide, but I also love happy accidents when I use different blend mode in layers.
Once all the pieces are in place, I add textures and look at the balance of the illustration.
Interview Questions for Shiho Pate:
How long have you been illustrating?
I graduated from SCAD in 2008. I wanted to start my career as a freelance illustrator but needed a full-time job to get a working visa, I started work for an indie game company. I worked there and two other game companies for almost 10 years, where I got “scads” of experience as a lead artist, a UI designer, a character designer, an animator and illustrator … all at the same time. Since my move to California, I am slowly transitioning to becoming a full-time children’s book illustrator.
What and when was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?
Right after college, when I was looking for full time job, I did a freelance job for an education company: twenty plus illustrations of beans themed in holidays, historical eras, science etc.
Why did you choose to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design?
I attended a SCAD summer program during high school. I fell in love with everything about the illustration department, from the small lopsided historic building (which I hear is not used anymore to the quirky professors who are brutally students to the beautiful city of Savannah itself. I didn’t apply to other colleges, which now that I think about it, was a scary, risky move.
What did you study there?
I majored in Illustration.
Do you think art school influenced your style?
I would use the word “refined.” My style changed a lot during college. I focused more on how to communicate with illustration rather than finding my style. I also learned different techniques and mediums which changed my style, too. I settled in with my current style after college.
What type of job did you do right after you graduated?
I did a couple of freelance illustration jobs right after college but my full-time job as an game artist at an indie game company is officially, my first job.
How did you get decide to move to NYC to be a gaming artist?
I did not want to drive and I wanted to be in the city so the New York subway system was perfect for me. My college boyfriend (who is now my husband) came to help me with the move, and got a job offer as an animator the next day. So, that was a big reason and motivation to stay and find a job in New York. I almost accepted a job as a textile artist, but I really liked the people and atmosphere of the indie game community. The games ndustry s very unique and tight, and it seemed an ideal way to connect to children, which is and has always been my goal.
What did you do to win the International Award Citta di Chioggia?
The theme, “Beyond the Mirror,” intrigued me, and I thought it was fun. made sure that the “having fun” feeling was part of the illustration.
What caused you to leave NYC for sunny California?
My husband got a job in California, and it was the best choice for my daughter.
When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?
I think I officially accepted it as a career during high school. I always casually thought about it since my mother was in a children’s book-making class, but my initial passion was to become a children’s therapist using dolphins. When I was looking for colleges, I thought about how reading children’s books had helped me. I lived in the U.K. for 3 years at a very young age. I moved back to Japan, then moved to the U.S.A. during high school. Living between different countries is a great experience ut it’s challenging all the same. My mother tried to keep something “the same,” and that was our family’s tradition of reading from our library of children’s books. Her book collection was my escape. I wanted to create a world like that, myself, for children.
On your website you say you are an UI Designer. Can you tell me what that is?
I included “UI Designer” as a title since a game company, especially those bigger companies, rarely hires a artist who can’t do everything. A UI Designer designs user interfaces, anything that the player will see and interact with. It’s a big role since the designer has to understand UX (user experience) design and game design to create a screen that a player can easily understand and respond to. We consult with the engineers to make sure the design is easy to implement and works smoothly, so you have to be a good communicator, and a team player. We define and influence the mood and pacing of the game, sounds, type, animation, illustration etc. In addition, we help with cutting up assets, implement and animating the UI.
Is that your daughter reading the book in the video on your website? And did you make that book?
I think you are referring to my instagram post? If so, yes! My daughter was telling me the stories about each page. I made the book as a self-promotional piece.
Did you take classes on book design and book making?
Yes, at SCAD, with my awesome professor Allan Drummond.
Have you done any book covers?
Not yet but I would love to!
Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own children’s book?
Yes — I’m working on it!
Would you be open to illustrating a book for an author who wants to self-publish?
I would like to focus on illustrating books from traditional publishers first, but I’d be open to it, yes.
Have you ever tried to illustrate a wordless picture book?
Yes, but it’s so hard not to fill in the gaps!
Have you worked with educational publishers?
Yes; as above, with the beans illustrations. I also created an educational game for Ad Council that was played by thousands of high school students.
Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?
I love everything about the children’s industry, and would be delighted to participate in any way … so yes!
How did you connect with your artist rep Deborah Warren of East/West Literary?
I was introduced by my amazing mentor (although he probably won’t like being called a mentor because he is so kind!)Aaron Meshon.
What types of things do you do to find illustration work before you found an agent?
I enter competitions and the 3×3 directory. I find connections through friends in the game industry and send self-promotion pieces through snail mail.
What is your favorite medium to use?
Brush, ink and Photoshop combination. I often get puzzled looks when I say this. The Artist who uses only traditional medium says I’m cheating, and the Artist who uses only digital medium says I’m being inefficient. But to get the look I want, all three — brush, ink and Photoshop — works the best for me.
Has that changed over time?
Yes. I used to hate Photoshop. I loved the process and look of traditional medium and thought Photoshop was only to piece together scanned images. I learned to love Photoshop and Illustrator by being a game artist because each client wanted a different style. Now that I know the tool, I love to use Photoshop, along with my brushes and ink.
Do you have a studio set up in your home?
Yes I do, filled with art supplies, books and toys.
What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?
What a difficult question … just one thing! My instant reaction is “good music” but I do love my art keeps me from having back pain.
Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?
Since I have a 2-year-old daughter, I have to be efficient with my time. It is fun when my daughter wants to sketch or paint with me, though 🙂
Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?
Yes, I’m inspired by research because it makes me think about things differently.
Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?
Yes — not only to stay in contact with friends and family all over the world, but for the many podcasts and resources which are available and that I find useful for my career.
Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?
Yes I use Photoshop.
Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?
Yes I use the very old Wacom tablet.
Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?
I would love to write and illustrate my own books, books that would be available in bookshops for generations of children to enjoy.
What are you working on now?
I am working on self-promotion illustrations. OH; and another secret project!
Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.
Hmm this one is hard… I usually do a tight pencil drawing and trace over it with brushes using a lightbox. The tight pencil drawing is to make sure the proportions and placement is correct so that I can be more loose when I’m going over it with a brush.
Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?
What’s helped me is being open to honest critiques from others, including my daughter. Without that input, I would be lost.
Thank you Shiho 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 Shiho’s work, you can visit her at her website: http://www.shihopate.com/
If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Shiho. I am sure she’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!