Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 16, 2017



On the third Tuesday Christina or Christy Ewers Tugeau of the Catugeau Artist Agency will answer questions and talk about things illustrators need to know to further their career. It could be a question about an illustration you are working on, too. Please email your questions to me and put ASK CAT in the subject box.


Here’s Chris:

Questions are starting to POP now, and we’re thrilled! Keep them coming!

Danette, an author/illustrator, asked about the protocol with showing images from a book dummy on your site portfolio and other social media.  This is actually a very good question and one that needs looking at thoughtfully.  It matters if it is YOUR written and illustrated story that YOU are trying to sell, or one you have illustrated for another, or sold to a publisher. First, if the copy rights are still yours, you CAN show it certainly…. doing so might even help you sell it if a buyer sees it there and is interested.  But you run the risk of someone ‘borrowing’ the idea if you show too much. (doesn’t happen often…very trustworthy industry…but it does happen) Second, if you have illustrated someone else UNSOLD ms you should get their permission before showing a couple of pieces or characters. Remember, showing sequential, same character images is what helps buyers know what you can do with a narrative story, so you want to show that.  Third, if the images are from a SOLD ms with a publisher you MAY NOT show the images (without their permission) until the book is printed! This is very important to know and respect – and legally upheld!

A related question from Lyn is about her transition from traditional to digital, which she feels she has ‘mastered’ but finds she can’t get work with it.  She is wondering why and if she should show both on her site.  Now without knowing how much work she got before, and not seeing either of the styles, it’s hard to know the ‘why’ it’s not selling. I would encourage her to show both styles, separated, on her site.  If one has been selling of course show it.  And then group the new digital work and show that too..maybe two different pages on the same site? or at least separated some how.  Is the style VERY different? this might help the buyers transition to the new look.  I wonder why she feels she must transition at all?  Traditional work is very much still in demand, though not as much for educational work. And many publishers do expect all artists to be able to SEND them work digitally.  So some comfort with this is important.  Lyn also asked about writing herself to have the ms to do samples. If I’m understanding that- sure!  it’s always good for artists to make up a story, or part of a story, to do images for that and show them off.  Not necessary to write a whole manuscript as you probably wouldn’t want to illustrate the whole dummy (two color finishes and rest rather tight sketches is norm).  But if you do write a whole ms and feel it is good and ready to show, DO SHOW IT.  And as I mentioned above, showing two or three from this story finishes is a good way to drum up interest in your story and in your work!  Go for it!

This month we thankfully have input from partner Christy Ewers about the question to define the term “CUTTING EDGE” that I used last month:   “It’s hard to define “cutting edge” in any regards – as we don’t know what it is until IT IS!! But to try to answer the question of “can you please define “cutting edge” in respect to children’s book illustration”, I guess we have to start with the most classic of The Classics: GOODNIGHT MOON. It is one of the most iconic and well-known (and best-selling) picture books of all time! Clement Hurd’s illustrations are still ‘cutting edge’ to this day! The BOLD colors, the great green room, the tomato-colored carpet?! Think about those choices he made! And then to juxtapose that with the grayscale vignettes on several of the pages?! So different. And obviously genius! That was as cutting edge then as it is now. And the most amazing thing is that although the “story” is somewhat (very) old-fashioned now (rotary telephones? mush? mittens and socks on drying racks by the fire?!), children of all ages gravitate to it. My 17-month-old has loved it since he was an infant, and it’s the only bedtime book that grabs his attention every time. And my now 4-year-old still loves to find the mouse in every bedroom spread. Cutting edge!

Think of ANY Dr Seuss book – and those very specifically “Dr Seuss” characters he created. They are all a little odd, a little “off”, even The Cat in the Hat didn’t really look like a cat. But they are so different and were/are still so cutting edge that they broke the mold forever.

One more recent illustrator to be cutting edge (in my opinion) is Oliver Jeffers. He has written and illustrated many many great books but the one I am thinking of as an example is The Day the Crayons Quit (written by Drew Daywalt). The way he illustrated Drew’s hilariously witty text with his simple, yet full-of-expression crayons – almost looking like child’s drawings themselves was genius! And to then integrate the “note” from them on the left side of the spread – perfection. I’d never seen anything quite like it. And that kind of thinking outside the box of crayons (hardy har!) is cutting edge.

The double edged sword about being cutting edge is that once you are, you get imitators – but I suppose that is proof positive that you have innovated! I can’t tell you how many Jon Klassen lookalikes I have encountered!

Perhaps the best way to describe cutting edge in children’s illustration is being innovative and different – and unique! Whether it’s with medium, style, use of perspective, color choices, characters that are uniquely yours…there are several ways to set yourself apart from the crowd. And who knows – maybe you’ll start a new “trend”. But speaking of trends – another way to explain “cutting edge” is to say that it’s not falling into the latest trend, but doing just the opposite; not conforming to what one THINKS people will respond to, given their response to work like it – but creating something that will make people go “WOW!….that is….WOW!!!”. And if one happens to create the next GOODNIGHT MOON, then one be cutting edge in perpetuity! “

Thank you from both of us for your thought provoking and learning potential questions…. we love them! and I’m sure other artists do too.

Thank you Chris and Christy for more great answers.


Hope this illustration by Katy Betz will inspire everyone to send in a question to Chris and Christy. Katy was featured on Illustrator Saturday July 23, 2016. Take a look.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you so much for your in-depth response to my question, Chris! That certainly clears things up for me. I appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions. And thank you, Kathy, as always for hosting one of my very favourite blogs!


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