Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 18, 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:

It’s black and white!  In this age of every possible color and so so many mediums to choose from, the simple, basic, essential black and white of illustration is too often forgotten.  We don’t get a ton of requests for it these days. One might ask if b/w illustration is even much of ‘a thing’ any longer, and I would answer a loud YES!

Now it’s true that there used to be a lot more b/w illustration needed and assigned, especially for the educational materials area.  For math, reading, spelling, music …so many programs… there was always the b/w component. Several of our now Trade picture book artists cut their teeth with this low paying but constant work.  Great, great practice in character development and body language and simple details. This for some reason has pretty much left the industry with a few exceptions.  (often done overseas for pennies – we can’t compete)

There is however still a big market for chapter book b/w illustration, in line and grey tones.  This genre is often a great way to ‘break into’ a publishing house in fact.  Buyers will take a chance on a new illustrator with a color cover perhaps and some b/w spots for chapter headers.  Or perhaps a fairly well illustrated middle grade story with one full page of a b/w tonal scene with several characters interacting per chapter.  So if your an artist who enjoys b/w drawing you should definitely show this sort of work.  It can be line and/or fully rendered. Your characters want to be the appropriate age however.  There isn’t much b/w illustration for 2-6 year olds.  Limited color maybe, and b/w competence helps with that tremendously!  Don’t forget the color cover samples to go along with the b/w samples…with again age appropriate characters. Put the covers in with your color portfolio presentation, and the b/w together at the back of a book, or on a separate page perhaps on your website. (we have a separate b/w section with each artist who wishes having a b/w page of their own.)

I want to HIGHLY recommend every artist doing b/w sketching constantly!  Of course you do it for sketches for a job, but do it when you go out to a park, or to a soccer game, or on vacation, or are on the subway!  With a black pen! These quick, spontaneous sketches are wonderful practice for the more ‘serious’ work whether in b/w or color.  Keeps you limber, loose and ready for surprises….the stuff that great art is made of!  Also, working in b/w with tone forces you to see the ‘light/dark composition’ of the whole, and then within the details. Contrasts are the composition’s most basic form. This is essential to understand if you are to do GOOD color work!

And while we’re talking mediums a bit, I wanted to mention other ‘practice’ mediums I would NOT suggest you show in your portfolios, book or on-line.  Crayons for one.  There is a certain charm about the texture of a crayon and it might be just the thing for a particular image or part of an image, within a bigger context, but it is rarely used as a serious medium in children’s book illustration today.  It yells ‘amateur.’  As does overworked watercolor.  Also over textured acrylic work.  Colored pencil are usually used with watercolor for depth and detail, but it’s hard to make them work effectively on their own.  Now as soon as I say this, someone will point out an award winning book using that medium.  When you are award winning, feel free to use whatever medium you wish.  But I’d advise you to stick to more professionally recognized mediums, or combinations there of, while you are breaking into the industry.  Make deviation the exception that makes the rule.  You want to be taken seriously.  Study what other working artists use.  Study what you enjoy using. Try various mediums and see what fits you and your style of drawing and coloring.  So many ways to go….have FUN!

I was asked if we at the agency ever see an illustration by one of our agency artists that we (reps) feel might be better in another medium and tell them to try that.  That’s a good question actually.  It may occasionally happen that a editor/AD might suggest to an artist that one medium they are trying for a piece/book might not be the best choice. But I bet it’s rare.  I can’t remember telling an artist to change mediums.  Perhaps as they experiment (and we always encourage that) we might have an opinion about what works best or not for the piece and the market.  But we take on artists who have normally ‘found themselves.’  They are professional, even if they haven’t yet been paid for their work.  They may experiment, but they know what DOES work.  Remember, publishers hire an artist, at least initially, for their proven, consistent style, color and abilities generally.  They are doing so with the EXPECTATION that they will get something along the lines of the samples they see on their pages or site.   And they better get that.

I hope these have helped…do send on more questions about our wonderful industry!!


Christina A. Tugeau Artist Agency LLC is the first mother/daughter agency in the business! A trained artist herself with a BA in Fine Art, Chris Tugeau has been in the children’s illustration industry for over 25 years. Since opening her own agency in 1994, Chris has enjoyed representing many talented artists, and has been an active part of the illustration community; writing and presenting for SCBWI regions around the country. She is also the author of SCBWI Illustrator Guidelines. A veteran artist and rep, Chris is an advocate for ethical fairness and the bright future of children’s publishing. She’s also a mother of 3, a grandmother to 8, and best friend to husband, Bill.

Chris and Christy, Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer questions and helping everyone trying to build their careers in the children’s publishing industry. Please help keep this column going by sending in your questions.

Thank you Chris and Christy for more great answers.


Hope this illustration by Holly Hatam will inspire everyone to send in a question to Chris and Christy. Holly was featured on Illustrator Saturday August 27, 2016. Take a look.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This is invaluable info, Chris and Christy. Thank you! And I love Holly’s illustration 😀


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