Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 21, 2018

Illustrator Saturday – Anne Appert

Though Anne Appert grew up and has lived in New Jersey her whole life, her childhood was spent with her nose stuck in a book and a wild imagination that transformed her backyard into faraway places. Then she went to the Fashion Institute of Technology for her B.F.A. in Illustration with a minor in English so she could bring her stories to life. Now she puts those worlds on paper using digital media to create books for other children to stick their noses into.​

Anne finds her inspiration from her childhood, the outdoors, anything colorful, and traveling, especially visiting her many cute nephews and nieces. When not creating stories and art for children, Anne likes to paint flowers and patterns and has taken several classes at the Fashion Institute in Textile and Surface Design.

Anne has been a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) since 2012, and is a member of the 12×12 challenge, a challenge to write 12 picture books in 12 months.

Anne is represented by Emma Sector at Prospect Agency.

HERE IS ANNE EXPLAINING HER PROCESS:

My process varies a bit from piece to piece.  I draw a lot of animals, so usually I’ll start by briefly looking at some reference pictures of the animal. Then I dive in. Typically, I don’t look back at the reference pictures unless I’m really stuck or if it’s a more complicated piece (like the piece I did for the NJ SCBWI Art show) Here is a piece I did recently of a beaver, step by step.

After I looked at pictures of beavers, I had an idea in my head and roughed it out on my iPad. I use Procreate on the iPad to create my pieces. Sometimes I do thumbnails in a sketchbook and work off those. If it’s a piece I’m planning on putting in my portfolio, I might do several versions of thumbnails and sketches and pick the one I think is strongest. This was for a personal daily art challenge, so I went with the first idea I had.

Sometimes the thumbnails are a little more thought out than this so I can figure out the piece. In this case, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do so I just wanted to get the placement of the different elements.

Next, I add a layer and do a line drawing on top of this. If  it’s for a piece like my pig piece, I blocked out the shapes first. You can still see the thumbnail behind it.

At this point in the drawing, I’ll move and scale things if I don’t think they are working. Originally, the trees were shorter and I stretched them. I also moved the beaver down. It’s lower than the blob in the thumbnail that was the beaver. Then I turn off the thumbnail layer and add another layer for details. Here, I added the fur on the beaver and some details on the buckets.

Then I add more details! Grass, more trees, etc. Everything I add from here to the end is on another layer.

When I think I have enough details, I add shadows. I don’t always use shadows, but in this piece I did.

Then it’s time for color! I am not consistent in how I do color. Sometimes I start with the background, sometimes I start with the character. In this piece, I started with the character and items in the foreground. Typically, I pick a color palette before I start and edit as needed/wanted as I am coloring the image.

Then the background! First the ground.

Then the trees and shadows:

Sometimes I finish there. But since this little beaver is in the forest, I wanted to add some light coming through the trees.

And done! Again, for a more complicated piece I’m moving and scaling things during any stage of this process. That is the great part of working digitally. I never have to feel like I am committing to anything.

Interview Questions for Anne Appert

How long have you been illustrating?

I have been illustrating for about 7 years. However, 4 years ago was when I really started focusing on improving my craft as a children’s illustrator and working seriously on upgrading my picture book portfolio. This was when I started going to events run by the NJ chapter of SCBWI.

What and when was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

When I graduated high school, I went to Lake George in upstate New York and painted watercolors of the lake. A young girl who was also staying there showed up at my cabin with a 5 dollar bill and a perler bead heart to buy one of my pieces. I still have that 5 dollar bill in my studio. I’m not sure the heart survived.

Why did you choose the Fashion Institute of Technology to get your BFA in illustration?

I didn’t know anything about art schools when I decided to go into illustration because my high school didn’t have an art program. I planned on going to school to become an architect; however, I saw illustration as a college degree in a brochure from Pratt and immediately thought that was the major for me. While a senior in high school, I attended a portfolio review day held at Pratt with representatives from many art schools on the East Coast. I talked to the professors who were there from the Fashion Institute of Technology because I thought it was cool the school had fashion in the name. They were very welcoming and gave me great feedback on my work. Being in Manhattan, it was close to home, the tuition was affordable, and they had an illustration program, so I decided to go.

Did you know you wanted to write books for children when you minored in English?

Yes, I went to school planning on pursuing a career in children’s books after college. I was lucky because they added minors while I was a student at FIT. I really wanted one in writing, but unfortunately it didn’t work out so I got the closest one I could.

Have you written you own picture book, yet?

I have written several picture books, none published yet.

Have you illustrated a book dummy?

Yes I’ve illustrated 2 book dummies.

Do you feel art school influenced your illustrating style?

Because just taking an art class was very new to me, in art school I was still discovering what it meant for me to be an artist. I spent a lot of time in school trying to create art that I thought was what my professors wanted. However, most of them were very supportive and encouraged me to find my own voice. Therefore, I think art school gave me the tools to become an artist and the encouragement I needed to find my style.

Did the school help find illustration work for you?

No. I did have one professor try to get me an internship during school, but that fell through. Not illustration related: I did work as a student in the school library, and got a job there when I graduated.

Since you have taken classes in textile and surface design, have you created your own fabric?

I have created patterns for fabric, but I haven’t actually printed them on fabric. If I had more time, I would definitely pursue this more. I really love patterns and creating patterns.

Do you plan on using your flower prints to sell your own material or create items like quilts, curtains, or pillows?

I haven’t made my own materials, but I do have a store on Society6.com where you can buy some of my prints on items like curtains, pillows, bags, phone cases and more. (society6.com/anneappert)

I see you are represented by Emma Sector at Prospect Agency. How did the two of you connect? How long have you been with her?

I officially signed the contract in June, so it’s been less than a month. I had met Rachel Orr (who is also at Prospect Agency) at several NJ SCBWI events. At the NJ SCBWI conference in June, she looked at my portfolio, liked the progress I had made, and was interested in seeing more of my work. 5 days later, before I could send her other work, she emailed me to connect me with Emma. We talked on the phone a couple times, emailed back and forth, and then I signed!

How are you doing with the 12 picture books in 12 months – 12×12 challenge?

Not well this year. I have written some new drafts of stories, but I don’t have 6 drafts written. I do create a mini story every week on my Instagram account, so I have collected a lot of story ideas. I also met one of my critique groups through 12×12. That has been amazing for helping my writing get to the next level.

Have you done any book covers?

Not yet!

Would you illustrate a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

Honestly, I’m not sure. I have a full time job outside of illustrating, so I would have to really love the project to be willing to devote my limited time to it. For now, I’d rather focus on getting traditionally published.

Have you worked with educational publishers? Which ones?

Not yet.

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines? Which ones?

Not yet! But I would like to.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own children’s book?

Yes 100%. I have several that I’ve started and hope that someday they will be published.

Have you ever thought about illustrating a wordless picture book?

Yes I would love to. I haven’t written a story yet that can be completely wordless, but I keep trying.

What do you think is your biggest success?

Signing with my agent last month! Also recreating my entire portfolio in 3 months this winter.  I was working with a mentor and he helped me get together a portfolio for the NY SCBWI winter conference in the new style I am working in.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I use the Procreate app on the iPad with the Apple pencil. It’s my favorite because I do work full time and it enables me to bring my work with me. I also found my style by using this app.

Has that changed over time?

I started by using watercolor and/or gouache. I also really like pencil. I would mix this up by drawing illustrations and coloring them in Photoshop. However, as I didn’t have much time to be in my studio, I was creating art less and less. Because of this, I was really excited to find Procreate. I’ve been having a lot of fun creating illustrations with this app.

How did it feel to win Honorable Mention in the Unpublished Category of the NJSCBWI Art Show?

Surreal! And amazing. I was so honored to be included with such talented people. I was really excited about that piece and put a lot of work into it. The prompt, Wonder, was such a great prompt.

Did you participate in the Illustrator workshop at the conference? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

Unfortunately, I didn’t this year. I attended mostly writing or agent focused workshops.

Can you tell us a little bit about your studio?

I hoard art supplies so my studio is very full of various papers, paints, inks, sketchbooks etc. I keep them all very organized though! I’m lucky that I have a lot of space and I wish I could take advantage of it more often. I have a table with my computer, printer and scanner, and then a drafting table for painting. I keep a bunch of different pens, markers and pencils easily accessible so that when I have even 20 minutes to work in my sketchbook I don’t have to dig for supplies. My favorite part of my studio is my two bright yellow book shelves for my picture books. My sister just gave me a sign that says “Warning: Artist at Work” and I am excited to hang that on the door.

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

Yes, but it is never enough time. I try at the very least to work on my commute, so I get about 2 hours a day in that way. On my days off I try to spend most of the day working on art and writing, but I have to balance that with other obligations.

Do you take pictures or research a project before you start?

It depends on the project. I generally look at some reference pictures before I start. I try not to look at reference too much while I am working because I like to stylize my characters, and if I look at reference while I’m drawing, I end up getting too caught up on details.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

I would say yes because I’ve met a lot of people through the internet and discovered a lot of opportunities as well.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

I occasionally use Photoshop to edit my illustrations. I used to draw them by hand and color them in Photoshop, but since I now primarily work on my iPad, I don’t do this as much anymore.

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet when illustrating?

Yes I still have a small Wacom tablet from college.

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I would love to have a book I’ve written and illustrated published. It would be amazing to see my name on a book.

What are you working on now?

I briefly mentioned before that I do a weekly Instagram challenge where I pick an animal and draw it every day for a week. The beaver image that I showed my process with is one of these images. This has been so fun! I pick two animals at the beginning of the week and let my followers vote which one I should draw, so it’s also been a cool way to get other people involved with my art.  I am also working on a book dummy and several manuscripts.

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.

Last year, I bought a set Caran D’Ache watersoluble oil pastels. When I need a break from my iPad, I doodle in my sketchbook with these. They are a lot of fun to use and very portable so I also often take them when I travel.

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

I don’t know that I have been doing this long enough to have words of wisdom. I would recommend surrounding yourself with people who want the same things as you. Join SCBWI. Go to their events. Join a critique group. The more I get involved in the kidlit community, the more people I meet and the more opportunities I stumble across. It’s an amazingly supportive community filled with people who want you to succeed. By trying to immerse myself as much as possible in kidlit organizations, I learned how to use Procreate which changed my portfolio, I met the people in both my critique groups, I had mentorship opportunities, submission opportunities, and made the connection that led to signing with my agent. Plus, as I said, the people are pretty amazing.

Thank you Anne for sharing your talent and expertise with us. Make sure you share you future successes with us. To see more of Anne’s work, you can visit her at: https://www.anneappert.com/

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Anne. I am sure she’d love to hear from you and I enjoy reading them, too.

Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. These illustrations are brilliant!

    Like

  2. Love seeing more of your work, Anne! And congratulations, again, on your success at SCBWI NJ & signing with your agent.

    Like

    • Thank you, Patricia! I’m so glad we got a chance to meet in person yesterday!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really love her style! very unique.

    Like

  4. Lovely art, thanks for sharing your journey with us Anne, and congrats on signing with Prospect Agency–I’ll look for you on Instagram!

    Like

  5. Thank you for sharing your journey, Anne. I love hearing the details of your process and getting to see such a variety of illustrations in this post. Congrats again on your contest win and agent signing! Can’t wait to see where you go next.

    Like

    • Thanks, Christine. (And of course, thanks for being an awesome critique partner!)

      Like

  6. Your characters are adorable. Makes me want to read their stories. Yes, I need to hear more about those flamingos (flamingoes is also correct but makes me think of toes). Congratulations, Anne!

    Like

    • Thanks, Mary! Ha, now I’m thinking that.

      Like


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