Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 4, 2018

Illustrator Saturday – Alice Feagan

Since completing her MFA at Savannah College of Art & Design, Alice has worked as a children’s illustrator specializing in traditional and digital cut paper collage. Her work is used in books, ebooks, magazines, products, and packaging by clients like Kids Can Press, The National Science Foundation, National Geographic Magazine, The Vail Valley Foundation, Ladybug Magazine, Grow Wyld, and The Boston Children’s Hospital.

HERE IS ALICE DISCUSSING YOU PROCESS:

After spending time creating a mood board with reference imagery and color palette I sketch my illustration by hand, scan it in and place it in Photoshop.

Using my color palette (or at least where I think I’m going to go with my color palette) I build the shapes within my illustration in layers in Photoshop. This is the most time consuming part of the process.

The clipping mask tool allows me to clip in textures, washes, patterns, etc. that work best for each element within the illustration.

I move to my Cintiq where I use my stylus to add details, shading, pattern, etc. to complete the illustration.

Interview Questions for Alice Feagan

How long have you been illustrating?

I graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2009 and began my freelance business shortly thereafter so almost 10 years.

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

Well, I did some small jobs prior to grad school, but my first break came from the Science Factory Children’s Museum in Eugene, Oregon. I did some large scale sea creature illustrations for one of their exhibits.

How long have you lived in Colorado? Is there a strong artist community there?

I’ve been in Colorado for about 3.5 years. And yes, there is a very strong SCBWI community and they host a great annual conference in Golden, Colorado every year.

Did you go to college to study art?

Yes, I got my BFA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Studio Art and Art History and then completed my MFA in Illustration at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia.

Did the school help you find illustration work?

The school helped prepare me for what to expect from clients and introduced me to art directors and publishers through a trip to NYC at the end of my program, but I did not actually get work through the school.

Do you feel art school influenced your illustrating style?

Absolutely, I developed my style and cut paper technique while at SCAD. This style has evolved over time, but it started from influences during my time at SCAD.

What type of illustrating did you do when you first started your career?

I did editorial illustration along with graphic work for products and apparel.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I always wanted to illustrate from children but was often told editorial work is easier to get in the beginning. As a result I spread myself too thin in the beginning rather than focusing on one market. It wasn’t until maybe 5 years into my career that I really began to focus on children’s book illustration.

Was The Summer of Rabbits the first picture book you illustrated?

Yes, I’d call it my guinea pig as I learned a lot about what not to do in a picture book.

How did your first picture book illustration job come about?

Summer of the Rabbits was written by a relative and we put together a dummy and pitched it to a small publisher.

Did you illustrate SCHOOL DAYS AROUND THE WORLD using mixed materials?

School Days was drawn by hand and the collage was built digitally in Photoshop with textured papers that I both collect and create myself. This is how the majority of my illustrations are created now.

How did that contract come your way?

Kids Can Press found me through a google search for collage illustration.

How exciting was it to be invited to The Rainforest of Reading Festival in St. Lucia after this book was nominated for an award at the festival?

This was such an amazing experience and a wonderful thing to be a part of! We spent a week at festivals all over the island and met with thousands of students.

I love the illustration of the cover with a duck with googles, titled The Great Adventure – words by Zoe Tucker. Is that a book that is coming out? I could not find it on Amazon.

No, this was a sample piece I created in Lila Roger’s ‘MATS’ online course. It was wonderful and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in really taking some time to focus on their children’s book work.

How many books have you illustrated?

I’ve illustrated 4 book, 2 ebooks and I’m just starting a 3rd e-book as well as a new picture book I wrote and illustrated. This new book will also be published by Kids Can Press.

Do you have an artist rep. to represent your illustrations? If so, who and how long. If not, would you like to find one?

I do have a rep (Spinning Yarn Reps) who handles anything outside of the picture book world (ie: editorial, advertising, product, web, etc.). I’d absolutely be open to having a rep specifically for picture books.

Have you done any book covers?

Nope, at least none I was commissioned to create.

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

I’d be very hesitant to take on a project without a publisher. Publishing a book successfully takes a team and it’s a lot for one person to take on. Having said that if they have the ability to pay (and the time for) art, design, printing/production, marketing, distribution, etc. then I’d say they should go for it. I have taken on grant funded projects.

Tell us the story about how you came to illustrating a bus. What does the bus do? How long did it take you to do it? Did you have another artist help with the job? Are just a few of the questions I have about this unique canvas.

The bus was another one of those unique and inspiring projects. The Magic Bus is run by a local youth foundation and around the time I randomly met one of the directors at the Vail Valley Foundation they were planning on purchasing a new bus. It just so happened they needed someone to create an illustration for the exterior and my illustrative style was a good fit. I created all of the final art digitally in Illustrator (rather than Photoshop) because it had to be ‘ripped’ at the printer and blown up to wrap a 33” bus. I did all of the art myself, and it took a few months for the project to evolve but the final art was made in just a few weeks.

Have you worked with educational publishers? Which ones?

World Book Encyclopedia

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

Yes, I’ve illustrated for National Geographic Kids Magazine, Ladybug, Spider, & Ask Magazine

Have you ever thought about illustrating a wordless picture book?

Thought about it, yes. Attempted to do so, no.

What do you think is your biggest success?

This new picture book I wrote myself is a huge step forward for me. I never considered myself a writer so it took me a while (and a lot of work) to get into writing as well as illustrating. While I always want to illustrate diving into this new field is exciting.

What is your favorite medium to use?

Paper, paper, paper.

Has that changed over time?

Not since grad school although I have translated my technique into the digital format so I guess it technically is a different medium.

Can you tell us a little bit about your studio?

There’s not much exciting to say about my studio. It’s an extra bedroom in my home. I’d love to have a studio out of the house…one day.

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

I try to make time for drawing anytime I can. I have a 15month old so finding extra time is tough these days, but drawing is essential to maintaining and improving your drawing skills.

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

Absolutely, I take photos, go out and explore, search for visual reference online, and build mood boards before I begin a project.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

I think the internet has allowed me to pursue a career in illustration without living in New York or a larger city.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

Yes, I work predominantly in Photoshop and occasionally in Illustrator.

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

Yes, I recently started working with a Wacom Cintiq tablet. I use it to add detail and texture at after the collage is built.

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

Having my own book published was one of my career goals and that process is just about to begin which is very exciting. I’d love to continue to write and illustrate books and focus my career in the children’s book world.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a set of illustrations for a kids product and apparel company.

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.

I look anywhere/everywhere for textures and patterns for my collage work so I don’t care too much about product brands. I’ve really enjoyed using the Wacom cintiq tablet in my new work though and would highly recommend the smaller tablet that I have or the full size cintiq monitor.

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

You hear this a lot, but becoming an illustrator requires patience, time, and a commitment to your craft. I found that once the first few projects came in and I had published pieces in my portfolio things really took off…having said that it doesn’t happen overnight. Keep producing new work and putting it out there. The work will come.

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

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

Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. I love your work, Alice…ever since meeting you in the Bay area. Happy to see you’re doing well!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow this was so cool to read. I do need to keep practicing. Most of my work is done by hand. I love your colorful illustrations as they remind me to embrace my style. I find it hard to learn letteringvand drawing at the same time.

    Like

  3. Beautiful illustrations

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing your process. I really like your artistic style.

    Like

  5. Gorgeous work, Alice. I loved it all – especially the magical, child-filled tree.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hooray, Alice!! Your work is beautiful! Congratulations on your successes to date!!

    Liked by 1 person


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