Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 18, 2018



OH MY…it’s December already! and as we near the end of the year I feel lots of questions might pop up! Do send them on to Kathy and I’ll get them answered later in Spring!  It’s been such fun to hear from ‘you’ and be able to help out a bit. Have a very MERRY Holiday all!

We did have a couple of good and different questions this past month.  I will hit on all three.

First:  the question was about the ‘trend’ to more artist/writer ‘required submissions’ as opposed to author-only, from agents and editors.  I don’t think that’s true…. the ’trend’ is NOT ‘required’ at all!  I do feel editors/publishers and maybe lit agents too now and then, prefer an artist/author combo as it’s a package ready to go.  We as artist agents primarily are also looking for illustrator/authors because it’s so great when that happens well!  But it can be harder to sell of course….if the author isn’t as good an artist, or visa versa!  And this ‘liking’ of the combo submission does in no way eliminate a purely ‘author-only’ story interest.

Two completely different types of submissions.  The end of this question asked what I would consider ” the top 1-3 priorities for submitting as an author/illustrator. “  My answer might help answer the first part of this question too:  The ONLY thing that is important basically is One: a good story well told, Two: a good story well visualized/illustrated, and Three a good story!    simple…right?    Truly though, if you have a story to present that is the best it can be in all ways, everyone will be thrilled…author, illustrator, or author/illustrator!  Creativity, quality and professionalism are the key always.

Second: the question was asked if there was a ‘best industry term’ for a picture book Graphic Novel.  That is a very good question…without an answer I think!  I asked around and didn’t come up with any new term….other than a “Picture book Graphic Novel.”  Maybe we should come up with one?!

Third: This question was multi-sided but predominately was asking about using ‘collage’ in picture books ‘today. It seemed to imply that maybe it wasn’t a good idea? and asking why or how that is.  I feel that collage is just FINE as a way to make a visual story book, and I suspect that is still true for publishers too.  In fact, it seemed that there was quite a lot of ‘collage’ type artwork in this year’s  NYC Original Art Show (is it still on? go!) at the Society of Illustrators! The best of the best!

There is nothing intrinsically ‘outdated’ about any method of picture making.  I think an artist who loves collage, or feels a book would be best expressed with collage, should just take care to be ‘current’ with it.  What ever that means is a personal thing. (study styles that ARE being published)  I would suggest that it be kept ‘clean’ even if it’s complex…..not toooooo much texture.  Little kids  can have trouble with imagery that is too heavy colored or textured.(that fact doesn’t really change!)   This is different than  ‘complex.’  They often love complexity.  But they need to be able to SEE clearly. Most anything can be printed these days….from original collage art, or previously scanned collage art.  That again would be a preference for you (the creator) and your publisher.

Some editors love to have the originals to scan themselves (and appreciate!)  Others prefer NOT to as they might be more fragile.  Doing ‘original digital collage’ is of course a good method too….and MOST interesting and  beautiful these days!  There is no preference either for the age or size or subject that might be best for a collage treatment done whatever way.  If it’s the best way to illustrate this particular story, go for it!  

Patrice Barton did a truly MARVELOUS job for her RandomHouse book ‘I LOVE OLD CLOTHES’ with the use of cloth collages….perfect story for it! here is a single sample, but study this book!

Ana Ochoa’s little witch here wouldn’t be as charming if it wasn’t partially collaged I’ve always felt.

Below is an older one from Kelsey Garrity-Riley that shows a very subtle lovely usage of collage.  Her wonderful handling of it is one reason I just had to sign her up!  But she doesn’t use it as much these days…. it has to be right for the story. The choice is made with every manuscript and your (and the publisher’s) vision for it.

You might notice that in each case here that ‘drawn’ characters and their expressions facilitated clear ‘seeing’.  Maybe that’s an element to consider.  I think that might be true of the 2018 books  that were in the OAS and out this year too.  It is hard to do a completely ‘collaged’ illustration and have it show emotion and expression.  But it’s been done, and well!  So there are no rules perhaps.

As I mentioned above, what is BEST for the STORY is what is BEST for the writer and the illustrator and the publisher. I know that is a BIG simplification, but that IS the bottom line.  Is there a right or wrong way, method or medium to go about any of it?  I think not!!  Maybe for ‘THIS’ book or ‘THIS’ story but only the creatives, and then the  buying public, can say for sure!! It’s a gamble all the way along the book making journey….but thank the gods and Santa that there are writers and artists and editors and publishers who are willing and able to take the leap of faith to create STORIES!!

And I think that is a wonderful last bit of answer advice from CAT!!  IT’S ALL ABOUT THE STORY! Perhaps I’ll be back….but thank you Kathy and readers for the honor and privilege of helping you all in whatever small way I have been able to!  Now onward to making great memories this holiday season…..and maybe a story or two out of it all!


Christina Tugeau
The CAT Agency Inc.

THANK YOU CHRIS AND CHRISTY FOR SHARING YOUR TIME AND EXPERTISE WITH US IN 2018. I look forward to you returning in the spring. Everyone, if you would like to see that too, please send in your questions for them to answer. Here is the email kathy(dot) – Please put ASK CAT in the Subject Area. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Great stuff, as always 🙂


  2. Thank you for answering these questions so thoroughly. The reminder that STORY & QUALITY reign supreme is well-taken. And it’s nice to know what seems like a nascent trend (in my slice of #amwriting) is not necessarily growing leaps and bounds. I appreciate the point about how timeless and current style options can be considered/balanced for an individual title (or creative). I look forward to more CAT inputs!


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