Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 16, 2019

Illustrator Saturday – Alicia Young

Alicia Young was raised in a very artistic family,  and her parents began an art school for children when she was ten years old. Alicia attended classes every day – an artsy kid’s dream come true! Alicia went to college in charming Connecticut, and received her BFA in Painting in 2009. She loves illustrating Childrens’ books and hand lettering. Now in Central Texas with her wonderful husband, Alicia enjoys exploring God’s beautiful creation. Alicia’s desire is to bring joy to the public and glory to God through each unique piece she creates. She looks forward to sharing ideas and helping one another achieve the goals of reaching the world through children’s literature! Alicia also just released her own devotional book that is fun for the whole family!

She lives in the Brazos Valley in Texas.

Here is Alicia discussing her process:

I begin with a digital sketch for each page (including placement of the text, so the type and illustration work together harmoniously as a single piece) in Photoshop, which I send over to the author or publisher for any changes. Once I receive approval of the sketch, I then move on to the final, digital painting.

For a moderately-detailed illustration, I usually end up with between 50-100 layers! Normally, I begin with the background layer, and then slowly paint my way up to the front characters. But sometimes I begin with the front character and work my way backward – it really depends on what I’m trying to achieve with color balance, composition, etc.  I repeat this sketch-to-final painting process for each page, but each new scene is a unique challenge as I strive to capture the personality of the story! Every illustration is different, which keeps every day fresh and exciting!

BOOK GIVEAWAY for Porcupette and Moppet has not been chosen yet. Click here to leave a comment and get in the running.

Here is a link for in process illustration video: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bxkp8ainZDv/?igshid=1qnnla6zehip1

Also can scroll to bottom of page to watch video.

How long have you been illustrating?

I have always loved creating art, ever since I can remember. As a child, I always had a pen or pencil in my hand, and I knew since kindergarten that I wanted to be a professional artist someday 🙂

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

When I was in 4th grade, my teacher hired me to draw Noah’s Ark and the animals for a classroom wall decoration – she paid me $25, and I was thrilled!

What made you decide to study painting at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts (LACFA)?

I knew I wanted to study traditional drawing and painting, to learn more about portraiture and drawing the figure. During the last few months before college, I was deciding between the Laguna College of Art and Design and the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. LACFA had a magnificent, traditionally-based figurative program. One of my mentors also suggested that I check it out, and I received a flyer about LACFA in the mail (not sure how, but I believe it was a sign!), so it all came together in the end!

What types of classes did you enjoy the most?

Color and Design, Methods and Materials (where we learned how to mix our own paint {Oil, egg tempera, gesso, etc}, stretch canvases, and do everything from scratch); a class called Calligraphic Drawing, where we studied pen and ink techniques (we even had to do copies of Master drawings by Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Etc); and Printmaking class were a few of my favorites, but I truly loved them all!

Do you feel school helped you develop you style?

My style took a while to develop, and I feel that it is still growing. I have always loved both traditional fine art and whimsical illustration, so I enjoy combining both styles when I create. School helped me hone my skills in traditional art (composition, lighting, observation, perspective, realistic measurements, atmosphere, etc) as the foundational “bones” of my art. Style seems to come with time, as you become more comfortable with your art. I feel that style is more like the “accessories” to an outfit, but what matters most is really focusing on the “bones” first – drawing from life, and then transferring that knowledge to whimsical illustration.

Did the school help you find work using your art skills?

We were taught basic concepts on how to price our work, talk to galleries, do commissioned work, etc. But since I went back home to Texas after graduation, I had to put those skills into practice on my own. I definitely learned a lot, and still use the strategies and concepts I learned in college to this very day!

How did you get started doing murals?

My parents own and run an art school for kids and teens called Art Smart Art School ( www.goartsmart.com ), up in Arlington, TX, and they taught me a lot about the principles of transferring a small image onto a large wall (as a family, we all painted the art school’s mascot onto the wall). Years later, I painted my first mural in my husband’s chiropractic office, in a play room for the patients’ kids while they waited.

Are most of your murals done for schools?

I’ve actually never done a mural in a school before, but I’d love to someday! I’ve painted murals in business offices and a women’s and children’s hospital (a huge jungle tree – my favorite mural experience so far!).

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate children’s books?

I remember writing and illustrating my own little stories when I was just a small girl, so I’ve always had a love for books. I remember sitting and staring for hours at some of my favorite children’s books – I was fascinated by the illustrated characters, the energy of the pencil lines, and the myriad of captivating colors. It wasn’t until after college that I began pursuing illustrating as a career. A friend first hired me to illustrate a book, and then my high school history teacher contacted me about illustrating her book as well! That got the ball rolling and opened my mind to the wide, wonderful world of book illustration!

Was G.I.F.T.S.: A Prayer Book for Kids and the People who Love Them your first published book?

The first book I illustrated was self-published, and then G.I.F.T.S. was the second book I illustrated. It was traditionally published. I absolutely loved getting to work on it!

How did that contract come about?

My high school history teacher, Sue Barksdale, contacted me about illustrating her book. We hadn’t been in touch for years, but she remembered how I would elaborately draw the map assignments in her history class. It was a blessing to reconnect and get to work with her!

Was your next published book, Christmas Time: It’s All About Jesus! That was published in 2018?

Yes, that was Sue’s second book, and she wanted for me to illustrate it as well. I loved getting to work on the magnificent story of Christ’s birth – such a joy!

Is there a story behind how you got the job?

Sue wanted to keep the style consistent between both of her books, and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to work with her again!

Mason the Bull: And the Magical Christmas Tree was published in 2018, too. Was it hard to decide to take on another book, when you were working on another Christmas book that year?

I can usually illustrate up to 3 books at a time, and I truly enjoy having multiple projects going on at the same time! It keeps every day fresh and exciting, with new scenes and characters and getting to conquer the fun challenge of conveying the story in a unique and enchanting way on each page!

Mason the Bull: A Story Inspired by True Events came out earlier in 2018. Were these books self published by the author?

Yes, initially the author went the self-publishing route for her first order of paperback books. She later paired up with a publishing company for printing and distribution purposes. She was then able to offer hardback books of Mason the Bull under the publishing company’s label.

Angel on Assignment also came out in 2018. It is 40 pages. Did each page have an illustration?

This was a very unique illustration request. Another illustrator had already created all of the main page illustrations, but I was then hired to place the text, format everything to be ready for print, and then create smaller illustrations on the text pages. It was a fun, new challenge!

It looks like you have illustrated a few books for Aneko Press. How many books have you done for them?

Christmas Time: It’s All About Jesus  and G.I.F.T.S. were published through Aneko (they used to go by a different name initially, but then changed their name to Aneko by the time I illustrated the Christmas book).

Last month I featured PORCUPETTE AND MOPPET published by Blue Whale Press. How did you connect with them?

They said that my portfolio won them over, so I’m pretty sure they initially found me on the SCBWI site, and then they checked out more of my work on Instagram. I was excited for a new adventure when they contacted me!

You illustrated HUSH, MOUSE that was published in June by MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing. How did they find you to illustrate the book? Was it hard illustrating two books at the same time?

I worked directly with the author, Becky Benishek, who then took the story to MacLaren-Cochrane. They decided to publish it, which was wonderful! They have unique reading options for their books, such as a specific dyslexic font. I think it’s great that they’re making the stories more widely accessible to everyone! At times it can get a bit difficult to juggle everything when working on multiple projects, especially because we were also moving to a new town at the same time! But it all turned out wonderfully in the end. I’m blessed and grateful to work with so many fantastic authors.

I noticed there are two different covers of the book being sold on Amazon. How did that happen?

That’s so interesting! The piece I designed specifically as the cover artwork is the one with the golden-orange background. The teal background cover is actually an interior illustration 🙂

Do you plan to write and illustrate more inspirational books?

I love getting to inspire people through art and the written word, especially when the focus is God’s Word! I do hope to write and illustrate more books in the future. I love getting to share the hope, truth and joy of the Lord through art and writing!

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own picture books?

I have written a couple of picture book stories, so I now need to finish all of the illustrations! It’s quite the process, but I would love to publish them someday, hopefully not too far in the future!

Do you have an agent? If so, who? If not would you be interested in getting an artist rep.?

I do not currently have an agent, but I am interested in possibly getting an art representative at some point! I think it would open a lot of doors! One aspect I absolutely love about working in the self-publishing world is getting to work directly with the authors – It’s wonderful to be so involved in the process of seeing the book come to life, and sometimes lasting friendships blossom with the authors as well.

Is working with a self-published author to illustrate their book something you still do?

Oh yes, I am currently working on two books that will be self-published and will begin another in the spring. I love it!

What do you think is your biggest success?

I don’t think I could single out any project as my biggest success. To me, the greatest success is getting to encourage the people I work with, learning and growing in my art, and, most of all, having the opportunity to point people to Jesus through it all!

What is your favorite medium to use?

For traditional art, I love ink and watercolor, brush pens, and acrylic paint. For digital painting, I love the endless possibilities with Photoshop! I’m beginning to learn more about all of the fabulous options that Procreate has to offer on the iPad as well.

Has that changed over time?

Definitely! I go through seasons. For a long time, I almost exclusively painted in oils on canvas, but I’ve transitioned into more portable materials these days (We moved around quite often, so that just became easier). I’m also learning more about digital painting and hand lettering, which is great fun!

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

Yes, I have a Wacom Tablet and stylus that I use for my children’s book illustrations.

What materials and/or tools do you use to create your work?

For commissioned artwork, I normally go the traditional route – watercolor, ink, acrylic, and charcoal, with the occasional oil portrait. For children’s book illustration and character designs I paint digitally in Photoshop, using a variety of digital brushes, including ones that I have created.

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

My artwork is integrated all throughout my day, every day! I love drawing and painting as often as I can, whether for commissions, book illustrations, or personal growth work!

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

I usually compile a variety of reference pictures, no matter what style I’m working in (completely realistic or whimsically stylized), so that I can make the people or animal characters look believable and relatable. If possible, I will take photo reference myself as well!

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you? 

Oh, absolutely! The predominant way that people find me is through Facebook, my website: www.aliciayoungart.com. Instagram: www.instagram.com/aliciayoungart , and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ website. I’m very grateful for all of the connections that happen via the internet!

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

I would love to publish a couple more of my own books, and I truly love getting to help people and wonderful causes with my art. I’ve also recently enjoyed teaching workshops, where I get to meet a group of fabulous people and personally share with them the joys of drawing and painting. I’d love to continue this and someday expand into online classes as well.

What are you working on now?

I currently have a big sale going on in my Etsy shop, where I have many of my canvas prints available for purchase – I had my original artwork printed onto quality canvases that are ready to hang! It’s a fun way for everyone to be able to have artwork in their home! I also have my two family-fun art devotional books on sale (Drawing from God’s Love and Diving into God’s Joy) – It’s the perfect time for early Christmas shopping! Here is the link to my shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/aliciayoungart

I am also working on two children’s books and a variety of unique, commissioned pieces! I have a few painting and hand lettering workshops and art events coming up soon as well. Every day is different, and I love how it keeps me on my toes!

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’ve really come to love painting with acrylics on cold-press watercolor paper – the texture is amazing! Any cold-press watercolor paper will do, but I mainly use Canson for these types of projects. I also enjoy adding some hand lettering on top of the dried paint – Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens are wonderful, as well as Misulove Calligraphy Lettering Brush Pens (both brands can be found on Amazon)! So many fun possibilities!

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

Practice, practice, practice! I always advise aspiring artists and authors to carry a notepad/sketchbook with them at all times. Jotting down ideas for stories and sketching out unique characters is one of the best ways to enhance your creativity. Soaking in the wisdom from experienced authors and illustrators is another way to advance in your craft – ask tons of questions, and put their advice into practice. Also, joining the SCBWI is very helpful! Enter lots of competitions, mostly for the sake of learning and growing. Draw every day, and constantly look for ways to improve. Most of all, never give up! God’s plans and timing are always best…He will reveal the right path at the right time, if you are ready and willing to walk through the doors He opens!

Thank you Alicia for sharing your talent and expertise with us. Make sure to let us know your future successes. To see more of Alicia’s work, you can visit her at: 

Website: https://aliciayoungart.com/about-alicia-young-art

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/aliciayoungart

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aliciayoungart/

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Alicia. I am sure she’d love to hear from you and I enjoy reading them, too. Don’t miss the process videos below.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

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True Rest 💚💛💚 Rest is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? But in this fast-paced day and age it often seems so elusive, like a hazy dream. We tend to rely on coffee, living for the weekend, and positive affirmations to help us just survive each day and all of the demands that come with it. My friend, I want to help lift your spirit today. I want you to know that the God who holds all the stars and planets in place more than has the ability to provide true rest for your soul, your mind, and your weary body. Rest in Jesus comes in a lot of different forms, such as spending precious time in the wondrous beauty of His creation, admiring His handiwork and praising Him for it. Sometimes it looks like allowing yourself to take a nap, so that you can have the needed energy to help lead and encourage your friends and family. And at other times, it looks like finding a quiet place, even for just a couple minutes, and handing your worries over to Jesus, who can definitely carry them all. So if you’re feeling worn out today, and needing a break, I have the answer for you. His name is Jesus, and He is calling you to simply sit at His feet right now and lay your burdens down. He offers us true rest, y’all! 💚 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 💚 . . . . #wacommermay2019 #mermay2019 #mermay #mermaid #mermaidhair #mermazing #mermaidart #mermaidartwork #mermaidartist #hedgie #dino #dinosaur #brontosaurus #pterodactyl #jurassic #jurassicworld #jurassicpark #stegosaurus #rest #nap #illustragram #illustrationartists #watercolorpainting #tombow #tombowbrushpen #tombowfudenosuke #aliciayoungart @tombancroft1 @tombowusa @wacom

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Responses

  1. Wonderful illustrations! What a talented illustrator.

    Like

  2. Love this post! What a wonderful illustrator!

    Like

  3. These illustrations are perfectly charming. Thanks for another interesting interview and beautiful post.

    Like

  4. Beautiful and blessed❤️❤️❤️

    Like

  5. I really enjoyed seeing some or your process and learning about all your other books. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself, Alicia. And for doing a fabulous job with Porcupette and Moppet. We are so proud of that book and the art that helps to the story so perfectly. Thank you, Kathy for your continued support and all that you do for the writing and illustrating community.

    Like

  6. Thanks for sharing so much great information !
    Love your art!

    Like

  7. Love love love love love! 😀 ❤

    Like


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