Not long after we decided to start a blog here at Qamber Kids, we thought it would be fun to interview our #IllustratorTeam. We are very lucky and grateful to have such a fantastic team of artists at our disposal and wanted to share some of that awesomeness with you.
We begin with Author & Illustrator Melissa Wright. Melissa is the author of seven YA and Fantasy novels and countless to-do lists. She works primarily in watercolor and ink but has been known to experiment with other mediums. Today, Melissa was kind enough to share a little about her process and passions in both art and writing.
QK: Melissa, thank you for taking the time to share with us today. To begin, can you tell us about your journey into illustrating what led you to pursue your passion?
MW: I grew up in a family of artists, so I was surrounded by creations of all kinds for as long as I can remember. I think the first time I really knew it was something I wanted to keep in my life was around age six or seven. I’d drawn a terrible rendition of a goose to the sheer delight of my grandparents, and it just felt like anything that could bring so much joy and laughter was something I wanted to hold near. Of course, life does tend to get in the way of that, but I’ve come back to art again now that I have the freedom to choose what to do with my time.
QK: Illustration can be as tough a market to break into as the books we help bring to life. As you developed your career, what helped you most?
MW: Support and encouragement are important in this line of work (someone sing-songing Just Keep Swimming with you), but on the technical side, definitely being online and having the ability to showcase the work and reach so many has made a huge difference.
QK: We see you favor watercolor and ink in most of your artwork. Can you describe your technique?
MW: I’ve always worked light and built up detail, so watercolor works well for me. I like to do a pencil sketch and then ink in the design, followed by layers of color and detail.
QK: Is there a medium you love but don’t get a chance to use often in your work?
MW: Acrylic is fun because it forces me to be bold and it’s quite the opposite of watercolor. I don’t prefer it for most of my work, but it’s wonderful to see your choices so immediately and irrevocably on the canvas.
QK: Depending on your medium, how long does it take you to complete a project, typically and how do you decide when it is done?
MW: Sketches are fairly quick because I’ve had a lot of practice at that, but watercolor generally takes two to three hours on the initial work and then another hour on touch up. Knowing when you’re done is sometimes tougher than others, but I like to keep working until it feels right. You’ve got limited chances with watercolor because the paper can break down, so I usually take a day or so before going in for final changes.
QK: Any projects from your portfolio you are especially proud of and would like to share?
MW: I’m quite fond of Lightning, which was created from a simple sketch. It was one of the first times I’d converted my art into digital and I love the feeling it evokes.
QK: You are the bestselling author of seven YA fantasy novels. While working on so many wonderful projects, have you been inspired to write a picture book of your own?
MW: Yes! I’ve got a somewhat secret side project I’ve been working on in spare time (ha!) and I’m very excited about it. It’s full of silly animals and focuses on being yourself.
QK: Are there any new projects you’re working on, either literary or artistic, that you’d like to share with us?
MW: I’m always writing the next book, currently the second in the Shattered Realms Series, and I’m learning hand lettering, which is terribly difficult and just as enjoyable.
QK: Are there any professional goals that you have not yet reached? What do you see for you future?
MW: I’m always striving to do better work, to learn new mediums, and to get more done. It seems my goals are constantly shifting as I go, but I hope my future holds a career in both illustration and writing and it would be lovely if the two could be done simultaneously.
QK: Do you have any advice or insight for illustrators who are trying to break in?
MW: Keep working, keep putting yourself out there, give yourself room to grow. If you’re patient and dedicated, you’ll get there.
QK: Melissa, thank you for sharing!
MW: Thanks so much for having me!