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.
Today we feature Author & Illustrator Jennifer Silverwood. Jennifer was raised deep in the heart of Texas and is the author of the Wylder Tales Series & Silver Hollow. In her spare time she reads, writes, draws and tries to sustain her wanderlust. Not only is she an illustrator, but also our project manager for Qamber Kids. She is a talented traditional artist willing to try new mediums.
QK: Jennifer, 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?
JS: Working with children during and after high school, I was drawn to the art in books I read to my classes. I have always been inspired by art and the tradition runs deep in my family. I pursued art my first year of college, but struggled through several universities before I ran out of chances to finish. So I guess you could say this has always been a closet dream of mine. That one thing I always longed to do but believed the chance had passed me by. I never thought I’d actually have the opportunity to pursue illustration as an adult.
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?
JS: Honestly? My friendship and then business partnership with the Qamber sisters has probably impacted me the most and taught me to believe in myself again. While I am relatively inexperienced compared to the rest of our amazing #IllustratorTeam, each project I help guide, teaches me so much about the overall process. So I wouldn’t say I’ve “made it” just yet, but it’s a goal I’m pressing on towards. 🙂
QK: We see you favor pastel chalk and ink in most of your artwork. Can you describe your technique?
JS: As I developed my drawing techniques through high school and college I worked primarily with graphite pencils and some hard pastels. I didn’t discover just how much I loved getting my hands dirty with soft pastels until my second semester of drawing. We had to put out at least three big-sized pieces per week, and pastels allowed me the ability to create something beautiful quickly. I use ink at times for definition and to sketch out all my ideas.
QK: Is there a medium you love but don’t get a chance to use often in your work?
JS: I used to work over summers painting these massive murals using house paints and acrylic paints. Sometimes I really miss working big like that, seeing the odd mismatched pieces of your eight-foot-tall canvas become whole.
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?
JS: Pastels allow for the most flexibility for me. Once I commit to a certain loose sketch or idea, I can put out a finished piece within a day or two. As for deciding when it’s done, is it ever really? I supposed you have to reach that point where you’ve done all the “tweaking” you can. But I always love leaving a hint of wildness in my art, a little rough beauty hidden between fine lines.
QK: Any projects from your portfolio you are especially proud of and would like to share?
JS: I gave myself a bit of a challenge when creating “Sea Nymph.” I wanted to give a hint of realism using fantastical concept and color.
QK: You are the author of nine fantasy/sci-fi novels. While working on so many wonderful projects, have you been inspired to write a picture book of your own?
JS: I have started two different picture books that never came to fruition, but the concept is still there, waiting and honestly taunting me in the rare spare moment. You can see a piece of one of these efforts here, a blend of ink and prisma colors.
QK: Are there any new projects you’re working on, either literary or artistic, that you’d like to share with us?
JS: I’ve started sketching some ideas again for one of my aforementioned projects. Hopefully I’ll have some results for y’all soon, along with some lovely pieces to gift my niece and nephews for their birthdays. 😉 Book-wise, I am focusing on the rewriting and revision of Silver Hollow. I started my career with this book and I want to update it with the intention of turning it into an ongoing series.
QK: Are there any professional goals that you have not yet reached? What do you see for you future?
JS: Absolutely. I want to continue to put as much effort as I can into helping Qamber Kids and Qamber Designs & Media grow. Along the way, I hope to create more books, finish several of my series. And of course, I want to create art that will inspire others the way it inspires me. We are all in search of beauty in our lives and art is one of the most precious gifts we can give back to the world.
QK: Do you have any advice or insight for illustrators who are trying to break in?
JS: Don’t be afraid to be new, to be young in a business of literary giants. Everyone started from somewhere. All of us aspire to the stars and if you’re lucky like I have been, you’ll find friends along the way willing to lift you up.
QK: Jennifer, thank you for sharing!