Friday, August 15, 2014

Interview With Helena Juhasz

Helena Drawing
This week I'm interviewing Helena Juhasz. It's an extra special interview because I know Helena (in person)! She is the fantastic Illustration Coordinator of the SCBWI Canada West chapter. The SCBWI Canada West chapter is very lucky to have Helena. She has put so much time and effort into sharing vital information, coordinating meetings, and working towards strengthening the Illustrators group as a whole. She does this while working on her own career and taking care of her four year old. I'm not sure how she gets so much done.

Helena has a wonderful artistic style. She is a kindred spirit because of her love of the graphic novel genre for kids. Some of her work is just down right hilarious. I'm sure we'll see her artwork and writing grace the pages of picture books and magazines alike in the near future.

Dani: What do you think is the most important part of you being an illustrator?

Helena: The most important part of being an illustrator is going back to my childhood: whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always answered "artist". This is in my DNA. This is what I was born to do.

Dani: Sleeping in or breakfast in bed?

Helena: SLEEPING IN! I'm still recovering from the sleepless nights of my daughter's infancy and toddlerhood.

Dani: What made you want to take over as head of the Canada West Illustrators?

Helena: I simply fell in love with SCBWI and all that they have to offer. I wanted to be part of the organization, at least at this small level, and to connect with people. I love talking illustration, art and design and meeting like-minded people.

Dani: What are some of the challenges you face in this position?

Helena: Some challenges are finding enough time and energy to do what I'd like to for the group ie. finally set up a gallery show! I would also like to get a Twitter account up for the group, and even have a shared event with the Western Washington group. It comes down to a couple of hours in the evening, and I have to decide: am I going to read through all of my social media? am I going to write? am I going to draw? am I going to crash and burn and watch a movie?

Dani: I know you attended the SCBWI New York conference recently. What is the greatest thing you learned at this conference?

Helena: The SCBWI New York conference is incredible. So much information. So much inspiration. It was my main wake-up call to be more professional. Seeing the work out there, the ones that really stood out had cohesive portfolio books and good-sized art cards that show their illustrations well. Their websites were equally cohesive and organized. WAIT! No... I mean that's all good, but what really surprised me was how much EMOTION plays a part in how your illustration is evaluated. In the Illustrator's Master Class, Arthur A. Levine, of Arthur A. Levine Books, went through 30 illustrations, and for every one, he asked himself: how does this make me feel? The industry folks don't just want a pretty picture, they want to see how the characters interact on the page, how convincingly did you convey a world for these characters.

Dani: What changes would you like to see in either the SCBWI as a whole or the Canada West Illustrators?

Helena: I think for Canada West Illustrators, I'd love to see the group grow. More people in a variety of states of their publishing career - seasoned pros sharing with newbies. I'd love to see a regular gallery showing - perhaps coupled with a book launch. I'd love to see our annual conference grow to a two-day event and attract publishers and agents from Canada and the U.S.

Dani: What are some of the personal projects (illustration or otherwise) you are working on right now?

Helena's Tomie Entry
Helena: I regularly submit my work to agents and publishers for consideration - graphic novels, picture books, illustration, art cards. Really, the challenge is to give some ideas a chance to become something. Some ideas you write down, then forget just as easily, but others are good little gems that need to be polished bit by bit. I'm working on my second graphic novel now, which is in thumbnail and writing stages. BUT, there are a handful of picture book ideas that I feel deserve a voice. It's all a juggling act...

Dani: If you could choose any written book to illustrate in your own style, which one would it be?

Helena: Watership Down by Richard Adams is my husband's favourite book. I'd love to adapt it to a graphic novel and make it more accessible to the kids that can't digest that much prose.

Follow Helena:


1 comment:

  1. Love Helena's enthusiasm in painting and her paintings!