Friday, September 4, 2015

Dani Jones my First Favorite

Dani Jones' name was the first one to pop into my head when I started Smart Dummies. Imagine getting started in illustration and having almost everything you need to know right at your fingertips. This is what happened to me when I first started illustrating. I found Dani Jones's blog and absorbed every bit of information I could find. Her blog helped and inspired me in my first days as she continues to today. Dani has a wonderful illustration style. I love that she does both beautiful graphic novels and picture books. 

Edit: Dani's Little Women Graphic Novel is just getting started. Read the first chapter here:!

Me: What was one of your biggest mistakes when you started out in illustration?

Dani: When I first started out, I had the tendency to rush into things. My attention was always divided, and I was doing about a million things at once. On one hand, this helped me a lot because I was unafraid to try new things or take risks. Ultimately though, I ended up with a lot of half-done projects and failed ventures because I would lose interest in them too quickly, or become too overwhelmed. I still try to keep that enthusiasm, but I think I’m more careful and smart about it nowadays.

Me: Where do you get your inspiration?

Dani: Everywhere. Absorbing constantly through art, movies, TV, music, books, comics, and life.

Some people look down at that stuff and say, “Don’t watch too much TV,” or, “You have to draw 15 hours a day if you want to be a serious artist.” But I think it’s the other way around for me. I actually have to carve out time to binge watch on Netflix or sit down with a novel. And to me, that’s important because liking things, absorbing things, becoming obsessed with things is what helps you find out who you want to be and what you want to create as an artist.

Me: How does your comic work influence your picture book illustration style?

Dani: I think just the sheer amount of drawing you have to do when you make comics has helped me tremendously. When I did my webcomic on a regular basis, my drawing skills skyrocketed. It also improved my pacing, expression, and storytelling.

Me: What is the most important thing that Illustrators should include in a dummy?

Dani: The most important thing a picture book dummy should do, to me, is show that you understand the relationship between pictures and words. You should not be able to have one without the other in a picture book. It should also show that you understand pacing and page turns. When you only have 32 pages, these things become immensely important to the success of the story.

Me:  Do you have any advice for those creating dummies?

Dani: Look at a lot of children’s books. Study them. Read them out loud. Understand how they are different from other media like prose novels and comic books. Learn what makes the good ones good and the bad ones bad. I think picture books are one of those things that lots of people view as simple, easy to make, or easy to figure out. There’s also a lot of preconceptions about how a picture book should look or what it should contain. As a result, many picture book dummies can be bland, generic, boring, overly sweet, pretentious, or condescending. So before you sit down to make a dummy, try to learn as much as you can, and your dummy will be a whole lot better for it.

News and links:

Dani's website and blog:
Twitter: @danidraws
Instagram: @danidraws


  1. Great interview! I, too, have been a Dani Jones fan for years. Thanks for the advice, Dani.

  2. Thanks for the great advice! Your "Little Women" project looks interesting. :)

  3. I'm finding more and more of Dani's fans as I do this event. It's so wonderful to have someone to guide you along when you're first starting out. Anyone who finds this blog during their career is so lucky! Dani's work is so amazing. I love her webcomics so much. Especially the one about the kitty. "Sally" is draw in black and white, but the story itself is so vivid. Check it out if you haven't read it yet:

  4. Dani, I will check out your blog related to illustrations. When you create a book dummy, I wonder if you decide yourself about page breaks yourself. Thanks! Deirdre

  5. Thanks for posting this. It's so good to have a glimpse into what is working for you.