Thursday, October 13, 2016

Gut Checker, Gina Perry, Excuses Aunt Sally and Prizes!

Is your gut working? Gina Perry is here to make sure! Gina creates bold and fun illustrations for children. She doesn't go in all willy nilly when she makes her books. No, indeed. Gina Checks her gut and she's here to explain why you need to do the same every time you go to create!

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Aunt Sally and the Gut Check 

As much as I loved art as a child, I also loved math. I loved the increasing difficulty of problem solving within a framework of order. I wish that there was a “Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally” for dummy making. But it seems as if there are an infinite number of ways to create a dummy and no set rules that will work for everyone. 

Many author/illustrators state that the images come first, and they write the words to go with them. I’ve never had this experience. But I do have a particular problem with the order of images and words that might ring true with some of you. 

Here’s my process: I get ideas. I mull over them for a long time. I write a story. I revise. I share it with others. I mull over feedback. And then… I get SO excited about making the art that I DIVE into making my dummy. I miss one of the most important steps in order of dummy operations: the gut check. 

Is there a nagging voice that tells you your story lacks excitement or innovation? That your main character doesn’t solve his/her own problem? That perhaps your story isn’t age appropriate for your audience? That, worst of all, you’re not really sure what you story is about? 

Gut Check. 

Fix these problems before you start drawing. These problems will not go away. They will only feel that much more challenging under the weight of all your beautiful drawing. 

I’m working very hard to overcome this problem myself. I spent the summer of 2014 creating a really lovely picture book dummy. I love the characters. I love the premise and the problem. But I didn’t do a gut check before I started drawing. And I drew the pants out of that whole book. It’s lovely. But it’s flawed. 

You will revise. You will redraw. You will even repaint. This is part of the job. But the hardest double takes are the ones where you didn’t listen to your gut along the way. 

Take the time to do your gut check. Get feedback from a few trusted sources and see if there are common threads. Take a few days to soak in the feedback and don’t be afraid to try all kinds of revisions to see if they work. 

Do the work and fix it before you pick up the pencil. THEN draw the pants out of your story. 

Gina Perry lives and works on the seacoast of New Hampshire with her husband and two young children. She illustrated It’s Great Being a Dad, written by Dan Bar­el coming out Spring 2017 from Tundra Books. Her picture book debut, Small, comes out in Fall 2017 from little bee books. Too Much! Not Enough! and another untitled picture book are forthcoming from Tundra books

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PRIZE

One lucky winner will receive Ring Around the Rosie, illustrated by Gina and an original Buddha painting on paper. Gina paints Buddhas to unwind when she’s in a tricky spot with dummy ­making. She hopes her painting will bring you a little serenity while YOU work!*

In order to win this prize you must comment on this post.
It would also be super nice if you shared this with your friends!

*Shipping limited to the US

32 comments:

  1. I have always assumed that the hesitancy or unease about my project was just my insecurity rearing its ugly head. Adding a 'gut check' to my proofing routine is a good way for me to stay focused and move forward... thanks, this was exactly what I needed to read this morning.

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    1. I'm glad it was helpful, Phyllis! Onward!

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  2. Thank you, Gina. The gut check is so important. I often try to lie to myself (when I'm lazy) and say my work is "good enough" even when my gut knows it could be improved. The gut is always right.

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    1. Ha! Yes, we all do that a little bit. It's really the process of re-doing that has pushed me beyond that lazy instinct to just keep going.

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  3. I'm too close to my work for my gut to work properly sometimes but I have awesome critique partners who tell me when my story is lacking in any of the critical areas. :)

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    1. Oh, yes. I have a hard time seeing things myself too. So glad you have great critique partners!

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  4. Fantastic advice, Gina! My gut tells me that you will always be a success!

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  5. Wonderful post Gina!! I have that tendency to get SUPER excited and dive in headfirst as well. So important to remember to stop and do the gut check!

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    1. Thanks, Emily. Oh, that enthusiasm is key in getting the whole project done - and I know you have LOTS of it.

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  6. Always a big fan of your work, Gina. You are living the dream!!! :) I'm adding "Check Gut" in my list of steps now. Thanks for the sound advice and CONGRATULATIONS!!!

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    1. Thanks so much, Debbie! I totally appreciate where I am right now, it was SUCH a long journey. xoxo

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  8. My gut works best on illustrations. I always think of a better way to show something after I have drawn it. Thanks for the tips!

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    1. Interesting! It really is amazing how artists work in so many different ways to achieve the same end. And how often we draw that one image before we get to just the right version.

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  9. The number one gut check that I tend to miss is knowing exactly what my story is about, but I usually don't realize this until I have a ridiculous amount of visuals. I have to draw and draw again to understand the point. Thank you for the post!

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    1. Gah! That's a really big one. And maybe it's just unavoidable - but it's your process. Or maybe you'll find a future project where that question is clear without all the drawing - I feel like each story has a different path.

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  10. I am not entering for the prize, but I wanted to say the "gut check" should never be underestimated. My gut always warned me in the past when there was a problem and I often ignored the feeling. I'm bad, BAD! If a very small voice even hints at a problem, make it big, very BIG! Because it's actually a big deal. Do not say nah! Excellent advice, Gina.

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    1. hahaha. Thanks, Sussu! Oh, it's easy to ignore that nagging voice when there are fun drawings to be drawn!

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  11. Great advice Gina! I like that term too and need to pay better attention as well. So happy for all your well deserved success, lady!! I can't wait to buy all of your books!

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  12. I'm a very visual person myself, so i tend to focus on illustrations first then text. as if im watching a movie if you get my point. Thanks for sharing though ! And good luck. Your work looks totally fab.

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  13. Great advice. It's so hard not to jump in and draw when you know the story isn't quite right. Been struggling a lot with this during Smart Dummies! Your work is so fun and colorful.

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    1. Glad it was helpful. Dummies are HARD work, really immersive projects, you know?

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  14. I am in the process of creating a dummy and appreciate your comments about your gut check. It seems this comes with time to develope and listen to your inner voice. Thanks.

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  15. You hit the nose right on the button. (I'm old school) Listening to your gut. My Design teacher once said "if it does not look right or feel right do it over. correcting it will not work." Needless to say I ignored her advice once or twice. Not a good idea, she was correct. Thank you for the post!

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  16. Dear Gina Thanks for the blog on maths and art. Personally I love reading books with wildlife and/or insect characters to my grandchildren. They always seem to be fascinated by the bigger world. I would be honoured to have a signed copy of your book. Looking forward to your future publications.

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  17. This was helpful. A real wake-up call after listening to my gut, I just realized my main character is not who the one who really solves the problem. Back to revise the story and illustrations.

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  18. Thank you, Gina. I guess this means take breaks and look back...and show it to people. :) I can do those things but I'm so impatient right now. This is the zen work I have to do in my eagerness to get this career going.

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