Claire Lorden is with me today to talk about a pizza loving lobster named Lorenzo. Why is Lorenzo so awesome you say? Because he loves pizza. You can't not like a creature that loves pizza (that's why people are so awesome). Claire is not only a lobster lover and pizza aficionado, but she's also a pretty great writer and illustrator as well!
Claire: It started when I was back in college and my boyfriend and I were at a gift shop that sells Rhode Island merchandise (we went to school in Rhode Island). My boyfriend noticed a cute lobster stuffed animal and said how much he liked it because it reminded him of a pet crawfish he had growing up.
When his birthday came around I decided to give him the stuffed animal lobster that he had admired months earlier. We chose the name "Rhodie" for the lobster stuffed animal because his backstory is that he is from Rhode Island. Somehow, one day when we were eating pizza we decided that Rhodie was Italian and loved pizza. It became a joke and I thought how ridiculous it was that a lobster loved pizza!
I thought this would make a great character in a children's book. After many revisions and many sketches later Lorenzo, the Pizza-Loving Lobster is an actual book!
Dani: Is there anything you learned in the creation of your book?
Claire: I learned many things while creating Lorenzo. One thing that stands out is how important it is to have a consistent color story throughout the book. Something that really helped was that I made a palette and colored all of my thumbnails before moving on to the final art. Also, it was a challenge having a red lobster and a green sea turtle be friends without the colors clashing too much. There were many color explorations until I found a color combination that really worked well. I'm happy with how it turned out.
Dani: How did your previous experience in illustration/design help you with entering the picture book industry?
Claire: I came from a really strong illustration background, which was definitely a plus when I started approaching picture books (My degree is in illustration). I already had experience telling stories through images and I just needed to learn how picture books work and what are the standards of the industry.
Claire: One illustration job I loved doing was creating wall murals for a school in Russia. I created images based on the local animals that live there. Seeing the final product of my images on the walls floor to ceiling is pretty incredible. Hopefully I will visit the school someday. Here is the project: http://www.clairelordon.com/kazan.html
Dani: Do you have any words of wisdom that people should keep in mind while working on their dummies?
Claire: Give yourself plenty of time for the thumbnail stage. Play around. Explore different angles and points of view. Play with pacing and spots vs. full bleed. Most of all have fun! It will show!