Dani: You have a distinct style in your artwork. How did you arrive at this style?
Dani: What is the worst/hardest part of starting on a new project?
Shirley: If it’s for a client, I’m actually really excited about starting the new project as usually there is a manuscript that I’ll read that just starts generating images in my head. I really love to sketch, so things pop in and I jot them down..sometimes words, sometimes sketches. If it’s for a personal project though, the hard part for me is coming up with something truly interesting and compositionally interesting. I have been trying very hard to focus on the narrative of the illustration and so telling that specific story in one image is really challenging. It’s exciting when it starts coming together but it sure is hard sometimes at the start.
Dani: How does your Agent help you in your career?
Shirley: My agent has helped move my work to focus on picture book work. I’ve loved how she (Nicole Tugeau ofTugeau2.com) continues to ask her artists to produce new pieces throughout the year so that she has fresh work to show. She also produces promos for the group as well as shows our work at different events throughout the year. She’s been great to discuss contract issues with; work-progress issues that might come up with specific clients; and she’s a great sounding board for all kinds of issues that come up regarding my artwork and writing.
Dani: What's your favorite part of illustration?
Shirley: My favorite part is also the hardest part for me, which is coming up with a narrative for the piece. I find works that draw me in emotionally and pique my curiosity are so amazing and I shoot for that when sketching. It’s a big, wonderful journey. I also do very much love being in the “play” zone when creating personal pieces..trying new mediums and how they work with one another, as well as messing around on the computer and playing with layers and transparencies is always fun.
Dani: Any words of wisdom you can give for people finishing up their dummies?
Shirley: Enjoy the process. I think we so often hope for this ultra-great, awesome, perfect end point, and that blocks you from enjoying the work you’re doing. I had a BIG birthday this year and so I’ve been reflecting a lot about this career and what I’ve gone through and the things I’d go back and re-do. I must say that with a lot of confidence, that it’s truly wonderful when you hit that sweet spot of moving a piece of art in a direction that delights you, and that doesn’t happen as easily if you’re too worried about the end result. It’s not easy for me too, as I am completely a planner and an end-result kind of gal, but I’m more conscious of making sure that I open myself up to “play” when creating (getting messy, trying new things, focusing on something else vs. worrying about the perfection of a piece) while working on any project. If you can build in some time to play during the work needed for a dummy to be completed, I highly recommend it. Best to everyone!
Graphic Design site: gabbyandco.com