Friday, May 25, 2018

Picturebooking Magic with Nick Patton

I don't know about you but I love to listen to podcasts when I draw. It's something that's not too distracting and helps improve my mood while working. I started listening to The Picturebooking Podcast when it first came out. At the time there were a few podcasts created by writers, but only Nick's (that I knew) podcast was from the perspective of an illustrator. This makes Picturebooking near and dear to my heart, because it's great when you are getting started as an illustrator to hear from other people who are in the same boat as you. Nick's podcast is insightful, creative and a ton of fun to hear! Nick isn't just awesome to listen to. His artwork is great as well. Check out his Instagram and Twitter pages to see his practice drawings and original artwork!


Dani: What is your favorite thing about running a podcast?
Nick: My favorite thing about the podcast (by far) is getting to have in depth con
versations with picture book creators who love the craft as much as I do.

I don’t know about you, but the majority of people in my life don’t let me talk for hours about Melissa Sweet’s art or how darn funny an Aaron Reynolds story is. Not only do I get to geek out about this art form, but I get to do it with the people who created it. The whole thing just blows my mind. I’m so lucky.

Dani: How has having a podcast affected your own illustration work?

Nick: Studying and talking to professional illustrators made me want to step up my game. It made me want to toss everything I’d ever done out the window and start over. I have personally done a lot of thrashing and flailing.

For the first couple years of the podcast I’d find myself studying someone’s work and then twisting my own art to their style.

But recently I’ve been listening to some past interviews and I’m finding clarity in what Dani Jones, Ovi Nedelcu and others have told me.

Dani is all about keeping it simple. Just make stuff and show it to people.

And Ovi created his “look” out of necessity. He made sure his art fit into his whole life. This is something I’m trying to do more of. If a piece of art takes me weeks to create, it isn’t a viable way of telling stories.

I still love putting on someone else’s style, but now I just copy the art as a learning exercise … something Amy June Bates mentioned in our talk.

Dani: What is your favorite food?
Nick: Well I did the illustrations for a newly released picture book title SAM AND THE SEVEN POUND PERCH. It’s a funny story about a boy and his dream of catching a record perch. I don’t want to give to much away, but if I was Sam, the story would end with a Friday Fish Fry!

The first Friday of the month a church does a fish fry in our town. They get the perch from the local fish market and they use a recipe that was gifted to them by an old restaurant owner. It is amazing perch! And it’s where we will be this Friday night!

Dani: Do you have a favorite podcast (or podcasts)? Could you share what you learned?

Nick: My first conversation with Dan Santat, days before he won the Caldecott for BEEKLE was special. Vanessa Brantley-Newton singing on the show brings goosebumps. The playful sarcasm of Mike Lowery, the energy of Rafael López and the thoughtfulness of Antoinette Portis come to mind. Asking Peter Brown about peeing was pretty memorable, and just sitting back and listening to Will Terry talk was fun.

So many good moments that it’s hard to bring one to the top.

But if you want a show about actionable tips to break into the children’s book industry … I did an entire episode on the topic with 19 past guests!

Here is Kelly Murphy’s advice in that episode:

Determination. You have to keep telling yourself that this is important and why it’s important. Self evaluation. What are you doing and how does it work with what the publishing world is doing. Thick skin. Rejection is part of this deal. It’s part of this profession. So a thick skin is important.

Dani: Why did you start a Patreon Page?

Nick: My Patreon page is all about sustainability. Patreon allows listeners of the show to contribute a monthly amount for the content I produce.

I want to continue having these conversations and promoting this medium. The goal of the podcast is to showcase the authors and illustrators behind my favorite books. But I need the show to be sustainable.

I’ve read some marketing books and blogs. I’ve googled “how to monetize a podcast.” And I don’t feel like being a true internet marketer. It’s just not fun or interesting.

So maybe my Patreon page is just me being to lazy to truly monetize the show with ads and such. But I’d prefer to think it’s an opportunity for my listeners to support my art. It’s a simple way to give me the ability and freedom to make Picturebooking my way.

Dani: What's next for the Picturebooking Podcast?

Nick: I’m inching closer to the 100th show! And I’ve been asking a bunch of people why picture books are important. It’s going to be an inspiring podcast and it reminds me why I get up every day and work on this craft.

If you or your readers would like to answer the question and potentially be included in the 100th episode just record your answer and email it to me at Please state your name in your answer … “Hi I’m Nick Patton and picture books are important to me because …”

Dani: What are your goals beyond the Picturebooking Podcast?

Nick: Four years ago, when I started the show I had this self-publishing vision. I really thought I was going to tell and share stories in some untraditional ways. But like monetizing a podcast, this self-publishing path runs headlong into internet marketing.

I’m not interested in doing everything myself. I get tired just thinking about posting on Facebook, let alone setting up an internet marketing campaign.

So my goal this year is to rebuild my portfolio, complete some “smart” dummy books and go fishing for an agent. When I catch one, we’ll have a fish fry … you’re invited!

Follow Nick:

Twitter: @nickpattonillo


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