Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Working outside the studio

As you can see from a complete lack of posts for months, we've all been pretty busy. While this is really good news for us, it also has a down side as you'll see in this post. It's led to some pretty odd working conditions. Sometimes deadlines and vacations and life clash. This is a post about how we work around that issue.

I recently agreed to take on a project while I was on vacation in my hometown of St. Louis. I ended up working in a variety of places, starting with sketching on the plane, sketching at my cousin's before the other dinner guests arrived, then painting on a road trip, and later ordering postcards from Starbucks. 

Backseat painting on a road trip

Working on a postcard at Starbucks

Recently, Renee was in Boston working on some black and white art for The Owls of Blossom Wood series (written by Catherine Coe, Scholastic UK). This photo was taken at a place called District Hall where she sometimes spends her days overhearing business-y conversations and drawing on her husband's Cintiq Companion.

And since summer around Christina's house inevitably means kids running around, she's been known to take her work station outside! Not sure how much work she's able to get done lately!

I think Tracy gets the grand prize for managing to work while on vacation. Here she is in line for a ride at Disneyland of all places!!!

Sketching for a project while in line at Disneyland!!!! 

More sketching at the Starbucks in Disneyland

More sketching at the airport

There you have it. The glamorous life of an illustrator. You're jealous right now, admit it.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

ALA San Francisco 2015

This year, the American Library Association held it's conference near me in San Francisco. This is the conference where they hand out their awards. Though I didn't attend any of the workshops or events, walking the floor felt like a celebration of publishing. How could I miss that?!

ALA is completely overwhelming. Luckily, one of the first people I ran into were Debbie Ohi and Hazel Mitchell.

Photo by Debbie Ohi

Hazel and Tracy

I finally got to meet Dan Santat's wife, Leah. 

I was on my own for the first day, but luckily, met Cindy Derby! We hung out all day and had a blast. Later I finally me Meg Fleming in person!

Cindy Derby, me, Lea Lyon, Meg Fleming, Pam Turner

We found Renee Kurilla, too!!!

Tracy has been swamped in deadlines lately, so she wasn't able to go the first day, but I wore her down and got her to go the second day. How could she not visit her books on display at ALA?

Here we are on a very loud and celebratory train full of gay pride partiers.

Not the Quitting Kind, illustrated by Tracy Bishop

Pipsie illustrated by Tracy Bishop

I thought the SCBWI LA conference was like being in a live version of Twitter, but the ALA conference is even more so. Every time I turned around there was someone I know, follow, or have heard of. I talked to everyone! Half the time I made no sense, but I really didn't care. It was wonderful.

I finally got to meet Judy Schachner in person!!!!! She is the sweetest!! You must get your hands on her newest book, Dewey Bob, when it comes out!!! I love it so, so much.

Arree Chung of Live in a Story and author/illustrator of Ninja!

Did you see this pic on Publisher's Weekly? I loved meeting Salina Yoon!!! She's the best!

And how cute is this guy?

I pretty much lost my ability to speak when I met my idol, Mary GrandPré and Barb Rosenstock.

I was a blithering idiot upon meeting Alexandra Boiger.

How adorable are they? Philip and Erin Stead.

And I met Linette Kim from the Bloomsbury marketing team. I have an announcement coming about this soon. She had me in tears!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Book Birthday: Pipsie, Nature Detective

Pipsie, Nature Detective: The Disappearing Caterpillar by Rick DeDonato and illustrated by me is out in the world now! Pipsie is published by the amazing team at Two Lions Publishing.

I'm really excited since Pipsie is the result of years of hard work by many people behind the scenes. If you see Pipsie in the wild I hope you enjoy it just as much I loved illustrating her.


Here are some fun behind the scenes stuff for Pipsie.
The character design went through MANY iterations.
Pipsie character1
First character design ideas for Pipsie. I really liked the lab coat but it didn't really convey nature detective.

Pipsie Hair
Exploring Pipsie's hairstyles.
Pipsie Outfit4 1
Accessorizing Pipsie's outfit.
Getting closer to the final Pipsie look.
TracyBishop PipsieCharacterFinal
The final Pipsie!

This is what my work space looked like while I was finishing up Pipsie.
TracyWorkspace2 2TracyBishopWorkSpace

To find out more about Pipsie, visit her website. There are a lot of activity sheets for you to enjoy.

You can also see Pipsie information on her Facebook page.

Places to buy the book.
Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book Birthday! ORANGUTANKA: A Story in Poems

It's here! ORANGUTANKA is released into the wild today! 

As we often hear from authors and illustrators, it takes years to finally see your book in print. If you can believe it, I delivered my first pass at color illustrations in November of 2013! Here is a fun glimpse at what a page from this book looks like before and after it's finished:

If you'd like to see more of the process that goes into making this book and many others (and you happen to live near Cape Cod, MA!) please visit the Cotuit Center for the Arts for The Process of Picture Books, a show curated by author/illustrator Jim Hill

For even more ORANGUTANKA fun, please check out the Nerdy Book Club Trifecta posts with myself and Margarita!

*While you're there, make sure to watch the trailer!

Buy the book:


Monday, March 16, 2015

What I'm working on…

Lots going on behind the scenes that I can't show, so here are some babies for your entertainment. I just love drawing babies!

Rub a dub, dub. Three men in a tub.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Simply Messing About...with Watercolor!

Since I'm not yet able to post images from the current book I'm working on (A Morning with Gong Gong, Lee & Low), here are a couple little paintings I've been doing for fun. I've had this Windsor & Newton travel watercolor set for a couple years, but I've hardly used it. I decided to pull it out and simply mess about! Though watercolor isn't as forgiving as my computer, it's been fun to make marks on paper and delight in happy accidents. I'm hoping these little exercises in watercolor will spill over and help me with some spontaneity in the digital world of painting. Here's to having fun with real paint!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Advice for Students

Every year I get e-mails from art students asking about what they should do to become an children’s illustrator. Here’s my general advice on what can be helpful. This is just my opinion so take this with a grain of salt. You should definitely do a lot of research on your own and find what works for you.

  • Draw, draw, draw

  • Read, read, read
    • Go to the library and bookstore and read lots of picture books. Read and analyze the books. How does the illustration push the story along? How does the illustrator add to the story beyond words? How is page turn used to move the story? How does the illustrator vary the composition throughout the book? Do you see the differences in character design and composition between stories intended for different age groups? How are books intended for 2 year olds different from those intended for 5 or 7 year olds? 
  • Have your own website
    • You NEED a website of your own. The first thing anyone is gong to ask when you say you are an illustrator is a link to your work. 

    •, Squarespace are great low-cost website providers and you can have a great portfolio site up without any coding knowledge. You’re an illustrator, not a web developer. Sure, you can learn how to put up a website for yourself but your time is better spent creating more illustrations.

    • If you can’t do a paid website, use the various free options that are out there (flickr, tumblr, behance, etc.). It doesn’t matter what you use, just have your work available for people to see online.

  • Join Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) 
    • If you want to be a children’s book illustrator, there is a lot to learn about the craft and business of it. There isn’t a better place to learn. Join this organization and attend local and even national conferences. It’s worth it.

  • Go on Twitter
    • There is a huge community of picture book illustrators and writers on twitter. Follow them, make friends, learn from each other. A great place to connect with illustrators is by going to the #kidlitart hashtag.