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Three Questions with Kate Parkinson: advice for young illustrators, 1950’s kitsch and debut picture book GRACE

Today, I’m delighted to fire Three Questions at my friend Kate Parkinson. Kate’s an illustrator, designer and author and a member of SCBWI and Canscaip. She is a graduate of OCAD University, the University of Guelph and is currently working towards an MFA in Illustration from the University of Hartford.

Kate’s first children’s book, GRACE, was published by Holiday House Books For Young People in January 2015 (it was originally developed for her grad school thesis!) and she is currently hard at work on new book ideas. You can find Kate at KateParkinson.comTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Synopsis of GRACE:

Grace’s name may be a bit of a misnomer, for graceful she is not. She wants to be a ballerina, but dancing is not her forte. “Give it up, Grace,” the other girls tell her. Saddened, Grace turns to drawing—and when she does, she starts to feel better. Grace is good at drawing and the other girls love her artwork. Grace finds a way to be part of the ballet using her true talent—she paints the sets! But the indefatigable Grace also keeps dancing in this easy reader that encourages youngsters to celebrate their own special gifts.

1. Pick a random object in your studio and tell me about it.

Over the years I have collected 1950’s kitsch (my place has a retro décor) and some cookie jars have migrated into my studio and are filled with brushes and pens.

Most of my 50’s stuff has faces, whether ceramic anthropomorphic vegetables or the seriously tacky chalk art hanging on my wall. I like to surround myself with whimsical things that make me smile.

2. What advice do you have for aspiring children’s book illustrators?

Draw, draw, draw! Carry a sketchbook with you wherever you go. Learn from other artists, connect with them and support them, they are your tribe, and the friendships you develop with others in the field are very special. Explore various media and pursue your own unique voice and path. Get your work out there, don’t worry about rejection, just keep working and moving forward.

And when you finally get that first children’s book to illustrate, remember to have fun!

3. What are you excited about these days?

Grace came out just last month and since then I had my first book signing (OLA conference) and I just attended my first SCBWI conference in New York City.

I want to read all the fabulous kid’s books I heard about at the SCBWI conference (there are many including Kwame Alexander’s “The Crossover”). I came back very inspired to get working on my next two book ideas and starting on some character studies (I have lots of ideas so now I need to get them into paper!).

I also work fulltime and I am in grad school (MFA, University of Hartford) and I graduate in July. I’m busy putting together a body of work for my thesis show that includes “Grace,” (the book was originally developed to be part of my thesis) and the other book ideas that I am currently developing. I’m excited about bringing the ideas I have to life.

Life is hectic but wonderful also!!!


For more insights from book creators, see my Inkygirl Interview Archives and Advice For Young Writers And Illustrators From Book Creators.