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Advice For Young Illustrators, Office Corners and THE STORY CIRCLE: Three Questions with Wendy Martin

Thanks to Wendy Martin for making a stop on THE STORY CIRCLE / EL CIRCULO DE CUENTOS blog tour. And Happy Book Birthday to THE STORY CIRCLE, which launches TODAY!

A transplanted New Yorker now living in Missouri, Wendy Martin has worked as an illustrator for more than 25 years. She has written and illustrated several picture books for children, including An Ordinary Girl, A Magical Child, which was a finalist for the 2009 COVR Visionary Awards. You can find out more about Wendy and her work at her websiteher blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

THE STORY CIRCLE is a new picture book written by Diane Gonzales Bertrand and illustrated by Wendy Martin, out from Piñata Books (an imprint of Arte Publico Press) on May 30th, 2016 — TODAY!


“Monster floods closed school for three days. The children return, finding the new bookshelves empty. “What will we do for story circle?” they ask. A charming book about the joys of telling stories and using imagination will spark conversations with children, spurring them to write and illustrate their own stories. “

Q. Could you tell us the story behind something in your office?

This is my computer corner desk:

The desk is a custom-made corner hugger that my father made way back when he was investigating artificial intelligence. That was before and during my teen years. At some point in my 20s, I ended up with it. I don’t remember why Dad wanted to get rid of it, or how I came to have it, but it’s followed me through 2 apartments and 3 house, including a move across the country.

The desk is made of 3 units that come apart. The top, which is covered in a laminate in a utilitarian beige; the little unit of shelves on the left, it’s open now, but it used to have a door with a magnetic lock; and the long shelf unit on the right, a perfect size and depth for large art paper.

The units fit together with grooved ledges, which are then screwed in to keep them tight and sturdy. After so many years and so many moves, the holes for the screws are worse for wear, and there are pieces of laminate missing in place where edges caught and pulled. I think about replacing it about once a year and go searching through the Internet for an alternate. I have yet to find one that is as sturdy, or has the shelving that works for all my art papers, so the old desk stays. I will have to replace it someday, but today is not that day.

The process progression for a spread from ’The Story Circle.

Q. What advice do you have for young illustrators?

Draw everything, all the time. The artists I know who are at the top of their game are constantly drawing. I once was lucky enough to attend a workshop with James Gurney. He was seated in front of me before he went up front to give his speech. The entire 20-25 minutes he sat there, he was drawing everything and anything around him. I was so mesmerized I missed the entire session of whoever was speaking before him. That man is A-MAZ-ING!!!

Q. What are you excited about right now?

I’m thrilled that The Story Circle by Diane Gonzales Bertrand is being released today. It’s a bilingual (English/Spanish) story from Piñata Books / Arte Public. Ms. Bertrand wrote a story about the aftermath of a flood on a school and how the children coped with the loss of all their favorite books. It was a thrill to take her spare text and illustrate it with explosions of colorful and magical imagery.

Wendy will be visiting Michelle Henninger’s blog tomorrow! Do check out the rest of THE STORY CIRCLE blog tour between now and June 26th. You can also follow the #storycircletour hashtag.

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