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Part 3: I WANT TO READ ALL THE BOOKS Process (Illustrating: Textures, Libraries, and Indie Bookstores)

Part 1 (Idea)Part 2 (Writing) – Part 3 (Illustration) – Part 4 (Coming Soon!) – Cover Process

Every picture book creator has their own process, but I usually start with the writing. Partway through that process, I start not only scribbling ideas for characters but also thinking about illustration techniques. With every project, I want to be learning something new.

I had some messy fun creating textures in different ways, using black acrylic ink. I experimented with using manmade and organic material, dipping it into the ink and then pressing or smearing against white paper.

I was delighted to work with Laurent Linn again on this picture book project.

Laurent has been my art director on every picture book project I’ve done with Simon & Schuster, and I continue to feel incredibly lucky to work him!

For this book project, I also spent more time taking reference photos as well as sculpting scenes in 3D to use for my reference photos.

I took photos of the Toronto Metro Reference Library, both the exterior and interior. To take the inside photos, I needed to ask for an Approved Filming Badge.

The Metro Reference Library is one of my favourite libraries in Toronto! Not does it have a rich collection of books, rare books and special collections, an art gallery and all kinds of programming, it also hosts some of my favourite events…including Scriptus Pen Show and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. I did some writing and early sketches for my book in this library.

Plus I’ve always loved the science-fiction-y look of the interior:

Here are some of illustration spreads in I Want To Read ALL The Books inspired by the Toronto Metro Reference Library:

The scene in the smaller library was inspired by the Palmerston Branch of the Toronto Public Library, where I used to work as a Page years ago:

Here is the final illustration in the book:

See the bicyclist on the bench in the “I Read Banned Books” t-shirt? That’s my friend Andy, who was kind enough to send me reference photos during my sketch process, including ref photos of his bicycle. The book he is reading: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume – a frequently banned book that was re-issued by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster with a cover illustrated by yours truly, designed by Lauren Rille.

One of the librarians featured in my books was inspired by my friend Tracy Tuttosi, now retired:

The interior of the indie bookstore was inspired by some of my favourite Toronto indie bookstores, including:

Lindsay’s Books For Children, where I used to work as a bookseller years ago (sadly now closed)
Mabel’s Fables Bookstore, my neighbourhood bookstore (thanks to Mabel’s for letting me take reference photos of the interior, too!)
Bakka Phoenix Books, where several of my friends have worked and still work, a longtime favourite since my university days
A Different Booklist
, an African-Canadian owned bookstore who hosted the book launch of Sam & Eva years ago.

The bookseller in this illustration was inspired by my friend Kathy Burnett of Brain Lair Books, whom I met through NerdCampMI years ago, and the bookstore cat was inspired by Mabel of Mabel’s Fables.

More about my illustration process in Part 4 (coming soon!)…