My sixth and final interview of the year is with someone very special, illustrator Jonas Sickler. Jonas is the artist who created the awesome blog logo that wonderfully represents the purpose of Frog on a Blog, which is to provide a fun, colorful forum for picture book fans to discuss all things related to children’s picture books.
Jonas is also the illustrator of six Indestructibles baby books that are specially designed to withstand the destructive behavior of the youngest picture book fans. They are tear resistant and waterproof! They are also absolutely gorgeous and they make great gifts!
Enjoy the interview!
Q. How long have your been creating art and when did you first realize that you wanted to illustrate children’s books?
JS. I have been making art since I was about 2 years old. Somehow I always knew that I would be an artist. Although there was a brief time around 4 years old when I thought I might be a fireman or a chef instead. I had always planned to work for Disney. It wasn’t until college that I began thinking of other options. That’s when I discovered Lane Smith through “The Stinky Cheese Man” and instantly knew I wanted to illustrate children’s books. During a trip to the Society of Illustrators, while my classmates were pouring over the exhibit, I took a field trip on my own to see Lane’s private studio. There, I met his wife Molly, and saw some works in progress. That day was unforgettable.
Q. How would you describe your style?
JS. My style is a bit difficult to categorize, though, I’m sure most artists say that to make themselves sound more unique and marketable. I certainly have a quirky, gritty style. There is never a shortage of textures and patterns in my art. Sometimes I work a bit darker- more Tim Burton/ Lane Smith. And sometimes I lean to a brighter Mary Blaire/ Karen Katz style. It depends on the subject of the book.
Q. Do you have a favorite medium you like to work with when creating your illustrations?
JS. My medium of choice is painted cut paper, even though most of my cutting is done in Photoshop these days. I still insist on using actual paint, rather than computer generated colors. I like seeing my hand in the finished art. Using the computer to collage my painted scraps into finished art has great advantages over scissors and glue. Such as instant color editing, and quick changes requested by art directors at the last minute.
Q. What picture book artists do you most admire and how have they influenced your work?
JS. As I mentioned already, I’m a huge Lane Smith fan. As well as Mary Blaire, Oliver Jeffers, Ezra Jack Keats. I keep all of these illustrators on my studio bookshelf for inspiration. Lane influenced me by showing me that children’s book illustrations can be dark, and still sell very well. Oliver Jeffers extraordinarily simple art and endearing stories captivate and inspire me to never over-think a book. Mary Blaire has incredible texture and color combinations, and Keats works wonders with simple shapes and patterns.
Q. What projects are you working on right now?
JS. I have about 10 books written, and awaiting illustrations on my drawing table. I tend to go through creative phases. I write my brains out until I have purged all of my ideas. Then I choose the best manuscript, and begin the illustration process. When everything is ready, I start shopping the project to publishers. I’m in the art phase right now on a few projects. But they are all top secret! 😀
Q. Where can fans go to learn more about you and your work?
JS. My website has a selection of my work, and my blog has great tips for beginning illustrators, as well as a more in-depth look at my Lane Smith obsession. You can find me at http://www.jonasillustration.com
Q. Any closing thoughts for fans?
JS. Creating children’s books is not an easy career. It requires endless patience and persistence. It is more of a lifelong process riddled with defeats than a career. But occasionally luck swings your way, and dreams come true. It is for this reason we all continue to pursue the buried treasure of a children’s book contract. All the rejection letters and dashed hopes will vanish in an instant with that one simple “yes”.