This post is part of a series called 'Behind the Book Art'. We want to introduce you to the group of talented artists, illustrators, graphic designers and photographers we are proud to work with. They are a vital part of the collaborative publishing process and we all share the same motto: Children's books deserve great art! Today's post is focused on Amina, who created the book art for 'A Squirrel Thrives' and is currently working on a new book with us. Enjoy!
1. Can you tell us more about how you met with Vlada, Muthu, Eira and Emilee?
I actually met Muthu when he was shopping at the small art store I work at! I mentioned that I was an illustrator and that started our discussion, and once I also met with Vlada, Eira, and Emilee, we began to collaborate and had many ideas from the beginning.
2. How did you come up with the art for ‘A Squirrel Thrives’ book?
Since the ‘A Squirrel Thrives’ story is very action-driven, I considered different approaches of how to translate multiple events on a single page or spread. I started arranging my sketches into panels and enjoyed that process of pictorial puzzle solving! Vlada and Muthu encouraged this graphic novel approach as not a lot of other books for younger age ranges follow that format. As for the style, I thought that a simple and cute design of the squirrel and the world would allow for more dynamic poses, actions, and expressions. I aimed to make the squirrel memorable and relatable, and through her story I hope that readers would remember that completing a goal doesn’t have to be a scary and impossible task.
3. What is your favorite squirrel illustration from the book and why?
My favorite illustration has got to be the part where the squirrel climbs a smaller tree. Her anticlimactic expression was really funny to see after she struggled up the sapling. In this scene, she figures that taking shortcuts wouldn’t help her reach her goal, which is a really important lesson to learn.
"I hope that readers would remember that completing a goal doesn’t have to be a scary and impossible task."
4. What was your favorite part and challenges of the collaborative work process?
My favorite part is definitely the actual collaboration as a whole. Being able to discuss ideas and have equal input in the process makes for such an enjoyable experience! I felt really connected to the story and the characters because I was so active in the creation of the book outside of just the art making. One challenge, which I also saw as a great thing, that came with the collaborative process is that everything was capable of being improved upon and edited. Even though it can be difficult to revisit completed paintings, I had the opportunity to step up to the plate and really contribute ideas and improve upon the art as we went through the process.
"I felt really connected to the story and the characters because I was so active in the creation of the book outside of just the art making."
5. What are you currently working on and can people see your art IRL?
Currently I’m working on my second book with Vlada, Muthu, Eira, and Emilee, titled ‘The Tribeca Terror’. It’s going to be another great picture book on the theme of adventure and understanding! I’m also working on filling up my portfolio as I am set to graduate this spring. Currently, I don’t have any upcoming shows, but my website is always updated!
Amina is a New York City based illustrator and currently attends the School of Visual Arts. She is set to graduate in 2020. With her passion for art, she aims to bring life to characters and narratives. She is a proud owner of a cat and many plants. You can learn more about Amina on her website and follow her on Instagram.
All images of Amina were taken by Ruby Kang.