It’s a big day! Snow Pony and the Seven Miniature Ponies has made its way into the world, and illustrator Jessie Sima is here to visit with me!
Hi Jessie! Thanks for stopping by my blog!
Hi, Dylan! Thanks for having me.
Tell us a little bit about your new book,Snow Pony and the Seven Miniature Ponies.
Snow Pony and the Seven Miniature Ponies is a very loose retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs where, as the title implies, almost everyone is ponies. It was written by the amazing Christian Trimmer, and as soon as I read it I knew that I wanted to be the one to draw all of these totally ridiculous and utterly charming ponies.
Tell us a little bit about your illustration process.
All of my picture book artwork is done digitally using Photoshop and Wacom drawing tablets.
If I’m illustrating a story I wrote, I start by sketching while writing. If I’m illustrating someone else’s text, as was the case with Snow Pony, I go through and do rough sketches and character studies to get a feeling for the flow and personality of the story.
After the first sketches, there are many, many rounds of revisions with my critique partners, agent, editor, and art director. We try different paginations, compositions, and color palettes until it starts to feel right.
Once I have tight sketches and a final art sample or two, I move onto final art. I usually start final art by going through and doing all of the line art. It’s kind of like drawing a coloring book for myself and then going back to fill it in.
Have you always been into writing/illustrating?
As a kid, drawing was a thing I was always doing without thinking too much about it. It was something I did mostly for myself, to relax and to keep my mind busy, and for a long time I didn’t like to share my drawings with anyone other than close family and friends. That began to shift a little bit during high school, but it wasn’t until after college (where I completed a totally unrelated degree) that I ever considered illustration as a possible career path.
My interest in writing came a little later, and it was never as reflexive a thing as drawing. I felt confident enough in my writing when I was young, but I didn’t do it recreationally until junior high when I started writing poems. It was your typical melodramatic teen poetry, but I really enjoyed it. I think that form taught me a lot about using an economy of words that has been helpful when writing picture books.
What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Jessie: For me, the most exciting parts of making a book are when a seed of an idea begins to take the form of a story, and when I’m doing tight sketches and final art samples that begin to resemble an actual book.
The most exciting part of my job as a whole is getting to meet and talk to readers. It’s easy for me to forget that a book I’m working on is going to have a life of its own out in the world. I love hearing theories about what is “really” happening in my books, or what might have happened before or after. It’s all great.
What inspires your creativity?
Jessie: Inspiration can come from anywhere. I’m inspired by the books I read, the shows and movies I watch, the music and podcasts I listen to, and the games I play. My creativity is often sparked while walking my dog, people watching, or traveling to a new place. I’m always taking things in, and then I let it all simmer in my subconscious. I think some people call this “refilling the creative well.” I try to keep that well full, and as long as it is, the most important thing for coming up with new ideas is letting my mind wander. I think that’s true for a lot of people, which is why we come up with our best ideas when we’re in the shower or as we’re falling asleep.
What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?
You wouldn’t know it from the books I’ve put out into the world so far, but I’m really into horror and dark supernatural things. I’m excited for Autumn and the upcoming Halloween season when everything feels spookier all the time.
If you weren’t writing/illustrating books, what do you think you’d be doing?
Before breaking into the publishing world I was designing graphics for a company that created women’s sci-fi and fantasy licensed apparel. So like, making the images on Star Wars t-shirts or designing patterns for Marvel dresses that you might find in places like Hot Topic. At one point I thought about trying to start my own graphic t-shirt brand, so maybe I would have done that.
I also really like animals, so maybe I would have started a rehabilitation center for mythological creatures. I’ll save that one for retirement, I guess.
What can readers expect from you in the future?
Jessie: 2018 has been a busy year for me, and there’s still more to come! Love, Z, my next picture book as both author and illustrator, comes out December 18, 2018. If you are a fan of robots, or cats who captain ships, or messages in bottles, Love, Z is for you.
I’m also working on some unannounced picture books that will be coming out over the next few years.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?
Jessie: I want to say thank you to everyone who has been reading my books. I’m so glad that I get to continue sharing stories with you. If you’re interested in learning more about me, my books, or my upcoming events, check out www.jessiesima.com.