Friday, August 5, 2022

Art Directors Panel: Sophie Paas-Lang

Sophie Paas-Lang is a designer for the Tundra Book Group at Penguin Random House, Canada, which she joined in 2021 after years of designing covers and typesetting books for adults. As an illustrator herself, she relishes the creative opportunities working on children’s books provides. These are some of the covers Sophie has illustrated:

And here are some of the middle grade titles she’s art directed recently! Sophie loves working with new artists and helping them break into and learn about the industry via cover illustration jobs:

Sophie ALSO works on picture books, “They light up my life,” she says, but since picture books take such a long time to come out, with only a few maybe publishing at a time per list, not all of these may be out yet if you are looking at bookstores:

Pat asks: WHERE and HOW are you finding new artists? 

Instagram is great to keep track of illustrators but Sophie often finds interesting and specific artists on Twitter and she likes to search via relevant hashtags like #Portfolioday #womenwhodraw

How has art changed, or has it, in the past few years? 

Ipad and Procreate have allowed people to move very quickly in producing art, but the art can also have a bit of sameness to it, creator to creator. Sophie is still a fan of Procreate, but that an artist should also find ways to differentiate themselves… and a reminder that final publish files need to be Photoshop files for the printer, Procreate is still not a printer-ready format.

What are you looking for?

When looking for new artists, it's usually for a particular manuscript, so what Sophie is looking for really depends on what is in the manuscript: Setting types, human or animal or ? character types. Showcase what you want to be drawing and Sophie will be searching for what fits when it’s right, or will remember that you are ‘the one’ who can do something for a certain project one day.

How and how many artists do you consider for a project?

Ten names is considered a large list at Tundra for potential illustrators for a project. The whole design team reads the manuscript ant then they each come up with suggestions. And the manuscript’s editor will also have suggestions, everyone is looking at and sharing portfolios.

Pandemic-related changes to art directing?

Supply chain issues have made more limitations to printing, there’s a huge paper shortage right now impacting publishing in the extreme, size limits and now you'd be very unlikely to get to print on uncoated paper.

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