Friday, August 4, 2023

Keys To Picture Book Magic with Joy Chu

Joy Chu teaches classes on children's book illustration and portfolio development at UCSD Extended Studies. A long-time veteran of the book publishing industry, she has art directed and designed thousands of books for many publishers, most recently Levine Querido, Scholastic, and Gallaudet University Press. Prior to running her own studio, she was art director for children's and adult trade books at Harcourt in San Diego; and in-house designer at Holt, Crowell/HarperCollins, and Knopf, in New York. Her books have garnered awards from the AIGA, ALA, SCBWI, and Publishers Weekly. You can find more about Joy on Facebook and Instagram.

Every book is magic, Joy says.

Joy's advice:

Be willing to make a lot of mistakes. You don't need fancy expensive art supplies. It all starts with a single line. Joy advises just plain paper and pencil to start. Instead of the term "mistakes", Joy uses "necessary experiments" or "opportunities."

Joy shared some of the art direction and creative process behind THE LITTLE TOYMAKER by Cat Min (Levine Querido).

"It's wonderful when an artist puts some of themselves in their book illustrations," says Joy, pointing out various elements in Cat Min's art that were connected with the artist's own experiences and life.

Even if you're working on a fictional world, you need to make it convincing.

Fascinating to hear about some of the changes that Joy suggested to the illustrator, and reasoning behind them. Just one example: Joy encouraged Cat to update the older woman's character to make her less of a "stereotypical old lady" character. Joy praised Cat for being so flexible and open to suggestions.

Joy praised illustrator Dow Phumiruk for being so thorough in her research for the illustrations in LAST FLIGHT, written by Kristen Mai Giang, published by Levine Querido. 

Through this part of the session, Joy kept pointing out how fantastic Dow is at capturing emotions and attention to details. In this spread, Joy said that Dow came up with the idea of having the parents of the family on the right distracting the kids so they wouldn't be upset by the crying woman. Also, says Joy, check out all the different types of hands ("so many hands of comfort").

Thanks to Joy for sharing some of her secrets for Picture Book Magic, and to Cat and Dow for letting Joy share their art!


If you want to view this session to hear the full content, along with the rest of the conference, register at Replays of the conferences will be available until September 10th, 2023.

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