A Mini-Interview with ME
This is the fourth week of our Mini-Interview Series and that also means it’s FINALLY my week!
I’ve been the first one to post on our blog tour every week. So to take the edge off the akward monologue I thought I would have a pre-post yesterday. Did it help? Not really. I have rewritten this intro so many times, it’s starting to feel like writing a bio. Now the intro is done and over.
Let’s talk Giveaway: One lucky winner will get a 12″x12″ original, signed illustration on canvas – pic below and here. So if you like my work, check out the details on how to enter. Shall we get started? I think so! I hope you enjoy the interview! And Happy Turkey Day for the ones who celebrate it!
About Juana Martinez-Neal
Juana is a children’s illustrator, mami, wife, sun aficionado and amateur singer born in Lima, Peru and living in sunny AZ. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook, see works in progress on Instagram and visit her website at www.juanamartinezneal.com
Would you describe yourself in 5 words?
Quiet, naive, determined, feisty and odd.
Now tell us how you got started as a children’s author and illustrator in more than 5 words.
Well… I got started as a children’s illustrator twice, really. The first time, I wasn’t aware that it was happening. The second time, it was MY choice.
The Unaware Time – My dad quit his job as AD at one of the agencies in Lima and started a graphic design and photography studio. One day, he got a new client: a Toy company. They were just starting and needed display boxes for all their toys and with that lots of illustrations. And my dad is an incredible, realistic artist but he is not an illustrator. So he sat me at one of his tables, told me what I needed to draw and walked away. He was a good art director! Thirty minutes later, he came back to check back on me. I remember him being kind of happy, kind of puzzled when he saw my sketches. I think he knew right then I was a children’s illustrator. But I didn’t. I was 16 at that time. I kept helping him through high school and until I was 21 when I decided to go to Art School.
The Aware Time – This time was completely different. After Art School, I moved to Los Angeles. For 10 years, I worked doing graphic and web design. I stopped sketching and painting completely. But after my second boy was born, I felt I needed a change. A big change. One of those after-motherhood moods that messes with your head and makes you want to do something completely different. At least, that’s what motherhood did to me. My husband had been telling me for a loooooong time that I needed to get back to children’s illustration. I finally listened to him, googled “children’s illustration” and found SCBWI. The AZ conference was happening a couple of weeks later and I could save $20 if I joined SCBWI. So I joined. It had to be a sign! I went to the conference with nothing to show. NOTHING. Sat through the presentations and break-out sessions. Something within me said this was IT. Then at the end asked Laura Jacobsen if we could talk. She was one of the keynote speakers that year. She gave me some ideas on how to get started in this business but above all I remember her being encouraging, extremely encouraging. And that meant a lot at that time. So I got back to illustration after a huge break. This time I was aware of my choice. I was going to be a Children’s Illustrator!
What was your favorite book as a child?
I read a lot as a child. A lot. But my favorite book was “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I got my first copy on my 7th birthday. Paperback. White cover with the Little Price on the left and the title on the right. The book is so full of sweet moments and there’s the constant concept of simplifying your thoughts and life. I love that. Things can be simple. Really.
One lesson you have learned from working in this industry.
Get the work done. It takes a lot of hours and painting to get the work ready to be publishable. The work will only improve once you get lots of work done and no one but YOU can do that so get the work done. Work EVERY day. Don’t talk about painting. Don’t post that you will work. GET THE WORK DONE. Work and then you will see how things start happening. So finish this interview, post your comment and get back to painting. Seriously.
The happiest moment of your career.
There has been a few so far and I hope there will be lots more but one of the happiest moments to come by so far was when an illustrator who I admire very much told me at the LA Conference this year: “I was so impressed with your work. So impressed.” I was thrilled, so happy to hear that coming from her. And it’s not the approval. It’s the feeling of a job well done. More like a pat on your back that feels SO good when you have been working so very hard. I can still hear her words and get excited all over over again.
What’s next for you?
I have a couple of picture books coming out within the next months. One is a bedtime, birthday book, “The Night Before My Birthday”. The other one is about a pearl and a little girl. It will be published by Kalimat in the United Arab Emirates. The book is called “Dana’s Trip”. I also want to squeeze in a trip to Peru and this time I want to take my 3 boys (husband included). Going back, seeing life-long friends and just listening to people speak Spanish always give me something that reflects growth in my work. Don’t ask me why or what, it just does.
And this concludes my silly monologue and I thank you for staying this long. But don’t leave just yet, we still have the Giveaway so see below for how to enter.
I’m giving away Sofia. Piece is a 12″x12″ original, signed illustration on canvas. The winner will be randomly chosen from all entries, and announced on Monday November 28, 2011.
Ways to enter:
- Leave a comment below
- Follow me on Twitter @juanamartinez and copy this retweet on your status:
RT @juanamartinez Enter to win an original illustration http://bit.ly/t07eQ2 #giveaway
- Like my page on Facebook[/list]
I’ll be answering to more questions the rest of this Holiday week. So if you need a place to rest from the crowds, turkey and stuffing you know where to come. I’ll be visiting Molly on Wednesday, Mikela on Thursday and Laura on Friday.This post is part of a very informal and fun 4-week Mini-Interview Series to Children’s Illustrators who happen to be friends and happen to live in Arizona. In these posts, we will be interviewing:
- Molly Idle – November 1-4
- Mikela Prevost – November 8-11
- Laura Jacobsen – November 15-18
- Juana Martinez-Neal – November 22-25
You can learn more about the guests and the Series here.