Author-Illustrator Spotlight: Katia Wish

© Katia Wish

Aug. 21, 2020

We are pleased to feature author-illustrator Katia Wish and her debut picture book, RACCOON'S PERFECT SNOWMAN (Sleeping Bear Press, July 2020). Enter to win a copy!





Tell us about yourself and how you came to write and illustrate for children.

Unlike many artists, many years passed between the moment I first discovered my love of painting and when I had a genuine opportunity to develop my skills and voice as an artist. When I finally had that chance, I took it, and haven’t looked back since.

© Katia Wish

Growing up in Belarus (a former republic of Soviet Union) I attended art classes as a pre-schooler. I love my memories of painting with watercolors on Sunday mornings.

As the years went by, I drew and painted very rarely, though the desire was still there. As a young adult in Belarus, it was too late to take up art again. There are almost no continuing education or any other art classes for adults. I had practically given up on my early love of painting.

When I was 19 I moved to the US. And after several years of living here I finally had the opportunity to come back to my art again. So at the age of 24 I started my studies at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. 

© Katia Wish


I had very low skills and always had the feeling that I needed to catch up. But I was so in love with illustration that I didn’t mind working hard at developing my skills. It was incredibly exciting, and a bit overwhelming, to discover everything all at once. I tried all kinds of media: 3-D illustration, scratchboard, pencil, cut paper, but always went back to what I loved the most - painting with watercolor and gouache.

Even though the feeling of trying to catch up never really goes away, I can pause and appreciate how far I’ve come and how much this country let me develop my skills and learn and explore. At this point I have illustrated several children’s books, worked in children’s magazines and educational market, worked on numerous freelance projects and private commissions. I have a wonderful agent who works with me very closely at developing new stories which we submit to the publishers. In additional, I teach Illustration at Massachusetts College of Art and Design and exhibit my work in galleries throughout New England. 

© Katia Wish


 Congrats on your debut picture book, RACCOON'S PERFECT SNOWMAN. Tell us about it and what inspired you.
The book is ultimately about friendship and rethinking what “perfect” means.

© Katia Wish

What inspired my book - childhood memories of building a snowman. It’s such a sensory experience - changing color of snow in the light, the warmth of the hat, the coldness of the snow, the sounds of the wind, the crunchiness of the snow.

Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
My road to publication was definitely long and winding. The main problem was that I come from illustration background. I spent way too much time developing my illustration portfolio and didn’t have the courage to dive into being an author-illustrator and start developing those set of skills.
© Katia Wish

After I had my first son (almost 6 years ago), I realized that it was time to take a leap of faith and start developing my own stories. I started taking classes, read articles, listene to webinars, all that good stuff. But when l my wonderful agent started to work with me very closely on my stories, things started to click in. I am very grateful to all the time and energy he took to hep me develop these skills.

What is your preferred medium and illustration process?  

At this point I work primary with watercolor and pencil. I start with idea generation, loose doodles, color studies. 
© Katia Wish

© Katia Wish

Then I transfer the sketch on watercolor paper and have a lot of washes and build up layers in watercolor. At this point things still look very ambiguous and not promising. So I have to stay in this uncomfortable stage for a very long time. 


But then in the last 20% of the process I start adding linework and everything comes to life - characters’ expressions, details, depth. It’s sort of magic how things transform. 

© Katia Wish
© Katia Wish

What projects are you working on?
I working on several new stories with my agent. Things are going a bit slow in the current situation we are all in. In addition, I have a 5 year old and a 6 month old here at home. But as long as there is progress, things are moving forward.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same as you would give to aspiring author-illustrators?
Don’t rush the process. Writing good, strong, emotional stories is so many times harder than it seems. Take the time to learn the craft, have faith that things need time to settle and develop, don’t submit too soon. And I guess the most important one for me - don’t obsess over being published. If you are not enjoying the process and being in that waiting game, it’s not worth it. I guess it’s advice not only for writing and illustrating, but for living a life as well. 

© Katia Wish


What is one thing most people don't know about you?

At this stage of my life I try really hard to be grateful every day, appreciate what I have, slow down and be in the moment. It is super super hard. 

© Katia Wish


Where can people find you online?
My portfolio: www.katiawish.com
twitter: @KatiaWish
facebook: www.facebook.com/Katia.wish.illustration
instagram: @katiawish
prints available on etsy: etsy.com/shop/KatiaWish

Order RACOON'S PERFECT SNOWMAN!

Katia Wish is a children’s book author-illustrator based in Boston, MA. She enjoys creating her own stories as well as illustrating manuscripts of other authors.

Katia grew up in Belarus enjoying cloudy, rainy, snowy and occasionally sunny days, playing outdoors, reading books and painting with watercolors. Now she lives in Boston with her family. All of them enjoy having nature adventures in any weather and reading picture books together. Katia prefers solitude when writing books and creating her illustrations in watercolor, pencil and ink in her cozy studio.

Katia is the winner of the 2011 Tomie DePaola Award from SCBWI. In addition to working on children’s books, Katia teaches illustration at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

 

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12 comments:

  1. This book would be great for my twins!

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  2. Congratulations on your debut book! Kids everywhere will be so happy that you took that leap of faith :)

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  3. Love your work Katia - congratulations on this snow-perfect story!

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  4. Congratulations! Your art work is so fun and enjoyable to study.

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  5. I love all the cool, beautiful critters, and "Raccoon's Perfect Snowman" has an especially fun cover!

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  6. Your watercolors are lovely and engaging. Congrats on a book that looks and sounds, dare I say it, 'perfect!'��

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  7. Looking forward to reading this book.

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  8. Your illustrations are charming, Katia!

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  9. I love your style, and I'm secretly jealous of your talent. I'd love to be able to illustrate. :) Congrats!

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  10. Thank you everyone for your warm and encouraging words!

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  11. So adorable! I look forward to reading this! Congrats!

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  12. Thank you for sharing your illustration process with us.

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