Illustrator Spotlight: Julie Rowan-Zoch


© Julie Rowan-Zoch



Sept. 25, 2020 



We are excited to feature a long-time friend of Kidlit411, illustrator Julie Rowan-Zoch, and her debut picture book, LOUIS, by Tom Lichtenheld (HMH Books for Young Readers), coming out on Oct 20!


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You were one of our very first Illustrator Spotlights in January 2014. In the six plus years since then, how has your career changed and what are some highlights?

Oy! Yes, my career has changed quite a lot! Signing with my agent, Marcia Wernick, in 2015 was the first big highlight. The partnership amplified my confidence from personal to professional! She’s been a wonderfully supportive partner through personal struggles too. 


© Julie Rowan-Zoch


Winning my regional SCBWI conference’s first Portfolio Award was also very special - it’s a great feeling to have work recognized by peers and friends. And a Kirkus star for my illustration debut still needs to be toasted in real life with friends!

Congrats on your debut picture book, LOUIS, written by Tom Lichtenheld. Tell us about the story and how you approached the illustrations.

LOUIS is a disgruntled teddy bear. He's not too keen on the displays of affection offered by this new boy in his life and decides to make a run for it, but maybe not so fast. I worked on the two main character designs first, then I drew very basic thumbnail sketches for the dummy. I did not receive any suggestions on format, so I went with a square - 1) because I like how that opens to a larger audience in a storytime, and 2) because I also liked how it ties in with the gift box Louis arrives in. 


© Julie Rowan-Zoch





I know not every artist does, but I see images in my head when I hear or read (even phone numbers - I see the digits!), so I drew what I saw but without much detail, shapes mostly. Then I looked at the composition for flow and variety and later for opportunities to add fun details that at least please my eye.


© Julie Rowan-Zoch  

 


After discussing the dummy with the editor and art director (all via email) and revised it, I assembled a color palette and soft-painted (I just made that term up!) the dummy to see how I could balance all the spreads with color before starting the final artwork.





Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?


Winding and sweet! I’ve often said if I hadn’t been quite so naive in the beginning I might have given up, but honestly it’s the community that nourishes and invigorates on the journey.


© Julie Rowan-Zoch


What other projects do you have forthcoming, or are you working on?



I just finished revisions after the color-proofs for my author-illustrator debut, I'M A HARE, SO THERE!, which releases in March 2021. There is much to learn about promotion especially releasing both books during a pandemic, but that also includes an opportunity to forge new pathways. Being a novice isn't always a bad thing! I'm always busy writing, revising, and drawing new material to submit, and that has been quite a challenge - for so many creatives!





What advice would you give to your younger self?

Keep drawing. I stopped for many years. Not that my creativity did not find other outlets, but as with all tools it’s important to keep one's skills sharp. I draw something every day.


© Julie Rowan-Zoch







Is this the same advice you'd give to aspiring illustrators?

Essentially, yes. I really do benefit from daily rituals and aspire to build on that. I understand some do not like or need a structured routine, but I would suggest giving it a try. (Read Daily Rituals by Mason Currey for motivation!)



What is one thing people don't know about you (that you haven't told us before)?


Most people are surprised when they find out I do all my work on the ipad, start to finish, and that I only use my fingers. I got impatient waiting for the ipencil to recharge and found I just liked it better!


© Julie Rowan-Zoch


Where can people find you online?

Blog: https://julierowanzoch.wordpress.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jrzoch/

Fb page: https://www.facebook.com/ArtistJulieRowanZoch

 

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29 comments:

  1. Wow! I love seeing inside the art process! Especially all the different cover versions! Louis is adorable! Thanks for sharing, Julie!

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  2. I just love the small * i * in the title of LOUiS every time I see it! Mwah!

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    1. I live to please people like you who also take joy in the little details!

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  3. I love these characters and how much personality and expression they have with just a few lines!

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  4. Really looking forward to pouring over both text and art!! ❤️❤️

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  5. Really looking forward to pouring over both text and art!! ❤️❤️

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  6. Really looking forward to pouring over both text and art!! ❤️❤️

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  7. How cool to learn illustrations are done on an iPad!

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    1. I am grateful fellow illustrator, Meridth Mckean Gimbel, suggested I get one!

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  8. Love Julie's work! It's so nice to see many samples and sketches here. Especially looking forward to I'M A HARE, SO THERE. What a fun title and cover art!

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  9. Love that you were able to use other creative outlets but returned to your first 💘!

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    1. I still garden, but not nearly as avidly as I used to, but I believe observing plants closely also trained my eye for details!

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  10. Thank you so much for sharing with us about your process. I collect teddy bears, so Louis will be fun to read. I'm also adding your book I'm a Hare, So There to my wishlist.

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    1. HMH will be doing another giveaway on Twitter on 10/16 inviting people to post pics of taking their bears and buddies to work/school!

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  11. Love your work, Julie!! Congrats!!! Alles Gute!! <3

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  12. Julie, what a talent! I can't wait to get my hands on Louis. Your illustrations sing. Best wishes always, A fan

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  13. Seeing Louis rendered by Julie for the first time was a thrill. Even he was happy about it, which is saying a lot!

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  14. This has been on my to-read list since I first saw the cover. Cannot wait! Congrats :)

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  15. Julie, I can’t wait to read your books! Congratulations again!

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