Illustrator Spotlight: Josh Shipley

© Josh Shipley


 Oct. 9, 2020

We are excited to feature illustrator Josh Shipley and his new picture book, THIS IS A FLYING RAT, by Andrew Cangelose (Oni Press, Oct. 28, 2020). Enter to win a copy!



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

Well, I’ve always loved to draw. When I was a kid, I would find comic book or children’s book covers and sit down with a piece of paper and try and draw them the best I could. I got so good at it that actually in 4th grade, I had an art teacher reprimand me--she assumed I was tracing the drawings I was bringing in. Which led me to believe I was really onto something. It’s always a good sign to get in trouble for being too good at something. After drawing classes in high school, I went on to major in Graphic Design and also received my masters in 3D Character Animation.


© Josh Shipley


After starting a family, a fellow dad friend and I were talking about the kinds of children’s books we enjoy reading our kids at night...and then that turned into meeting in coffee shops to try and write one ourselves.  That book was the first book in our series, THIS IS A TACO. And we’ve been creating children’s books ever since.


Congrats on your recent picture book, THIS IS A FLYING RAT. Tell us about the book and how you researched/approached the illustrations.

Well, the books are grounded in facts about the animals that are in them. So I had a lot of photos of rats and pigeons saved to look at for reference. 


The illustration style was somewhat defined by the previous books, THIS IS A TACO and THIS IS A WHOOPSIE, so the biggest goal was finding my characters and figuring out how they move/feel on their own--while making sure they felt like they fit and belonged to the world we’ve constructed with the series. 




Was your road to publication as a children's illustrator long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?

I would say somewhere in between. When we were trying to get THIS IS TACO published, I had a few connections in the publishing world through my day job. We had a period of about a few years where we were perpetually tweaking the book and the illustration examples as we tried pitching it to different publishers and book agents. It was lucky, that at that time, a book editor I worked with had just left and taken a job leading the creation of a new children’s book line for Lion Forge and she wanted to take our book there.  So once that happened, things moved fairly quickly and we had started with a 2 book contract with them. 

What projects are you working on now?

I’m always kind of tinkering on some personal projects. I’m in the writing phase of working on a graphic novel. I’ve always loved graphic novels and they’ve always been intimidating to me--it just so much work! It’s really impressive, especially ones that are just combining storytelling and art in such vivid ways. Besides that, I have a few other children’s books in various stages of creation.  And I’m also in the process of making my kid’s bathroom VERY pirate-themed.

© Josh Shipley

 

What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?

I think the main thing is to just keep drawing. I you really have to put in the hours to really figure out what’s working for you and what isn’t. One of my favorite things to do now is the same thing I did as a kid--find someone else's illustration that you really like--and try to recreate it. That process of experimenting has taught me so much. I love trying to figure out how someone created a piece of art I really like. And the benefit is the learning. You just learn so much from simply trying.

© Josh Shipley


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

My two front teeth are fake. My brother jumped on me in a swimming pool when I was a kid and I had to have them replaced. Made that “All I want for Christmas” song a lot more poignant…


© Josh Shipley

Where can people find you online?

Twitter @thisisajosh

instagram @joshboatley

https://shipleycreative.myportfolio.com/


JOSH SHIPLEY is an illustrator, designer, and animator currently living in Kansas City. He has two sons who help push him to tell better stories, keep his illustration skills top notch, and remind him to always (and they mean ALWAYS) keep his silliness silly.


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21 comments:

  1. His compositions are really fun and lively!

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  2. Josh, it looks like you have a great sense of humor. It shows in your illustrations and your book ideas. Your books look like they would definitely attract a kid's attention. I'm looking forward to reading this one.

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  3. I love your illustrations and the fact that you are using a series of similar titles. Thank for sharing the creative journey.

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  4. As a child I carried around a witch green and black stuff lovey rat named Ratfink. So as you can imagine, this is a must-have for me! What fun! Thanks for sharing your journey.

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  5. This looks like a cute book, I love the illustrations!

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  6. I enjoyed the story of your fourth grade art teacher and learning about your background in art and graphic design. Thank you for sharing your publishing journey with us.

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  7. My son and I both LOVE This is a Taco and This is a Whoopsie! I'm so excited a third book is coming out. Thanks for sharing more of your art and your creative process here.

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  8. These all look so cute and super funny. I know my kids would get a kick out of these.

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  9. This book looks adorable, look forward to reading it!

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  10. I love the fun illustrations!

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  11. Such creativity! I love the humor.

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  12. Great artwork! The book looks fun, too. Thanks for sharing your journey, Josh. congratulations!

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  13. Always love a series. Congrats on another fun sounding book.

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  14. I love this series!

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  15. This book looks amazing and hilarious!

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  16. This book is gorgeous and anyone entering is lucky to win it!

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  17. The cover makes it look like a fun book to read

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