lnterview with Illustrator Nicole Stremlow Monahan

March 27, 2015

The cover of my book was created by Nicole Stremlow Monahan, a well known professional artist and illustrator of childrens' books. Nicole also manages to find time to teach art classes for children and adults. (My daughter is lucky to be one of her students).  She was kind and patient during the process of creating the book cover which turned out beyond what I had initially imagined it would be.  Sometimes you have to trust the artist and get out of the way! 



What is your professional background?


I worked as an architect for 18 years, and as a Gallery Owner/Director for 5 years. I have also created Fine Art and sold it for 20 years. I started Illustrating books full time last year. I have Illustrated 3 book covers for middle grade and adult books. I am also in the process of finishing Illustrating my 4th children's book. This does not include my own 3 books(and counting) I hope to someday get published.


How does illustrating books differ from other artwork you have done?


The style is a bit different, so that it tells a story and is sequential, but the process is very similar. With my fine art, I was only creating with my own desires in mind. Illustration you are creating it for something and someone specific. I worked as an architect for many years and the process is almost identical, surprisingly, even though the product is different.


How much collaborating do you do with the author?


It really depends on the author. Some authors are very involved and have a clear picture in mind of what their world looks like or what they want to happen so I work with them very closely and often. I want to be sure I fully understand their vision. There is tweaking after each round to ensure it is exactly what they are happy with. Other authors want to give me full control and trust I will come up with the best ideas, so I really only meet with them before we start and when it is time to review. These authors may have a few comments for me to tweak the Illustrations after reviews, but again is very minimal if at all.


What are the different styles have you been requested to do?


Pen/ink-whimsical, and realistic. Most people hire me because they love my animal Illustrations.

What is the most surprising thing you have learned about illustrating books?

I am most surprised at how fast I can complete them! Before I started Illustrating, I thought it would be a very long process, but I have found as long as I only take jobs of manuscripts I really love and believe in, the ideas and drawings flow fast.


Do you want to write and illustrate your own book someday?


Yes! I have actually written and partially Illustrated 3 books, and am in the process of editing them and finishing the book dummy. When I finish them to a point I am very proud of and feel they are polished, I will submit them to publishers and agents.


What’s the most effective way to promote your services as an illustrator to authors?


So far word of mouth has been great as well as just being a member of the SCBWI. Authors have found my work on the SCBWI web site and then contacted me.

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Susan Griner is an author of children's fiction. She has written short stories and poetry for both Cricket and Babybug magazine. She is currently working on a YA novel set along the Silk Road. She lives in Washington state, but her southern roots have influenced her writing.

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