Sunday, September 11, 2011

Interview with Nina Crittenden Illustrator of "Cedric and the Dragon"

Tell us a bit about you.                     
I like to drink hot tea with half & half and plenty of sugar.

What is your favorite style of illustration/animation?
I don't think I could choose a favorite style. Simple artwork has an undeniable charm, and incredibly intricate art is marvelous. I love it all.

What made you decide to be a children's book illustrator?
Illustrating books was always a dream of mine, but I never really thought it would happen. I have to credit my dear friend, Jennifer Dewing, with talking me into joining the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators with her. Jen has become an award winning author of books for kids, and she helped me find courage I never knew I had.

If you couldn't draw what would you do instead?
Care for animals. Before I became and at-home mom/illustrator, I used to work as a certified veterinary technician in small animal surgery at the University of Minnesota.

If you could have dinner with anyone alive or dead who would it be?
My parents (and I'd talk my Mom into making bread pudding for dessert).

What are your favorite children's books?
Owl at Home, Frog and Toad, The Story of Ferdinand, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, George and Martha, The Tales of Two Bad Mice and Squirrel Nutkin, Mrs. Armitage Queen of the Road, Chicken Soup with Rice, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Pippi Longstocking, Dotty, Piggy and Dad Go Fishing, The King Who Rained, The Marvelous Mud Washing Machine, Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa, Swimmy, and Pickle, Pickle, Pickle Juice.

How did you get started in the illustration field?
I didn't have any formal training in art, so I just started drawing in hopes that I'd eventually be able to piece together a portfolio. Attending SCBWI conferences and workshops helped a ton, and I was also lucky to have the very kind and talented illustrator, Christina Rodriguez, mentor me for a year. After my website was up and running, I started sending out promotional postcards to publishing houses. Visiting websites and blogs of other illustrators has also been incredibly helpful, it is so inspiring to see what other artists can do. Being a part of the kidlit community has been one of the coolest things ever, in my book...

What has been inspiring you lately?
My kids, random conversation, all things vintage and retro, and music. I love, love, love to draw and listen to music (current faves: Jeremy Messersmith, Vampire Weekend, The Cars, Jackie Wilson, OK Go, and Artie Shaw).

What advice would you give other aspiring illustrators/animators?
Let others inspire you, but always be yourself.

What do you do for fun/when you’re not working?
I love to watch movies, read books, go for bike rides with the fam, and knit scarves.

What is the best part about what you do?
Seeing what the things I imagine turn into when I put them on paper.

Give us 5 words that describe you.
Sensitive. Quiet. Mom. Artist. Nerd.

What was your inspiration for Cedric and the Dragon?
I spent my childhood drawing horses and princesses, and absolutely fell in love with the story Elizabeth wrote. IllustratingCedric and the Dragon was really a wish come true.

What other books have you illustrated?
I just finished illustrating the first book in a series of piano music books for kids, which I am super excited about. Also working on illustrating a book that I have written and hope to submit to publishers someday (fingers crossed!).

Anything else you would like to share?
Love Dr. Pepper,
hula hoops, frogs, silly puns,
and writing haikus.

Where can people buy books that you have illustrated?

Do you have a web page or fan page?

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