7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #209: Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Jess Racklyeft (and Dan Santat’s Clone)

h1 March 6th, 2011 by jules

It’s the first Sunday in March! Oh! No! I keep using exclamation marks! Because I am coming up on a big ‘ol final, serious writing deadline! And I still have writing to do! A chapter that gives me the stink eye somethin’ FIERCE! I am in denial about March! I am in denial about March!

Have mercy, sorry about all those exclamation marks. Not funny anymore, right? And quite possibly not funny to begin with. Excessive exclaiming can give one a headache.

The good thing about it being the first Sunday in March is that a new-to-the-field, recently-graduated illustrator is here to share some artwork, since that’s how I roll here at 7-Imp on the first Sunday of each month. Yes, join me in shining the spotlight on an illustrator from the future. Er, wait. She’s illustrating now, but you get my drift. This month it’s an illustrator based in Melbourne, Australia. Meet Jess Racklyeft. I failed to ask her how her last name is pronounced, and I’m ever-so curious, the more I look at—and type—that surname. Perhaps she can stop by later and tell us. Without further ado, here is Jess to tell us a bit more about her work and her plans:

* * * * * * *

“Hello! My name is Jess Racklyeft, and I am an illustrator based in the currently rainy city of Melbourne, Australia. Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to illustrate children’s books, and although the years post-university have taken me on a round-and-about journey towards this long term goal (read: many different and completely unrelated jobs, cities, and experiences!), I am getting closer and closer to this dream, having recently begun working for a great children’s book publisher and learning invaluable tips behind the scenes, as well as self-publishing a very small book with a friend.

I love to draw constantly with ink and paper, adding lines and textures digitally, and playing with Japanese papers and prints. I seem to draw a lot of young ladies with wind-swept hair, stark landscapes, travel, and flying. I’m not quite sure what that represents, but perhaps my background growing up in a very windy city (Perth) and spending a few fantastic years working ski seasons in Lake Tahoe have influenced these themes!




This year I’m most excited to be traveling to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, continuing to develop my style and experience illustrating, and learning more about the inspiring industry of children’s book publishing.”




What do you all think? I got to go to Jess’s site and pick my favorites for today’s post. Fun, huh? I am partial to the bunny-boy in the chair and want to know his story. Best of luck to Jess. Perhaps one day we’ll see her work here in the States, and we’ll be able to say, we knew her when…

All illustrations are © Jess Racklyeft and used with permissions.

As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1). After one of my typically rambly emails to Eisha, I asked her if I made any sense at all about something (some sort of jibber jabber or stupid joke or creative curse, I don’t remember what it was), and she said something along the lines of yes, that made sense to me, but then I speak fluent Julie. Thank goodness someone does.

2). This month’s Nashville Kidlit Drink Night, which was this week. God, I love those people.

3). I got to see this lovely film in an actual movie theater:

The next morning I got to sleep in till my own body was ready to wake up and not because a five-year-old was tapping me on the shoulder at 6AM. That was on account of the girls sleeping over at my parents’. SCORE.

3½). I’m gonna make a bold statement here. I think author/illustrator Dan Santat may quite possibly be the funniest man in contemporary children’s lit. In any event, when it comes to marketing, he surely knows how to avoid The Stale. If anyone wants to argue this, I can give a long list of illustrations (bad pun intended) to make my point. Recently, he’s taken to posting pictures of him and his “assistant,” the beginning of a series of life-in-the-studio-type photos he’ll be posting daily on Twitter. I see these on Facebook and laugh like a middle-schooler (a particularly obnoxious one, drinking milk in the cafeteria, and the milk threatens to fly out of my nose) every time. I don’t even have clever, quick-witted comments for these photos, like the smart people zip off all zippy-quick on their keyboards. I just sit there and snort-laugh. Here are but two. I believe the first one is the one in which he announced his clone—ahem, assistant—and the second one is his buddy assisting him with the French Press one morning this week.


Is that his assistant on the right, annoyed that he has to make coffee for Dan? Or is that Dan, annoyed that his assistant always seems to linger? If a tree falls in the forest and no one…aw hell, skip it.

And whoever that is on the left is a bit leery of the other. I hope trouble’s not brewing. (You’re welcome for that second awful pun. Thank you thank you, I’ll be here all week.)

I don’t even do Twitter, but I should add: If you’d like to follow the antics of Dan and his new assistant, you can follow them on Twitter @ “dsantat.”

4). I love to read about people’s odd, little passions. (I, too, find the sonic world of auctioneers rather mesmerizing.)

5). After reading in that link that Jack White has a record store in Nashville (which I didn’t even know) and after briefly considering stalking him, I went to the store’s site, saw this below, and was nearly blinded with awesome-ness. Wanda Jackson will rock your face off here. It could quite possibly be the best six minutes of your week:

Okay, now that I’m on the topic of music, here are some more music kicks. I’m just gonna throw ’em out…

Kingsley Flood:

Nicole Atkins covering The Avett Brothers in what appears to be her home:

I got Middle Brother’s debut CD this week (dude from Delta Spirit, dude from Deer Tick, dude from Dawes), and their rowdy punk-rock-alt-country-sometimes-ballad’y vibe is just what I wanted to hear right now:

You can hear “Middle Brother,” the song, here at that little play-button thingy.

Finally, after seeing this good news, it led to a Facebook discussion about the best Emmylou songs. I’ve always been partial to this melodramatic little beauty, and you gotta dig her pink boots.

6). This.

7). I love the idea of iTunes Ping. I read about it. I went. I explored. I am now on it. AS IF we all need more social networking in our lives, but this is about music, and I’d give up any other social network before one about music. I am waiting for more of my friends who also live, breathe, and die music to join as well (I’m not beyond harassing them about it, too) so that I can see what they’re hearing and be exposed to good, new tune-age. I am also stalking my favorite musicians, though many aren’t on there yet (it only launched last Fall), in order to do the same. Guy Garvey released a favorite-songs playlist just the other day. Oh YES he did. And it was GOOD. So, join Ping? Pretty please? Come find me (“Julie Danielson”)? Let’s share music? No, I don’t work for iTunes. Thank you.

7½). Thanks to local author/blogger Wendy Lawrence for mentioning 7-Imp here. How kind.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

{All photos of Dan and his assistant are © 2011 and used with Dan’s permission. Or maybe his assistant’s? Or maybe his assistant’s clone’s clone?}

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18 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #209: Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Jess Racklyeft (and Dan Santat’s Clone)”

  1. Yep, I too like the bunny-boy in the chair, but I’m also intrigued by the… um, the mustached impresario with the beach-sand tresses.
    Very cool, Jess. I want to know the story behind that image.

    Jules, so glad you got to see The Illustionist; wasn’t it sad and lovely? My son is a fan of the uncooperative rabbit; I loved the mood and art.
    “Thumbs up” to your music treasures — Wanda Jackson is a HOOT.

    My kicks this week:
    1. It’s HS baseball season; spent Fri. & Sat. afternoon in bleachers.

    2. A while ago I shared a kick about parking meters that accept credit cards (still thrilled by that convenience.) This weekend I went to a newly refurbished parking structure — and it had this locator machine that will tell you exactly where your car is parked if you forget. (!)

    3. Girl Scout cookies. (And those cute Girl Scouts with their cookie-filled wagons and their mom or dad supervising from the sidewalk.)
    I ordered thin mints and trefoils and tagalongs. Mmmmmmm.

    4. Okay, kick 4 is for ‘4-year-old’ and this is my BIG, wooty, wide-grin, very touched and so very pleased kick: Little Samuel Chelpka (age 4) posted his recitation of my book “Once Upon a Twice” on YouTube this week. You might recall Samuel from his YouTube rendition of Billy Collins’ “Litany” at age 3. Well, he is truly a poetic marvel; he memorized all 24 stanzas of my book’s poem and he says it exactly right — with drama and humor (while studying an plastic stingray and a tyrannosaurus rex. Ha!) Oh, I just love how he enunciates some of the words like “qui-eitiquette”. It makes an author all sappy and teary.
    SEE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PipSDeiTOB0

    And really I can’t top that kick (sigh). So, enough from me.
    Have a great week everyone.


  2. Great post this week. Can’t wait to see The Illusionist.

    My kicks:
    1. Visiting Massachusetts College of Art and Design for a screening and Q&A.
    2. Next stop: Rosenbach Museum, Philadelphia (3/12).
    3. Counting down days till I head to Knoxville in April.
    4. Starting a new children’s book manuscript and revising another.
    5. Reacquainting myself with the works of Michael Chabon.
    6. Feeling much better after my recent accident.
    7. And a new poem for David Harrison’s blog:

    ROOTING
    By Steven Withrow

    Hooray hurrah huzzah—for tap, sap, font, and source,
    For fingertips of gymnosperms planting gymnastic handstands,
    For bending straws of sycamores slurping the groundwater,
    For xylem and phloem fixed in daylong flux,
    For germinating aspen groves, aerating mangroves,
    For upgrowing ivies that crack the faces of gravestones,
    For anchor point, radicle, rhizome, meristem, cambium—
    Yay for every deep, diffuse, inscrutable root!

    ©2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved


  3. I love the rabbit and the chair as well as the owl on the girl.
    Jules, when do the girls return? It must be heaven to sleep as long as need be.
    Denise, I need that car location maching in Portland, my word. The 4 YO is awfully darn cute reciting your poem.
    My kicks:
    1. Last weekend’s writing retreat at the coast. No phone and no Internet. Room to think.
    2. Followed by Chuck’s hand crafted pizza for my bookclub and a visit by SKYPE from the author, Jenny Shortridge. She wrote When She Flew. Great story based on a father and daughter living in Forest Park for 4 years.
    3. I am getting emails from those wanting a student poem sent in the mail for National Poetry Month. If you want one, shoot me an email.
    4. My photos are on display at a local pizza pub. 5. Pizz with Bridget Zinn and her family for pizza. Haven’t seen her in months but she’s looking good and has found a terrific local doctor for her cancer treatments.
    6. Counting down the days until our cruise.
    7. Family Library Night for Cat in the Hat rocked. Lots of families.
    7. Have a great week.


  4. I’ll be back later, everyone. Promise. But this just in: Jess says it’s pronounced “Rack – left” and that she’s a fan of that sneaky “y.” It’s a trick “y,” that’s for sure.


  5. Hello all,

    Really love Jess’s collage art! So lovely. And speaking of lovely, I’m glad you got to see “The Illusionist”, Jules. Such a beautiful film. I hope there are more Jacques Tati scripts hiding in a basement somewhere, waiting to be discovered.

    My kicks on this rainy Sunday:
    1) My dear friend Tamara’s news that she is in remission from her colon cancer!!! This really should be my only kick, because it is such a beautiful blessing and I am so grateful that she is recovering.
    2) Having tea with my friend Chris on Friday in S.F. and playing hooky all day, enjoying the sunshine while it lasted.
    3) Watching the Academy Awards last weekend with my boyfriend and a few friends. Apparently, I am one of the few people who enjoyed the show. So happy that Colin Firth won Best Actor (and I know Jama is, too!) and “The King’s Speech” won Best Picture.
    4) Speaking of The King’s Speech, this video made me laugh: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnxNnJYziMY
    5) The adult literacy group that I am a board member of just announced that our major fundraiser is sold out, even without publicity! Considering the fact that our funds are being threatened with budget cuts in California, this is very good news.
    6) Hearing from an old friend after being out of contact for months.
    7) This somewhat Beatle-esque song from the group Beady Eye: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4FxW4dCS9E

    Have a good week, everyone!


  6. P.S. Totally forgot to say hello to Denise, Steven and Jone. Sorry — the caffeine hasn’t kicked in yet. LOVED Samuel’s reading of your book, Denise! So sweet. Glad to hear you are feeling better, Steven. Wish I could see your photos, Jone. Your writing retreat must have been heavenly.


  7. Obviously, I need more coffee. I didn’t mean to say Samuel was “reading” your book, Denise, but that’s what my muddled mind came out with. Sorry.

    Also, I meant to mention that the new Google image for today is pretty cool — it’s a tribute to cartoonist Will Eisner, who would have been 94 today. I’m a big fan of vintage cartoons.


  8. Oh, I am enthralled by that image wih the flowing hair with everything woven into and floating in it…..lovely….

    Jules – great kicks, especially the movie and then sleeping-in part – how wonderful! Love Wanda Jackson, that was awesome, will come back and watch the other clips later.

    Denise – that 4 year old reciting your book is awesome!

    Steven – so glad you are feeling better! Hurray for the new poem!

    Jone – the coast with no phone or internet sounds like heaven. What pizza pub? I’d love to check them out. I’ll be emailing for my poem!

    Jill – sounds like you picked a great day to play hooky, what with the sunshine, a good friend and tea.

    My kicks:
    1) The 4 part birthday present I sent to a now 15 year old was a big hit. It included The Hunger Games trilogy and blu-ray dvd of The Fall. (Big sigh of relief.)
    2)Ingrid continues to settle in nicely, she really is a sweet and good dog. With a silly personality, which is awesome.
    3) Currently hooked on Snow Patrol, now playing on my ipod.
    4) Starting the countdown to vacation.
    5) Yesterday – ran 4 miles, then brought Ingrid to the office to get some work done, then indoor soccer game and drinks after = pretty perfect Saurday.
    6) Watched My Life As a House, which made me wish Kevin Kline made more movies. Kristin Scott Thomas too. They were both very good in it.
    7) Watched KickAss. I was surprised by how funny it was. Nic Cage is so camp.

    Have a great week everyone!


  9. Jules,

    Happy Sunday…what’s left of it!

    Kick #1: Saturday night spent with my daughter, her husband, and her husband’s family. Lots of good food and laughs…and something I’ll tell you about later.

    Kick #2: There’s a new Polish restaurant in our area. My hubby and I ordered lots of food from Polonia Cafe and brought it over to the house of two of our oldest and best friends–one of whom has been battling cancer for more than four years. We had a great dinner…and great conversation…and we’re so happy that our friend is still with us. P.S. The pierogis were delicious–as were the potato pancakes with smoked salmon and caviar and the beet soup.

    Kick #3: the fractured bone in my mother’s foot has healed and she is able to get around just fine once again.


  10. Awesome kicks, Jules! I hope your eye twitch is gone soon and that you meet your deadline and that all things are wonderfully wonderful for you.

    (Seems like you could use a clone/assistant of your own, no?)


  11. Yay for Elaine’s mom!

    Jules: I feel like stomping and clapping after watching that.

    Kicks for the past week:
    1) Getting an audition for an amazing role, one of the highest-profile roles I’ve ever been fortunate enough to be considered for, and celebrating that landmark.
    2) Pita bread
    3) Stocking up
    4) Persevering
    5) Getting help
    6) Getting through
    7) Being supported

    Not kicks: Fever. Shivers. 24 hours and counting.


  12. Denise, wow, why can’t all parking lots be like that? … I’m loading the video now. (I started and it got hung up.) Can you believe this kid? He’s a wonder.

    Loved The Illusionist. Still debating the ending.

    Steven, thanks for another poem. Looking forward to meeting you in Knoxville. I want to hear all about the Rosenbach.

    Jone, the girls were only away one night. It was good to see them but heavenly, as I said, to sleep in. So good you saw Bridget, and congrats on the photography exhibit!

    Jill, I enjoyed the Oscars, too, and thought the hosts were just fine, but then I think I told you that. Congrats to your friend for her great news! Thanks for the song. Saw something about them today.

    Rachel, that’s a thoughtful gift. Not surprised it was a hit, and hey, I want gifts in parts. I loved Kick Ass. Quite subversive, huh? Was not what I thought it would be. So glad that Ingrid is doing well. No recurrence of what she had last week?

    Elaine, great news all-around. Curious to hear your daughter’s news, and glad to hear your mom’s still in good health.

    Thanks for visiting, all. I’m late in responding, but I’m here!


  13. Kelly and Little Willow, we passed each other in cyberspace.

    Thanks, Kelly. Yes, I’ll take a clone.

    Little Willow, go ahead and stomp and clap. I will join you. OH NO. Feel better, though. BOO to anything that makes you sick. I’d beat the germs up, if I could. Congrats on #1!


  14. Hello everyone! I’m checking in on the tail-end of yet another busy week (Monday feels like the start of a new week), just to say hi. Once a month, my husband has to drop me off at my Saturday bookstore gig so that he can take our daughter to her swim lesson, then pick me up afterward. There’s an hour or so for lunch and a load of laundry before I head out with the girl for her Spanish lesson. Usually it’s just swimming and Spanish. Today, he took the girl to ComicCon while I ran errands. I made avocado and salmon sushi for dinner tonight– that’s a kick!

    xoxo, Farida


  15. Checking back in at the end of the day…
    Steven – I don’t think I’ve ever read a poem that uses X for aliteration: xylem, fixed, flux. Nice! (Glad you’re feeling better.)

    jone – I envy your writing retreat. I’m heading up to Portland soon. Maybe we I can catch your photos (and we can eat some pizza.)

    Jill – that youtube President’s Speech video cracked me up (my son too… he’s downloading it onto his phone to share at school tomorrow.) Yea for your literary fundraiser and recovering friend!

    Rachel – Kick Ass! (spoiler alert) I knew it would be a unique ride after that oddly hilarious intro scene with Dad shooting her for ‘practice’.

    Elaine – glad for your mom’s restored mobility.

    LW – Hooray for #1. You go girl. But I have to ask, “pita bread?”

    Jules – Wishing you deadline adrenaline that kicks-in in a good, productive way (+ excellent coffee.) And yes, he is a wonder.

    Night all.


  16. P.S. Went to Jess’ website to see if the mustached impresario with the beach-sand tresses had a caption. Nope; remains a mystery (which is kinda nice.)
    Love that her blog is called Jesses Mess.


  17. Farida, avocado. Mmm.

    Denise, I can ask about the moustached impresario, if you all want me to. At least for the title. Unless you all want him to remain a mystery, open to great interpretation.


  18. Cool post, animals are awesome.


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