7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #282: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Robert Trujillo

h1 June 3rd, 2012 by jules

“When we finished our lowrider, I was so proud of my mama.
People thought she couldn’t do it, but we sure proved ’em wrong!
And I was proud of myself for helping her choose some pretty colors for the painting.”

It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means it’s time here at 7-Imp to shine the spotlight on a student or new-to-the-field illustrator.

Today I’ve got illustrator, artist, and mural-maker Robert Trujillo, who is from Oakland, California. Robert has yet to be published as an illustrator but is, as he told me, trying to learn more about the field and meet like minds “in real time or through the Web.”

Speaking of the Web, Robert’s site is the cool side of satin, especially if you dig art and jazz (and/or funk and/or soul). Case-in-point is here.

Okay, digression over.

The illustration above, rendered in watercolor and ink, is one of two illustrations Robert created from a short story he’s written about a mother and daughter who build their own lowrider. The second illustration, as well as more artwork from Robert, is below.

And here are more words from Robert, who is pictured above at a recent visit to an elementary school in Sacramento. (More on that visit and more pictures are here at Robert’s site.)

Robert: “At this moment…I’m focusing my energy on creating stories on walls, in classrooms, and on canvas and paper. One of my goals right now is to finish a series of short stories based in children’s books and comics illustration. The stories focus on children of color, fantasy, science fiction, and cultural practices. The series of short stories is a healthy exercise for me to experiment with my illustration and creative writing. Although I have been an artist for most of my life and I have been to art school, I’m pretty much teaching myself how to illustrate sequential stories. I have been blessed to receive feedback, comments, love, and encouragement from my community. And that lets me know I’m doing something right. As a direct result, I have been invited to visit several classrooms in California to share my short stories, and I’m building towards self-publishing my work and collaborating with any like-minded folks.”

“When me and mommy first got the car, it was all beat up and rusty-looking.
She sanded it down with scratchy paper.
And I tried to figure out what kind of dances it would do.”

Robert: “This (watercolor/ink/mixed media) is a promo/thank-you card for clients and friends. I wanted to go with a futuristic look for a boy living
on the border between rural and city.”

Robert: “This (digital) is my eleventh short story and is about a little boy going to get his first haircut. This is largely based on my personal experience getting a ‘flat-top’
as a boy, but I used another child as a model.”

Robert: “This (ink/digital) started out as a design for a poster contest. After the contest, I decided to redo the design, using Photoshop and ink, instead of watercolor,
and I enjoyed how it came out.”

Robert: “This (digital media/mixed) is part of a series of characters I’m working on to expand and experiment with styles. This character is a futuristic trumpeter.”

Robert: “This is a painting (watercolor/ink) I did of my son a few years ago. It was just before I began to really learn how to illustrate something with children as the main focus. He asked me to paint/draw something for him, and this is what I did.”

“This one (digital) is about a sleep-over of three girls, who are using computers to get into a bit of mischief after hours. Hacking, to be specific.”

“This (acrylic) is an image from my most recent story,
called ‘Gye Nyame vs. Fantastic Phono Freaks.’ It is a short story about a musical battle between two groups of kids. Read more here.”

(Click to enlarge image)

I’ll close with an image from a full-length story Robert wrote about himself and his son. If you’d like to learn more about Robert and his artwork, his site awaits. (I can see him doing YA covers, in particular. Can’t you? If I had a picture book in my hands that elaborated on the story of the lowrider-building girl and her mama, I wouldn’t complain either. Just sayin’. Just throwin’ that out to the picture book gods, if they’re listening. What do picture book gods do anyway? Paint a lot? Sit around and discuss the marriage of words and images? Is their heaven a series of 32 clouds? Am I a dork for asking these questions? Why, yes I am.)

I thank Robert for visiting and sharing his art here at 7-Imp.

All images are copyright © 2012 by Robert Trujillo and used with his permission.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 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. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) It’s been very touching to see the outpouring of love for friend and co-author Peter D. Sieruta, given his sudden death last week, which I still can’t wrap my head around. I won’t pretend that I haven’t been nearly counting every breath lately, grateful for each one, given that this all reminds me—and all of us—that tomorrow is never a guarantee. And I miss him. I wish that, somehow, he could know how many people miss his words and were moved by and entertained by the stories he shared in his lifetime — and the kindnesses he extended to others.

2) Our smart editor had the great idea, though, to have a day next year where we all remember and celebrate him, closer to the time when we’ll have galleys for our upcoming book. I really love this idea. And more on that later (for interested folks).

3) My girls and I finished reading the Harry Potter series together (meaning: we all cuddle up, and Mama reads the dialogue in her best British accent, numerous flaws and all). It was pretty momentous when we got to the last word. We laughed a lot and we cried a lot during all those books, which took us years to read, and I know we’ll never have that time again, the reading-it-for-the-first-time experience. This hasn’t stopped the eight-year-old, though, from starting the series all over again on her own. She read Book One in one day — and Book Two the next. (Mind you, this is the child who came out of my womb with her face in a book, saying, “just … just … HOLD UP, PEOPLE. I’m in the middle of a chapter. And where’s my bookmark?”)

For all the rest of my life, I’ll remember reading the last sentence of chapter thirty-four, “The Forest Again,” in that final book (I won’t give away spoilers here) and the stunned silence that followed and the emotions afterward. We three had managed (somehow) to avoid spoilers and weren’t prepared for that.

I know I say this all the stinkin’ time, but it’s my privilege to read with them, and it’s my favorite thing in all the world, too.

(Also, the six-year-old—oh, there she is to the left—says she has a crush on Hermione and has been constantly walking around speaking in a fake British accent. Sometimes it wears me out—I mean to tell you she’ll do it ALL DAY LONG—but most of the time it just makes me laugh.)

4) The six-year-old finished Kindergarten (pictured above is the big grad on the big day) and had a difficult time saying goodbye to her teacher (as in, you can take first grade and SHOVE IT is what I could tell she really wanted to say). She worked all day last week on a goodbye card for her teacher, and she wrote the usual things, like “I love you” and “have a good summer,” but she also wrote “I will not forget you.” And that stopped me in my tracks when I saw it.

Not a kick so much, but maybe the kicky part is the reminder that children feel so deeply and can get so attached to a good teacher.

(I’m just now noticing how tightly I cling to her arm in that picture, the end of a ferocious hug probably. That’s the grip of a mother who can’t believe Kindergarten is already over and might want to slow down time a bit.)

5) See this record?

Please disregard the fact that I tend to speak in hyperbole, and believe me when I say that it is a real and true and cross-my-heart-hope-to-die MASTERPIECE. (Most critics in the mid-’90s agreed, if you don’t want to take just my word for it.) It’s from 1994, and it was Sam Phillips proving that she’s the fifth Beatle. (It was also the album, based on the cover alone, that got her this 1995 role as the deadly mute German terrorist in Die Hard: With a Vengeance. Once, when Farida saw her live—and, come to think of it, I’ve heard her say this live, too—Sam said she’s not going to act in another movie until she pays back everyone who forked over the cash to see her in that film.)

Well, the folks at Omnivore Recordings—no, I don’t work for them, but they are clearly smart people—are reissuing it in July with bonus tracks and it’ll be the first time ever on vinyl (white vinyl even) and … and … and … it’s all very exciting. Yes, I ordered both CD and vinyl, even if I, um, don’t own a turntable. (I’ll have to fix that.)

6) Speaking of music, this tune below from RJD2 is a great song, and I thank Eisha for finding and sharing it:

Good Times Roll Pt. 1 by RJD2 on Grooveshark

Also, I’ve only listened to this song from Regina Spektor about seven thousand times this week:

“Love what you have and you’ll have more love / you’re not dying.” Yes.

Regina’s whole CD is good (there’s this or this … oh, I could go on), and it was the only thing lately that could tear me away from Jack White’s new tunes.

Also: Neko!

7) It’s challenging during the summers when you have school-aged children and work from home. I still haven’t found my new get-my-work-done groove. But I treasure the time with them, and I’m happy to have more of that right now.

There’s been a lot of loss in children’s lit lately. Philip Nel addresses that so gracefully right here.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

18 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #282: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Robert Trujillo”

  1. Oh Jules… I’m sitting here all teary eyed. First, Peter…then your writing about the Harry Potter reading… then the kindergartener. I know these are kicks but I’m feeling them all. My kindergartener graduates in two weeks and she is feeling all the same things that yours is. As am I. Slow down world, please!!

    As far as my kicks, I had gum surgery this week (yuck!!!!) so my kicks are as follows: ice cream, ice cream, ice cream, ice cream, frozen yogurt, ice cream, ice cream 🙂

  2. Jules, I love the fresh look of Trujillo’s art. Iam trying to wrap my head around the losses in the world of children’s lit lately. And your friend and colleague Peter.
    Stacey, good luck w/ your upcoming surgery. Sounds like a big ouch.
    My kicks:
    A 5th grader saying she wanted to buy my book, Solace in Nature.
    Honoring two of my favorite teacher librarians who are retiring.
    Finished OK for Now by Gary Schmidt. What a book.
    Blooming roses
    Hanging my photos at a local Starbucks.
    Directing the school play
    Have a great week.

  3. So many great images, Robert. Keep up the good work. I love the haircut image.

    Jules, this song is perfect for making you cry over your loss and then gets you up to go hug (tightly) someone you love. Beautiful.

    Stacey, way to make lemon sorbet from lemons.


    1. My baby boy turned nine years old. On his real b’day we put a candle in a pyramid of peanut butter cups. At the party we had baseball frosted cupcakes and baseball cards(they seem to be making a comeback) for favors.

    2. Took my daughter thrift shopping she loved it. Where else can you get such a collection of clip-on earings.

    3. The grass is riz. It’s not easy growing grass on this sandy soil.

    4. I posted an image that I wasn’t that sure about* and got a great response. Go figure.

    5. A couple of people asked for a print, which forced me to figure out how to sell them online.

    6. Here is my make you cry/smile song that I have been listening to over and over again.
    A Little Bit of Everything-Dawes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhSiP9e3sKg&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PL7D816022C45ADEEF

    7. Go Celtics!

    * http://atlanticmo.blogspot.com/2012/05/same-as-it-ever-was.html

    Happy June Imps!

  4. Stacey, best of luck in two weeks. Gum surgery. OUCH. OUCH. OUCH again. Hoping you heal fast.

    Jone, I love that first kick so much. And I still want to read Schmidt’s book. Hear hear to sunshine, and break a leg with the play.

    Moira, thanks for that song. I have never heard Dawes (heard of them but haven’t ever heard one of their CDs), but REALLY love the CD from Middle Brother (from last year), and he takes lead vocals on a lot of those songs. …. I love the idea of thrift-shopping with your daughter. I might copy you. … Now I gotta go see your image.

  5. I love, love, love, love, LOVE that you promote and respect and observe and feature the up-and-coming folk. Love that SO, so much. And I expect GOOD things for Robert Trujillo. Wow. I am ALL OVER that book about the Lowrider Mama. All over it. (Picture Book Gods, we will do a tiny scribble and color on walls in your honor, just like toddlers: hear us.)

    Regina Spektor is beautiful. As is Sam Phillips, of course.

  6. Tanita: Heh. You’ve got the right idea. Coloring on their heavenly walls will do it. We’ll get their attention.

  7. Hi, Robert! Thank you for sharing your art and your stories with us. Thumbs up for the awesome school visit!

    Jules: My thoughts continue to be with his family, friends, and colleagues. Congrats on her kindergarten graduation! So cool that you three shared the entire HP series together. Listening to the Regina song now as I type this. I love the lyric, “The heart beats in three, just like a waltz, and nothing can stop you from dancing.” Love that line so much.

    Stacey: Sending you healing thoughts!

    Jone: Yay for the young fan, and kudos to the retiring teacher librarians. Congrats on having your photos on display! How cool. What play are you directing? Break a leg!

    Moira: That image is AWESOME. As I just posted at your blog, it made me think of an imaginary friend or a ghost, perhaps, but I’m thinking it’s a girl who walked that path before… SO lovely. Happy birthday to your son! Thumbs up for thrift store shopping.

    Tanita: I love that whenever I read something you post or email, I can hear your voice clearly.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Staged reading of a new play inspired by Edgar Allan Poe
    2) Staged reading of Clueless (I played Tai. Rollin’ with the homies! Rest in peace, Brittany Murphy. I would have loved to have worked with her.)
    3) Audition for a new musical
    4) Offered a role in a new play
    5) Anticipation
    6) Fresh start
    7) Catching up with people

  8. Little Willow, yes, how about that lyric, huh?

    Your staged readings sound so FUN, and I wish I could be there to SEE THEM. Break a leg with the audition for the musical, and congrats on the new role!

  9. Jules, what a rich list of kicks. Some sad but true. I spent too long reading them (and enjoying the illustrations as usual, perhaps one day you should do a 7 imp Behind the Scenes and explain where you find so many talented illustrators & authors) so will have to return to enjoy everyone else’s kicks this afternoon.

    My kicks (which I wisely prepared ahead of time last night):

    1. Finally made some tortillas that were yummy and had the right texture (think this was attempt #7)
    2. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I’m temporarily in a different office that is on the 25th level of a building and has excellent views of the Brisbane River and the city. I love the view so much, but never more than the day a peregrine falcon flew past my window and then perched on the building next door for quarter of an hour.
    3. I am also in easy strolling distance to the city branch of the public library, which means I can visit pop in and out to pick up books etc
    4. I got to do a presentation at work on a fun topic
    5. Successful batch of lemon curd made yesterday
    6. And some mini lemon tarts
    7. Gerbera daisies in a vase on my table looking cheery

  10. Thank you Robert for sharing your art. I join in the chorus of wanting that mama-low-rider book to be published!

    Jules – love that pic of you and the 6 year old, and love the description of the 8 year old’s birth! I love that you all share such a love of books – I don’t think that melancholy that comes after finishing a well-loved series ever stops being a surprise, no matter how long you’ve been reading.

    And oh my, but that Regina Spektor song had me in tears. I’ll be checking out that whole album today.

    Stacey – hope you get lots of great ice cream to carry you through your recovery! Congrats and condolences on the kindergarten grad.

    Jone – love kicks #1 and #5 especially this week. Which Starbucks? I’d love to check them out.

    Moira – love that image! For some reason it brought Bridge to Terabithia to mind for me…hooray for birthdays and baseball!

    LW – I can so see you as Tai! Here’s hoping you land that new musical!

    My kicks this week:
    1) Bought the album HitStory which is a remastered compilation of early Elvis Presley hits, including two of my faves “You’re So Square (Baby I Don’t Care)” and “A Little Less Conversation”.
    2) Preston Sturges movie watching – 4 down, 3 to go. Christmas in July was sweet, The Lady Eve was great fun – Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda were both so gorgeous in it. And Sullivan’s Travels with Veronica Lake and Joel McCrea is still my favorite.
    3) Watched Julie Taymor’s The Tempest last night. Helen Mirren can do anything, and Alfred Molina and Russell Brand were so fun to watch.
    4) Reading “I’ll Have What She’s Having,” by Daniel Kimmel – great anecdotes about behind the scenes on some of the most influential rom-coms. So far a story about Carole Lombard’s wit has been my favorite.
    5) Just got a copy of “The Map of My Dead Pilots,” by Colleen Mondor. Looking forward to diving into it.
    6) No sign of kittens since mama cat moved them, but hopefully in a few weeks. However, neighbor who feeds all feral kitties also seems to be feeding a skunk and a possum. Watched the possum drinking water last night from the safety of my backyard…while all the feral cats stayed a ways away.
    7) Making these later tonight for a friend who is coming over: http://smittenkitchen.com/2011/12/cinnamon-brown-butter-breakfast-puffs/
    I’ll let y’all know how they come out.

    Have a great week everyone!!!

  11. Little Willow, It’s a play I co-wrote with three fifth grade girlds , four years ago. Called Penguins, Polar Bears, Recycling, Oh MY.

    Rachel, the Starbucks at the Fred Meyer complex in Oak Grove.

  12. Jone – I know right where that is – my old neighborhood. I’ll try to swing by and check them out sometime this week!

    And for anyone who bakes – those cinnamon brown butter breakfast puffs came out amazing. Melt in your mouth good!

  13. Everyone who is so inclined: Please take a minute to watch & vote for this awesome brother & sister’s cover of “She Will Be Loved” by Maroon 5 at TopBlip! Thank you!

    Jules: Thank you on all conts.

    Emmaco: Please say hello to the flowers for me. I’m glad that you have a room with a view! Tortillas sound so good right now. Did you make flour or corn tortillas? Either way, kudos and congrats. Enjoy the local library, and kudos also on the work presentation!

    Rachel: Barbara Stanwyck rocks. Thinking good thoughts for those kitties. Thanks for the encouragement and visualizations!

    Jone: Aw, cute! Conservation and critters.

  14. Emmaco, mmm I want to try making my own lemon curd one day. Mmm again. … Your office sounds lovely. Also, I love daisies. …. Great idea about the post. I think, in this case, Robert reached out to me first? I think? I’ll have to look that up. I get busy, and I forget these things.

    Rachel, I love “You’re So Square…” by Elvis. I’m not terribly familiar with his music (though that’s something I’ve been wanting to change), but I do know that song well. And, yes, Helen Mirren can do ANYthing. Hope you enjoy Colleen’s book and get to see those kittens again.

    And I’m gonna have to bake those breakfast puffs. Story at 10 ….

    Thanks, LW … Will check it out.

  15. Rachel, I looked at that recipe more closely, and I think it can be my 8-year-old’s next baking project. She would LOVE those. Thanks for sharing …

  16. Hope you feel better soon, Stacey, and that you find a delightful new flavour of ice-cream this week!

    Jone how nice your local Starbucks has local art up.

    Moira, I love that image. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    Rcahel, those puffs look delicious. I have bookmarked it to make sometime soon!

    LW, they were flour tortillas. Corn tortillas are not very common in Aus, and although I’ve found masa harina (seems to be in all corn tortilla recipes) at some delis, it’s imported and expensive, so that will be a treat when I definitely have the technique down pat! As usual, you sound happily busy!

    Jules, I can’t IMAGINE what else you are doing with your time. What a slacker you are 🙂

  17. Hi Imps!
    Sure enjoyed this week’s kicks, music, recipes, adventures, kindergarten and wow – Robert the Artist! Love his work. Thanks Jules! I agree with everyone else – can’t wait for books, lots of them. Will try to get to his website soon.

    Also, Jules, thank you for sharing so much and in such heartfelt ways about Peter and the process of acknowledging his passing and saying goodbye.

    I didn’t post last week as I was really overwhelmed by challenges with our fair city’s school system and couldn’t get through it enough to find any silver linings. But, I’m bouncing back so here goes.

    My kicks:
    1. camping this weekend with my son’s preschool families north of Ventura. The kids had SO much fun.

    2. 3 days without a shower – the longest I’ve gone ever I think. Yuck! I was very glad to get home yesterday.

    3. getting caught up on a guilty pleasure TV show that just ended its season

    4. received my first book in the mail from a publisher to review. YAY! I’ve been accepted into a bloggers network for reviewing books. I’m not sure exactly why since I’m so new to blogging and reviewing AND I’m writing about children’s books and the book is not a children’s book, but I’m not knocking it!

    5. white chocolate covered apricots and blueberries on the camping trip

    6. my friend Swathi showed me how to unintall an application from my new MacBook Air by dragging the application into the trash icon. This was just rediculously easy – the PC has so far to go!

    Wishing you all a great week of art and life!

  18. Allison, sounds like had a good week, especially the camping. And I have never heard of white chocolate-covered apricots but am determined to find some now. … Glad to read you’re bouncing back. Hope that means that the school system resolved everything.

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