7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #342: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Kate Berube

h1 August 4th, 2013 by jules

Well, dear Imps, it’s the first Sunday of the month, which means I invite to the breakfast table a student or recently-graduated illustrator.

This morning, it’s Kate Berube, who lives in Portland, Oregon. Pictured above is one of her pieces, called Lonely, which I very much like. (Maybe the end of the story-in-waiting in this illustration can be that the boy and the dog finally meet, you think?) Kate tells us below all about her work, and she also shares here a good handful of artwork, for which I thank her. (She also let me pick some favorites from her site and post those in addition to what she sent me.)

Let’s get right to it, shall we? Welcome to Kate …

* * *

Kate: When my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Norris, asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I immediately answered, “an artist!” After earning a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I made my way to Portland, Oregon. In art school and in the years thereafter, I was focused on creating fine art, mainly large landscape oil paintings. As I struggled to feel fulfilled by these paintings, I slowly realized the problem was I felt a lack of real purpose behind the work. At the time, I was also working as a nanny for several young kids. Besides drawing, hanging out with kids is one of my favorite things to do. I looked for a way to combine my two passions and, after a little trial and error, I came up with illustrating picture books! It’s wonderful to have found this art form that feels both really meaningful and deeply satisfying.

Picture books are my first love, but I’d also enjoy illustrating early readers, chapter books, and/or middle readers. I work mainly in ink and watercolor, but I also like to play with paint, crayons, and markers — and collage with old shopping lists, train tickets, and all the bits of paper that accumulate in my pockets.

I like drawings that are a little messy and awkward, drawings where some of the artist’s flaws are poking out. (I like people that way, too.) In my writing, I aim for that elusive combination of humor and substance.

Some of the things I’m up to:

Finishing up the dummy for my latest story about a girl and a one-eyed dog:

Taking long hikes with my own one-eyed dog.

Shopping around my dummy about nasty neighbors:

The Toothachers
(Click to enlarge)

Reassuring all my very nice neighbors that said book is not about them.

Creating new greeting cards for my Etsy shop:

Forgetting to send greeting cards to my loved ones on their birthdays. (Sorry, Pam!)

Working on issue #3 of my zine for kids, Tater Totter.

Tater Totter is, as far as I know, the only zine exclusively for (and partially written by) children. It has stories, poems, activities, comics, and a hearty dose of silliness. I started making this zine, because I wanted to create something I could put out into the world faster than a picture book. (We all know how long those things take!) It’s a fabulous way for me to practice writing and drawing for kids and also is a lot of fun to make. It gives me a place to put all of my strange ideas and weird drawings. In addition to writing, illustrating, and publishing Tater Totter, I also get to work as an editor and include work from other writers and illustrators whom I admire. I have a blast every issue, getting together with kids I know and helping them to write and illustrate a story to include. (This is often one of the most popular features in each issue.) Issue #3 will be out in the Fall, and issue #2 is still available. Like my greeting cards, I sell Tater Totter in stores in Portland and across the country and also in my Etsy shop.

Thank you for featuring my work, Jules!

All images are used with permission of Kate Berube.

* * * * * * *

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) As I’m typing this, it’s quiet, ’cause the girls are sleeping over at a friend’s house. I miss them when they’re away, always. But the quiet is nice.

2) In exploring some new music, since my work is finally slowing down, I discovered that Ballaké Sissoko has a new 2013 CD (pictured here). I did not know this, and I see a CD order in my future.

3) School starts soon. The seven-year-old has a brand-new lunchbox, which came here straight from the UPS fairies. It has Harry Potter and Ron and Hermione on it, this lunchbox. It’s the old-skool, metal kind with a thermos, which FASCINATES her. She played with it all afternoon when it first arrived. She thinks the top of the thermos that you can twist off, flip over, and then use as a cup is an altogether extraordinary and remarkable thing.

This is good, since she is otherwise not looking forward to going back to school.

4) A friend of mine went away for a week to pursue a hobby and came back all energized and full of joy. She’s normally full of joy, but it’s always great to hear such happy news from a friend.

5) Sam Phillips released four bonus tracks for us devoted fans.

6) Anyone remember Ethan Aldridge, who visited at the tail end of last year? He just signed with agent extraordinaire Stephen Barbara. Congratulations, Ethan! I know we’ll see his artwork in books one day soon. I just know it. He’s abundantly talented.

7) This week, I baked these brownies, which Jama Rattigan once turned me on to. I personally believe that all dessert recipes should end with “[will] be a little gooey when you remove them from the oven.”

BONUS: The coffee I’m drinking this morning (“heavy, creamy body”) is flavored as such: Black pepper, dark chocolate.

It’s the little things, isn’t it?

What are YOUR kicks this week?

24 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #342: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Kate Berube”

  1. Kate’s images are so full of life. Thanks got sharing.
    Jules- I know that mixed feeling of enjoying the quiet bit missing the noise.
    I’m posting from a hotel in the city of my birth, Worcester, Mass.
    We don’t usually like to leave the Cape on the Summer but some events are worth it.
    My kicks this week are all those people in my life that are worth crossing the bridge in the Summer for.
    Worcester has a great art museum that I hope to get to today.
    Have a great week all.

  2. Moira, will you see some of Jarrett Krosoczka’s artwork at the museum? Don’t they have some of his stuff permanently there? Glad you’re having a good time. I love the notion of bridge-worthy friends.

  3. Coffee flavored with black pepper and chocolate? Interesting.

    Yay for Sara Varon’s brownies! Definitely a decadent pleasure — so sinful I only bake them for very special occasions.

    I LOVE those metal lunchboxes with the matching thermos. Getting one of those and a new pencil case was the best part of starting school.

    Wonderful seeing Kate’s work today. My favorites: the naked Emperor, girl on the piano, and the Tatter Totter zine :).

    Enjoy the museum, Moira!

    A few kicks:

    Saw “Blue Jasmine” yesterday. Cate Blanchett was absolutely brilliant. Must see film.

    Ben Clanton’s new PB, THE TABLE SETS ITSELF. I love a main character who has a meaningful relationship with her table utensils. Working on an interview with Ben, whose work I first saw right here at 7-Imp back in 2010!

    Cherries, mangoes, watermelon.

    Oatmeal buttermilk pancakes and good friends visiting from MA.

    Happy Sunday, Happy Week!

  4. Kate’s work is arresting. What line, what assemblage! I am certain I’ll be purchasing more than one of her books in the (near!) future. Thanks for sharing, Jules, and Happy Sunday, all!

    Here is my most recent poem, with a note for context:

    Chain Rhyme for Goldilocks

    She reached the cottage with the evening light,
    And from the eaves a nesting swallow spoke:
    “Too hard, too hot, too cold, too soft, just right.”

    The house exhausting wafts of chimney smoke
    Brought a scent of porridge to her nose.
    She stopped and brushed the forest from her cloak,

    Burs and brambles tumbling to her toes.
    She stepped across the threshold in a swoon.
    The swallow whistled, “Watch out where she goes!”

    Inside, a kitchen hearth, a cauldron spoon.
    No chairs, no bowls, no occupants in sight.
    Swallow whispered: “Someone’s coming soon.”

    She’s long past listening, lulling now it’s night:
    “Too hard, too hot, too cold, too soft, just right.”

    © 2013 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

    Poet’s Note: An experiment with terza rima (the form of Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”) and a favorite fairy tale. In playing with the verse form, I’ve attempted to approach “The Story of the Three Bears” much as a contemporary illustrator such as Lisbeth Zwerger might interpret this tale. I’m more focused on the mystery and surreality inherent in this story than on its surface plot or details. Like color and shadow for an artist, rhythm and sound are paramount for me. Words might slip their comfortable meanings, and images might grow outsized. There are stranger, darker antecedents and variants than the tame bedtime story I was told as a child where the safe ending seemed imposed rather than organic, the pattern left somehow incomplete. Robert Southey’s version stars a foul-mouthed old woman; Charles Dickens refers to hobgoblins rather than bears; and John D. Batten draws a fox called Scrapefoot who visits a castle in the woods. It’s all there and not there at the same time. Curiouser and curiouser…

  5. Thank you Jules for featuring the artwork of Kate Berube today. I, too, wonder how the story will end in the first piece.

    Jules I understand how when you are used to the company of others, how the quiet somehow doesn’t quite feel right, even if it’s nice once and awhile. Thanks for sharing the lunchbox story. I still have my Dad’s thermos that he carried to work every day.

    I hope you get to the museum too, Moira. Have a great time with those special people in your life.

    My kicks:
    1. Continued cooler temperatures
    2. More rain
    3. Freshly cut grass
    4. Deer tracks in my garden but my veggies are safe now under the netting (smile)
    5. Birds splashing in the bird baths
    6. Reading Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin aloud to my tiny neighborhood book group
    7. Strolls with Xena

    Enjoy your week everyone.

  6. Hello Jama, I’m looking forward to your interview with Ben Clanton. That list of food makes me think I need a second breakfast.

    Steven: Thank you for sharing the poem. I love the explanation. Even when you are explaining something your words resonate.

  7. Good morning, Imps! Welcome to August!

    Nice to meet you, Kate. Thank you for sharing your work with us. It’s awesome that you’ve known since kindergarten *or earlier!* what you wanted to be, and who you were. High-five. Good luck with your books and cards and dinosaurs!

    Jules: Your first kick made me sing It’s Oh So Quiet. Lucy Woodward’s version, of course. Happy almost-schooltime for your young ones. Yay, lunchbox, and simple wonders. Enjoy the music and the foodstuffs.

    Congratulations, Ethan!

    Moira: Enjoy the art, the travel, and the weather!

    Jama: Those pancakes sound tasty. Happy Sunday, happy week right backatcha.

    Steven: That is GREAT! I’ve always found the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears interesting – not because she breaks and enters and takes, but because she wants things just right. I can relate to that part.

    Margie: Hi Xena! I recently met a dog named Stormtrooper, a very happy Pyrenees that outweighed me, I’m certain. Say hello to the birds and the deer for me. Enjoy the weather and the veggies.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) My current play is such fun. We close tonight. I don’t want it to be over!
    2) Recording
    3) Filming
    4) Rising to the challenge
    5) Confidence
    6) Support
    7) Trust

  8. My kick, of course, is being featured on 7-Imp! What a treat.

    Moira – I’m in Mass myself this week visiting family. I’m on my way to the Cape tomorrow! The Worcester Art Museum was one of my first museum experiences, my grandmother was a docent there. I remember it fondly – hope you enjoy your visit!

    Jama- funny enough, some of Ben Clanton’s great writing and drawing is in Tater Totter #2! Can’t wait to see The Table Sets Itself. I love his work.

    Thanks again Jules, it looks great!

  9. Hi there,
    On the road agaon but isn’t that what summer about? Will need to look up Kate from Portland. Wonder if she belongs to SCBWI here. Great kicks especially the brownies. My kicks are all.about the college friends.trip.with laughs and wine and upcoming trip.to SoCal

  10. Sorry about the puncuation. Typing from phone have a.great.week.

  11. tater tater tater

    tattling rattling tottling


    had to get it right this time (blame my new keyboard)

    Kate, that is too cool that Ben’s work is in #2! You’ll love his new book. He’ s my favorite clantooner :). Jealous that you’re going to the Cape — love it there and want to go back.

  12. Wow! I love all element of fun in all the art today, but really love the emotion in the first panel Lonely – so lovely and yearning.

    Jules – glad you got to enjoy some quiet time, and those brownies – OMG. Yum. That coffee sounds great too.

    Moira – hope you’re having fun with those bridge-worthy friends. (I love the sound of that too.)

    Jama – Glad to hear Blue Jasmine is good – love Cate Blanchett. And oatmeal buttermilk pancakes sound delicious.

    Steven – love the poem, and the explanation. The words in the poem definitely make the story seem darker…

    Margie – hooray for deer in the yard and safe veggies. Happy walking with Xena.

    LW – have a great closing! Glad you love the show you’re in. I really like your kick #4, rising to the challenge.

    Kate – thanks for sharing your work! I’ll be looking for Tater Totter in town for some young friends.

    Jone – happy travels with friends!

    My kicks this week:
    1)New laptop! Super excited since I’ve not gotten in a new one in a kajillion years (ok, 6 years), and my old one was on it’s last legs.
    2) Tomatoes and zucchini from the garden. Cole helps me every morning when I go outside and harvest everything that’s ripe. Nothing like popping sun-kissed cherry tomatoes into your mouth fresh off the vine. Yum.
    3) Went kayaking with a friend on Tuesday night – lovely way to end the day.
    4) Finally watched Date Night. Very fun.
    5) Breakfast sandwich – eggs, fresh basil, tomatoes & a little cheddar cheese – mmmm.
    6) Portland Thorns game on Wednesday (Portland’s women’s soccer team)- it was my first time going this season – and they won 3-1! Really great game!
    7) Lyle Lovett at the Oregon Zoo concert last night with a good friend. Fun to catch up, & she’d never seen him live before, & boy do I love Portland summers!

    Have a lovely week everyone!

  13. Love, love, love Kate’s work!

  14. Hi, Little Willow, Jama, Liz, Rachel, Moira, Steven, Margie, and Jone. =D

    Kate, I love the richness of “Lonely,” and ooohhh I would love to check out and issue of Tater Totter.

    Jules, I love the term “story-in-waiting”!

    Kick of the week: YA author Kiera Cass was in the Philippines this weekend for a couple of book signing events and she cried because she didn’t know she had so many Filipino fans.

    Kick of the year: I can’t believe it’s my job to do things like attend book signing events and go through illustrators’ portfolios. Like what?

  15. Oh, I’m in love. This is great, great stuff. Thanks so much for sharing. Also, I’m a terribly inarticulate critic, so thank you too for this language: “I like drawings that are a little messy and awkward.” That’s it, exactly. I’m drawn to exactly that.

  16. Jama, I really want to see Blue Jasmine, and I’d gladly give back the nearly two hours of my life that I gave for Only God Forgives. I do think Ryan Gosling is a talented actor, but in most movies these days, he just stares a lot. I remember one line from this movie (though I’m sure there were more): “Wanna fight?” If he has two words a film, I figure he’s averaging about $50,000,000 a word. … Looking forward to seeing your interview with Ben!

    Steven, I like the mysterious and reverent tone of that poem.

    Margie, I love how Xena makes your kicks every week. And I think that story about your dad’s thermos is extra great.

    Little Willow: Stormtrooper is a great name for a dog. My girls all the time play with droids and stormtroopers and jedis, and they were dressing some of them up in heels and dresses this week, which made me laugh. They really don’t care for playing with Barbies or dolls, but they’ll dress up a stormtrooper in heels. …. Break a leg with the closing tonight, and sorry you have to say goodbye.

    Kate, enjoy Mass, and thanks again for visiting!

    Have fun, Jone!

    Rachel, that breakfast sandwich is making me hungry. … LYLE LOVETT!!

    Hi, Liz!

    Tarie, OF COURSE that is your job! So glad you enjoy it.

    Audrey: I, too, loved what Kate said there. I pulled that quote to share it via social media. Makes me think of this song from Sam:

    May we all embrace the squeaks and rattles and crooked lines.

  17. My intention this summer was to set aside a little time each Sunday to stop by here and peruse School Library Journal and a few of my other favorite blogs. That hasn’t happened. But, I am here today enjoying Kate Berube’s artwork and the work of other illustrators you have recently featured. It’s always fun to read your blog!

    I am really enjoying my summer. After beginning library science graduate school this past year, I have a new appreciation for summer vacation and time with the kids.

    My kicks this week:
    1. Family vacation in the Boundary Waters.
    2. Great friends to celebrate my youngest son’s birthday with.
    3. Energetic, adventurous kids. My kids can be a handful, but they also bring the party with them. They have been bringing it this past week.
    4. Watching my oldest head towards pre-teendom. A little scary, but also fascinating.
    5. I get to send the oldest two off to spend a week with their grandparents this week! Thank you, thank you, thank you grandparents!
    6. The opportunity to start grad school again in a few weeks.
    7. Awesome summer weather.

    8. My new trail running + amateur photography hobby.

    I hope you all are enjoying your summers. I look forward to stopping by again soon!


  18. Hi, Amy! How is grad school going? Happy birthday to your son!

    Are any of your photos online, by chance?

  19. Love her work–great range. After the first piece as a teaser at the beginning, I was expecting more like it and was blown away by the variety of styles and imagination.



  20. Graduate school is tricky to fit into life with three kids (as you can imagine) but amazing too. I have a couple other degrees under my belt, but library science is the first that’s felt like a perfect fit. I am looking forward to my first children’s lit courses this coming semester! -Amy

  21. Hooray for kicks! Yes, I know, that’s lame, but this is my exhausted, exhilarated check-in. May all be well with you all, through downs and ups.

  22. Oh, really love this interview with Kate. Supremely talented and interesting work. I love it, and I love your interview style, Jules. Both of you, Top Drawer.

  23. […] remember this August 2013 up-and-coming illustrator feature with Kate Berube? I’m happy to say she’s signed with an agent. News like this makes me want to do jazz […]

  24. […] you remember reading here, 7-Impers, all about Kate Berube? When I posted that back in 2013, she was not yet published. That […]

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