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:
(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.
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.
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.
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?