7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #537: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Mika Song

h1 June 4th, 2017 by jules

I love the first Sunday of each month here at 7-Imp, because that’s when we all get to see the work of student or debut illustrators. Today, author-illustrator Mika Song visits. She’s not a student, and her newest book is not her debut. But she’s still relatively new to children’s lit, and I’m happy to showcase her work today. Let’s get right to it, because she tells us a bit about her work and shares some artwork and sketches below. I thank her for visiting.

Mika: It took me a long time to realize that I wanted to make children’s books. I wanted to be either a nun or a philosopher when I was in grade school. In high school, I became interested in indie comics. I went to Pratt for printmaking and switched majors a few times before ending up in the animation department. I did many different jobs poorly and finally got a job as an animator, which I did for eight years until deciding to make children’s books. In 2015, I won the SCBWI Portfolio Award, which made me feel like I was finally on the right path.

I recently illustrated A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices by Sally Derby (Charlesbridge). I had the best time working on this with Susan Sherman, who taught me a few things. She encouraged me to work in a loose and simple style.



I usually end up scanning my thumbnails and printing those out much larger to trace on to good paper for painting. I like to paint the watercolors over my pencil sketches and then paint the outlines with sumi ink after the color is dry. That way the ink doesn’t smear, and it helps me find ways to keep the line open.



My first picture book that I wrote and illustrated, Tea with Oliver (HarperCollins) comes out this August. It’s about a cat named Oliver who wants someone to have tea with. The character is based on a close friend. Looking back at these images, I realize Oliver has changed a bit since my original sketch. He used to have a club collar, but my editor Nancy Inteli and designer Chelsea Donaldson smartly suggested I update his look. There were lots of other changes. It was a real group effort, but when I look at the finished book, I somehow feel like I had always intended it to be this way.


A thumbnail sketch for Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation
by Ted Staunton (Tundra)”

(Click to enlarge)


“… I like her laugh, so I laugh, too.”
— Spread from Sally Derby’s
A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices
(Click to enlarge)


“… I wonder what Dad will think when he sees the poster of Meg White
and her drums on the wall above my desk.”
— From
A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices
(Click to enlarge)


Mika: “My favorite drawing in A New School Year…”


Mika: “My desk while working on A New School Year
It’s before I painted the black outlines.”

(Click to enlarge)


Sketches of Mia, one of the six characters from A New School Year
(Click to enlarge)


Mika: “A page from my first dummy of Tea with Oliver
before I had found a publisher or agent for it.”

(Click to enlarge)


Mika: “Final art for Tea with Oliver that didn’t survive the Art Check department of Harper. I think one or more of the characters inexplicably changed their shirt
between one page and the next.”

(Click to enlarge)


“And the new friends sit down for a nice cup of tea.”
— A final spread (sans text) from
Tea with Oliver
(Click to enlarge)


Mika: “Ink drawings for the final art dummy of Tea with Oliver — without the speech bubbles, which I do separately and are digitally composited over the final art.”
(Click to enlarge)


Mika: “Ink drawings for one of the final art dummies of Tea with Oliver.
In the book, Oliver sings as he sweeps: ‘Sweepin’ the floor … what a bore ….
I’ve got the lonesome apartment bluuues…'”

(Click to enlarge)


Mika: “My editor’s favorite spread from Tea with Oliver, when Oliver and Philbert finally meet. In the book Oliver says, ‘I’ll never have tea with anyone now.’
And from under the couch the mouse says, ‘Excuse me.'”

(Click to enlarge)


Mika: “My favorite drawing from Tea with Oliver: “So Philbert tries again.
This time he sends his letter by airmail . . .”

(Click to enlarge)


All images used by permission of Mika Song.

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 * * *

Kicks one to seven this week: My friend, Robin.

What about you? What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #537: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Mika Song”

  1. Oh, Oliver, I need to send you to my great nephew, Oliver, ypur book. I love the airmail illustration.
    Jules, enjoy your friend time.
    My kicks:
    1. Music.
    2. Friends.
    3. Coffee.
    4. Baby shower.
    5. Glowing mom to be.
    6. The deck.
    7. Sunset.
    Have a great week.

  2. Hello, Kickers!

    With work like this (and what she shows off at her site), Mika Song has gotten her career off to a fine start! And she’s obviously familiar with what works here at 7-Imp, too. Very cagy to have included in today’s portfolio that opening image — because, y’know, BREAKFAST.

    (Jone: your great-nephew might be interested in this: Oliver and Philbert figure prominently in a series of multi-panel comics at Mika’s site. These include Parts 1 and 2 of a saga called “The Chef”… with mounting suspense from one part to the next. But Part 2 (from Dec. 2016) ends with a cliffhanger — and there’s no Part 3 yet! It’s kind of like getting the first four Twin Peaks reboot episodes all on one day and then having to wait, like, [N] WHOLE WEEKS for the fifth… with no idea what [N] is.)

    Jules, toasting your friend Robin (and you!) from North Florida.

    Kicks, well, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in music for the last couple weeks, while researching an article for an online magazine. There’s way too much to dump into a single 7-Kicks comment, but here’s a taste… The video for a song called “Guitar Blue,” by a Japanese sorta-kinda-Americana (with an “a” on the end) band, Pirates Canoe. The song’s lyrics gave them the name for the band; here’s a sample:

    Sitting with a Killian’s Red
    Waiting for a song to take you somewhere
    Somewhere you don’t know
    Never landing, never flying
    Then it hits you in the chest
    And by the second song you’re missing her again

    On the corner of a back street of a town you will find
    Pirates Canoe
    There’s a singer with a song
    Made of wings and dirt and the color blue

    It’s a vessel looking for a sea to sail
    And you’re alone in this place
    With the only wind to take you being love and life
    And bittersweet heartache…

    This just knocked me out.

    Anyway, other stuff — briefly:

    — anniversaries
    — The Pooch (still hanging in there)
    — yes, Twin Peaks: The Return
    — …and, on the subject of TV, have you seen the Shaun the Sheep series on Amazon??? HILARIOUS. (By Aardman Studios, the Wallace and Grommit animation shop.)
    — getting some stuff done
    — and letting some stuff slide

  3. Tea With Oliver looks very fun! Thank you for sharing your illustrations and your process Mika!

    Jules – hooray for friends.

    Jone – music, friends and coffee sounds pretty perfect.

    JES – yay for The Pooch, and good music, and getting stuff done.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Seeing Wonder Woman opening night. Packed theater, great movie, and I hope there are more to come.
    2) The response to Wonder Woman, including this tweet 
    3) My ticket-winning streak continues! This time it was a fun food & drink tasting event at the Ecotrust Building. Grabbed a friend to come with, and we had a blast.
    4) Gorgeous sunset from atop the Ecotrust Building.
    5) Productive and fun work meetings.
    6) Weekend long walks with Daisy.
    7) Sunshine.
    7.5) Anticipating watching latest season of House of Cards. Haven’t had time yet, but knowing its there is a delicious feeling.

    Happy June Imps! Have a great week!

  4. Hello, Imps! Hello, Mika! Hello, illustrated cats!

    Jules: Hi, Jules!

    Jone: Enjoy the music and the friends and the sun and all ofit.

    Jes: Hurray for getting stuff done! Listening to the song you linked to as I type this. Very cool. Along those lines, have you listened to Joseph (three sisters), Nickel Creek, or The Good Mad? If not, give ’em a try.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Wonder Woman
    2) Audition
    3) Hope
    4) Happiness
    5) Levity
    6) Light
    7) Bright

  5. Thanks for coming by today, you all. I’ll be back in the morning. Looooong day. More soon.

  6. Sorry to be so slow to respond! Busy weekend.

    Jone, did you give a book or books for a baby shower gift? I have two particular go-to books for such events.

    John, ha! I actually chose that opening image (from her site) for this post, but I didn’t even make the breakfast connection. … Thanks for the link, John. I shall explore! My girls used to watch Shaun the Sheep. Funny stuff. Happy anniversary for whatever it was!

    Rachel, can’t wait to see Wonder Woman! Started House of Cards and made it one ep in. Looking forward to getting back to it when life/work allows! … LOVE THAT TWEET.

    Little Willow: LEVITY! LIGHT! YOU!

  7. JES- I have just updated my web comic. Thanks!

  8. Thank you, Mika! (And I won’t even add an “AAARGH!” about having another cliffhanger— oh, wait, never mind, I guess I just did! 🙂

  9. Jules: Thank you. 🙂

  10. JES- Gah! I’ve added the conclusion to my web comic- http://www.mikasongdraws.com/comics
    It’s been over a year but it didn’t it go by quickly??

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