7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #576: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Jacqueline Alcántara

h1 March 4th, 2018 by jules

“Mamas call. Vini! Come!
We play on.”


It’s a pleasure to have a visit today from illustrator Jacqueline Alcántara, who lives and works in Chicago. Her first picture book, The Field (NorthSouth Books, March 2018) — written by Baptiste Paul (this is also his debut), who was born and raised in the West Indies — is about an exuberant game of futbol (soccer). Everyone splits into teams of “friends versus friends” to play, even powering through a tropical rainstorm. (Mud doesn’t stop them.) Baptiste bases the story on his experiences growing up in Saint Lucia and peppers the text with Creole words, as spoken in Saint Lucia.

Before illustrating, Jacqueline taught high school art and photography. She won the inaugural We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) Illustration Mentorhsip Award, as well as the WNDB Walter Grant. Below, she shares some process images, as well as a bit of final artwork, from the book and also talks about her other work in the field of illustration.

I thank her for visiting. Let’s get right to it.

* * *

“Bol. Ball. Soulye. Shoes. Goal. Goal.”
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(Click each to enlarge)


Jacqueline: [Baptiste’s] manuscript didn’t specify who the characters were or what they looked like, so I had a lot of fun dreaming up the cast of players! I wanted to create a group of people with dynamics similar to any pick-up game — the fun of it is in the unpredictability. I wanted to include the kids who are reallllllly good, as well as their little sisters or brothers who tag along, a fruit vendor, the town Rastafarian, etc.

I ended up with the above characters that the reader follows through the story, though I really tried to make the illustrations about all the unity of the players — helping each other, playing tough, and celebrating each other’s victories.


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When I had trouble deciding what the main character’s outfit should be, I enlisted some help from a kindergarten class in New York. They voted on their favorite, and that’s the one I used in the book.


Early sketches
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The early sketches were so much fun to do. I drew dozens upon dozens of sketches of kids and adults around the world playing soccer — from dusty favela street games to a floating field in Thailand. It was so interesting to learn how different countries play the game.


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I love to think about lighting in illustrations, so this book offered great opportunities in light variations. The time change — from a hot, lazy afternoon to the clouds breaking post-rainstorm to sunset at dusk — was a joy to paint.


“Vini! Come! The field calls.”
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“Soaked shoes. Dirty shirts. Mud-caked kids. Torn-up field.”
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I wanted to capture that feeling of running home at dusk when you feel totally exhausted from playing all day. Those days are the best.

In addition to picture book illustration, I illustrate for different markets, including architecture, fashion, and video. I love to keep expanding my familiarity of styles, techniques, and mediums, so I love when a really random project comes up and it challenges me in that way.


Poster for the Women’s March 2017, used by Chicago Foundation for Women
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I enjoy doing copies and interpretations of classic paintings. Here’s my favorite, The Interior of the Palm House on the Pfaueninsel Near Potsdam:


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Here’s a portrait of Frank Sinatra I did for NBC’s Chicago Fire (should be in the background on the March 1st episode, hopefully not going up in flames!):


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This is album artwork/portrait for a Chicago hip hop artist:


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(Click first image to enlarge)


When I’m asked what my favorite medium to work in is, I always want to say collage, even though its not how I typically create my illustrations. I love cutting, arranging, and gluing tiny bits of paper. I like the endless ways to play with digital collage as well.

* * *

Jules again. Thanks again to Jacqueline for sharing today. I’ll close with one of my favorite illustrations from The Field. . . .




THE FIELD. Text copyright © 2018 by Baptiste Paul. Illustrations copyright © 2018 by Jacqueline Alcántara. Published by NorthSouth Books. All images here used by permission of Jacqueline Alcántara.

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) The inaugural Robin Smith Picture Book Prize!

2) Three new tunes from Margaret Glaspy.

3) I have tickets to see her live in April.

4) Signs that Neko Case may have new music soon.

5) Lady Bird.

6) Coco.

7) Sun after lots of rain.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

7 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #576: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Jacqueline Alcántara”

  1. What a fun and vibrant first book. I thinl they both have a future.
    Thanks for sharing Jacqueline with us.
    Jules, loved kick 7.comgrats on getting a legacy for Robin established.
    My kicks:
    1. Seeing Alice in Wonderland performed by the Oregin Ballet Theater.
    2. Seeing my elementary school friend at the ballet. Her sons dance for OBT.
    3. Reading Hello, Universe.
    4. Watching birds.
    5. Great conversations with friends.
    6. Planning.
    7. Rhe full moon.
    Have a great week.

  2. Happy Sunday morning Jules!
    I am so happy you are featuring the work of Jacqueline Alcantara. I talked about this book on my blog the week before last. There is much joy in the art and words. And you closed with one of my favorite illustrations. And I love the new Calling Caldecott award for Robin Smith.

    I love watching the birds too Jone. I think some of them are coming back from the south already.

    My kicks:
    1. A rain storm turned into a snow storm of great beauty coating everything like frosting.
    2. Reading
    3. Laughter
    4. Secrets
    5. Book mail
    6. The Big Dipper
    7. Mulan’s many antics

    I hope everyone’s week is wonderful.

  3. Hello, Imps! Happy March!

    Hello, Jacqueline Alcántara and the awesome futbol players – and the kindergarten readers! That’s so fun. Congrats on the cool variety of projects and clients.

    Jules: Here comes the sun, and I say… 🙂

    Jone: Ooh! Yay for Alice ballet!

    Margie: Mulan’s Many Antics: Next on PBS. (Or a sitcom!)

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Challenging myself
    2) Doing what I can
    3) Determination
    4) Easier than anticipated
    5) Go
    6) Surely
    7) Timely

  4. “I wanted to capture that feeling of running home at dusk when you feel totally exhausted from playing all day. Those days are the best.” – so much yes to this, & the lush illustrations of the kids playing. Being a soccer geek, I clearly need this book, for me & for gifting.

    Jules – hooray for the Robin Smith Picture Book Prize! What a wonderful way to honor your friend. Thanks for the reminder to see Lady Bird & Coco.

    Jone – yay to the ballet, great conversations, & bird watching.

    Margie – reading, laughter & secrets are great kicks, but especially the beautiful imagery of your first kick – snow that looks like frosting. And of course fun with Mulan!

    LW – your kicks 1 – 4 read like the instruction manuals for kickass heroines.

    My kicks this week:
    1) A party celebrating a friend’s amazing court victory.
    2) Another party celebrating a friend’s local women’s business directory.
    3) Catching up with women leaders I look up to & am lucky to know.
    4) Busy & productive work week.
    5) Saw The Shape of Water – gorgeously shot & acted, its a beautiful fairy tale.
    6) Planning more hikes to places I haven’t been to yet.
    7) Sweet Daisy.

    Have a wonderful week Imps!

  5. Rachel: Ooh, I like the sound of that! Hugs to Daisy dog!

  6. More tomorrow, promise!

  7. Hi, all!

    Jone, your first kick sounds wonderful. Did you enjoy Hello, Universe?

    Margie, glad you are still enjoying the snow. Your pics on social media were gorgeous. We have shorts-weather now.

    LW: Putting a Beatles song in my head is a good way to start a Monday. I like your fifth kick. Go, go, go.

    Rachel: I want to see that movie too. Maybe soon. I like your women-centric kicks.

    Hugs to Daisy and Mulan!

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