We have the multi-talented author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka joining us today on Tuesday Tours to share his studio in Massachusetts. I’m a big fan Jarrett’s TED talk advocating for arts education–which is a cause close to my heart. After hearing about his famous drafting table, which he received from his grandparents on his fourteenth birthday and still uses today, I knew he’d make a great guest on Tuesday Tours. Jarrett’s popular Lunch Lady series and Punk Farm are both in development to be a feature films. The next book in his Platypus Police Squad series was just released and his newest picture book It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon, will be available in September.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I am an author and illustrator of children’s books—picture books, graphic novels and middle-grade novels. My picture books are printed in full color, so the art for those are painted or are digital collages of paintings, depending on the specific title. My comics and novels are printed in limited color or grayscale, so the art in those books are created with brush and ink drawings that are scanned and colored/shaded digitally.
How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?We moved in August, so I am still settling. My old space was a detached garage that was renovated to be my studio. While it had skylights and high ceilings, I quickly ran out of space. My new workspace is in the basement. While I don’t have the natural light I had before, I have the space! In fact, I have three rooms—one for writing, one for making art and one for storage, promotional materials and shipping supplies, etc. I’m now able to compartmentalize the various parts of my work. I need very different environments for writing and making art.
Describe a typical work day. Do you have any rituals you do before you start creating?
There is no such thing as a typical work day in my life. I have two small children, aged six and three, so they are always throwing me for a loop. I also have to travel quite a bit for my work. As I aim to travel less, I will be able to have somewhat of a structured life. Who am I kidding? Things will still be unpredictable. I’m also at the mercy of deadlines. So my management of time is constantly evolving.
What’s the biggest distraction for you when you’re writing/illustrating? How do you deal with it?
Social media. My friend Lisa Yee just introduced me to a new app called Anti-social; it blocks your computer from all the Facebook Twitters of it all. I’m also trying to only post in the evenings, so I hope that helps boost my productivity. My new studio space is also adjacent to the kids’ playroom, but that isn’t much of a distraction, really. I travel so much that it’s nice to be connected to my kids while I am home and working.
If you could share a studio with anyone in the world, who would you pick?
My pug, Ralph, is the only one in the world that I could share a studio space with. As much as I’m an extrovert, when I am working I am as equally an introvert.
Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
There are a lot of special trinkets. I have many of my childhood toys and books. I have a lot of robots and doodads. I also have a guitar that I keep promising myself that I will learn how to play.
Which other artists, writers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
My two daughters, hands down. I love their marks and how they view the world through art. They are so uninhibited. We spend a lifetime trying to get our art to a certain level, and then we look back and realize we had something great working for us all along.
What are the three best things about your studio space?
I really like the rails that I keep on the walls to hang art that is in progress. I also have a bulletin board that is filled with notecards for every book that I am working on—it helps me keep track of what is due. I also really love having just one chair in each room, so I can wheel myself from desk to desk. (I keep a drafting table for clean media, one for messy media and a separate desk for digital media.)
Share with us a memory of one of the best times you had working in your studio.
That is a difficult question. I don’t think I can narrow it down to just one, but I’d say anytime where I have consecutive hours or days of uninterrupted work. Our furnace broke on a Friday afternoon this past January, and it wouldn’t be fixed until Monday. While my family went to the in-laws house for the weekend, I stayed back and put space heaters in front of all of our sinks so the pipes wouldn’t freeze and just worked. I binge-listened to every single episode of the Serial podcast and just got artwork done!
What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
You definitely need to draw the line between home and work. You also need to know what works for you—do you need natural light or would you rather be closed off in a box with no distractions? Even though my space is next to the playroom, the kids know their boundaries and don’t come in to the space when I’m not around. We may try to recreate what we had at our old house by building a separate structure in the backyard. There is definitely something nice about walking our your back door, letting the air hit your face and feeling the separation of home and work.
What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
My website is StudioJJK.com. My latest middle-grade novel, Platypus Police Squad: Last Panda Standing, was just published and in September my next picture book It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon will be released—it will be my 30th book to be published!
Thank you, Jarrett! I love how you separate all your creative spaces—what a great way to train your mind to go between different creative pursuits. Best of luck with your new releases and I’ll be watching for The Lunch Lady to hit the silver screen!
Please join us on May 26th when we’ll get a chance to see inside the studio of illustrator Sophie Page.
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