Yuyi Morales in Madison October 20th!

WI book festivalI’m very excited to get a chance to hear Yuyi Morales speak in Madison tomorrow evening as part of the Wisconsin Book Festival. I featured Yuyi’s studio on Tuesday Tours a year ago and it remains one of my favorite studio tours. Not surprisingly as Yuyi creates some of my favorite books. If you’re around Madison tomorrow, join me at the Marquee Theater at 7:30pm to get a look at the work of this Caldecott-honor winning author and illustrator.
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Charles Santoso’s Studio Tour

I’m excited to have Charles Santoso sharing his studio in Sydney, Australia today on Tuesday Tours. A couple of months ago I discovered my newest favorite book I Don’t Like Koala by Sean Ferrell and illustrated by Charles Santoso and I knew if I loved the book as much as I did, I’d love a look inside the creative space where the images were created. I Don’t Like Koala is one of those beautifully illustrated books that points at a classic while remaining fresh and original. It’s also a great example of a picture book that allows children the space within the images to connect the dots, as well as witness a secondary visual storyline in addition to the text. To me, this book is a clever and child-appropriate take on horror–it has just the perfect dose of creepiness without being scary. My four year old has requested it repeatedly over the last month and I’m happy to oblige as even after the 100th read, I’m still chuckling at the ending. In addition to illustrating I Don’t Like Koala, Charles has also illustrated picture books Spy Guy: The Not-So-Secret Agent written by Jessica Young and Peanut Butter & Brains written by Joe McGee. He also works as a concept artist and art director and is credited on feature films like The Lego Movie, Walking With Dinosaurs 3D, and The Legends of the Guardians.

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charless_profile_photoTell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
Hello! I’m Charles and I’m an image maker that creates illustrations for picture books & novels. I also work as a visual development artist at an animation studio in Sydney, Australia. My working tools include pencils (my favorite), pens, watercolors, and acrylics for traditional medium. I use Photoshop for my digital work.

 


charless_work_04How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
I currently live in a two bedroom apartment and I use one of the room as my home studio. I’ve lived here for about four years now. It’s not big but I love it. I try to put things that inspired me in my working space. Things like books, artist’ artwork, and interesting objects work great. My aim is to have a mini library-gallery-studio type of space.

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Describe a typical work day. Do you have any rituals you do before you start creating?
Most of my weekdays I work in the animation studio for about nine hours and then continue my 2nd shift home to do my book and personal projects. When I have a full day to do my book projects home, I start around 9am and have an hour break around midday and continue until my brain or hand tell me to stop. Between breaks is when I usually try to doodle some ideas for personal projects (very important). As for rituals, not so much. I think about stories and art non-stop, so my mind and hand can jump into creating mode in a short period of time.

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When was a time you had the most fun working in your studio?
I have fun most of the days working in my home studio. The best time is when everything flows as what is intended—when ideas, stories, and pictures dance in harmony. Unfortunately this best scenario rarely just happens, and I usually wrestle with these elements a lot before decent things starting to arise. I enjoy the whole process though.

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Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
It’s hard to choose one or two special ones. Letters and drawings from children are greatly inspiring. They make me really happy! I also collect and display original artwork from artists that I admire. Some of whom I can call friends, which is amazing and very humbling.

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What’s the biggest distraction for you when you’re creating? How do you deal with it?
Working from home can be a little bit tricky in the beginning as the boundary between home and work space is a bit blurry. There were many times when my procrastinating brain asked me to do home chores or to have a quick nap (which can turned into a long nap in the end) instead of work. To deal with this, I forced myself to work on daily schedule, similar to the daily session at my animation studio work. I have to-do list everyday which ‘guide’ me to get through the day.

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What’s the most useful tool in your studio?
My pencils and Wacom Cintiq (Graphic Tablet).

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Which other artists, writers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
Oh, it’s impossible to mention just two or three names for this! I keep getting inspired by lots of different people every day and this keeps changing too. I was reading a book by Quentin Blake the other day and got really inspired. Watched documentaries on Studio Ghibli, Saul Leiter (one of my favorite photographer), Maurice Sendak and Road Dahl make me really happy. Wes Anderson films spark ideas in my mind. charless_space_06
Listening to Iain McCaig’s latest interview gave a huge boost to my motivation. Norman Rockwell, Bill Watterson, Frédéric Back and Yuri Norstein work give me never ending supply of stories and joy. The list is going on and on and on. And most importantly, I get inspired by unique stories from different people that I’ve met. A few months ago, my wife and I had a random conversation with an 83 years old writer/editor in a casual restaurant in Tokyo, and I’m still super inspired by this chat session even today.

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Does music influence your work? What are you listening to now?
Yes! The right music for the right kind of work will give added values to the process of creating my work. I do like quiet moment without music in my initial idea generation process. At this preliminary stage where I need to fully concentrate and try to find a unique solution to a particular project, I find music can be an extra distraction as they have embedded creative values in them. As I move along to the next step (finishing stage), I usually choose music that suits the project—happy music for happy themed projects, sad music for a more emotional themed project, etc. The music that I like ranges from jazz and ambience to film soundtracks. Occasionally pop, classical, and rock can be fun too.

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What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
I personally find that having things that I like around my working space can greatly boost my productivity and happiness level. Books, interesting objects, and pin-boards with images are critical to keep me inspired. I cycle and mixed them up every now and then. I also sometimes try to put something that’s out of my usual taste too. Doing this has helped me cultivate my personal taste and more importantly, helped me to get to know myself more.

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What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
A few of picture books that I illustrated were out recently (2015). These include I don’t Like Koala (Simon & Schuster), Spy Guy: The Not-So-Secret Agent (HMH), and Peanut Butter & Brains (Abrams). They are all different from one another and I had a really fun time working on them. I just finished a picture book called Ida, Always (written by the lovely Caron Levis) due to be released in Feb 2016 by Simon & Schuster, and I’m also currently finishing The Snurtch by the same writer as I don’t Like Koala book, Sean Ferrell! You can find updates and my personal work on my website and on tumblr.

Thank you, Charles. Ida, Always looks amazing and I can’t wait to see the next collaboration between you and Sean Ferrell!

Please join us next week when we visit the California cottage studio of one of my all-time favorite illustrators Marla Frazee.

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Sophie Page’s Studio Tour

photo of meToday on Tuesday Tours we have illustrator, story maker, and sculptress Sophie Page sharing her studio in Boston, Massachusetts. Sophie creates her illustrations by sculpting three-dimensional characters, placing them within scenes and sets, and then photographs them. She’s a recent graduate of The Rhode Island School of Design and has an Etsy shop where she sells her work.
She’s working on two new book projects and seeking publication for her first book, Marjory and the Juniper Tree.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I’m an illustrator from rural New England. I recently graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, and since then I’ve been working as an illustrator and art teacher. I create multimedia sculptures, which I then photograph, and manipulate the digital images to make 2D illustrations. I work with clay and found natural objects, and I’ve been increasingly interested in working digitally as well. I feel like my work falls somewhere between children’s lit and art books, and that’s fine with me. I’m still discovering my niche. It’s an exciting time.

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How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
I’m very much in transition lately, so I haven’t been in my current space for very long. I’m working on renovating a barn/garage space in Ipswich, MA and that’s kind of a dream project. But for right now I’m renting the attic of a very lovely historical house outside of Boston. It suits me very well. studio4The owner of the house is a great pastel painter, so we can critique each others work and there’s great energy. I’m very inspired by the space, but sometimes I feel like I’m living in one of my sculptures and it can be overwhelming.

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Describe a typical work day. Do you have any rituals you do before you start creating?
Lot’s of coffee. I’m very into caffeine. Mostly I just spend some time checking my email, go for a run, and then get started on my current project.

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What’s the biggest distraction for you when you’re creating? How do you deal with it?
Well that would definitely be my cat, Hephzibah. She’s a really wonderful cat but she is always trying to claw her way onto my lap when I’m trying to focus. Honestly I’m still figuring out how to get her to settle down while I’m working, but every once in a while she’ll fall asleep in the armchair next to me and everything is great.work4

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Is there anything you like to listen to while you’re working? What are you reading/listening to now?
I always listen to music while I’m working. Lately it’s been a combination of 80’s new wave and Nicki Minaj, which is a lot better than my Barry Manilow phase, that’s for sure. As for books, I just finished reading Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi, I found it very moving and would recommend it highly.

studio9Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
My friend who is 84 years old told me about an elaborate game her mother played using crude handmade dolls, sometime around 1913. For my birthday this year she gave the dolls to me. They are really just balls of false fur with skirts, and I’m fascinated by how simple, rough, and well loved they are. I try to imbue my work with that kind of sentimental quality.

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Which other artists, writers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
Kiki Smith, Marlene Dumas, and Francesca Woodman. My little sister, Isabelle Marina Page is a constant inspiration. She is currently a student at the Cooper Union school of art and her work is fantastic. The Guerrilla Girls are another longtime inspiration, and recently the radical performance art duo Darkmatter has been majorly on my mind.

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What are the three best things about your studio space?

My cat is there.

The history of the space.

I play music pretty loudly and I have yet to receive a complaint.

Share with us a memory of one of the best times you had working in your studio.
Occasionally friends and family will leave bits of dried plants or driftwood for me to find. That’s especially nice because I can use them in my projects and it makes the work feel more precious.

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What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?

Make sure it’s a place where you feel really comfortable and safe. It might sound tacky but you should have a good feeling about the space, like you can see yourself bopping around at 3 a.m eating gummy worms in that space.

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What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?

Lately I’ve been full of stories. I’m working on two simultaneously. One is about a girl with too many pockets, and one about a girl with three eyes. I am currently seeking publication for my first book, Marjory and the Juniper Tree. You can check out more of my work at sophiegenevapage.com. I also sell prints and sculptures through my online shop.

Thanks, Sophie! I love your work and I hope to see Marjory and the Juniper Tree in print soon—the illustrations are stunning!

Join us next week when author/illustrator Harriet Muncaster will be sharing her studio in Hertfordshire, England.10

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Yuyi Morales’s Studio Tour

Today on Tuesday Tours I’m very excited to feature one of my favorite illustrators Yuyi Morales.  Yuyi is the author and illustrator of a number of award-winning picture books and has won the ALA’s Pura Belpré Gold award four separate times—the most times this award has ever been given to one artist. It’s exciting to see her winning awards for her work, which is filled with dream-like scenery, lovable characters, and sometimes, multimedia approaches. For her newest book Viva Frida, Yuyi created three dimensional characters and sets. She sculpted the figures, sewed their clothes, and even welded together props. Her husband, photographer Tim O’Meara photographed the scenes. This approach was used by Yuyi once before in My Abuelita, written by Tony Johnston. I’m a huge fan of artists who go beyond the traditional modes of illustration, experimenting with cutting edge ways to bring stories to children through art. My family’s all-time favorite book illustrated by Yuyi is Ladder to the Moon, written by Maya Soetoro-Ng. My daughters ask for this book again and again and they’re captivated (as am I) by Yuyi’s ethereal illustrations that offer us a small entrance into the magical unknown.skyberg-tuesday-tours-logo

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I make children’s books. I dream them, write them, illustrate them, and love them. My most common medium for creating my illustrations is acrylics on paper, but I am very experimental. My latest book I created with 3-D illustrations utilizing puppets and figures.

I love how you experiment with art, and even when you create something with very different mediums, I can always tell it’s your work. 

How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
My current studio is pretty new to me, although it is a very old construction. It is in the city of Xalapa, Mexico, where I was born. I remodeled what is called in spanish as a casa antigua, or an antique house. It was in chambers. But now it is my favorite place in the world. I just began working in this space in February. ventana_rain

Describe a typical work day. Do you have any rituals you do before you start creating?
Breakfast at my desk is how I start my work. I check emails and do most of my communication at this time. Then there is always african dance class, either in the morning or in the evening. The dance studio is only a few blocks away from my place, so I am quickly back at work after a shower. Most of my administrative work is done  during the first part of the day, I take several short breaks, mostly for meals. I go to the market just down the block and bring fresh produces for the day. I usually eat at my desk so that I can keep creating at any time. My studio is by the street and I have a large window where many visitors, sellers, and neighbors stop-by. The rest of the day I create, I draw, I paint, and do a lot of daydreaming until the evening. I might run errands, or see friends, or walk my dogs, but I usually go back to work for a few more hours until it is time to go to bed, never before midnight and almost always past that hour.

I’m a night owl as well, which isn’t always so easy when my daughters wake me up at six in the morning!

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Please tell us about a time you had the most fun working in your studio.
Since this studio space is new to me, I have had only a short experience working here, but I am in love with what happens at this place. Construction work is still happening these days, and I often sit work with the street-doors open so that material and workers can come in and out (my dogs tide to my side). During several afternoons, while I am distracted working, I realize that people have come inside my studio. They are usually staring at the books on the wall, holding them open, or looking around trying to figure out what this place is. It is my dogs who  alert me of a visitor. Mothers with children, old men, teenagers, kids coming from school, and all sorts of people are there when I lift my eyes from my work. What is this place? They always want to know. Is this a restaurant? Is it a cultural center? How much are the books? Do I have books about electricity work? Do I have puppies to sell? You name it! The questions are wonderful, I always make new friends, some of them come back next time.

'Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O’Keeffe Painted What She Pleased' written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Yuyi Morales

‘Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O’Keeffe Painted What She Pleased’ written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Yuyi Morales

That must offer you some great inspiration for future stories!

Does music influence how you work? What’s on your playlist now?
Music is the beat of my work. The first thing I do when I get up from bed is to come to my computer to start the music. In my playlist right now is the Cuban musician Silvio Rodrigues, Alt-J with their album an Awesome Wave, The Colombian group Bomba Estereo, the local Son Jarocho group Ensamble Marinero, LCD Soundystem, Natalia LaFourcade, the California group Quetzal, and also my son with his creations at Wax Poetic.

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What is your greatest source of inspiration as an artist? Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
My original source of inspiration was my son. He was just a little baby when I began dreaming of making books. He was my model, my audience, and my whole inspiration. I had a great desire to pass onto him all the stories I had brought with me when we immigrated to the USA. Nowadays, now a young man studying in NY, he is still my inspiration, but I am also very inspired by celebrations. And so I set up to start my day as if everyday is a fiesta. I celebrate the view from my bedroom window that looks at the rise of the sun, the lush wildness of my garden, the frolicking of my dogs as we start the day, the children who stop at the window to pet my dog Mojo, the sunlight coming trough the skylights in my studio, most days we celebrate the rain too. And surrounded by all this light and all these colors, I set to create.

estudioIs there a favorite drink or food that you have while you work?
Oh, yes, I live off yogurt, pineapple, and peanuts. There is also a man who comes to my window and sells me fresh cheese. At the organic store around the corner they sell me tangy arugula which I ate by the bunch. These day we are in prickle-pear season, so I eat it while I work, sprinkled with chile powder and lemon.

What are the three best things about your studio?
The window to the street where a lot of my daily social life happens, the stone walls that make me feel like I am inside a castle, and the high ceiling with its giant wood beans and the skylights that let both the light and the rain drizzle in.library

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‘Ladder to the Moon’ written by Maya Soetoro-Ng and illustrated by Yuyi Morales

If you could add a new tool or piece of furniture to your studio, what would it be?
A place and equipment to do fire. An oven, or a melting station. Until now, both here in Mexico and before in California, I have had my studio inside my home, simply occupying the living room and making it my working space; as you can imagine that creates limits of what I can actually do in those spaces. But what I want is to have a space where I can do all kinds of rough and messy work, and perhaps even bake ceramic or melt metal. I also want it to be a place where other people can come and join me to create. That is why I am in the process of building a new room in my backyard where I will be doing all kinds messy work.

I’ve also found that working out of a home can create limitations, but I love your plan for an outdoor space! If I lived in a warmer climate, I might give it a shot.closet

What colors inspire your creativity. Are those colors incorporated in your space?My favorite color is Mexican, hot pink, and yes, I incorporate it in my space as well as in almost anything I do.sirena

What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
The very first studio I had was in my apartment in San Francisco where I lived with my husband and our son. For a long time my working space was the dining table, which needed to be cleaned and used in so many different ways during the day. I would put away my materials when we would eat and then when we were done I would bring them out again. Later, we moved to an slightly bigger apartment and my husband helped me to condition an small closet space with a drawing table and a stool. My first book, Harvesting Hope, was created in that tiny space. What I have learned from going from minimal working places to having the studio of my dreams is that what really maters is how I feel inhabiting such a space. And so, I would tell any one who wants to make a personal space where they can be creative, is to make sure that it is a functional space, but also an inspiring one. Have all what you need to create physically, your furniture, your tools, but also have the colors or even things that simply make you smile when you are in their presence. Creativity is already a place that we inhabit. No matter how tiny or limited it might be, make sure that such a place is the most amazing place in the world for you.

Great advice! Inspiration is a huge factor in creation, and having a space reflect that makes a tremendous difference.

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Yuyi’s husband, photographer Tim O’Meara shoots a scene from Yuyi’s newest book ‘Viva Frida’.

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What are you working on now and where can we find out more about you?
My latest book is Viva Frida, a picture book I illustrated with puppets, paintings, photographic work from my husband, and digital work. I would call it an ode to Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter, because this is a book I created in admiration of her creativity and work. Right now at my table there are sketches for a book written by one of my favorite authors, Sherman Alexi. This is Sherman’s first picture book and I have the honor to create the illustrations for this story. You can find out more about me on my website.

Thanks for sharing your inspiring space with us, Yuyi! And best of luck with your upcoming book!

Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s Studio Tour

This week’s Tuesday Tours features the Toronto studio space of Debbie Ridpath Ohi, the illustrator of some pretty cool kids books, and soon to be illustrator and author of some pretty cool kids books. Debbie has a busy future ahead of her working on multiple book projects, which include Sea-Monkey and Bob by Aaron Reynolds (Simon & Schuster Fall 2015), Ruby Rose on Her Toes by Rob Sanders (HarperCollins Children’s, Winter 2016), and Mitzi Tulane: Preschool Detective by Lauren McLaughlin (Random House, Spring 2016). And of course her debut book as an author/illustrator Where Are My Books? which launches from Simon & Schuster in the Summer of 2015. With a schedule full of deadlines, Debbie has learned to stay on top of things with the help of her cork board tower. Even so, I’m amazed at everything she seems to accomplish each day. She blogs regularly, offering up advice or interesting information to fellow kid lit writers and illustrators, she has an online comic, and she creates enchanting found object doodles almost daily. After doing all of that, I’m honored she could find the time to show us her basement studio.
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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I’m a children’s book writer and illustrator based in Toronto. ​My illustrations appear in picture books I’m Bored (NYTimes Notable Book) and Naked! (2014), both written by Michael Ian Black, published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, as well as ten Judy Blume chapter books and middle grade titles reissued by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster. FinalCoverI’m excited about my debut picture book as both the author and illustrator, when Where Are My Books? launches from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers in Summer 2015. I mainly work digitally but have recently started experimenting with non-digital art as well, including watercolor, found object art and shadow art. My other creative interests include writing and playing music. I play, with varying degrees of competence: piano, flute, Celtic harp, tin whistle, guitar, and assorted bangy percussion instruments. I used to teach piano and flute part-time, and I am a member of the Toronto-based filk/folk music group called Urban Tapestry.

How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
I’ve had my current office ever since my husband Jeff and I first moved into our house nine years ago. I could have chosen my office space on the second floor of our home, which is full of light and space, and has a nice view of our neighborhood. But, instead I opted for the basement because I like the privacy, and I never look out the windows anyway. My husband nicknamed the space The Office Cave, and the phrase suits me fine. When people visit our house, they often  compliment me on my exquisite sense of design. Most of the house is in painted in relaxing earth tones, with lots of empty space on the walls. Then our visitors come down to the basement and peek into my office. One person said, “Wow. I think there’s more stuff in your office than in the entire rest of the house!” The truth is, the tasteful interior design in the rest of the house is my husband’s doing, not mine. Don’t get me wrong–I enjoy it and I appreciate the decor. But I LOVE my basement office. I love the mismatched furniture, the piles of books, the riot of colors, and being surrounded by books and craft supplies and musical instruments and photography equipment. I also enjoy knowing that if I put something down on the carpet, it’ll still be there next time I go into my office. Early on, Jeff and I agreed to some ground rules–I would contain my creative clutter to my office, and in exchange, my husband agreed NOT to move anything in my office unless I gave him permission.

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Jeff rigged up a system on Debbie’s office ceiling with string and pushpins and clips, to make it easier for her to hang up her sketches.

In the beginning, I tested (tortured?) Jeff by leaving a clearly misplaced book or pen lying out in the middle of my office floor. I could tell it was a struggle for him not to put it away (he’s a very, very neat person–you can imagine what an adjustment it was for both of us when we first moved in together) but to his credit, he left my clutter where it was. Anyway, my Office Cave makes me feel safe and wonderfully isolated and in turn, that makes it much easier to focus on creative pursuits.

Before Jeff put in my hanging system, I used to taped things up.

Before Jeff put in Debbie’s hanging system, she used tape to hang things up.

Are there any kind of rituals you do before you start creating?
I’ve always been envious of those who have creative rituals, like brewing a cup of tea or sharpening their pencils. It sounds so calming. Sadly, I have no ritual. If I’m struck with a creative idea for a found object doodle or a story, I’ll usually drop everything to write it down or (in the case of a found object doodle) create it right away.
If you’re talking about how I start my work day, I suppose I do have a ritual, although it’s not one I’d especially recommend for anyone else. I usually start each work day still in my pajamas, going straight from getting up, to walking down two floors to my Office Cave. I’ll check social media and email, then I’ll figure out what exactly I’m going to work on that day. Partway through the morning I’ll realize I’m hungry, and go get some breakfast. I usually eat it in front of the computer while I continue working. After breakfast, I’ll finally go up and take a shower and get dressed. I’d like to think that someday I’ll settle into a ritual that sounds much more appealing when answering a question like this one. It will probably involve a cup of tea and perhaps sitting out on our back deck and enjoying the outdoors for a few minutes before starting my work day. Perhaps a jaunty walk!

Well, whatever your routine is, it seems to be working 🙂
UrbanTapestryAwardsFluteMusicIs there anything you like to listen to while you’re working? What are you listening to now?
I find it depends heavily on what stage of what project I’m working on. If I’m writing, I usually prefer silence or unobtrusive ambient noise (I use Coffitivity sometimes. Ditto for when I’m at the very early stages of illustrating a book project, when I’m figuring out the basic layout of scenes and doing thumbnail sketches. At all other stages, especially when I’m doing anything repetitive and detail-oriented (like flat coloring before adding textures and shading), I listen to music or audiobooks, or even have a DVD of a movie or tv series I’ve already seen playing in one corner on my second monitor. I know the latter (movies/tv shows) sounds odd, but I found it worked for me when I have really long (e.g. 12+ hours) work days. The trick, I found, was to find movies or shows I had already watched at least a couple times before or had a lot of dialog rather than action, so I just needed to listen and not watch. AND it needed to be as different in tone from the project I was working on as possible, so it wouldn’t influence the project. Since the beginning of the year, I have worked my way through all the seasons of Supernatural, West Wing, and partway through Babylon Five. More recently, however, I’ve been listening to a lot of music instead. Music’s also great because I like to take officecrazydancebreaks. I’m a terrible dancer, but I find it extremely liberating and fun to regularly turn up a good tune in my office and then go into officecrazydancebreak-mode, where no one can see. Or I’ll sing along at the top of my lungs, mostly offkey. Some recent favorite workmusic: ELO’s Time album, Ookla The Mok’s Evil I album, Ed Sheerhan’s X (Deluxe Edition). Recently, I asked my FaceBook friends for suggestions for my new officecrazydancebreak playlist, and here’s a sampling
What a great idea, and what a rockin’ playlist. I love getting new music suggestions!
EthanImBoredLetterIs there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you? 
My most inspiring office item is a handwritten letter that I received from a young reader. It reads: “Dear Debbie, I love your book because it reminds me about myself sometimes and when its about me it makes me want to read more. From Ethan.”
Something in my office that gives me joy, even though I don’t see as much of it anymore is a tree I painted in the corner of my office when we first moved in. Once I started getting multiple book projects, however, I decided that as much as I loved looking at the tree, I needed storage space even more. 
I still know the tree’s behind all that stuff, and that makes me happy. 🙂
What would you say is the most useful tool in your studio?
Apart from my computer, I’d say the project deadline cork-board that my husband made for me. I have multiple book projects with multiple publishers, and I had trouble finding an easy-to-use software solution. Jeff made me a cork-board to fit on the one remaining blank wall space in my office, and I turned it into a project deadline reminder system. It’s situated so that I can easily refer to it while I’m at my computer.
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If you had a couple hundred dollars to improve your space, what would you do?
I’d figure out a way to get more efficient ceiling lights. The current ceiling lights came with the house and provide poor light and are poorly positioned. I’ve compensated by getting floor lamps and more desk lamps, but I would love to replace some of those with better overall lighting. Hmm…though I suspect that would cost much more than a couple hundred dollars.
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Besides your studio, what do you feel is the most creative room in your home?
My husband’s office, on the second floor. He’s a computer geek, not an artist or musician. Having been a programmer/analyst in my first career, however, I know how creative computer geekery can be. He’s also an excellent writer, and I’m trying to convince him to post on his blog more regularly.
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What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
Find out what works for YOU. Don’t try to create a personal space that you think other people would find creative. Also, be flexible. You and your habits may very well change over time, and you’ll want to adjust your creative space accordingly. Remember that a creative space isn’t just physical. You may be a working mom with children and limited funds or living space, frustrated that you aren’t able to have your own office. DebPaintingOfficeDoor
Do whatever you can to carve out some regular time to be creative, and then create your own personal space. It could be a corner of a dining room table, a coffee shop, the library. Bring sound-reduction headphones, or listen to your favorite work music as you create. And finally, don’t despair if your workspace isn’t as beautiful or sunlit or organized like others you see online. Just take a look at the photos of my cluttered basement workspace and remind yourself that people find their creative joy in different ways. I love my Office Cave so much.
I love that! Great advice.
So run us through what’s coming up and how we can find out more.
Naked_coverI had some fun illustration projects that recently launched: Naked! is a fun new picture book written by Michael Ian Black and published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers.
My illustrations appear in three Judy Blume classics, reissued by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster: The Pain and the Great One, The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo, and Freckle Juice. I also provided the cover illustrations for the above three books and seven Judy Blume classics reissued by the same publisher as middle grade, including Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
People can find out more about me and my projects at DebbieOhi.com and on Twitter at @inkyelbows.
2014-05-24-JudyBlumeCoversHorizThank you, Debbie for sharing your Office Cave with us! Looking forward to seeing your new books, and of course re-reading I’m Bored–one of our family’s favorites!


Stop back next week
when Canadian author/illustrator Barbara Reid shares her lovely Toronto studio where she creates her vibrant plasticine artwork.