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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Kimberly Newton Fusco’s Studio Tour

caToday on Tuesday Tours I’m very excited to welcome Kimberly Newton Fusco, the author of three of my favorite books. My daughter and I’ve read The Wonder of Charlie Anne more than once, and we always tease each other with one of the reoccurring lines, “A proper lady…” If you haven’t read The Wonder of Charlie Anne, what are you waiting for? Head out to the bookstore or library and dive it. Kimberly’s other book Tending to Grace is a beautiful short and poetic read. It’s a book I could easily have finished in a day, but I wanted to savor it, so I forced myself to only read a chapter each night. Beholding Bee is one of my first encounters with magical realism and it definitely had me thinking long after the final page. Today Kim shares her writing spaces in her home in Rhode Island, where she tends to her family, her sheep, the cat, a new puppy, and her books, but not always in that order.

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unnamedTell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium. 
I am a fiction writer for young people and I feel unbelievably lucky that I get to do what I have wanted to do since the sixth-grade.

How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
We built a new house ten years ago with an office in the front so that I could watch my children getting off the bus. But, I can write anywhere, and I do: outdoors in our sheep field, in a coffee shop, in one of several lawn chairs I have set up in the woods behind our house. When I’m outdoors, I use a journal. Indoors, I bring my laptop to a comfy couch in our living room—my favorite spot because I can make a big roaring fire in fall and winter. I know some people love writing retreats, but I can make my own retreats at home and I wonder, what could be better than this?
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Describe a typical work day. Do you have any rituals you do before you start writing?
My alarm rings at 5:30 and after a cup of coffee I make breakfast and lunch for my husband and daughter (my other three children are in college or grad school or graduated from college and working).  I drive my daughter to school, take some quiet/spiritual time, run a couple of miles on my treadmill, care for our animals (two sheep, a cat, and a new puppy), and then begin writing. I write throughout the morning and often return to it in the afternoon after some exercise.

Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
Pictures of my children growing up cover my office. They remind me that love and family are truly the most important things and both are important themes in all my books.

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If you had the chance to live inside the world of one of your stories, which one would you pick and why?

I love them all, but I guess I would pick the novel I am working on now because I am so involved in the lives of my characters in Me and Gloaty Gus. In order to write a novel, I become my characters and walk around in their shoes.  It’s the only way I know how to write fiction.

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What’s the biggest distraction for you when you’re writing? How do you deal with it?

Right now it’s our new golden retriever puppy, Harper. She is three months, and a handful.  We have her crate-trained so when she is in the crate, I write. There’s always a distraction when you work from home, though, and I think it’s a matter of coming up with creative solutions that work for everyone in the family.

If you had to pick a quote to hang above your desk for inspiration, what would it be?

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What other artists, writers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
I am very inspired by the poet Jane Kenyon and the advice she gives me each day:
“Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.”

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If you could relocate your studio for part of the year to another geographical location, where would it be?
Well, we had a particularly rough winter last year in New England, so as much as I love writing by a crackling fire with the snow coming down outside my window, too many days of this gets a little daunting, so perhaps someplace warmer, but I would miss my family so much that I would be back the next day.5

What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
It is nice to have a spot, but I think it is even more important to be flexible and write wherever and whenever you can. I wrote my first novel, Tending to Grace, in bits when my children were napping or playing in the treehouse. A little time can go a long way if you are disciplined. I try and live by the advice: “People first.” Our children grow up much too quickly to always be looking for solitude.

What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
My new novel,  Me and Gloaty Gus, is under contract with both Knopf and Faber & Faber, London. Publication is planned for  2017. My website is http://kimberlynewtonfusco.com.

Thank you, Kim for sharing the lovely places you write. My daughter and I can’t wait to read Me and Gloaty Gus!

elizaJoin us on October 27th when uber talented illustrator and author Eliza Wheeler shows us her studio space in Los Angeles, California.

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Stacy Tornio’s Studio Space

TAN-screenshot-cover-245x300Today on Tuesday Tours we have another wonderful author, who also happens to live in my beautiful home state of Wisconsin and who will also be attending the Sheboygan Book Festival with me and thirteen other authors and illustrators in early October. Stacy Tornio is the author and co-author (along with Ken Keffer) of a variety of books ranging from picture books to activity guides to keepsake journals. But what all her books have in common is that they each aim to connect children with nature. Stacy was the editor for Birds & Blooms Magazine before taking position working for weareteachers.com. She also volunteers with Master Gardens, teaching kids gardening skills.

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404055_4058561455758_1546710029_nTell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.

I’ve been a children’s writer for about 10 years now. I’ve always done it as a hobby while working full-time. But just recently, I left my full-time job of 10 years to work part-time. This is giving me more time for writing kids’ books, so I’m very excited. I focus a lot on children’s non-fiction and especially love creating material on gardening, nature, and the great outdoors.

 

FullSizeRender(2)DNsidebarcathysHow long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
I’ve had my writing space for several years, but only recently did I really personalize it to make it fun. In the past, I’ve always done most of my writing on my laptop while sitting on the couch, in bed, etc. But now that I have this fun space, I actually find myself sitting at my desk and working.


Describe a typical work day. Do you have any rituals you do before you start creating?
DNsidebarwlnMy day is pretty varied as to when I sit down and write. I’m working part-time as a senior editor for this wonderful website, weareteachers.com, so this keeps me busy. I’m also freelance writing for a few websites. But I always, always have writing to do for a book, and I try to do something every single day. This often means brainstorming or researching—there’s a lot of this in non-fiction writing. This is great because when I do sit down to write, I like to have everything gathered. This way, I can get in several hundred or even thousands of words at a time. I tend to do a lot of thinking about stories and subjects in the car, in the shower, etc. So I really am ready to go when I get in writing mode.

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Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?

My space is filled with inspiration from nature since this makes up so much of my writing in general. You’ll especially find lots of little bird trinkets in my space.

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If you had a couple hundred dollars to improve your space, what would you do?
I would buy some sort of cool fancy chair or beanbag where I could just sink in when I’m in the middle of cranking out those thousands of words!IMG_1288
What’s the biggest distraction for you when you’re creating? How do you deal with it?

My two dogs, Payton and Daisy Mae. It’s kind of a good distraction, though, because I find that it’s good for me to take several breaks throughout the day.

If you had to pick a quote to hang above your desk for inspiration, what would it be?

I have these awesome marquee letters that hang above my desk. They spell out NATURE and light up! Also, here’s one of my favorite quotes by John Burroughs related to nature—
I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
IMG_1142What other artists, writers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
Kid President inspires me. He’s joyful, delightful, and always makes me smile. I love what he and his uncle have done with their videos and their message, and I adore the book he put out earlier this year.

DNsidebarKOABIf you could relocate your studio for part of the year to another geographical location, where would it be?
A place where I could see mountains and beach from the same window, so maybe the Pacific Northwest.

What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
Do it! Start with a single chair or an inspiring sign. You don’t have to do it all at once, but reward yourself for being a creative person and put it together little by little. A creative space doesn’t have to look like it came out of a magazine. It’s whatever you want it to be.

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What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
We have a brand new kids nature book coming out on October 1 called The Secret Lives of Animals. We are so, so, so excited for it, and we’re really hoping kids love it. Check out more about me at destinationnature.net.

Thank you, Stacy! I’m digging the sign you have up that says ‘Like a Boss’—I have one just like it hanging over my desk too 🙂 I’m excited to meet you in a few weeks and check out your new book!

Join us on October 6th when we visit author (of more than 30 books, including my daughter’s favorite Spirit Animals 5: Against the Tide) Tui Sutherland’s dragon-filled Boston studio.

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Liz Garton Scanlon’s Studio Tour

AllThe WorldI’m thrilled to have Liz Garton Scanlon share her Austin, TX bungalow with us on Tuesday Tours today! Liz is the author of one of my favorite picture books All the World (illustrated by Marla Frazee), as well as many other great stories that have entertained my family over the years. Each of her stories is full of authenticity—so true and touching that it pulls at the heartstrings and gets straight to the emotion of the story, such as my favorite phrase from All the World—“Babies passed from neck to knee”. With her new book A Great Good Summer, Liz joins forces with illustrator Marla Frazee once again, but in a very different way. This time instead of a picture book, Liz has released her debut middle-grade novel, and it’s been receiving great praise and reviews. She hasn’t forgotten about picture books though, as she’s also recently released In the Canyon (Illustrated by Ashley Wolff) about a young girl experiencing the Grand Canyon for the first time. To get a signed copy of any of Liz’s amazing books, visit her at the Sheboygan Book Festival, where she’ll be presenting along with me and thirteen other authors/illustrators October 9-11th.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I write poetry, picture books and novels on my laptop in my own little nook in Austin, Texas.

How long have you had your space and how does it affect your writing process?
My husband and I bought this tiny 40’s bungalow about 12 years ago and after a few years we were popping its seams. (When we moved in, we had little girls and they eventually got big.) So we added on a little space, including a kind of closet-ish room for me. Big enough for the old library table I use as my desk.

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Describe a typical work day. Do you have any rituals you do before you start writing?
Do you mean besides coffee? 😉 I send my kids off to school and then I either walk or run with my dog before I get to work. That gets my blood flowing, and I often get ideas while I’m moving. Sometimes I remember them long enough to write them down.

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If you had to pick a quote to hang above your desk for inspiration, what would it be?
I DO have quotes above my desk — lots of them. One thing I read every day, because it’s right there, is William Stafford’s When I Met My Muse, in which the muse says, “When you allow me to live with you, every glance at the world around you will be a sort of salvation.” Here’s a link to the whole thing.
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Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?8unnamed
My space is full of talismans. I have baby pictures of my daughters that keep me grounded. There’s a drawing I did as a little girl at that stage where you don’t draw bodies — you just draw arms and legs coming straight out of a person’s head.
I like to think it keeps me child centered. And I’ve got a candle that looks like a rock. My editor Allyn Johnston sent it to me after we did All the World together with a note that said, “It all began with a rock” (because that’s the first word of that book). It’s my most tangible reminder that we can make something out of nothing, all of us, at any time, and that in so many ways it is simple…

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What’s the biggest distraction for you when you’re writing? How do you deal with it?
Because I work at home, there is NEVER not laundry to be done or a floor that could use a good sweep. Sometimes I’m good at ignoring those things (ask my family) but other days I’m wild with distraction. That’s when I just have to pick up and go elsewhere. There’s a coffee place just 2 blocks away with a very good decaf latte. That’s the beauty of a laptop.

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If you could relocate your studio for part of the year to another geographical location, where would it be?
I actually already do spend about a month every summer at our family cottage on a lake in Wisconsin. I’m not always very good about working there, but I definitely re-charge there. And find inspiration there. And I think that as my kids get older, and as I do too, that I may use it as a work space more and more. Like, when water skiing becomes less important.

 

What other artists, writers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
Oh, this morning I was in tears over a radio interview with architect Frank Gehry. Seriously. I’m inspired by brave, wild, imaginative people every day.
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What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
You can create a lot of amazing art — written or visual — at the kitchen table, at a coffeehouse, in your bedroom if you have to. To me, almost more important that claiming space is claiming time. Time that you demarcate and value. Put it on your calendar. Make it important and unmissable. And then sit down somewhere and do what you do.

InTheCanyonWhat’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
My newest books are the brand new picture book IN THE CANYON, which takes place in the Grand Canyon and is exquisitely illustrated by Ashley Wolff, and my first-ever middle grade novel, THE GREAT GOOD SUMMER, which takes place in a made-up Texas town, features a crooked preacher called Hallelujah Dave, and sends a couple of 12-year-olds on a Greyhound adventure! I’m working on my next middle grade now. Visit me at http://lizgartonscanlon.com and check out some really great activity guides (teacher-created) for each of my books at http://lizgartonscanlon.com/teachers-guides/.

Thank you, Liz! I can’t wait to sink into a Great Good Summer and I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Sheboygan Book Festival in a couple of weeks!

coverJoin us on September 22nd when we take a look inside author and naturalist Stacy Tornio‘s writing space.

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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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Jay Nolte’s Studio Tour

I’ve had people tell me how lucky I am to be able to travel around the world and take pictures of people’s studios and interview them. Oh how I wish that were true—I’d be jet-setting to Australia, England, Scotland, Mexico, New York, California, Oregon, and a couple territories in Canada, just to name a few. Usually I’m only able to visit these beautiful studios in the virtual world, just like all of my readers, but today I’m excited to say that I’ve had the chance to stand inside the studio of Jay Nolte, who works out of his home in Wisconsin. After I saw his space—ceiling tall shelves filled with figurines and books, a 3D printer, and a keg for homemade brew in the corner (Milwaukee is Brew City so it definitely seems reasonable), I knew it’d make a great feature on Tuesday Tours. Jay has had over twenty years experience in the design and gaming industries, working with clients such as Disney, Harley Davidson, Random House, and Nickelodeon. Currently, he is an illustrator who creates the webcomic The Zombie Office. He travels around the states showing and selling his work, and when he’s not doing that, he’s working on his new book project Gargoyles or experimenting with a new artistic medium, like gauche, water color, or even 3D printing.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
About sixteen years ago my wife and I were taking a leisurely stroll through an innocent looking suburb named Wauwatosa, when quite suddenly we were pounced on by a roguish band of dogs and cats and stolen away to their lair. Once there, we were forced to cater to their every whim and fancy; kibble, squeaky toys, dog treats, catnip. Their sadistic desires knew no bounds. We tried every form of escape imaginable, with each attempt ending in catastrophe.studio-tour-jay-7

Ten years ago we went so far as to have an offspring to see if possibly someone younger and faster could elude our captors and make a successful break, but this was yet another exercise in futility. The fiendish brutes licked and pawed at him with savage precision. We see now that he never stood a chance. Then fate showed me a glimmer of hope. As I was attempting to email a distress message, the cat (we think she is their leader) strolled across the keyboard of my laptop. Initially, she was evaluating my actions, but then the warmth of the computer and the soft glow of the screen put her into a kind of trance. She collapsed on the keys and began to make low, guttural noises. Seizing this chance, I began moving the cursor across the screen. This pleased her. Since that day, I have been creating computer graphics in the vain hope that one day my family may know the sweet taste of freedom.

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How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?It all seemed harmless enough in the beginning. You know, a collectible vinyl figure here, a Pixar storyboard book there. No big deal, right? It’s just that the number of items has grown quite a bit since we moved in. Really, I don’t have a problem. I don’t NEED these items if that’s what you’re thinking. I simply draw inspiration from having them around. They’re nice to look at, but I can get rid of them anytime. Honest. Can we talk about something else please?

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Describe a typical work day. Do you have any rituals you do before you start creating?
The first thing I do is get out of bed. Now, being an able bodied person you would think this would be a fairly easy task to accomplish. You would be mistaken. Sleep is essential for all creatures. It’s just that my body seems to require more of it than others, especially in the morning hours. Scientists are currently baffled and can offer not explanation as to why. But I can definitely say that I do get more done when I’m not asleep.

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When was a time you had the most fun working in your studio?
Whenever my son joins me, we have a blast together. His talent far exceeds mine, and I love to watch him come up with amazing ideas. He reminds me to let go of control, have fun, and live in the moment.

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Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
I don’t think that I can reduce it down to any one piece or item. My studio is more like a warm cocoon of baubles, curios and novelties. I draw inspiration from the sum total of my hodgepodge. I obsessively collect books of other artist’s work. When I get stuck I browse through them randomly for inspiration.studio-tour-jay-10

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What’s the biggest distraction for you when you’re creating? How do you deal with it?
Oh look, the new Star Wars collectibles have been released! I’m sorry, what was the question?

What do you like to nibble/drink when you’re working?
Tea, iced tea to be more precise. I make my own and have a couple of favorite flavors. I never developed a taste for coffee, but I cannot work without caffeine. I do have a kegerator in my office. One of my passions is brewing my own beer. But I can absolutely guarantee you that no alcoholic beverages are consumed during the making of art. OK, maybe a little.

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Which other artists, writers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
Right now I’m obsessed with Mark Ryden. I’m blown away by his imagery and his technical talent.

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Does music influence your work? What are you listening to now?
Yes, I generally listen to music when I work. Usually it is the Grateful Dead. They’re the perfect background tunes to keep the left side of my brain occupied without overwhelming the right side.

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What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
Find what inspires you and surround yourself with it.

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What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
You can read my webcomic The Zombie Office or get it delivered to you fresh at Facebook.com/TheZombieOffice. I’m also working on a new project called Gargoyles. It will be both a print and 3D printed project. You can view it soon at jaynolte.com or at Facebook.com/ArtofJayScottNolte.

Thank you for sharing your studio, Jay! Your space is like a cabinet of curiosities—I love it! I’ll have to come over for a home-brewed beer sometime and see how your newest project is coming along 🙂

i-dont-like-koala-9781481400688_lgJoin us on September 1st when we take a look inside illustrator Charles Santoso’s studio in Sydney, Australia.

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Amy Ward’s Studio Tour

Amy picToday on Tuesday Tours I’m thrilled to showcase my friend Amy Ward! Amy’s Illinois basement studio is completely covered in her personal touches—from the faux brick painted walls, to the beautiful rug she created from painted rubber matts, each part of her space has been altered by her creative touch. What I love about Amy is she’s alway creating art out of things that are accessible—like using Crayola crayons and watercolors (tools of her trade as an art teacher) to make her beautiful illustrations. In addition to offering ideas on her blog, she’s published a number of how-to crafts in Family Fun magazine and soon Highlights magazine. Amy demonstrates that there’s no need to run out and spend hundreds of dollars on supplies to create a space, instead you just need a dash of creativity and a little elbow grease. It’s possible to make beautiful and sophisticated artwork out of classroom materials, or create functioning and attractive objects out of things around the house, and Amy is the perfect example of how to do it well.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I teach art to 3rd through 8th graders and I love the way they create and the mediums they use successfully. So crayon and watercolor were a natural choice for me. I love wax resist and the textures that can be created with it. And I love the fact that crayons and watercolor are accessible to everybody. Here is a project from my website that used crayon and watercolor for a project we do in my classroom.

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How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?  I have had it for about three years now. It has streamlined my process because I no longer need to spend time cleaning up (see the picture of my messy art room below)! If I am trying a new technique with crayon and watercolor, I can play and experiment until I am tired and then I can just turn off the light. It’s kind of nice.

Are there any kind of rituals you do before you start creating?
Rituals? Not sure this is a ritual but I usually have to clean up some space so I will have room to create! Traditional art takes up a ton more room than digital!

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What age did you become interested in art and who encouraged you to pursue your dream?
I think I was born with scissors, crayons, and paper.  I remember making doll clothes on the sewing machine when I was 3 or 4. I remember doing art in kindergarten. We would do a project, and then I would re-create the project at home. I still have an arts and crafts book from second grade! I keep it in my book shelf in my art studio.

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Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
I LOVE the musical WICKED so I started collecting the happy meal toys with the Wizard of Oz characters. When I couldn’t get anymore, I went to Ebay to get the rest.  Am I a good witch or a wicked witch? Depends on the day.  But that musical inspires me.

Evey Lu using sewing machine

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What would you say is the most useful tool in your studio?
My paper cutter! I use it for my classroom, for decorating my house, (see amywardcreates.com) and making book dummies!

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If you had a couple hundred dollars to improve your space, what would you do? 
Heat it better! In the winter, it is sooooo cold because the brick is actually the poured concrete wall for the basement. I actually painted it to look  like old bricks.  But I don’t want to insulate the room because I would have to say goodbye to the brick. So more heat would definitely be my improvement. Oh, that and paint the ceiling but leave it exposed.

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What colors inspire your creativity. Are those colors incorporated in your space?
Take a look at my inspiration board above my sink. Those are my favorite colors. Pinks, greens, fushias, oranges, creams… my hues.

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Which other artists, designers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
Dan Santat, Will Terry, Jake Parker, Eric Carle, and Booke Boynton Hughes.

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What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative? 
Put yourself into it. It doesn’t take a ton of money and do what you want, not what will fit with your house. My studio is in our basement. I put it together on the cheap. I painted the walls to look like brick, like a big city loft studio. I used up some of my old acrylics and painted an old kids’ play-mat with a giant rug on it! My husband, (bless him!) made my coffee table double as a storage for paper. See the big drawers? He also installed the wood walls…some warmth! The cabinets are stock cabinets from Menards that went on super sale one weekend. I bought cheap rag rugs ($2, I think) and sewed them together to make a rug for the entrance. I painted all the cabinets and put different pulls on each one.   It really is my space.

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What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
I am working on a tree frog book called Crunchy, Not Sweet and a new chameleon story that doesn’t have a name yet. Also, I started a comic called Frankie and Chip about a brother and sister and their competitive natures with each other. I have only done eight panels so far but those are on my website. Take a peak and leave a comment!

Thanks, Amy! I love your studio space and I’m looking forward to sharing a space with you when we bunk-up at the SCBWI LA conference this summer! 

Join us in two weeks when author Sue Schmidt will be sharing her studio on her ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains.

If you’d like to get monthly updates on Tuesday Tour guests, please Subscribe to my mailing list.