Judy Schachner’s Studio Tour

JudySchachner_portraitI’m really excited to feature the amazing studio of author/illustrator extraordinaire, Judy Schachner on today’s Tuesday Tours! Judy is the #1 NY Times Best Selling Author and Illustrator of over 23 children’s picture books, including her Skippy Jon Jones series. She’s won many awards like the first E. B. White Read Aloud Award.
I had a great time meeting Judy and hearing her speak at the SCBWI-WI Fall Conference last October. She had a presentation full of inspirational images of her own work, as well as work from other illustrators of the present and past. I had a chance to talk with Judy between presentations and was impressed by her ability to speak out about issues that concerned her. I think that as children’s writers and illustrators it may sometimes be hard to find a voice for societal issues, as many times (especially if we’re pre-published) we feel it’s better to nod and smile and not get into anything too confrontational. But, Judy showed me that it’s equally important to speak up, even if no one is joining you. It’s brave and it’s vulnerable, but it’s needed. So I thank her for that. Judy will be a featured speaker at this summer’s SCBWI LA conference, and if you can get to the City of Angels I highly recommend it. I invite you to check out Judy’s amazing space, which I told her, is pretty darn close to my dream studio!


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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I have been an illustrator/author of children’s books for over twenty years and  have worked in a variety of media – it all depends on the book I’m working on. My favorites are gouache, acrylics, charcoal pencil, pastel and collage. In my most recent book Bits and Pieces (a story about my 21 year old cat Tink) I used an electric eraser to create the look of fur. It’s fun to experiment.



How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?My space is relatively new.  We were building an addition onto our house and I decided to go for broke (literally) and add a studio. Not one bit sorry.  Since I spend most days and nights in this room I wanted it to be full of light, full of storage, and full of inspiration. I wanted a space that would encourage me to work. It does.

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Walk us through how you get started with your day. Are there any kind of rituals you do before you create?
Yes I do have my rituals–I love my coffee and toast in the morning with a side of magazines. I usually do a little bit of straightening and fluffing of pillows (can’t have too many pillows) then I go to work. I like an orderly room so if I haven’t straightened up the evening before, I’ll begin the day by organizing my stuff. I might page through my journals or add to them.

What do you listen to while you’re working?
If I’m not listening to NPR, I’m listening to my daughter’s music, which she composes for film, television, and video games. Her music is my absolute favorite to listen to, and since my favorite genre of music has always been film scores, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot with her.

Do you have any special trinkets in your space that inspire you?
My studio should be called trinketville because I have always been a collector of things from “the used world.” One man’s junk is another girl’s treasure. I am inspired by old things, especially sparkly old things. And taxidermy! Somebody’s got to give those old forgotten creatures love and a place to rest in peace.

studio 10Your space is already amazing, but if there was anything to improve, what would you do?
It’s pretty darn close to perfect, Andrea, but it could be just a tad bigger. Does that make me sound greedy?

Not at all. More space is what I think most artists want. Work can always get bigger 🙂 After going though this big redesign of your studio, do you have any advice for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
Creative space does not need to be big or fancy or built to a T–creative space can be anywhere.
I sometimes do my best writing strapped into a car or an airplane. For years, my space was a corner of a room or an attic, or when I was little, our bathroom. It was long and narrow and I could tape a huge sheet of rolled out shelf paper to one of its bare walls. I would shut the door and draw and act out my stories to near exhaustion. But I always had a dream of one day having a special room where I could make a big mess and be surrounded by my treasures. It’s so cliché but sometimes dreams do come true.

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What are you working on now?
I just finished the eighth Skippy Jon Jones book in the series called Snow What and it’s probably the silliest yet. It comes out in October. I have a new book in the works about an obsessive/compulsive raccoon. He is excellent at repurposing trash. This August I will be a featured speaker at SCBWI in LA, so if you’re a bookmaker, come and watch me have a nervous breakdown in front of a thousand or so author/illustrators. It should be a blast.

Thanks so much for sharing your studio with us, Judy. Your work space and the work you make in it are equally gorgeous! I’m excited to see the new books, especially the one about the raccoon who likes to repurpose trash–it sounds an awful lot like my oldest daughter!

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