Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Interview with new SCBWI Illustration Mentee, Linda Dorn - by Jen Betton

Linda Dorn was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2013 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Linda to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the Mentorship experience and about what she is up to these days.

Kidlit Artists: Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either change or confirm the direction of your illustration? Are there any specific examples you can share? 

Linda: I really needed these masters to point me down the right path. 

Focus my style.
I had been working in a vacuum in Hawaii, literally, and without feedback. I was playing with different styles. Drawing had always been my strength but I had started playing with design (eg. the mermaid). I admire the mid-century artists like Saul Bass, and the current trend seemed to lean in this direction. However it was a relief to hear the mentors say stick with the drawing, let your line work show (eg. girl with cat gestures). It always seems to come back to “do what you love, and the doors will open”

Kidlit Artists: What kind of projects are you working on now?

Linda: I am developing a story based on my drawing of a little girl and a tiger. It was an image that attracted a lot of attention at the conference. A good friend was clever to remind me I often refer to myself as a tiger when I talk about the strength that gets me through tough times. Rawrr.

Kidlit Artists: Is there anything, looking ahead, that you're excited to be working on?

Linda: Well, I am looking forward to working on my first book, that would be lovely. I am particularly excited to work with good people in the publishing business, people I can learn from. This mentor program is heaven.

Kidlit Artists: Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you're hoping for in the near future? 

Linda: Picture books, YA, magazines, I am just excited about illustrating.

Now that I think about it, I should put together a separate portfolio promoting my life drawings as illustrations. I feel I have developed a freshness, emotion, and story in my life drawings that is rare. I life-draw a lot, it’s my bliss. Maybe someday I will meet a sassy agent that sees their potential. 

Kidlit Artists: Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you've gotten since pursuing illustration? Any one piece of horrible advice?

Linda: Give it heart. This is something that I have heard at the conferences from many different people in many different ways. It is something I focus on when working, and has elevated my work. I think my animation industry work was about being slick and dramatic. I find when I really get into the character’s shoes, in the moment, be honest, something magical happens. You don't fall in love with a picture, you fall in love with a character that feels like a friend, and/or a world that feels like the home you would like to have. I think it was everything to me as a child to find a book that made me feel understood. I clearly remember that comforting thrill of a good book. This is what drives me.

Kidlit Artists: Last, please tell us where we can find you online.

Kidlit Artists: Thank you Linda!


  1. This was a pleasure to read about, Linda and Jen :) And a big "Congrats!" to you, Linda! Your work is beautiful! I'd love to know if you can mention who it is mentoring you.