Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Interview with new SCBWI illustration mentee, Jeslyn Kate

Jeslyn Kate was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2014 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Jeslyn to the blog, and ask her a few questions about the Mentorship experience and about what she is up to these days.

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?

The feedback that I received confirmed the direction that I was going in. Earlier this year, I bit the bullet (so to speak) and re-designed my entire portfolio with a completely new style that I had only been dabbling in before.

When the mentors sat down with me, they really liked my style and urged me to push it even further. I definitely have a lot to keep working on, but it was really exciting to know that I am headed in the right direction for me.

What kind of projects are you working on now?

Currently, I am working to further improve my portfolio based on the amazing feedback that I received. I am also creating characters for my own story right now and hope to move into the storyboarding/dummy-making phase soon. 

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

I would really love to illustrate picture books! Eventually, I would like to write and illustrate a picture book.

Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration?  Any one piece of bad advice?

My Momma has always told me, “You should follow your heart and do what you love to do. If you do this, you will never work a day in your life.” Those words have stuck with me throughout my life. They have made me brave, determined, and willing to take the exciting risks that have gotten me where I am today.

In terms of bad advice…well, we have all had some of that, I think. My favorite piece of bad advice was this:

“What do you mean you are going to ‘clown school’ (I had just been accepted to Ringling College of Art and Design) to be an artist? You should have a plan B!”

I still giggle a little bit when I think about that conversation.

What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer Conference? 

There were so many gems that I feel I took away from that conference that it is difficult to choose only one lesson or quote as a favorite. I really enjoyed what Meg Rosoff had to say about stories. They can change the world and help anyone in any field. I also loved what Maggie Steifvater had to say about stealing the essence, the soul, the truth, the “why” of your observations to create richer stories. However, if I had to choose only one lesson, it would be what Tomie DePaola said to us on that last day. “Courage is the secret to a lifelong career.”  It does take a lot of courage to face a blank, white page and be ready to tackle the adventure of creating. 

What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?

I was a huge fan of fairy tales when I was a kid. Honestly, they are still some of my favorite stories to read. I have this book (which is officially held together with layers of clear tape because it has been read so many times) called “The Children’s Bedtime Book”. The book was a gift for my first birthday. It is filled with Mother Goose rhymes and the most popular fairy tales (the nice versions, of course). I remember being fascinated by the images long before I could read the words on my own. I used to try to copy the pictures from the book over and over again. When I learned to read, this was one of the books that I insisted on learning first.

I also loved “Mirette On The High Wire”, “Oh The Places You’ll Go”, and “The Very Quiet Cricket”.

Where can we find you online? 

You can find me online in the following locations:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jeslynkateart
Twitter: @JeslynKate

Thanks, Jeslyn!


  1. Beautiful art! I immediately wanted to see more of that wonderful big dog and kids!

  2. Yay Jeslyn! So proud of the hard work you've done and can't wait to see your next piece :)

  3. Jeslyn, I'm so incredibly proud of you for your courage and determination! keep it up!

  4. Wonderful work! I look forward to Jeslyn's future books!