Monday, February 15, 2016

An Artist's Life For Me!

As kid lit artists, we are the pirates of the modern world. We are the ones who have said:
We will have freedom! We will explore! We will make stuff!
Sure, we have been compared to many other walks of life: pilgrims, monks, gypsies; but I say pirates for a few reasons:

  •   Pirates are not afraid to bend (or break) the rules    
  • Pirates are notorious for coming up with solutions that are completely unexpected.
  • A very long time ago, it was the pirates who braved the untamed sea to discover the previously undiscovered (think Vikings)! 
  • I really, really wanted to draw some ships for this article.
Art (like old fashioned piracy) is a beautiful, exciting endeavor. We have each lovingly embraced and built a ship for art, in the determination that we will set sail to capture the loot that lies in wait. We have embellished these ships with scraps of paper, ink, paint, and any other tidbits we’ve collected.
We then climb aboard our shiny, new vessels and set out with high hopes for adventure. A fair wind pushes out our sails until they are so full they press us forward into feverish creation. We cast our nets to publishers and agents, inviting them to join in our adventure. We hunt for messages in bottles and maps on faraway islands that will give us directions to build better portfolios and write tremendous stories. Our expeditions are glorious…but fair weather and wind don’t last forever.
Unfortunately, any pirate knows that there are days when the air is as still as a schoolroom in summer. Inspiration whisks away for a time and the sails go flat. We are left alone on our little ships with our computers, canvas, and paper staring blankly at us. What then?
This is the time when a good ole’ pirate would pull out his accordion and play a little jingle to pass the time, but I have a few other ideas in mind! I recommend taking action! Go for a swim in the ocean of art surrounding your craft.

Read a book!


  •               Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
  •              The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp
  •              Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang
  •             Tell Me A Picture: Adventures In Looking At Art by Quentin Blake
  •             Writing With Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books by Uri Shulevitz

Listen to your favorite music or podcast and watch some inspirational videos!

  •  Let’s Get Busy (podcast)
  •  Will Terry (YouTube
  •  Any Miyazaki film

Go on an adventure with a sketchbook in hand!

  •  Go for a hike
  •  Visit the zoo
  •  Spend a day at the museum
  •  Sign up for a workshop or a retreat
  •  Go see a play or a movie
  •   Visit your nearest library or bookstore

Form an alliance with some fellow pirates and have a party!


  •  - This is a really cool website where artists of all kinds collaborate to make stuff!
  •  - This is a site that is a little bit like Illustration Friday except you can submit to them whenever you want! They upload images daily from all different styles of art. It is really fun.
  • - This is something worth looking into if you want to make special, original pieces to sell online!

Sometimes you might have to take a break to do some house chores that you have been avoiding in order to let the wind sneak up on you. No matter which course you choose to take, remember to trust that the wind will always come back to fill your sails again. So while you are waiting you might as well have some fun.

Yo ho, yo ho, an artist’s life for me.
We paint, we blunder, we scribble and smoosh.
Create me ‘earties, yo ho.
We conference and research and get a big boost.
Create me ‘earties, yo ho!
Yo ho, yo ho, an artist’s life for me.

 ~Jeslyn Kate

Jeslyn Kate writes/illustrates for children and teaches art.
You can find her work at 
these different locations:
Twitter: @jeslynkate

1 comment:

  1. Lets get busy podcast is really helpful! I have downloaded the app and listeneed every time there is new one comes up. Will terry is also so nice to share so much great info. Very motiavting to listen! :)