Monday, November 28, 2016

Interview with Susie Ghahremani, SCBWI LA Mentee 2016!

Susie Ghahremani was the recipient of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2016 Summer Conference. Kidlit Artists would like to officially welcome Susie 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?

I cannot overstate how special and useful the mentorship experience was to me as a mid-career illustrator. Some people think the mentorships are for newcomers only, but that's absolutely not the case. Once you're established, it's extremely rare to be offered guidance toward new strides in your work from such esteemed luminaries. 

Some of the critique confirmed strengths in my work -- like the consistency of my voice -- and others offered me insight on what I must continue to develop -- specifically creating theatrical moments.

What kind of projects are you working on now?

I'm currently writing and illustrating my second picture book for Abrams; creating artwork for one of my two solo art shows in 2017; and shipping a lot of holiday orders from my shop! (

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

I would love to try my hand at a character-based book; I love the quickness of short term assignments to balance out the long publishing assignments and to keep my work fresh. I like variety!

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

The best piece of advice I got when I was 21 years old was from Ron Rege Jr. who encouraged me to say yes to every project that comes my way. That positive outlook toward accepting all work enabled me to take many, many risks in the formative years of my career. However, it later turned into the worst piece of advice because I had taken on horrible spec work and artist-unfriendly work-for-hire projects, overcommitted to too many projects, struggled to find my niche, and generally felt very worn down. It led to me learning the hard way about a LOT of things. 

Now I find a happy balance between asking myself if the project is fun or fulfilling or important, if it will compensate me fairly and set a good example of terms for others in my field, and if I have time for it -- and that's a much healthier way to determine what projects to pursue.

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

Not sure who said it at the conference, but "tune out the voices of 'what will be popular'." is a quote I've been tapping into daily ever since.

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

My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry were probably my all-time favorites. Both hold up as incredibly special to me today. 

My parents worked a lot when I was growing up, so my sister and I used to spend full days at the public library. We would participate in a literacy program at our local library, challenged to read 300 books every summer. It resulted in us discovering an unbelievable range of books, many favorites I continue to rediscover.


See more of Susie's work on her website, Facebook, EtsyInstagram, or Twitter. You can also sign up for her mailing list.

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