Monday, September 23, 2019

Interview with Vivien Wu, 2019 SCBWI LA Mentorship Award Winner

This interview series introduces the talented recipients of the SCBWI Mentorship Award at the 2019 Summer Conference. Please welcome Vivien Wu to the KidLitArtists Blog!

Hello! My name is Vivien Wu and I’m an illustrator and concept artist based in Los Angeles. I first started illustrating children’s books at Disney Publishing, and I currently do freelance concept art for various animation studios. In my own work I love creating humorous characters, or depicting a sense of nostalgia and fantasy.
In my downtime I enjoy unwinding through swimming and yoga, exploring Los Angeles for new places to eat, and watercolor painting!

Did the feedback you received during the mentorship critiques either changes or confirm the direction of your illustration? Are there any specific examples you can share?
The mentorship program was tremendously helpful and professional, and confirmed the direction I want to go in. The advice I was given will challenge me to grow artistically and bring my work to the next level.

Since I had a number of standalone pieces, a general consensus was to take some of those and form a narrative around them. Totally makes sense, since children’s books are all about storytelling! I also had a bit of a split portfolio, in which some sections were stylistically more “traditional storybook” and the other half more “commercial”. Rather than mixing them together, there should be a clearer divide, or just one consistent voice throughout. It’s an important thing to keep in mind especially when presenting work to a potential client.
Overall, the mentorship really made me look at my work with a critical eye and ask myself if every element in an illustration is working harmoniously and with a purpose.

What kind of projects are you working on now?
I have some ideas in the works, and am excited to share once I have enough material together! However, one of my main goals right now is to just keep things simple and explore more ways to draw people and children stylistically, since I tend to draw a lot of animals.

Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future? 
I would love to one day fully illustrate a picture book. I’ve done various freelance jobs, chapter books, and Little Golden books (which was amazing), but nothing like a complete picture book.

Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration?
There’s so many, but a simple and great piece of advice that I personally need to work on is to keep a sketchbook / iPad at all times, and jot down ideas when they come to mind. It helps to not be too precious with any particular drawing, and you never know when inspiration may strike.

What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer conference? 
I was very inspired by Christian Robinson’s keynote in which he said that brick walls are not there to keep us out, but to show us how badly we want something. I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere before, but it really resonated with me.

What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid? 
Toot and Puddle by Hollie Hobbie, Corduroy by Don Freeman, Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel, Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, and anything by Roald Dahl.

Where can we see more of your artwork? 
You can see my work on my website or on my instagram at vivsketch!

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