Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Interview with Marcelo Verdad, 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 Marcelo Verdad to the KidLitArtists Blog!

Hola! I'm Marcelo and I'm a queer, Mexican author and illustrator. I graduated from Art Center College of Design and I like to tell important stories from unconventional perspectives. 

In college I fell in love with kids books and since then I see them as a sacred opportunity to give the tiniest ones important tools and a strong foundation to navigate this word in a more optimal way from an expansive, open, and compassionate perspective.

I live in Los Angeles, California with my dog daughter, Mini Perra. We love to drink strawberry milk together and make inter-dimensional travels across the whole Universe on our tiny spaceship. 

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?
It was such an honor to hear from such wise and talented creatives. Everyone loved my stories and found a clear voice in my work. They highly advised –especially Peter Brown, a fellow ArtCenter alumni as well– to tell my own stories and keep expanding on what I have to share through my personal perspective. Arthur was profoundly encouraging as well and always a delight to talk to. Everyone received my work with open arms and that made me vibrate on a soul level. This opportunity clearly confirmed I'm in the right path.

What kind of projects are you working on now?
I'm an art teacher, so I'm still working with my amazing kids. Since the conference I was contacted by some people and I just signed with one of the agents I was talking to. She's a dream and such a kind and important soul. So that's been keeping me busy as well! We're currently working on some projects that I'm sure will be very well received and touch a lot of hearts when they're out in this planet!

Is there any type of illustration (or other work) that you’re hoping for in the near future?
I'm deeply in love with children's books AND teaching. I enjoy so much working for and with kids and I can't ask for more. I know what I'm currently doing is my mission in this lifetime.

Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration?
Two of the best advices I've gotten are: to always be kind to everyone, and to go deep within myself to find my voice and the stories only I can tell. 

I'm a firm believer that everyone has a story to tell, but also I've seen not everyone is brave enough to go that deep and tell it from an honest and vulnerable place. But once we do, magic becomes tangible in this dimension.

Any one piece of bad advice? 
I have two rules for the day:

Never skip breakfast.
Always be yourself. 

If I'm doing both, I'm good for the day. So bad advice: skip breakfast and be try to be someone else! Also, let a pigeon drive a bus.

What was one of your favorite quotes or lessons from the SCBWI Summer conference? 
I always get so touched by strong and important human beings who have important stories to tell. Two of the talks that still give me chills are from the loving Juana Martinez Neal and the magical Yuyi Morales. Both explored the depth within themselves and I could feel the importance and power in their words, how personal and raw they are, and how they pour their entire existence into their work. Their stories are reminders for me to stay authentic and to keep going deeper with the stories I tell.

What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?
As a kid in México I wasn't very exposed or attracted to many books. But one of the first picture books I ever read and that still today informs my work is "How to Catch a Star" by Oliver Jeffers. SO magical and subtle.

Where can we see more of your artwork? 
You can find more of my work on Instagram @marceloverdad! Come join me, let's play! 

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