Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Interview with Rob Sayegh Jr. - 2020 SCBWI Summer Spectacular Showcase Honor Winner

Hi there Rob! Super congratulations on another award for your scrumptious work! How does it feel winning an Honor among so many other talented artists?

Winning the honor award feels incredible.  To be recognized a second time by the SCBWI, judges still has me in a state of shock, but to be chosen among the almost 500 beautiful portfolios of my colleagues and friends was special.

© Rob Sayegh Jr.

That is pretty special. What kind of projects are you working on now?

I just finished final art for my author/illustrator debut, Love Tails with Cameron Kids, and Arlo Draws an Octopus written by the fantastic Lori Mortensen with Abrams kids. Both are available in Spring 2021.

Congratulations! That's wonderful! What kind of illustration work are you hoping for in the near future?

I would really love to work on a series of picture books or graphic novels.  I love the idea of a story and character that can last longer than one book with many layers.

That would be awesome! Is there one really helpful piece of advice that you’ve gotten since pursuing illustration?  

The best advice I have been trying to push myself to do more of is to get to a place as an illustrator or author where you are willing to rip up all your work and start over.  No matter if it's the best thing you ever wrote or drawn.  For me, it translated that you need to be fearless as a storyteller and not to hang on to something because they will prevent you from moving forward and trying new things.  It's helped me to take many more risks and draw more freely without the fear that I have to make something perfect or submittable to a publisher each time I create something.

© Rob Sayegh Jr.

I love that! That's great advice! Any one piece of bad advice?
The only bad advice that I have heard is that we live in a culture where you need to post your artwork every day to social media to be seen as an artist today.  I think the opposite, and it relates to the best advice I was given.  You should curate everything that goes out into the world, and the rest is you and your's alone to know about.  I have countless drawings that never make it out there.  They are little doodles that are awful, but they help me figure out a concept or an idea that I don't share with anyone.  They are experiments that have gone wrong and manuscripts that make zero sense. Still, those mistakes and experiments are sometimes much more valuable to my overall career than the things I post online or market about my work.  To any new artist, I would suggest just taking the time to figure out who you are and what niche/market you want to be a part of first.  Play and experiment around that idea until you have a small portfolio of images you feel comfortable with and then begin marketing yourself.  Avoiding the instant gratification of getting yourself out there for the sake of being out there is a mistake I think people make too often because of the pressures of social media.

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

I am a firm believer in keeping it simple, which was said by Dan Santat and a few others.  I think when you keep it simple, it is easier for your voice to shine and, at the same time, for others to relate to your story.

I also really loved Mac Barnett's question of How does your book exist in the world?"   I think starting from here is so important.  It makes the place you are coming from so much more genuine and gives you manuscript purpose.

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

I am, to this day, the biggest fan of Bunnicula by James and Deborah Howe.  Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber is a picture book I ADORED as a kid.

© Rob Sayegh Jr.

Those are good books! Where can we find you online?

You can see more of my work on www.robsayart.com and Instagram and Twitter @robsayart
You can also follow me on Goodreads for book updates.



Interview by Meridth McKean Gimbel, a kidlit writer, artist, & champion taco cruncher who is currently building a time machine. They are also represented by Linda Pratt at Wernick & Pratt. You can follow their work at:

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