Claire Sedovic is an illustrator based in Iowa. She’s been been making art since she was old enough to hold a crayon, but by age six, she knew she wanted to be an author/illustrator. Her debut picture book is Odd Animal ABC’s, written by June Smalls and published with Blue Manatee Press. Today she’s been generous enough to join On the Scene in ’19 for an interview.
So Claire, inquiring minds want to know…
Were there any challenges to overcome when illustrating Odd Animal ABC’s?
I think the biggest challenge for me was seeing the big picture. I am a detail-oriented person, so while it was fun to delve into the minutia of animal spots and stripes, hooves and antlers, I had to keep in mind how each spread would look in relation to the other pages and the book as a whole. Planning the page layout beforehand certainly helped, but throughout the entire process, there were still necessary changes to help move the visual narrative along.
Which illustration are you most proud of in the book and why?
I’m really happy with how the cover turned out. I actually made four other iterations of that illustration before deciding upon what you see now. When I look back at my initial sketches, I realize that part of the project alone helped me develop as an artist. And in a very short amount of time!
Well, that cover turned out great! I know illustrating Odd Animal ABC's was pretty great, but what would be your ultimate dream project?
It was great! But eventually I’d love to bring one of my own children’s book ideas to fruition as both an illustrator and author.
What is your favorite part of the illustration process?
Definitely the finishing touches. It’s the simple addition of a darker pencil stroke or a little pink to an animal’s cheeks that really make the illustrations come alive.
When you are not drawing for writers like me, what do you like to draw for yourself in your free time? Do you have other hobbies too?
As I just alluded to, I have always dreamed of not only illustrating, but also writing for children. I am currently working on two of my own picture books ideas in fact. And I’m also a certified yoga and barre instructor.
What is the most useful piece of advice you could give to a budding artist/aspiring illustrator out there?
The best advice I have heard is to simply make the art that speaks to you. You could spend your entire career chasing trends and trying to fit in with what’s currently popular in children’s literature. Rather, spend the time developing your own style. Regardless of whether or not it’s the ‘popular’ style, if you work from your heart, it will be evident in your art, and people will value you and your work for that reason.
I think that advice works for authors too. What is your all-time favorite children’s book you didn’t illustrate and why do you love it so much?
Gosh, this is such a hard question, I have so many favorites! I’ll go with one many of you may not know- The Children in the Jungle, written by Leif Krantz, illustrated by Ulf Lofgren (1961). This was actually one of my mom’s favorite picture books as a child and I too grew to love reading (with my grandmother) this clever story about a bunch of bored kids who paint a jungle on their bedroom wall and then enter the picture. They manage to paint their way out of a number of scrapes, including escaping from a very hungry tiger!
Would you ever like to write your own children’s book as well as illustrate them? What would it be about?
Of the many story ideas I have, two are now full manuscripts. The first, Marcella’s Butterfly is about a girl who makes a new friend on the first day of kindergarten, but on a class field trip learns that this six-legged companion may not always be by her side. And in the second, Olive & Olio and the Great Pasta Race, Olive mixes, kneads, and stretches dough in an attempt to make the longest strand of spaghetti to win the town’s annual contest and her Nona’s approval.
Those sound amazing! Can’t wait to see your author/illustrator books hit the shelves. What is your current favorite picture book out in the shops at the moment and why do you love it?
Again, so many good books out there, but the one I most recently read and then had to purchase is The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld. I am constantly amazed by the ability of authors to distill tough topics into something not only understood by, but also enjoyed by children. This book does it all with very few words and adorable illustrations. It made me cry!