Surface design whale and creativity quote.
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Overview of a VERY Creative Year!

1000 apologies! I neglected posting in December but at least I backed off at a time your inbox would have been bombarded with Christmas promotions and copious amounts of reading anyway.

But I’m back and charged for 2015! This year is going to ROCK! I can feel it with every part of me and I am READY! Are you?

Authentically makes us buzz

I spent every minute outside paid work, experimenting with my craft in 2014, questioning what was developing and where to go from there. It was a busy and exciting year creatively.

Freelancing, I was blessed with a variety of assignments from toy product design to program covers to interesting logos and adorable picture books.

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Illustrating children’s books for a few years has been wonderful but I discovered a desire for additional singular assignments. I really enjoyed doing small series or one off illustrations for jobs. Self-inflicted illustration challenges I committed to last year like Inktober, the 52 week illustration, challenge and the occasional Daily Doodle submission where helpful when I had freedom to be authentic to my own vision.

The many illustrations and sketches produced from the inspiration of the 52 week Illustration Challenge

The many illustrations and sketches produced from the inspiration of the 52 week Illustration Challenge CLICK TO ENLARGE

Producing a book is a marathon task and requires a particular boundary that limits exploration. You need to stay true to the character and style throughout all 25 plus illustrations. It not unlike creating a large body of work for an exhibition that requires the final art pieces to be all part of one series in a particular style. It is a skill and it’s fun, but it is restrictive. As I have consistently produced one picture book after another since late 2012, I need play dates with self- expression.

By the end of a book I am bursting to download what is now in my head and heart if I haven’t had enough in-between work or experimental time. We all need adequate time for risk-taking. As a result, in addition to books, I am looking for opportunities in surface design and editorial illustration this year.

I am also looking at teaching in the near future. (More on that soon!)

My new romance – surface design and patterns

I can’t tell you how it happened but I it happened late last year. In a matter of days I found myself obsessing over the beauty of pattern design and indulging in the fun creating them.

Surface pattern design: Umbredrops

Surface pattern design: Umbredrops

Vintage surface pattern design swatch. Floral

Vintage surface pattern design swatch.

Happy poster print Happy Butterfly. Illustration by Kayleen West

Happy poster print Happy Butterfly. Available as a print here

2014-12-18_ADVENT_snowman-brandedCombined with illustration pattern took on a life of its own. As a consequence my newest book, We Worship God, due for release this year by Xist Publishing, written by Nancy Streza, adopted a hint of pattern in my illustrations.

Children's illustration from ABC Christian picture book, We Worship God - Xist Publishing 2015 release

Children’s illustration from ABC Christian picture book, We Worship God – Xist Publishing 2015 release

 

Unleashing the authenticity

Sometime we need to stop long enough to align ourselves. January is perfect for this. My family go on a holiday for a couple of weeks and I take a break on my own. This may sound strange but I really need it. I am a step-mum of a very active young tribe and I am very tired by the end of each year. It is hard to get time to reflect seriously enough. Without parental responsibilities (a significant distraction) or too many commitments of any kind, I can catch up on my own thoughts and have time to play unrestricted.

Let’s play – MATS Bootcamp begins…

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Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

This week launched Lilly Roger’s MATS Bootcamp, the creative briefs being the main attraction – the springboard to begin the year.

The first mini assignment exploring Edwardian Brooches. In my self-indulgence as a faux–bachelor (I made that word up), I have produced dozens of sketches in ink and Illustrator already this week, staying up into the night (and morning) and sleeping past 10am – because I can! I suspect creative ADHD though as the more I create, the more I want to. The ideas keep coming!

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Detail of WIP design

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Belated Happy New Year!

Sorry, I didn’t even wish you all a Merry Christmas. I pray you have an awesome 2015 everyone!

Peek into my year summed up:

  • Both Adoptive Father and Celia and Nonna were awarded the seal of approval by the Children’s Literacy Classics
  • My picture book Without Me won an International CLC Silver medal.
  • I finished illustrating a new picture book, We Worship God, an ABC books with the letters hidden in the images and I love it! I am so pleased with the cute illustrations.
  • The art advertising agency, The Art Mob approach me about representing me. They are a new agency and so I have agreed to see how it goes. Hopefully this will bring more editorial work. I am looking for an established agency for my surface designs.
  • I completed every week of the 52 week Illustration Challenge with loads of illustrations to show for it. Many are sketches and some are completed. Some will be valuable to build on for future projects. I fill many sketchbook pages in the process.
  • I completed the Inktober challenge which was a huge advantage as I picked up ink for the first time in years – and LOVE IT! This is an important part of my design work now.
  • I discovered the world of surface pattern design! I have a huge amount of pattern files already. They are waiting to develop or put into a final portfolio. This is high on my TO DO list for this year.

So there it is. I hope my endeavors encourage you in some way to explore creativity yourself more.

Paul Collins and Kayleen West at Ford Street Publishing.
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Snapshot: Publisher, Paul Collins

If you have been wondering about what my publishers are looking for this may be a bit of insight for you. Today on Fable Croft Paul Collins (Ford Street Publishing), publisher of my newest title Celia and Nonna shares what he does and what he is looking for.

He gives an insight into picture books and how it is the concept that interests him more than the words. And how often the illustrations replace much of the text in the end.

Paul is an author of many titles too. You can read more here: FableCroft » Snapshot 2014: Paul Collins Ford Street Publishing.

I’ll try to spotlight my other publishers in time.

Judith Rossell will be launching Celia and Nonna later this month at Ivanhoe Library, 255 Upper Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe. I would love to meet you! Click on image to enlarge.

Author and Illustrator Judith Rossell will be launching my newest book Celia and Nonna. You are all invited to join us.

Author and Illustrator Judith Rossell will be launching my newest book Celia and Nonna. You are all invited to join us.

Five Mile Press - New Illustrators PrizeFive Mile Press - New Illustrators Prize
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Golden publishing opportunity for new illustrators

The person who gets this gig will have a massive foot in the door. Five Mile Press is a publishing house you want to be illustrating for. It is tough to get in this door so grab this opportunity if you can. The five Mile Press, one of Australia’s largest children’s publishers, is searching for gifted, unpublished Australian illustrators with a passion for children’s books.

Five Mile Press - New Illustrators PrizeFive Mile Press - New Illustrators Prize

Five Mile Press – New Illustrators Prize

The Five Mile Press publish around 150 children’s books each year. The winner of this prize will be guaranteed a $4000 contract for a book to be published 2015/2016.

Submissions close: 1st August, 2014
Shortlist announced: 1st October, 2014
Winner Announced: 1st November, 2014

Here is the link: http://www.fivemile.com.au/news/2014/03/14/five-mile-press-illustrator-prize

Queries to: illustratorprize@fivemile.com.au

Free printables for kids. I Can Be Like Jesus- Colouring pages - Better Than A Superhero. Church and ministry activities for kids.
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Better Than A Superhero free printables and teacher’s notes.

Hey kids, here are the free printables for my newest book, Better Than  Superhero!

Better than a superhero- children's books about Jesus

Better Than A Superhero

Teachers: Download Teachers Notes and printables for Better Than A Superhero (includes all printables below)

Click on the images to open and download a word search and colouring pages – enjoy!

Free printables for kids. Word Search for Better Than A Superhero. Church and ministry activities for kids.

Free printables for kids. Word Search for Better Than A Superhero.

Free printables for kids. I Can Be Like Jesus- Colouring pages - Better Than A Superhero. Church and ministry activities for kids.

Free printables for kids. I Can Be Like Jesus- Colouring pages – Better Than A Superhero. Church and ministry activities for kids.

Free printables for kids. Jesus Is My Friend - Colouring pages - Better Than A Superhero. Church and ministry activities for kids.

Free printables for kids. Jesus Is My Friend – Colouring pages – Better Than A Superhero. Church and ministry activities for kids.

The job of a Children's Illustrator
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The Job of a Children’s Illustrator

More questions about the job of a Children’s illustrator …

Students, usually in their final year of an Illustration course contacting me for information to help with my business plan assignments. I am asked, what is the job of a children’s illustrator? These questions are frequently asked by students. Some of these questions are extremely relevant when planning a career in illustration. There is so much I could share (and will via my blog over time) but this is a good start.

Here are a few I was asked this week:

How long have you been doing illustration?

I have been an artist for decades but illustrating children’s books since 2010. I turned direction in late 2009. I began setting myself up as a children’s book writer by launching an online portfolio website. I have kept adding to it and updating it ever since. I had a popular blog on blogger but needed a shop front. I do think my web presence is a major reason for the work so far. That and a 200% attitude. I think that is the job of a children’s illustrator – give 200%

How did you get started in your job as a Children’s Illustrator?

Illustration or art?

Art: When I was at senior school, my cousin Debbie who came and stayed with us a few months. She drew a lot and I loved drawing. I made the decision that was what I could do well so I would follow that path. I chose it as electives in school and entered college with art as my subject. Disappointed with a what I felt was an unstructured drawing course where I felt I wasn’t learning a thing I left school and entered any job that was creative. I still regret not choosing to do the illustration course instead. My fine art got more attention when my kids went to school and I got the opportunity to study under a master painter. He taught me the important basics of painting. I exhibited as a fine artist, demonstrated and took students into my studio.

Illustrating picture books: To be honest, it was God inspired; I felt confident that God wanted me to create a book for orphan children – so I did. Making picture books had been a desire since I was a teen, but I didn’t pursue it because I didn’t believe I would succeed. That lie held me back for too many years. I began with Adoptive Father and work took off.

Are you mainly freelance?

Yes 100% freelance. I am offered contracts or illustration opportunities and pick what I think is a good fit for both parties.

How do you source your work?

I have fallen into my work so far. My first publisher discovered me when I accidentally emailed with a conference inquiry (always have your portfolio links in your email signature and use it every time!) The other publishers have found me via my website. I have had intentions of approaching agents, art director and publishers but have been working around the clock on my projects and their deadlines. For me my web presence has been vital.

The usual and recommended method of sourcing work would be to approach suitable publishers with a professional looking PDF portfolio and website. Make sure you read their preference for submission and stick to it exactly. Network with publishers at SCBWI events – get to know them genuinely – but don’t sell to them – wait to be asked. Publishers are looking for people they will work with and get along with well, not just good illustrators. Be yourself.

Do you work in other areas apart from children’s books?

I offer my services in other areas such as editorial illustration, product and surface design. I used to do web and print design, logos etc. but it is not my direction now. There is plenty of work in this area though – for anyone interested in this. I want to get a variety of portfolio examples together in these specialised areas over the next 12 months. I will split my website home page and portfolio into my whimsical style and a more corporate editorial work to make it clear. Then I will approach the appropriate people.

I also write faith inspired articles.

Finally, do you have any advice for someone hoping to start out in this area?

Practical application: Draw, draw, DRAW! Draw everything – practice, experiment and have fun with it. Your drawings skills will be what set you apart in some areas.

Motive and expectation: Don’t expect to get rich overnight. Not a lot of illustrators make a living in picture books. There is very little return on a book unless it is a hit seller and sells 100,000 copies, then you might take that beach holiday from the studio. You need to spend just as much time networking on the net and illustrators rely on paid school visits and speaking. So consider if you want the whole package because it is a big one to take on. I love teaching and sharing my enthusiasm so it suits my personality but not necessarily my wallet. I expect to build my income up over time by being versatile and generous. From what I understand, editorial illustration pays the best – very well in some cases- so determine your motive before deciding. I want to get into an agency myself (haven’t tried yet) but I need to have a portfolio of relevant illustration in my style to present. It is on my action list.

Illustration Marketing: Don’t! Take it from me it doesn’t work. Instead, make lots of friends and connect with as many of them on a genuine level (not easy illustrating all day alone in the studio) and make sure you are serving them. Give of yourself often and hopefully people will show their appreciation by supporting you. Be professional in EVERYTHING you do.

Social and Education: Join associate societies e.g. Picture books – SCBWI and ASA and Illustrators Australia. Follow other people’s blogs; the ones who are generous with their information. Comment on their blogs too. When they know they are helping and not talking to the air, they will share more.

Balance: Be organised and plan – revise- and plan some more: You have to be really organised in your office and a visionary to be successful. I am still working on improvements in this area – it’s a juggle! Read all you can about the entrepreneurship and how to organise a business – it helps! But don’t get into the marketing trap. I see some book authors and illustrators shouting “buy this book!, buy this book” non-stop. You don’t want to read anything from them if it is all advertisement.

Courage: Have the courage to be uniquely YOU. There will be a flavor to your work that will seep out if you are genuine and not trying to mimic anyone. Keep growing and hammer your sketchbook – it is your best friend. You never arrive at perfection but when you plan consistently, your direction will be clear. Keep moving forward until you knock off your milestones one at a time.

And the list goes on…

If any other students have questions, feel free to send them through to me and I will add them here for everyone to benefit from. You can contact me via my contact page.

Tweet: Business Q & A for #illustration Students from Children's #illustrator http://ctt.ec/685bU+

Editorial illustration from Sketchbook - Fuel
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Submission Opportunity

Okay, a strong coffee and deep breath is all it take to have a go. Here is an opportunity for early reader writers.

Editorial illustration from Sketchbook - Fuel

Grab a strong coffee, be brave and GO SUBMIT your story!

Only minutes ago I received news from Rochelle Manners, the nice publisher at Wombat Books who is publishing my title Without Me?

Rochelle has announced that Wombat Books is now taking submissions for early readers!

Wombat Books is increasing our publication of Early Reader titles by building a new list for 6-8 year olds. We are open to submissions for Early Reader titles as of the 1st of November 2013

Now is your chance folks. More detailed information on the new Wombat Blog- http://www.wombatbooks.com.au/blog

Click To Tweet your writer friends: @WombatBooks are calling for submissions for Early Reader titles: http://buff.ly/1aGjj7e

Authors, publishers, editors and award winners at the Caleb Conference 2013
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15 Key Publishing Tips

This month was packed with highlights including my time at the Caleb Conference in Queensland. I could write a zillion posts on the joys and advantages of gatherings such as these. I love connecting with others who are passionate about literature – it is contagious!

With a head swimming in revelation and excitement it is challenging to deliver to you briefly. Here are a tiny portion of some key notes:

Session: Things I Wish I’d Known Earlier Andrea Grigg (author) & Iola Gouton (editor)

1. To reduce your costs, keep word count down before you pay an editor.
2. After publication, you need to have a plan to market your book. Your job is not to write (or illustrate) books while the publisher takes care of everything.
3. Break your manuscript into manageable goals, chunks of word count.
4. The highs and lows of publishing can mess with your emotions. It is a challenging occupation – be prepared.
5. It is foolish to avoid editing. An editor works with you to get you in the door.

Session: Publishing today – Publishers: Rochelle Manners (Wombat Books) & (Even Before Publishing) Julie Firmstone (CEP) and George Bryant (Daystar Books)
To save me repeating what Narelle has written on her blog, there is a brief article on this particular session worth reading:  Narelle Atkins blog.

Authors, publishers, editors and award winners at the Caleb Conference 2013

Authors, publishers, editors and award winners at the Caleb Conference 2013

Session: Author Platform and Marketing Tips & Traps: Kayleen West (me) and Rochelle Manners (publisher)

1. Think socially with a heart of servitude. Today, it is not about advertising but valued connections and visibility–not selling but interacting.
2. Always check your motives.
3. Make sure your content is interesting, useful and relevant– not spammy!
4. Note what irritates you and don’t repeat it yourself.
5. Twitter, Facebook and Youtube are the top 3 platforms on social media for an author.
6. Anything you do online– be professional and be searchable by being visible.
7. Authors are the biggest offenders of poor websites. Don’t skimp here, if you are going to have one make sure it looks professional.
8. Meet lots of interesting people and enjoy the interaction.
9. Keep learning new ways to share what you love to create and marketing won’t be such a pain.
10. It is important to plan and have a list to in your time. Choose what is most appropriate and comfortable for you and step out from there.
I also listed 24 avenues to build your author platform on. If there is enough interest I can share more session tips later. Any takers?

There were many other sessions but unfortunately you need to attend these events to get the all the goodies. It would make for a very long post. I’m not sure how you feel about event like these but I find them highly valuable–must insert 3 exclamation marks here !!!!
Sorry Iola.

CLICK FOR EASY TWEET: 15 Key publishing tips for building an #authorplatform

Children's Author speaking on author platform
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Creating Author Platform Event

Children’s Author speaking on creating author platform

This weekend I have been invited to speak at the Caleb Conference in Indooroopilly, Queensland. The sessions are Marketing Tips and Traps and Children’s Books Today.
Publisher Rochelle Manners (Wombat Books) and I will be discussing author platform with writers from all over Australia and New Zealand.

The conference is a line-up of speakers including many multi-award winning authors, offering their expertise on a wide variety of topics.  A special feature of this conference is the opportunity to have a one-on-one meeting with a publisher. Going to conferences like this can kick-start your career. It may be too late for this conference (not on again until at least 2016) but there are other events like this you may want to looks at. This particular conference is faith-based, though mainstream publications are still represented. The workshops and presentations are valuable to anyone writing.

The publishers’ representatives are:

Member of Omega Writers will be updated on future events and the ongoing Caleb Award.

If you would like to follow Tweets on creating author platform check my Twitter feed from 1.30pm. You may be able to stalk the boards (my session) via the hashtag #AuthorPlatform

Free colouring printables - Jesus hugs me mobile.
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Free colouring printables – Jesus loves me mobile.

Free colouring printables

This free colouring printable: Colour in and cut out to make a mobile. Children can child draw themselves on the little person. Slip it into Jesus’ arms.

Free colouring printables - Jesus hugs me mobile.

Free colouring printables – Jesus hugs me mobile.

This free colouring printable mobile can be downloaded from the Adoptive Father’s website. Click HERE or the image to access the download.

Free colouring pages, color pages for kids
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3 Free Kids Colouring Pages – Without Me

Free colouring pages, download free activities for kids #1 -With puppy & cat
Free colouring pages, download free activities for kids #2 -With brother on seesaw
Free colouring pages, download free activities for kids #3 -With family

Indulge Magazine feature article: The Father's Heart P22-23
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Indulge Magazine Feature Article

My feature article in Indulge Magazine: The Father’s Heart; the story behind my picture book, Adoptive Father, and the Indian experience that influenced it.

Indulge Magazine feature article: The Father's Heart

Indulge Magazine feature article: The Father’s Heart- CLICK IMAGE TO READ

Indulge Magazine feature article: The Father's Heart P22-23

Indulge Magazine feature article: The Father’s Heart P22-23

Indulge Magazine feature article: The Father's Heart P20-21

Indulge Magazine feature article: The Father’s Heart P20-21

You can also listen to the radio interview on Yarra Valley FM 99.1 – Adoptive Father interview  on ‘Have a Little Faith’ – Yarra Valley FM 99.1

Picture book proofs for Without Me
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Printers Proofs for Picture Book Arrive.

I always greet my postman with a smile, even more so when he delivers proofs fro a new book. I like him when he drops off new books to read too. I really don’t think I will loose the childish thrill of a new paper book.

You would think that my work ended there wouldn’t you? Nope, far from it my friends. You can bet your bottom dollar there will be some sneaky mistakes that surface after the first proofs, yes we found the scoundrels. Edits and more rechecking and then there is gearing up for the launch. I think there is sleep in there somewhere, somehow–perhaps not.

Anyways, I thought you would like to take a peek. These cam a little different than my last book (which was in sheets of 4). The reason being that they are from a different printer. I was really happy with the colour and especially how the cover turned out. I am looking forward to October 1st and a bound copy, so are my kids who all expect their own of course.

Picture book proofs for Without Me

Picture book proofs for Without Me arrived.