Self Publishing

Pink Camels and Floating GranniesI recently decided to self-publish my first book (very excited! You can see my first book here). I asked an editor friend of mine to assist me with my spelling errors and set about creating illustrations. I then started doing some research into my self-publishing options.

I have assisted a number of other self-published authors and having worked in publishing myself for 10 years, I had a good idea of what my options where. Since I already had the editing sorted, I could do my own illustrations, and typesetting a book is something I have done a million times, my only real need was to find a printing and distribution facility.

I found everything I needed, but on the the way I stumbled over self-publishing options and I was horrified.

I knew a lot of publishing houses were offering and suggesting places for self-publishers, but I had never read the fine print or looked at the cost. I discovered that almost all of them were (as far as I was concerned, knowing the rates of the industry) overcharging. Not to mention also charging for things they shouldn’t, for example ISBN’s. This is a free service the South African National Library offers. All you have to do is email them with a few details and then they email back, yet a lot of these packages were wanting to charge authors a few hundred rand for this.

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Projects Old and New

Collective Nouns

Jules Richman, who you might remember wrote Katya Cat last year, has this time put together a wonderful tale of Sam who finds collective nouns everywhere on a safari. I have been having such fun painting Jule’s imagination of robbing mice and hugging hippos. Here is just a sneak peek of some of those landscapes. If you would like to pre-order the book, at R100 a book, you are welcome to drop me an email (mrsbeckerling <at> gmail <dot> com), with ‘Collective Nouns’ in the subject line. Read more

Letting Go and Writing What You are Comfortable With

Illustrator South Africa

Somewhere between being a child and an adult my writing got stifled. I don’t know whether it was all those articles I had to produce for clients, amazing books I read by other people or finding out that other writers always have these epic, deep, character building, thoughts and I just had a few mushrooms and bug-spray, but somewhere, some time, at some point, things took a wrong turn. I keep looking at books that have whole worlds created by authors and thought ‘I can do that.’ I looked at stories with epic endings and thought ‘I can write that.’ I looked at characters that blossomed and changed and thought ‘I have that.’ And it was true, I did have it. But I never finished it. I wrote out story plots with twists and turns, worlds with pink candy floss for trees and orange bumble bees. I even tried my hand at limericks and prose. But did I finish it? Nope.

Well that’s not entirely true, I did finish one here, another there. I then got excited that I had finally completed it and would email it off to publishers. Slowly over months I would get emails dribbling in sort of saying it needs more work. By this stage I wasn’t interested in it any more. The truth was, these stories were not my favourite. Within a month of completing the few I did, I realised I didn’t actually like them much myself. Sure there was a paragraph here, and a chapter there that brought me joy, but the story line just didn’t feel right. Read more

SCBWI – South Africa – becoming a member

scbwi SA

I was recently asked by the SCBWI (Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators) to come on board and assist with their website content – content management if you like. For those of you who know me, this kind of thing comes naturally and I was delighted to be involved. I am pleased to announce that in a wonderful partnership with Elaine Ridge, Marjorie van Heerden and Samantha van Riet, the South African SCBWI blog is now beginning to take shape.  In return for my assistance, I was to be a member of their team.

Now I should say, that I have been stalking this group of people for over a year now. In fact, I was there, hanging out, chatting to them, going to events, well before I was even a published illustrator! I had gone to a book launch to meet an international illustration, Jane Heinrichs, who you might have remembered I interviewed that one time.

I had ‘met’ Jane via social media and found out that she was launching a book she was illustrating, with a Cape Town writer (Jane normally lives in the UK), so I went through. It was a little bit of a disaster, as the publisher seemed to have forgotten about it and the venue also were very confused, but in the end the author and Jane still managed to sign a few books, although mostly because of people they had personally invited. It all felt a bit like a flash-mob book launch! Read more

First Year in Illustrating

Racoon Illustration

It is September.

September is a big month for me. It is my husband’s birthday and our eight year anniversary (has it really been that long?), but it is also the time for peer reviews for Christmas bonuses and round about the time I got my car insurance money pay out last year. Therefore, it was roughly a year ago, that I typed up my resignation letter and started the count down, as I had accumulated enough cash to survive for eight months.

Eight months came and went and it is with great joy that I am still here, self-employed. It actually took me just over 6 months to start covering myself (if people are saving for the same journey). Soon I hope to exceed the ‘just covering’ and go into ‘look at me, I’m fabulous!” Read more

Book for Illustrators: The Animators Survival Kit

book reviews for illustrators and writers

Author: Richard Williams
ISBN: 978 0 571 23834 7

As most illustrators, I am always on the look out for books that will show me something new and thought it would be a good idea to share my findings and my top books. Please feel free to make your own suggestions and share in the comments.

The Animator's Survival KitThe Animators Survival Kit is targeted at animators, hoping to learn a thing or two from the ‘greats’ about space, anatomy, and weight (to name a few). But I found this to be one of the most usual reference books for illustrators as well. Animators have to know from frame to frame, but as illustrators we always have to capture the moment of action. We have to enhance the drawing and bring with it the full potential, as, unlike animators who have endless frames to show movement, we only have one.

What illustrators also tend to do is stick to a ‘formula’ where once we have mastered a look, we stick to it. For example, when drawing a person running, we might stick to the classic, one leg stretched out, the other bend, one arm forward, the other behind. But that is not the only post in running. What about the body shape of the person? Are they a large person, or a skinny person? What happens to the large person’s belly when they run? Does it not move? Where is the weight? What happens to the skinny person’s back? Are they leaning forward? Does their neck extend? Read more

South African Illustrator: Sam van Riet

Sam van Riet

Sam van Riet is a South African illustrator, with 20 years of experience. She chats to us about how things have changed since she started, and her latest projects.

Celeste: Hi Sam, and welcome to the blog. Thanks for taking time out to answer my questions. I thought it would be nice to have a local (South African) artist interview on my blog.  First of all, can you just tell us a little about yourself and your experience?

Sam: I studied graphic design and then Illustration at Stellenbosch university. I was lucky to have Niki Daly and Paddy Bouma as lecturers, so studying was a great experience for me. Since then I have worked as a freelance illustrator for about 20 years.
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