July 27, 2021
Note From Rochelle
What a week! Our very own Milwaukee Bucks claimed the NBA Championship. Our city has been flooded with visitors and parties. My poor dogs have been hiding from the fireworks!
My new book, Mightier than the Sword comes out today! Woot! We are having an online event tonight, and I would love to “see” you there. Register through the event page on Facebook or Boswell Book Company for more information.
In today’s post, I interviewed my illustrator Melina Ontiveros. If you’ve ever wanted to illustrate a children’s book, this will inspire you!
Becoming a Children’s Book Illustrator
An Interview with Illustrator Melina Ontiveros
Welcome to the blog, Melina. Tell us about you and how you became an illustrator.
Hi there, thank you for having me in your blog!
I initially studied Industrial Design but, I always used drawing to express myself. I’ve been drawing since I can remember and illustration is something that I have always been interested in. It wasn’t until I was in my last year in college where I discovered the art community on Instagram and YouTube and I realized I could be part of that with the help of social media. I got myself a very cheap drawing tablet and started experimenting and posting my work online. In time my agency found me and offered me the chance to enter the publishing industry. It’s been a joy to be part of that and I’m also very excited to continue growing as an artist with their help.
What artists, books, or experiences have influenced your work as an illustrator?
I am a very visual person. I love movies and animated series. I can remember a friend that motivated me to draw with her our favorite characters when I was little. We could spend an entire day drawing together. Fran Meneses is a huge inspiration to me as an artist and creative person, we might not share the same art style but she was the one who planted the seed in me to start a career as an illustrator sharing her story and development through her vlogs in YouTube. I’ll be forever thankful to her for that she helped me believe this is possible.
I believe Mightier than the Sword is your first book. Can you talk about the process of illustrating a book. What kind of research did you do?
Yes, it is and I’m excited! The author’s writing and Liz’s (our art director) instructions were really helpful during the process. First, I would read the whole chapter and take notes of the things that surprised or interested me the most. Liz would help me providing some pictures to base my illustrations on, and I’d start sketching. I would also google more information or pictures in order for my illustrations to be as accurate as needed. The tricky part for me was the little elements adorning each main portrait. I wanted them to be unique for every character and tried to avoid repeating items, that’s where it was needed to do a little bit more research about the character to find something related to them that made them one of a kind.
Can you talk about your art practice. What tools and habits have helped you the most?
I work mainly on digital using an iPad. I love playing with textured brushes. I’m currently slowly returning to my sketchbook and practicing more traditional mediums like watercolors, gouache (my favorite), and colored pencils. I also started watching some online courses to improve my work.
What are you reading now?
I am currently re-reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. The last time I read it was 4 or 5 years ago and I loved it. It is a great example of creative writing with diverse and inclusive characters, not to mention how fun it is to read. I’m a Greek mythology fangirl so that’s a plus for me. I encourage anyone who hasn’t read it to do so you won’t regret it!
About the author
MELINA ONTIVEROS graduated as an Industrial Designer when she discovered art and illustration were her true life passions. Soon, she started her career as a children’s book illustrator. With her work, she wants to help people to reconnect with the child we all carry inside. When she’s not drawing, she likes to spend her free time reading fiction, watching funny shows, and baking cakes. She lives in the warm North of Mexico. Follow her on Instagram.
NOTE: The books links lead to the Write Now! Coach bookstore on Bookshop.com. Write Now! Coach receives a small percentage of your purchase, which helps to support this blog.