'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Illustrator Interview: Tom Lintern

Who is this talented person? Tom Lintern

What does he do? He's an illustrator.

Where can you check out his stuff? tomlintern.com

What’s his story? I grew up in small suburbian town called Stow, Ohio. Typical American kid. I loved sports, movies and of course, drawing. I didn't really excel in art or any classes growing up and was a bit directionless but fortunately ended up going to college for Graphic Design which actually helped my skills and kept my interest in illustration.

After college, I worked full-time as a web designer but didn't feel it was my calling so I moved to LA with some friends to start my illustration career. My plan was to get a sci-fi comic book off the ground. That never happened but what eventually did happen is, through collaborating with other people, I ended up doing artwork for friends' film projects, which eventually got me into storyboarding independent films and eventually TV commercials for companies like McDonald's, ESPN, Norelco etc.

Finally, after five years in LA, I moved to NYC and in the process of looking for storyboard work I ended up getting my first job as a children's book illustrator!

How long has he been illustrating? Professionally? About three or four years. Started off as a storyboard artist (which is basically pencil drawings of camera shots). My first picture book job started about one year ago. As a hobby I've been drawing since I was about five or so. I really took a liking to it right away, so even as a kid was drawing for hours at a time.

His first children’s book, The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez, has recently been released. What made him decide to become involved with children’s books? I've always liked illustrating anything imaginative and The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez had a dreamlike feel to it. I love illustrated stories in general no matter what age group. The reason I wanted to work on this book in particular was because I liked the story and saw that there was lot of room for creativity. I thought it would be a lot of fun, which it was!

What does he love about illustrating for children? In terms of illustration, children's books have the least rules and the most room to be creative. They're also so important for children's development and getting them interested in reading so if as an artist I can inspire some of them, that'd be amazing!

What other illustrating work does he do? I draw storyboards for TV commercials, and I've always got my own little projects. I've been developing a sci-fi comic book for about 10 years! (on and off as hobby :)) Also at the moment, just for fun, I'm working on a short animation based on another book I did last year for Tricycle Press called The Cold Water Witch.

Why does he do what he does? Bottom line its just a lot of fun! Drawing is just a way of creating whatever ideas come into your head and the better at it you become, the more addictive it is.

How did he learn to illustrate? Self-taught mainly. I did take a couple classes in college which helped me in a couple areas but the vast majority of what I know comes from experience.

Tell us a bit about the creative process. Certain ideas just pop up right away and I'll sketch them out and it feels right almost immediately. Other parts of the art develop as I move along. Most of the scenes I figure out in the sketch phase of the project. The character designs seem to take me the longest to get right. I usually have a general idea of what I want, and then every time I draw them they develop bit by bit until a little personality finally starts to shine through.

The design of El Raton Perez in this story didn't come along fully until a week before the final art was due!

Does he remember the time he realised he had this talent? I had a knack for drawing at a very young age. I didn't think I thought I could do it as a career until Senior year of college. I was 22.

What are the greatest blocks or obstacles he has experienced on his illustrating journey? I think every artist has their strengths and weaknesses. Partly because I was self-taught I think it took me a while to to get my art to a point where it could get me work. So at times it was tough, just hanging in there and not giving up.

What advice would he have on illustrating children’s stories? Learn as much about art as you can! The wider range of experience you have the better. Learn about commercial art, film art, classical art. Learn about perspective, anatomy. Learn different mediums, including digital. Sometimes a project or class that might not be your favorite thing in world might teach more than the ones that are. And of course, draw as often as you can!

If he couldn’t be an illustrator, what would he be? Designer/animator.

What are his most favourite things to do? Being with friends and family, exploring NYC , drawing.

What are his favourite children’s books of all time? Where the Wild Things Are.

What did he like to play as a child? Kickball, army men, t-ball, arcade games.

What would be his perfect day? Explore a new part of NYC, work on some art, meet up with some friends.

What five words best sum him up? Mellow, artist, curious, inspired, independent.

Kids' Book Review will soon be featuring a review of The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez.

The book is available online