Illustrator Interview: Christy Schneyman
Do you love the beautiful illustrations in our book Smile, Chewie!? If so, you have the wonderful Christy Schneyman to thank for that! Her gorgeous watercolor paintings brought Chewie's story to life, and now we're going to hear more from her about her creative process! Enjoy this interview with Christy!
FHF: How did you first become interested in illustrating children's books?
CS: I found my interest in illustration as a kid. My dad and I spent a lot of time creating children's books together with stapled printer paper, pens, and crayons. The books were always about cats and dogs. One of my favorites starred a dog named Sparky. The story was about him buying a new house.
My major at Savannah College of Art and Design was illustration, so of course that also had a huge influence on my artistic career as well. :)
I've seen a lot of animals in your art. How do you figure out how to draw different kinds of animals?
Practice, practice, practice! Looking at pictures of animals and other illustrations is necessary for any artist. I also spent countless hours at Barnes and Noble perusing through children's books while I created my character design portfolio.
You use a lot of watercolor in your art. Why do you like watercolor? What other media do you use?
I'm in love with how unpredictable and free watercolor is.
I paint and draw with 2 dimensional media such as oil paint, acrylic paint, charcoal, graphite, colored pencil, pastel, etc. I dabble with ceramics and the beloved Adobe PhotoShop.
How did you figure out Chewie's character design? How did you adapt photos of real Chewie into his illustrated form?
I started with drawing gesture sketches of Chewie from looking at his Instagram. I then cleaned up these gestures on another layer on Photoshop, which is kind of like tracing. After creating many sketches of Chewie from looking at photos, I was able to draw him freehand. It was so fun to draw him in different poses!
What is your process like when starting a new picture? Do you outline first? Do you sometimes just paint on a blank canvas Bob Ross style? Do you storyboard before doing anything else?
When illustrating a book or story, the storyboard process is very important. It is like a sketch or mind map for the while book. It takes a lot of work to make sure the images work chronologically from beginning to end.
I do have days where I will paint Bob Ross style… sometimes as an artist, you just need to get your creative juices out!
Do you have anything new coming out soon?
Yes, a Master's degree in Art Teaching coming this May!
What advice would you give to aspiring artists out there?
Promoting your art on social media and a website is important for receiving commissions. Websites such as Wix and Squarespace offer free domains.
Participate in networking events to get your artwork out there, even if you're terrified of approaching people. I was super scared of talking to people about my art at first, but with more practice, it gets easier.