Monday, November 22, 2010

Q&A with Dallas Clayton

I'm having one of those days when everything is soooo much more complicated and time consuming that it needs to be. So, I'm extra thankful to receive an email today from Dallas Clayton. As I said last week, Dallas kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his new book "An Awesome Book of Thanks!"
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1. Tell us a little about your professional background. Do you have formal training in writing and illustration? Are you an author/illustrator part-time or full-time?
The only training I have is just in practice. I've always written things and give or sold or shared them with people. An Awesome Book however was the first proper book I'd ever written and indeed the first thing I'd really ever drawn. After the unexpected success it quickly became my full time job - kids book making person.

2. What inspired this new "Awesome Book of Thanks!"?
Well the first book is about dreaming big so this book is the compliment to that. Dreaming big but being thankful for all of the small things that happen on life's journey to accomplishing those big dreams.

3. How did you start the project - do you draw first? write first?
I'm a writer first, so I usually have a ton of ideas going at once then I have to decide which ones get drawn because the drawing takes so long. I'm still pretty new to drawing so it's a real process whereas the writing is fairly snappy.

4. Can you explain the process of planning and creating your book? What methods do you use - do you create mock-ups of the book, storyboards, pin-up loads of sketches, have critiques, or use other techniques?
I don't really have any techniques I kindof just write it then sit down for six months and draw the whole thing out. I'm not really much of a sketcher so I just put pen to paper and hope not to mess up too bad. It's kind of fun and kid like in that respect I suppose.

5. How did you create the illustrations? What kind of media do you use?
Pens, paper, Watercolor, markers, lots of This American Life to keep me company.

6. I often create drawings and then try to scan them and use them in layouts. I think it's easy to loose the original character of the drawings (and details of the line work, pen strokes, etc) in this process. How do you handle these issues?
I think because I've never really been a drawer by trade I'm much less of a stickler for detail. I am much more of an idea/theme person so I am usually more focused on conveying a larger emotion or concept than I am with the subtle nature of the drawings. If I could get away with stick figures and line drawings and still have the same impact I would- alas I am not there yet...

7. I think the doodley type in your layouts is a font - what font is it? who created it?
In the first book it was all hand drawn and but in the second book I had to create a font using the hand drawn letters because it was becoming way too time-consuming. I'm so glad I did that.

8. Your first book "An Awesome Book" was self-published. But, I see that you've used Amazon Encore for "An Awesome Book of Thanks". Why did you make this switch?
After An Awesome Book came out a lot of publishing houses wanted to put out books with me, but I didn't feel a connection with any of them. Amazon contacted me and I flew up to Seattle to meet with them and I just really liked the idea of their model. Progressive, internet friendly, large-reach - these were all things I was looking for. More than a publisher I was looking for a partner that could help me share.

9. Many of the blog readers are creative people and I'm sure many of them have toyed around with creating things to sell (books, stationery, art, etc). Do you have any advice for potential creative entrepreneurs?
Make things you love and try to share them with as many people as possible.
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I make loads of stuff, but mostly for myself and my family. But, Dallas totally makes me want to get off my duff and start producing things to share with the world. Thanks Dallas!

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