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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with Jessica Warrick + 20 Book Giveaway!

You read that right! Today, we're doing something a little different.


I was invited to participate and help celebrate Flashlight Press' 20th Anniversary of publishing. As part of this celebration, they are giving away 20 copies of Hammer and Nails: by Josh Bledsoe, illustrated by Jessica Warrick. Be sure to check out the book's webpage - https://flashlightpress.com/hammer-and-nails/ for some really fun activities and extras. Details on entering the giveaway at the end of the post.


As part of this celebration and giveaway, I got to chat with Jessica Warrick. Jessica Warrick has been an illustrator for around 17 years. Her work has appeared in award winning picture books, magazines, wallpaper, and her own cartoons and print collections.

Illustrator photo of Jessica Warrick

The enchanting, natural environment of the Pacific Northwest is a huge source of inspiration for Jessica’s work, finding its way into her mythical creatures, forested backgrounds, and the always necessary mushroom. People are her other favorite sources of inspiration, and the real characters she encounters in everyday life and throughout her travels always find their way into Jessica’s work as well.


Most of her art is created through a unique process, beginning as a detailed pencil drawing that is painted with a black watercolor base. Color is applied digitally, resulting in a piece that resembles a traditional painting and has all the modifiable convenience of the digital medium.

Collage of 6 of Jessica's book covers.

Jessica is the illustrator of 25 books, including Gnomes & Ungnomes: Poems of Hidden Creatures by Audrey Day-Williams, Kristen Wixted, Robert Thibeault, and Heather Kelly (2023), The Wishbreaker by Tyler Whitesides (2019), The Wishmakers by Tyler Whitesides (2018) and chapter book series How to be an Earthing by Lori Haskins Houran (2017), Hammer and Nails by Josh Bledsoe (2016), and Fish Finelli: Ghosts Don't Wear Glasses by E. S. Farber (2016).


Welcome Jessica,

 

Hi! Thanks so much for inviting me to do this interview!


Tell us a little about yourself. (Where/when do you illustrate? How long have you been illustrating? What is your favorite type of book to illustrate?)

 

I illustrate anytime, anywhere. Just like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. Anytime, anywhere. I go to a lot of coffee shops…my living room, a proper art studio, anywhere I can, and anytime I need to in order to get the job done.


I have been illustrating all my life, really, but for around 17 years professionally. I drew all kinds of weird stuff as a kid…I loved drawing things in motion, lots of action going on. And if I could get a laugh, that meant I was successful. My brother and I would draw these big-headed chicks. As in baby birds. And we’d out draw each other with how big the head would get. Pretty soon there’d just be a huge head taking up an entire sheet of computer paper, and a tiny eye in the middle of it with a tiny bird body somewhere below. We thought it was hilarious. So to answer your question, my favorite type of book to illustrate is anything that’s funny. Or anything about giant baby bird heads.

 

Ha! That sounds like a really fun time! What is one of the most fun or unusual places where you’ve illustrated a manuscript?


What a great question. At one point, I was living in Costa Rica while working on a book. It was interesting to have to constantly brush insects off of me, even if I was indoors. And they especially liked glowing computer screens at night.

 

Um, I'd be interested in the location, but not so much the bugs! What about the Hammer and Nails manuscript appealed to you as an illustrator?

Book cover - a girl wearing a tiara perched on her dad's shoulders with a hammer sticking out of her bag.

There were several things that appealed to me. I loved that I had a chance to show juxtapositions, which is always a fun thing to illustrate. Imagining the burly Dad in a little ballet outfit sounded perfect. I also loved the opportunity to make the characters emotionally expressive. There are also so many fun, gestural movements Daddy and Darcy are doing that were a blast to draw. And the theme of challenging one’s own assumptions by trying something new really appealed to me too. I felt lucky to illustrate a book with this positive message.

 

And I love the way you illustrated each of these facets of the book. What was the hardest or most challenging thing about illustrating Hammer and Nails? And what was the most fun?


I was stepping into a new level of my illustration education during this book, so there was a ton I was learning and implementing “on the job,” which made it a challenge. Shari Dash Greenspan, the editor, was incredibly helpful, patient, and detail-oriented, so we took our time working through it all together. Sometimes the rough sketches felt like a painstaking process, until I really started to feel into the characters and make them my own. Then it started to flow more easily, and got really fun. A big thanks to Shari for her amazing guidance!

 

Interesting. That's a challenge for both illustrators and authors. How many revisions did Hammer and Nails take for the illustrations - from first draft to publication?


Oh wow…so many. I lost count. There were a lot of little adjustments and details that needed to be constant throughout the story, so it took quite a lot of rounds to finalize everything. Again, Shari’s finely tuned, editing eye was so valuable for this!

 

You both did a fantastic job! Many illustrators leave treasures or weave their own story (or elements) throughout the illustrations. Did you do this in Hammer and Nails? If so, could you share one or more with us?

Internal spread - on the left, dad kneeling and offering daughter a hammer. On the right, top & bottom image showing the two of the hammering nails into a fence.

Text © Josh Bledsoe, 2024. Image © Jessica Warrick, 2024.


Well, the cat and dog have their own little sub story going on throughout the book. They are pretty much stalking each other the whole time. And my own childhood memories of trying to wrangle cats went into those first few pages where Darcy is attempting to cuddle her annoyed cat.


“New improved fumes” on the wood stain can in the garage scene is another hidden treasure. I always try to add in some fun, fake products anywhere I can. It’s a compulsion I have.

 

I love the expressions and actions of the cat and dog. What's something you want your readers to know about Hammer and Nails?


The author, Josh Bledsoe, did an amazing job conveying such an important message in a light, fun way. I love that he presented two often stereotyped archetypes of traditional masculine and feminine, and let the characters explore them both. The Dad allowed space for his daughter’s sensibilities, and visa versa. They both learned something about each other and themselves in this way, and had a great time exploring it! They still get to express themselves the way they want, but they also have a larger capacity for their sense of self as a result of stepping outside their comfort zones.

 

And strengthen their bond/friendship along the way! Is there a spread that you were especially excited about or proud of? Or perhaps one which is your favorite spread?

 

I do love how that big green lawn mower with all the pink bows came out. It’s such a great representation of the story in one spread.

 

It is so cute! (Imagine a riding lawn mower with an umbrella roped to the seat and pink bows tied around the umbrella and the front of the mower.) How's that for an awesome dad! Are there any new projects you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?


I am always working on projects! Right now, I am sketching out pages for a funny book about dogs, and an awesome graphic novel featuring a poetic, pasta dreamscape. My own graphic novel is in the works too!

 

Okay, that's intriguing. We'll have to keep our eyes open for these projects. Last question, what is your favorite National Park or Forest, regional park, or city park? Or the one you’re longing to visit. Why?

Photo of tree and fern lined trail within Forest in Park Portland, Oregon.

l love Forest Park where I live in Portland, Oregon. It is such a special place since it’s a real, huge, wild forest, but right in the heart of the city. I am an avid mushroom forager, and have gone “grocery shopping” in those woods often. There are so many magical places I have visited throughout the country and world, but I am still drawn to the amazing nature in the Pacific Northwest. I would, however, love to explore the Big Sur area in California. It looks absolutely beautiful and inspiring.


Sounds like an awesome park with a ton of cool bridges and trails. Thank you, Jessica, for sharing with us a bit about yourself and your fun book, Hammer and Nails.

Book cover - a girl wearing a tiara perched on her dad's shoulders with a hammer sticking out of her bag.

Be sure to come back on Friday for the Perfect Picture Book #PPBF post on Hammer and Nails.



To find out more about Jessica Warrick, or to contact her:



🎈🎉 Hammer and Nails - MEGA Book Giveaway 🎉🎈


Awesome news! Flashlight Press is offering 20 - that's right- 20 lucky readers a copy of Hammer and Nails.


- Simply comment below to be entered in the random drawing on June 10th. Just in time for Father's day!

- Be sure to say where (if) you shared the post (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Bluesky), and I'll add additional entries for you.


- Sorry US Residents only.

1 opmerking


maryannkohl123
02 jun.

I have followed Jessica‘s work for quite some time. She is the supreme talent and I’m sure she has made the this book sing with her work.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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