Just in time for Super Tuesday (have you voted?), I’m super happy to report some news of my own. It’s Pub Day for My Daddy and Me, a padded board book from Cartwheel Books/Scholastic—and I’m thrilled to celebrate with its acclaimed illustrator, Jane Massey, visiting from the south coast of England.
(If you’re interested in how a picture book manuscript wound up in board book format, you can read the backstory over here.)
Here’s a quick summary from Kirkus: “This rhyming board book follows fathers and children through a typical day for a toddler and parent, starting with waking up and continuing until bath-and bedtime . . . The art and words create a loving, nurturing tone . . . Sweet and affectionate.”
For a chance to win a copy, just leave a comment below.
And now, to our guest! Jane Massey has illustrated and written many children’s books, designed greeting cards and product packaging, and has a popular and incredibly charming Instagram page. And here she is . . .
LA: Jane, your books and Instagram feed are filled with so many adorable babies and toddlers. And, of course, I love the dads and little ones featured in My Daddy and Me. Like these, for example:
Where did you find inspiration for the characters? Were they based on anyone in particular?
JM: I don’t usually base my characters on one specific person. My Daddy and Me features several different Dads so I did find some reference material online but tried not to follow it too closely. I find that if I use photographic reference my drawings tighten up. If I become too worried about getting a pose accurate the image can lose the emotion. I will do several sketches for each image but often the first one is the best.
LA: In addition to your many books, you’ve designed all sorts of products and packaging. Can you tell us about your background?
JM: I studied Graphic Design at University and worked for two London design agencies specialising in packaging before I decided to go freelance and try and develop a career in illustration. I had a lucky break getting a commission to illustrate a packaging range through a contact from my design background. It took me a couple more years to develop a style that appealed to publishers. At first I worked on educational books and then gradually started getting commissions from London publishing houses.
LA: Do you have a favorite type of project to work on?
JM: I am happiest when I have a mix of briefs to work on. Illustrating picture books can be quite challenging. The finished result looks quite simple but it takes months of deliberation to get there. I like the often fast turnaround of design projects and seeing my work in different formats.
LA: Can you tell us a bit about where you live? And maybe share a peek of your workspace?
JM: I have lived in Hove on the South Coast of England for the last 20 years. I love that I have the sea to one side and the South Downs on the other. I like that Brighton & Hove is very open minded and creative.
LA: What’s a typical day like for you?
JM: I am quite disciplined but I don’t have a set timetable for my day. I usually take time out during the morning to have a walk and to do errands and go for a coffee. I have always worked from home as I like the flexibility of being able to fit my work around family life. I find the evenings are often my most productive time. I try not to work past 9 pm as I need to wind down.
LA: I’m excited that this book’s companion—My Mommy and Me—will be out next year. What else have you got in the works?
JM: I have lots of exciting projects in the pipeline but am sworn to secrecy. I am working with publishers in the States, Australia and UK this year and am also working on design commissions. I am continuing to develop my own print range and plan to take my characters on to greeting cards and merchandising.
LA: So nice chatting with you, Jane. Thanks for stopping by!
For a chance to win a copy of My Daddy and Me, leave a comment below by March 15th. I’ll announce the winner in my March 31st post.
And thanks, as always, for reading!