What a gift to dive into Caldecott Medal winner Michaela Goade‘s brain and consider how to approach stories from the eyes of an illustrator! Michaela’s inspiring artistry and passion for storytelling is palpable in how she approaches her craft.
Here are some of my favorite nuggets of wisdom from our conversation:
🌊 Trust the artist: the alchemy of picture books results from a true collaboration between author and illustrator
🌊 Keep digging for the heart of a story! Layers are critical, but they all need to fit together symbiotically… sometimes you need to put your blinders on to reduce distractions.
🌊 Set an illustrator up for success by keeping descriptions (and art notes!) sparse and leaving space for the illustrator in order to avoid redundancy. A noted exception is if there is a need to communicate
🌊 Don’t be too precious with your words. When in doubt: save a version, delete a whole section, then reiterate to find your “a-ha!”
🌊 Focus your writing on experiences like taste, smell, sound and movement that are harder to communicate visually. If it can be shown, it may not need to be told!
🌊 Inspiration can be found in nature, photography, notes to self, research and connecting with the unique cultural experiences of others (for Native stories and beyond)
Thank you for taking the time to share your beautiful perspective, Michaela! Your work inspires me to connect, breathe and keep digging for truth. Michaels’s I SANG YOU DOWN FROM THE STARS, alongside author Tasha Spillett-Sumner, releases next April and is available for pre-order now! And don’t miss the stunning prints, cards and more on michaelagoade.com ❤️
For quick reference, here are books discussed:
WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS by @carolelindstrom, illustrated by @michaelagoade
ENCOUNTER by @britt.luby, illustrated by @michaelagoade
I SANG YOU DOWN FROM THE STARS by @tasha.spillett, illustrated by @michaelagoade
I AM EVERY GOOD THING by @authorderrickdbarnes, illustrated by @gordoncjamesfineeart
(Conversation held on December 12, 2020 on IG Live @carolinepritchardwrites)