Featured Children's Book Author and Illustrator: Julian Hector

Published 2 years ago

Our featured author and illustrator this month is Julian Hector. Julian is the illustrator for This is the Firetruck, an exciting board book included in our Bookroo board book box. Originally from Los Angeles, Julian studied illustration at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. He now lives and works in Austin, Texas. He is an accomplished children’s book illustrator and author and has authored and/or illustrated five published books with more on the way. Additionally, Julian is a talented designer in the technology fields of user experience and user interface (UX/UI).

Bookroo: What was one of your favorite parts of studying in New York at the Parsons School of Design?

Julian: I loved the design immersion of it all; being around other designers, taking nothing but art and design classes, held often at the Met and the MoMA. Coming from a small town in Texas, going to Parsons was like going to Hogwarts. It felt like home.

Bookroo: Your illustration styles can vary a lot between your work for children’s books on one hand and technology startups on the other. What is your process for choosing a feel or style for a specific project?

Julian: When working on any project, I try never to think about style for style’s sake. The decision to hand-paint a children’s picture book or use digital tools to design a financial product for a bank, always comes down to listening and understanding the project. For me, the demands of the project determine the method and execution, which is really just another way of saying style.

For books that I’ve written, I want to transport readers, with a full sense of time and place. Hand painting brings a level of emotion that’s the best way for me to accomplish this. When I start working on teams, at companies, I’m designing within a large system that hundreds of other designers also work within. As the scale grows, utilizing digital tools is often the best way for a large team of artists and designers to create with one consistent voice.

Bookroo: What is the biggest challenge you face when you’re creating illustrations for a new children’s book?

Julian: Determining the pacing; figuring out what happens where and how across 32 empty pages. Drawing a single illustration or scene is easy. Drawing 16 scenes that moves a character through an emotional arch, while keeping your reader turning the pages all the way to the end is the hard part.

Bookroo: What do you hope young readers experience from your illustrations?

Julian: I hope I can pass on the same sense of enjoyment that I had when I read picture books as a young reader. I was raised with stacks of picture books, and it definitely set a foundation of curiosity and learning that I’ll always carry with me.

Bookroo: How has reading influenced your life?

Julian: I definitely wouldn’t have written and illustrated books, if not for being a reader. I originally went to Parsons to be an architect, but quickly switched to illustration when I realized that storytelling was what I really loved.

Bookroo: Do you have any favorite memories of childhood reading?

Julian: I remember the first time I read a Goosbumps book as a kid. It was Welcome to Camp Nightmare, and turning each page was terrifying, but I couldn’t stop, and stayed up all night to finish the book. I had never read a book in one day like that before, and was so happy when it was over.

Bookroo: Do you have a favorite children’s book?

Julian: Trouble for Trumpets

Bookroo: What are your currently reading?

Julian: H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald

Bookroo: What do you do to continue improving your abilities as an illustrator and author?

Julian: Keep learning and keep practicing. Boredom is one of the scariest things for me. The second I start feeling comfortable, I know it’s time to learn or try something new.

Bookroo: We’re a community of book lovers. Do you have any upcoming books you can tell us about?

Julian: I just completed a sequel to This is the Firefighter, called This is the Construction Worker. It was written by Laura Godwin, and will be published by Disney-Hyperion. It comes out next spring!

We really appreciate the opportunity to learn more about Julian and his work as an illustrator and author. You can learn more about him and see more of his work on his website.

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