Stephanie Roth Sisson
Stephanie Roth Sisson is an artist who has illustrated many books for children, including Star Stuff, a picture book biography of Carl Sagan. She divides her time between Mauritius, Africa, and Sarasota, Florida.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I live part of the year in Mauritius (take a right at Madagascar) so my day includes a lot of being in nature. The morning starts with opening the doors onto the garden and feeding the birds. I like to watch them while I have my coffee and sometimes draw them. I am particularly fond of the bulbul family that lives by my studio window. This morning was calm on the water, so I took out my paddle boards and went out to the reef to watch fish and to look at the colorful corals. After coming home and tidying up it's time to focus on work. Typically I try to get an overview of the work to be done and organize the day beginning with the most creative thing first (maybe brainstorming or drawing) and them moving into the more structured stuff like storyboarding. I usually work in two hour blocks and then take breaks in between. My breaks are usually some kind of exercise like yoga and them maybe trying to teach myself something new like gesture drawing or doing some kind of research on a new project. If I'm really having trouble getting into work that day I try to meditate or do some other work to help improve my focus. My work day starts at around 9 and goes until about 6.
"About" from Macmillan Spring 2018 Catalog
When I was in the third grade, Tomie DePaola came to my school. I was chosen to represent my classroom in a small group session with Tomie in the library. He talked about writing and illustrating books and it was the first time it dawned on me that it was a real job.
A few years ago I found paper that I had written in the third grade whose title was ""What I Want to be When I Grow Up"". I had written it about being and author illustrator.
When I was a kid my grandparents would come to visit with books for gifts. My grandfather would read fairy tales to me from a book without many illustrations in it and I would draw my own while he was reading. It's a one of my favorite memories of time with him.
That book is STAR STUFF. It was the first book I wrote and I loved the process of writing it because of my wonderful critique group in California. They listened to the first drafts (which were painfully bad), offered honest feedback and encouragement and we all celebrated when the book was acquired .
One of the big joys of creating books is that it is a collaborative process.
Developing a personal style is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects to illustrating. For me it came through first imitating work that I admired and eventually through experimentation and practice developing a style. My style continues to change and evolve.
I'm not a fast writer or illustrator. I collect a lot of information before I start a project and it's taking all of the things that I want to put into a project and distilling them down into something succinct that also has depth and simplicity that is the most difficult.