Artist & Author Carey Sookocheff on the Journey Through an Illustration Project
Wonder Buddy and Super Earl have had a lot of adventures over their four books together, but their newest one proves that the wildest rides can be the closest to home when they meet their new neighbours: Snowball the cat and Mister the bulldog.
Author Maureen Fergus and illustrator Carey Sookocheff's Buddy and Earl series has been met with both critical acclaim and the devotion of young fans, thanks to the charming, witty storylines and playful, unique artwork. To celebrate the newest addition to the Buddy and Earl universe, Buddy and Earl Meet the Neighbours (Groundwood Books), we're chatting with both Maureen and Carey. Today we've got Carey (stay tuned for our chat with Maureen!) who takes us into her beautiful work space.
She tells us about the importance of a certain four-legged coworker in her studio space, sharing her brainstorming board with kids and friends, and how the last step of every project is the first step of the next one.
At the Desk, with Carey Sookocheff:
For the past two years I have worked in a lovely studio space with a couple of friends in Toronto. It has been a great space for me to work in, but I’ve recently moved back to my home-based studio. I realized that I can work just about anywhere and I really don’t need such a big dedicated space. I also missed my dog Rosie since she wasn’t able to come to work with me. So right now a lot of my studio is still in boxes while I sort out my new/old space and get everything set up again. I think Rosie is very happy to have me back home.
When I am writing and sketching I can be at my dining room table, at the park, or even waiting in the dentist’s office. All I need is a sketchbook and a pencil and I can write and draw. I also find I develop lots of my ideas at random times when I don’t even have a pencil. I am always thinking about new ideas while I walk my dog, while I am swimming laps or even in the grocery store.
Once I move on to doing final artwork though I become less nomadic. I need more than just a pencil and I spend most of my time at the drawing table with my paints. My studio is down in the basement, but it actually has a big window and some great light., and there is a comfy couch nearby in case I need a break. I try to keep my space clear of clutter, because I can be very messy when I work. I seem to go through an inordinate amount of paper when I am working out ideas and compositions. I have two big bulletin boards that I use to pin up sketches, ideas, and colour palettes for whatever project I am working on at the moment. My space becomes devoted to whatever project I am working on at the time. There are also two paintings of my daughters pinned up on my board that were painted by my friend Julia Breckenreid. I love having them in my space, but I really should get them framed! I also have lots of picture books and some reference books that I can look at when I need inspiration. Now that I am back at home, my kids also seem to add their own work into the mix, so I have a few of their things on the wall too.
On the other side of the room I have a desk with my computer and scanner. When I am done painting I scan everything and make adjustments digitally. I often have to dig out my scanner from under a pile of paper before I can start this process. It’s a good signal to me that it is time to clean up, file my sketches in my big flat file cabinet and move on to the next stage of the book process. It also means it is time to head outside and gather up more inspiration by going to the park, the library, or wherever I can travel with my sketchbook and pencil.
Carey Sookocheff is the author and illustrator of Solutions for Cold Feet and Other Little Problems and Wet. She is also the illustrator of the Buddy and Earl series. She lives in Toronto with her family and her dog, Rosie.