it’s a book launch


So, in my other life, I illustrated and designed a picture book which will be launching in a couple of weeks. For those who know me personally, they would probably agree that this has been a very long time in the making (4-odd years), and that this project is launching is a very happy thing indeed (and also, personally, a pretty great birthday present).

So far, reviewers have said nice things about the book, which is always nice! Releasing a book into the world can be pretty scary.

Dream Boats

about the launch

The event takes place on June 13, 2013 at 7:00 pm at Christianne’s Lyceum of Literature and Art, 3696 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C

Author Dan Bar-el and I will be in attendance, refreshments will be served, and books will be available for purchase (GST-free!).

The launch is open to all, so come by and celebrate with us, and bring along any young people you may know who might get a kick out of a book about boats, and dreams, myth, and folktales, family, and ancestry; containing images of giant floating Ganeshes, star-drinking llamas, outer space-travelling flotillas, cloud-breaching whales, and airborne fish.

Dream Boats

about Dream Boats

Age group: 4-8
Publisher: Simply Read Books
Price: $19.95 cloth
ISBN: 978-1-89747-687-1
Page count: 40 pp.
Size: 11¼ x 9
Released: May

Dream Boats


DB_Origami_boat_black_outlines_sm_varI’ve published a series documenting my process of illustrating the picture book Dream Boats on my picture book website. The whole series is archived here.

There is also a gallery of work-in-progress images including first sketches, reference material, mistakes, redraws, and tests, to final art, here. Or the images can be viewed much larger, as a slideshow here.




Pop-Up Show

The recent rain has made me nostalgic for Portland (sorry Portland! I know you probably have lovely weather too.). But it’s true – I wish I had time for another trip down there this fall, and not just because my supply of cheap Trader Joe’s Port and chocolate has long run out. I had such a good time on my visit last winter (even in the rain) –  yummy food, proper diner breakfasts, fun shops, a comfy hotel room, beautiful and misty Japanese gardens, Trader Joe’s hotel room picnics, happy hour, the Japanese woodblock print exhibit at the Portland Art Museum… sigh.

Also, another great reason to visit this fall would be to see my friend Rachael‘s work in a show of movable artist books. What are movable artist books? Well, have a look at their online catalogue to find out. Or, better yet, if you’re in Portland between September 22 and October 30, 2010, check them out in person.

A brand new East Vancouver resident, Rachael has been working on some more altered books for the upcoming Eastside Culture Crawl. She also had a piece in a show in the UK and an installation in the Container Art Show at the PNE this summer.

I’m really impressed and inspired by how prolific and focused Rachael has been, especially since her art is so labour intensive.

UPDATE: Rachael also has work in the group show ReVision – the Art of Recycling at the Granville Island Hotel, 1253 Johnston Street, Vancouver, BC on Saturday & Sunday, October 2 & 3, 2010 at 11:00 am to 5:00 pm

Half World Vancouver

The other evening, I hit a wall working on an ongoing project so I left the studio for a bit of a walk around the neighbourhood. It’s now fall. Not sure when that happened, but it’s a sign I should probably get out more often.

My walk was meant to be, because I came across a little store selling new and secondhand comics and such* and among the books was YA novel Half World (author Hiromi Goto, illust. Jillian Tamaki). I’ve been looking for this book, with no luck, ever since I saw it on Jillian Tamaki’s blog. I didn’t realise it was set (partly) in Vancouver until I started reading it last night. Her other illustrated book, Skim (author Mariko Tamaki, illust. Jillian Tamaki), is a favourite of mine. She’s caught the postures of her characters so perfectly. Her expressive line and brush work is so lovely it makes me want to give up.

*I can’t remember the shop name, off hand. But it’s around 4th and Bayswater.


Things are a bit quiet here right now because I’ve been working on a picture book. I’ve sequestered myself on an island just outside the city where I am fortunate to share a large studio space. When I need to get away from distractions of my city studio, I come here where everything is very quiet, the nights are very dark and the most lively thing going on outside the studio window is bird drama, caused mainly by a large band of Steller’s Jays and sometimes by the occasional, optimistic attempts at bird life made by the neighbour’s cat.

I have settled into a routine of sleep, eat, work, evening walks to the beach and sometimes some yoga to fix drawing-induced aches and pains – and repeat.

Currently, I’m blogging my picture book process drawings on my children’s book website. I was a little nervous to do it at first – I wasn’t sure I’d have much to put up there – but I’ve had a bout of productivity while working here so the posts have been somewhat regular. I’m also nervous about announcing projects before they’re printed, published and shipped. Things being as they are these days with the economy and the Canadian children’s book business being its good old precarious self, I’m not too willing to tempt fate or count chickens. (I like to reserve what superstition I have for this very purpose.)

Holiday Book Pairings

Amorous Pair

It’s that time of year again! No, not the last minute-run-around-like-a-crazy-person-trying-to-put-a-lid-on-work-before-the-onset-of-holidays-so-you-can-avoid-having-to-bring-your-laptop-to-the-family-dinner time of year. It’s the time of year for book pairings. It’s become an annual thing (this being the second year – so it’s official). CWILL BC members have helpfully contributed to a list of their books paired with a thematically similar item which is located on the CWILL BC blog.

Might I suggest that this list deserves a look? If only to ease the stress of this ‘holiday’ season when it comes to gift buying. (It won’t help you with your workload though. Or with keeping the cranberry sauce off your keyboard.)

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to decorate my desk with garlands of festive invoices and colourful rough drawings. I might even throw in a spreadsheet for good measure. They’re so pretty at this time of year.

Oh, and remember to request a seat at the table that’s closest to an outlet. There’s nothing worse than running out of battery power before the end of the main course

The Night Life of Trees

The Night Life of Trees

I ordered a book last month. I’m impressed with how fast it got here since it was sent ground from India.
It was just the right amount of time for waiting. Not too long that I was going to start worrying about it, and long enough that it arrived like an ‘unexpected present’ from myself.

The cover corners are a little bent after its journey, but otherwise, it’s perfect.

The Night Life of Trees

The publisher, Tara Books, is a small independent press located in South India. They publish a small number of very unique books a year. Some, like this one, are hand silk screened and hand bound.

The Night Life of Trees

This book is also available on Amazon, but I thought buying direct from the publisher was much more fun.

The Night Life of Trees

From The Tara books about page:

Widely regarded as one of India’s finest independent publishing houses, Tara is run by a collective of writers based in Chennai, India. We work with a range of adventurous writers and artists from around the world, as well as create books in house. We’re unafraid of conventional marketing logic – the work we put out is guided by our vision of publishing, balancing the pleasures of a beautiful book with wit and political rigour. Our titles are often unclassifiable, straddling accepted genres. We have pioneered the art of the book made entirely by hand, making artists’ books affordable for the average book lover.

That’s my kind of publishing house.

There’s a little video showing the fascinating silk screening and bookbinding process (sadly low res/YouTube).

I have a bit of a weakness for books, as evidenced by the overflowing bookcases in our house. But I’ll have no problem making room for this one. It is beautiful.

Happiness is…

Happiness is...

…new books for Christmas.

It was a booky Christmas. I gave some books, I got some books, and I just couldn’t help myself… I bought more than a few for myself in the process. We are now officially experiencing bookcase overflow.

Gift books from the top:

The Last Wild Wolves – Ghosts of the Rainforest, Ian McAllister, Greystone Books – I first saw the documentary and then some weeks later came across the book while Christmas shopping. I immediately bought it for a family member’s Christmas present. As it turned out, my mum had also bought me a copy. This is a beautiful book full of gorgeous photographs documenting the unique behaviour of a population of genetically distinct wolves. But, as it seems with any fabulously untouched ecosystem in this world, this place, along with its unique wildlife, is being threatened by human industry. The author Ian McAllister was interviewed on the Quarks and Quarks holiday book show on December 15th and he touched on this issue at the end of the interview. I am always amazed at how biologists can maintain their composure when discussing the possible demise of the corner of the earth where they have spent so much time studying, and in this author’s case, living. It must be incredibly heart breaking. It is from where I am sitting, hundreds of kilometers away in the city where the largest predatory mammals around a with unique hunting behaviour are cat-eating coyotes.

Play Pen – New Children’s Book Illustration, Martin Salisbury, Laurence King Publishing (there’s a review here with some images from the book). There are lots of inspiring illustrations and biographies in this book. It’s also nice that the illustrations are shown in page format with the typography. This book does make me a bit sad that we don’t have access to the more ‘brave’ European-style books here in Canada.

Jenny Saville, Simon Schama. Sensual paint. Brave, beautiful, loose, form-building, spontaneous-yet-intended brush strokes. Enough said.

Process Recess vol 2, James Jean. Some lovely draughtsmanship in this one.

I’m looking forward to putting aside some time to really get into these.