My Disney residency begins this weekend! I will be painting live at the Wonderground Gallery in Downtown Disney every Saturday (5-9p) and Sunday (4-7p) this month.
Meanwhile I’m excited I have permission to share! I AM ILLUSTRATING A BOOK ABOUT DIWALI FOR Scholastic. A beautiful text by Thrity Umrigar, BINNY’S DIWALI will release fall 2020.
I LOVE DIWALI! I’m half way through the final art and I smile the entire time I’m drawing. It’s a dream project with a dream team. I’m very happy!!
I hope to see you sometime soon!
Nick and I have been together for nearly 16 years. It’s easy to forget the person you share your life with is an individual. I regularly have conversations with Nick in my head, assuming his responses and reactions. Our recent relationship go-to phrase is “assume the best of me” whenever we fall into a familiar place of frustration. We’ve grown together as a team. We choose, more often than not, to love each other instead of fight. It’s not easy! But Nick teaches me regularly to choose love.
As we watched Queer Eye earlier this year, shedding tears and fueling up on hope, I heard his wish for an opportunity like the folks on the show. A plan began to formulate. I typically plan Nick’s birthday months in advance because my schedule is bananas AND ALSO because I love birthdays! I told a small set of friends and they agreed it was a good idea. I was nervous Nick wouldn’t be into it without the fab five but they assured me he’d like it. I finished my grand plan in April and I’m very proud to say that I didn’t spill ANYTHING. In addition to a party, I treated him to a day inspired by Queer Eye, where he could focus on the wonderful, beautiful person he is – because everyone deserves to see themselves through the lens of love.
On the morning of his birthday, I presented him with his schedule and funfetti waffles. I think he was in shock as I ushered him out the door. His first appointment was Orange Theory (which he was late to because preschoolers don’t understand tight schedules but they were so welcoming and excited) which was inspired by Karamo, then inspired by Tan, a stylist through Macy’s (did you know that’s a free service they provide?!), followed by a barber shop for a facial, shave and cut (he hasn’t had a haircut in 10 years!) inspired by Jonathan, afterwards a day spa where he had his first pedicute and finally he joined us for homemade bahn mi sandwiches and cake that I decorated with the kid, Antoni would be proud!
We missed the home make over, because I cannot be Bobby! But the Nick make over was a success! He told me he could never have imagined what I had planned and that he felt pampered and lucky. He had new experiences, a new do and new wardrobe… and I’m so happy that on his 40th birthday he felt relaxed and loved!
Thank you Queer Eye for the queerspiration!
And happy birthday, my love!
I’m returning to Disney’s Wonderground Gallery this June! It marks my 6th year working with them and the experience is lovely every time. The Wonderground Gallery is located in Downtown Disney and does not require park tickets for entry. I’ll be their artist-in-residence which means I’ll create watercolors live four weekends in a row. I’ve selected some of my favorite characters for the watercolors and I look forward to sharing them!
The piece above, “Imagination has no age” will release on June 15th between 2-4pm along with pieces from Michelle Bickford, Michael Murphy and Mcbiff .
Disney asked the artists involved to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of the matterhorn, monorail and submarine. I took it as an opportunity to push myself with a complex piece. I combined the three attractions with 25 (!!) classic Disney characters! Whew! It was a lot of work! Throughout I cursed myself because it was more challenging than I imagined. When I submitted the final illustration, Disney asked me to refine it. That never happened before! I wanted so much to push back and say it was fine! However, I know they don’t provide unwarranted feedback.
I stepped back and thought about the environment. It is just as important as the characters but my first attempt didn’t look that way. Harmony is important. I adjusted colors, added more texture and lighting. And as I completed it, adding the soft twinkles in the sky, a sense of pride washed over me. It was approved quickly thereafter.
In work like that, the journey isn’t pleasurable. However, I learn along the way and when I arrive at the destination, there is great joy. Earned joy.
In addition to the art release on the 15th, I’ll be painting June 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30, 2019. Saturdays from 5-9pm and Sundays from 4-7pm.
I hope to see you in June!
YAY! I can finally share the new logo and mark for Everyday Love. Years ago when I began Everyday Love I drew lots of giraffes. A few fans lovingly called me “the giraffe lady” and I embraced it. I quickly made a giraffe logo.
I will be in MANY places in May. The upside of work travel is meeting teachers, librarians and kids on the road. Those connections are heart warming and necessary. I keep those as fuel for the times I want to give up. The downside of travel, of course, is time away from my family and book deadlines. I’ve been inkng away on Jukebox, my next graphic novel, and reached the joyful part of the process where drawing pages becomes easier and more exciting. My main characters, Shahi and Naz, become more real every day.
The hardest part of this set of travel is that I will be away on Mother’s Day. That’s the reality of loving my job and my family, though.
My events kick off this weekend at the Bay Area Book Festival – I will be participating in an illustrator duel and story time. Then I head to St Louis for two events at their libraries (my first time there!), New York for PEN America’s World Voices event, back to the bay with a comics demo at the Apple Store in San Francisco’s Union Square, Turn the Page event at Fairyland in Oakland and end the month at my alma matter, UCSC, providing a heritage month keynote presentation. You can find all the details here.
I look forward to every event and I hope to see you on the road!
Tomorrow our picture book, I WILL BE FIERCE, written by Bea Birdsong and illustrated by me is out! As I prepare for promotional events in the bay area and beyond, I reflected on the process. From when I agreed to illustrate it in October of 2017 to when it hit shelves, it’s been a year and 7 months! I created the illustrations from sketch to final in 5 months and delivered in July of 2018. In between July and now, our publisher, Roaring Brook, prints and promotes to help build excitement.
One of my favorite pages is in the library (of course!) and below are some early sketches. I receive manuscripts with art notes. From those notes, I drew our fierce girl in a well stocked, inviting school library with a helpful librarian.
But my editor wanted to try a few different ideas, so I drew a more fantastical library.
But we settled on the first take, modified.
Creating picture books is a fascinating challenge. These opportunities allow me to grow as an artist and story teller. Like my graphic novels, I add people from my life into the art. The librarian is based off our local librarian who my daughter loves, the bus driver is my adopted auntie and the grandma is based off my mother in law. I also added the author and her son! It’s these things that make the work personal and fun.
When I held the finished I WILL BE FIERCE in my hands, I felt the same as when I first read the manuscript – happy and strong. I hope that it’ll make you feel that way, too.
Thank you for the opportunity to share this and I hope to see you on the road!
P.S. For any who are interested there’s a free story time kit available to use in conjunction with the book.
I’ve dreamt of traveling to Japan most of my life.
Traveling for us is a huge undertaking financially, emotionally and physically. I am grateful for every trip we’ve managed and Japan was a dream come true. The culture and art has influenced my work and life so deeply. Between Tokyo, Kyoto and jet lag, it was a whirlwind. I only had a few moments to draw which I’ve included below. My schedule for the rest of the year is packed between work and travel… I hope in the fall I’ll be able to create more art inspired by our trip. I have so many ideas!
Meanwhile, I was interviewed on the Children’s book podcast about my bilingual board book, Shubh Raatri Dost/Good Night Friend. It’s my favorite interview of the year, if you have a moment check it out. Also, Matthew is hosting a giveaway for the book on his instagram.
Lastly, if you’re in the LA area this Saturday, please come by the LA Times Festival of Books. I will be there with copies of Pashmina, Shubh Raatri Dost and advance copies of I will be fierce for sale!!
That’s all from me now! I hope to see you at one of my upcoming events.
I’m working away on things I can’t share yet – but here’s a sneak peek!
I will be presenting about my path to art and comics at the San Francisco Public Library, Noe Valley branch this Thursday from 4-5pm as part of their women’s history month events. I hope to see you there!
Have a great week!