Wednesday, July 14, 2010

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Interview with William Low! Part One

More great pre-conference interviews popping up all over. Jolie's been talking to Ginger Clark, Arthur Levine. Suzanne's chatted with Rachel Vail. Lee's whooped it up with Paul Fleischman. Alice has gabbed with Jennifer Rees, Francesco Sedita. And Martha Brockenbrough brought down the INTERVIEW HAMMER—Mac Barnett, Rubin Pfeffer, Gennifer Choldenko, Greg Pincus, and Gail Carson Levine.

You've read all about Mac McCool here on CocoaStomp. So it is with great pleasure that I add another name to the pre-conference interview pile of goodness, William Low!

And after reading this, you may think, dang, I wish I could sit in on this workshop series. And the good news is, you still have time to sign up for it! A few spots are left, but they are dwindling fast.

First, let's rehash William's conference bio:

William Low has been working as an award winning painter and illustrator professionally for over 23 years. Recently William wrote and authored Old Penn Station (2007) a children’s picture book on the history of one of New York City’s most infamous buildings. Other books William has authored are Chinatown (1997) and Machines Go to Work (2009). For over 20 years, William has been teaching painting and illustration.  He is currently a professor at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City where he teaches a painting technique on the computer to undergraduates and graduate students. He gives talks and demonstrations nationally his innovative painting technique and his career in Illustration. William Low lives and works on Long Island in New York.  He is married and has 2 children.

Jaime: Hey, William! Thanks for chatting with me before the conference. Is this your first time at SCBWI LA? If not, how do you feel about the dance party/taco bar on Saturday?

William: Yes, this is my first time and I was not aware of a party on Saturday. Sounds like fun!

Jaime: The party is a hoot (beware the quesadilla bar and/or people wearing quesadillas.) Your workshop series sounds FANTASTIC. There's a list of software and hardware requirements. For those just starting out, do you recommend any online classes or books they could turn to to bone up on Photoshop ahead of time?

William: This workshop assumes a working knowledge of Photoshop: its interface, selection tools, layers management and image adjustments. For this, I think that any beginner book on Photoshop will do. The more they know, the more comfortable they will be. This is an important part of the creative process. If you need a book to get started, I recommend Adobe's excellent Classroom in a Book series. They will also need a Wacom tablet. I don't have any book recommendation for this... like all things it will just take time to get used to drawing on this tablet.

Jaime: Oh, good Photoshop book suggestion! is a nice resource, too. I love my Wacom, I think most artists take to it fairly quickly once they get the nerve up and just start playing. I was so bummed to miss the 2009 SCBWI Winter Conference—I know you did an Illustrator's Intensive there—can you speak a bit on how your upcoming LA series is similar or differs from that?

William: The NYC Intensive was a primer to this course, because I only had one hour for a lecture and demonstration. For the LA conference, we will have 4 hours. This gives me a chance to expand on Photoshop's power and to talk more about technique.

Jaime: I'm thinking there are quite a few illustrators out there who've never done digital work and don't think they can make the crossover, but you're the poster child for mixing things up. You've changed mediums for your picture book work: CHINATOWN was oils; OLD PENN STATION was oils and digital; and MACHINES GO TO WORK is all digital. Why did you make the change?

William: For me, change is the only constant. I made the switch from traditional to digital because I like the freedom and flexibility of working on the computer.  Having the artwork print ready (without scans and color correction) is also a huge plus. However, I do love the feel of real oils and I expect to switch back again sometime in the future.

Jaime: Who are some of your favorite, fellow digital picture book artists?
William: I am a big fan of Craig Mullins' work. He is a great traditional and digital painter.

Jaime: When working on a picture book do you like to eat a particular snack?
William: No, but I do drink lots of coffee.

Jaime: Hold on, I need a moment to process this coffee-only, non-snack world you work in.




Jaime: I can't imagine it. Maybe you should show me what a studio without snacks looks like.

William: Here are 3 pictures of my studio. From left to right: Apple iMac, a modified Wacom Cintiq, my art books and large format Epson printer.

This is a close up of my computer station. The Wacom Cintiq is a pressure sensitive LCD screen, this was removed from its base and mounted on top of my easel, with a removable keyboard stand attached. 
If I prefer to paint in portrait mode, I can rotate this screen on its axis. Since the palettes will also be rotated with the image,  I must change  screen orientation from my operating system.
Jaime: The modified Cintiq is pretty amazing, William, but all I'm saying is, you *might* get more done if a box of Cheez-Its were keeping you company. I'm going to let you think on this, William, and we'll check back in tomorrow with Part Two!

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