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Hi there, it's Jen from the GIRLBRAVE podcast. Today on this show we have Gi who is an artist from Nova Scotia, Canada. She won a contest to illustrate the book, Purple Rules, by David Yaygrr, and you'll never guess how she entered her submission. So take a listen and find out here on the go GIRLBRAVE podcast.
Hello, Gi! How are you today?
Good. How are you?
I'm Excellent. Thank you so much for being on the GIRLBRAVE podcast today.
Thank you for having me. You're welcome.
How old are you and where do you live?
Yep. Well, I actually I lived in PEI for a bit but I'm mostly Nova Scotia.
I have a friend that I went to grad school with who's also from Nova Scotia.
Yeah. Yeah. So I know that you won a contest to illustrate a children's book called Purple Rules by David Geyer. How did you first hear about that contest?
I'm afraid it's not a very exciting story. I was literally quite literally just scrolling through Instagram. And I saw an ad. So I just joined and I didn't think too much of it at first, it was a worldwide contest.
What did you think about when you apply? Did you think, Oh, this is not gonna happen? or this could happen? Or maybe I shouldn't be doing this. I'm not good enough. Or I'm going to win it.
I don't know. I mean, it was, I think I was a little I was I was probably, I was bouncing between being very, very confident and being very, very confident. I guess. I'm kind of one of the only one of my peers, I guess that I found that like art, around here, because I live in a very small place with 300 kids from grade primary to grade 12.
Oh, I didn't realize it was that small?
Yes, very small, very small. And there's even smaller, around my area. So a very small place. And I we didn't even really have art class, much like we did some. We had crafts built into other classes.
How did you get into art? When did you start drawing?
I've always liked writing stories. I think it started with that. And then I wanted to start drawing pictures for the stories. And I've always loved movies and shows. So I basically just copied off pictures at first and started making my own stories. And I actually have over 50 sketchbooks now filled for over the past four years, I think or five.
Wow, I would love to see some of those pictures. That sounds amazing. That's dedication. Do you have that constant need to draw? In your bones?
Yes, definitely. I've drawn every day probably for the past five years, and it's both. It's both a wonderful thing and an awful thing. For example, I was pushing it a bit lately. And now I might I can't draw for I haven't been able to draw for three weeks because of a repetitive strain injury. I think so.
So you've been drawing so much that now your wrist is has painted and you can't draw anymore for a while.
I got to give it a rest so it heals. So don't get anything worse. But yeah. That's a big learning curve for this year was wearing to take care of myself a bit better and learning how to take breaks.
So how many? What does that look like? How many hours a day were you drawing when that when this happened?
I have no idea. I mean, I've been doing it for, I would say I've been doing it about the same for a while. Again, five years straight. Probably an hour to a day maybe.
And when I was working on Purple Rules, I would say I don't know it. The setup I used to illustrate that digitally was a lot harder on my wrist. And I actually got an I had a very similar thing happened. The first day I was working on Purple Rules because I was 12 hours straight trying to get as much work done as I could. And then I was out for two weeks.
Wow. I can't wait to hear about that process. But first, how did you find out? You're a finalist? And what was that, like?
So the finalists were decided by voting. I told my mom, hey, I found this contest and she was like, that's so cool and she shared it on Facebook and like it. As I said, it's very small community. But the good thing about that is very tight knit and word spreads so fast. So it, there was a lot of sharing, and it was really intense.
There was people who had 1000 votes in the first few days. And God it was, it was very, it was very, very tense for and I don't remember much of like those days, besides just being tense and excited and nervous. Yeah. And then when I found out it was, oh my God, it was very, very, very exciting. And I was like, wow, okay, this might actually happen.
Are you always that competitive and striving to accomplish what you wanted? So like, for that example, you had to get all these votes? Does that appear in other parts of your life? Where you just like, I'm gonna go for it. I have to do this. And this and this?
Ah, yeah, I guess, though. I mean, I don't have much experience with being competitive in the art field at all. I mean, it's something I'm very, very passionate about. But, this is probably the first ever competition I guess, that I've ever been in.
Then after you were the finalists, then how did you find out that you won? What was the next step?
I remember, once I found out I was fine. I was a finalist, there was four other people that were also finalists, and I actually made friends with one of them. She's really great off to mention her Instagram in a bit, I'll find it.
And we were talking about how nervous we were. And we were saying, basically, if I don't win, you gotta win, your stuff is so good. And I was really nice. And so it wasn't so dead throat competitive. But I found out I remember the day I found out, I thought we had to wait another day for them to decide. So I wasn't really expecting anything that day. And I was just watching. I think I was just watching something.
I saw an email pop up that says congratulations. And I was like, Oh, my God. And I remember reading it. And I needed a moment to collect myself and I went down to show my mom who's doing dishes. And I just, I didn't say anything. I just held up the email. And after she read it, she got very excited. So that was pretty much that.
That is so so exciting. Congratulations. That's awesome. So what was it like in the process of illustrating a children's book?
Ah, it was, it was they gave me a lot of freedom when it came to illustrating so it wasn't that I imagined with most professional gigs, you'd experience a lot more feedback and editing and fine tuning. Working with Nicky and David was amazing. I couldn't have asked for better people to work with as a first professional project, I guess. Right? They were really, they're really awesome. Nikki especially was super helpful with any questions I had. And she helped she and she provided me some resources to get a handle on the basics. And, and there is 36 illustrations, I think I'm not positive.
What were some of those resources?
Just a few blog posts by other author illustrators, and mostly more about the technical stuff of what size the canvas has to be how you count for the bleeding that comes with printing and technical stuff?
Did you use an iPad? Or do you draw it by hand?
I used an iPad. I did thumbnails on paper so I did little sketches of each one, the little planning on paper, which is one of the things that I already had to give them for as a finalist, all the finalists did their thumbnails of all the pages.
I looked through your submission, I was gone through all of them until I found your name. And I love the little notes that you wrote next to it. Thank you had like some some just explanation of thoughts and some other other things. Was it hard to communicate what your what you saw envision the whole book been looking like?
Well, I can't say it was really difficult because I myself hadn't really planned out too much. I just I felt really like the design of the king, for instance, he just kind of came to me instantly, I saw in my head as I was reading the script, this is exactly what it looks like I can tell. And the main character who's pretty easy too. And as it as it went for the general style, I wasn't thinking much in particular, because I've never done anything like this before. So I wasn't really thinking about the style. I just knew I wanted to make it cartoony.
What was one thing that you learn that surprised you?
I surprised me. Mmm hmm.
Maybe about yourself or the process?
Probably the part that a you have actually take care of your body when workin. Which big, big lesson I learned. And second, that you actually need to know some technical stuff to make a children's book, which I should have expected. But it I had a I think most of the challenges I had were technical ones. I had about seven illustrations done, I think.
I found out that I did it in the wrong format. So I had to completely redo all the illustrations again, which is not great. When you already lost a week to an injury. You're on a month deadline. You got a month left and you have 30 some illustrations, so but they were super awesome about it. And I got I got a extension when it came really, really close, just so I could have more time to make everything the best way. Yeah.
How long do you normally get to illustrate a book? Like what was your timeline?
I don't know what it is standardly? Because I've, I've never done this before. But I think it was two months.
Do you feel like you planned it out, like so many drawings a week in order to get there and then realizing that you have the size wrong?
I did around that. I started doing that in the middle. Because I thought because I'm a real I'm usually really, really fast at drawing. So I just thought, ok, I've time in the time limit will be fine for me. I was pretty confident I could do it. But then the injury happened. And then I really said I need a bit more of a plan.
I was really stressed about it because first ever paid gig for something like that. So I wanted to be doing it right. And I want to have it on time. And I wanted it to be good. So yeah, definitely lots of really important things that process seemed like you took it really seriously.
And you were very professional about it. Have you always been that kind of buttoned up professional wanting to get it right? Or was this kind of like your first experience with a paid pig that kicked you into that state?
I'm not sure. I'm very unstructured and unorganized. And I what I would say is most things that I do. Drawing for me has always been like, I've had stories that I build on, but I haven't really, I've never really done any professional project, but I actually saw to the end and finished it.
It was a lot of learning how to be professional. And my mom helped a lot with that cuz I she taught me stuff I need to know about being professional. And I've wanted leadership, I've done a lot of leadership skill building things before. So that kind of helped me a bit. And I was very I was really trying to be professional. Yes, for sure.
Did you feel a difference between when you're drawing for yourself versus for when you're drawing for a professional gig? And how did those different?
Yes, and no, I mean, the drawing part, I can still, the part I really like about drawing is that you get kind of lost in what you're working on. And you get into this good groove which is something I really enjoy about it. But also it feels more it feels more, I don't wanna say strict, it feels more like writing a course, it'd be like writing an essay based on something that you just wanted to write about versus having to do for a school assignment. There's, there's more things you're thinking about, you're concentrating more on it and because you're getting paid for it.
So you want to put more effort into it. So I guess it'd be something like that, same with a baker who's baking a cake for themselves or baking for the bakery. Just that professionalism that's there and definitely more focused and I'm more likely to complete a project if people are depending on me. To finish it or if I have a deadline, because I don't usually set deadlines for myself.
Yeah, I'm a I'm also an artist, but I do mostly graphic design for other people and those deadlines. They actually, I love deadlines because it gets for some reason I can wait to the last minute and get it done. And the inspiration comes at the last minute, but it took me a while to work up there. work up to that. So did you reinvest any of the money in some art supplies? What was it like when you got your paycheck?
Ah, ok, so before, before I went into the contest, I had no digital setup at all, I didn't have my iPad, I just had paper. And prior, I had just been taking pictures of my sketches. If I wanted to color them, I would take pictures of the drawings and then colored them in an app with my finger, which was not the most efficient way. And it's how I think a lot of people have started off with free drawing apps just use their finger in their phone, and iPads $2,000 or something. And that's conveniently how much money they were paying for that.
When I was a finalist, I like I made it clear to them, that I don't have digital supplies now. But if you hire me I can be, but then I can get the stuff to make the final product. Luckily, it wasn't a problem for them, which is great. All my entries and submissions for the original contest, were all done on my phone, which took a while. But so pretty much right. When I found out it was the day after I found out that I was in that I got it before I had the money. So right when I got the money, it was back into that because I had my grandma, my nanny, buy it for me.
I love how you took the initiative of just working with what you had, and not let that stop you from from trying to win the contest.
Yeah, that was definitely a thought in my mind. At first I was like, how am I going to be able to illustrate an entire book just using my phone? I suppose I could have done it. But that was not something I wanted to do.
So how often do you draw in your sketchbooks versus now drawing on your iPad?
I definitely still work in my sketchbooks more than my iPad, just because I really like I'm very bad at committing to projects. So just getting those rough ideas out is a lot easier and quicker in a sketchbook in the iPad. So great for finished products. But I don't do much finished products. I haven't really committed to a another project yet since the book.
You need some downtime, right?
Yeah, a little bit of downtime would be great trying to get into school, get back into school. And I'm trying to trying to graduate a year early to get into college faster, which is filling up my plate quite a bit.
So how does that work? Are you just taking extra classes?
Pretty much it basically it's really, it's quite the process it it's quite the amount of time to put into explain it. But it's basically I just need to do some online courses and some grade 12 things and through homeschool which I'm doing right now. Oh, I'll get the equivalent to a high school diploma. So that that's all the college really cares about in terms of admission.
And where do you want to go to college?
Sherdian animation in Ontario, Toronto, I believe.
Awesome. Well, I wish you luck. I'm sure you'll get there.
I was curious what programs you used for your iPad.
I mostly just use procreate. All of the illustrations for the book were done in procreate
What advice would you give to another artist your age, about putting themselves out there and entering these types of contests are getting opportunities for themselves to grow?
The worst thing that can happen to you is learning a lesson. That's how I like to think of it you can take any you can take something good at it pretty much any failure. And if you just look for that lesson and everything every rejection, you can use that to get better and that's really important. There is there is 50 sketchbooks around my room that is living proof that you got to fail a million times before you can make something even remotely good and enjoying the process of creating is really important. If you want to be if you want to do art seriously as a as a professional you want to work on a bigger project is it's really important to love what you're doing and to enjoy the process of it and to put yourself out there because you, a you, the worst thing that can happen is that you either learn a lesson or you get ignored.
So yeah, and being ignored isn't all that hard, right?
No, no, that's fine, you can just move on to the next one. And it's it's practice to put yourself out there too. And you can get good advice from people and getting learning how to take the teak was very hard for me to learn because growing up in a small town with very, very loving and supportive family, I have gotten nothing but compliments for my art and told oh, my God, this is the best. And something I've heard is a very common thing.
And before I went on the internet, I really just thought I was the best service out there, because it's all I really been told. Which is so not true now. Now I know. But it's a, it's really, in a way, it's kind of better to know that. Well, in a lot of ways, because you get to see how much less there is for you to learn. And it's exciting, I guess, for me anyway, I'm never gonna run out of stuff to learn, I can always get better and better. And that's how you got to think of it, trying to think about it as, what you're doing bad now, but how you can be better...now.
I love that advice. Even even where I'm at today, I still feel like I have so much to learn. And you definitely have to have a mindset not to start judging yourself for where you're at. Because you always see things online and look at other people and say how much more they have accomplished, or you know how much more successful they are? Do you ever have those feelings? And how do you kind of talk yourself out of that?
Ah ,it's really just, again, it's pretty much just one that I love. So, I love what I do so much. So it doesn't really matter to me. As much like I know, I'm never going to be the best in the world. But I'm going to try my very best. And I'm going to be the best at telling the stories that I want to tell because you know, you're the only person that can do what you can do.
Nobody's going to be able to tell the same story the same way you would have, which is like my favorite part of illustrating and drawing and animating what I'd like to work in animation when I'm older. And it's just I just love it so much. So no matter if I'm like the worst, worst person in a studio. I don't know if I care. I don't think I'd care too much, because I just love what I do so much.
I love that. Have you been doing any animation yet?
I've done some I've done some, some little like, exercises. And I've been planning a short film recently, right as my arm has been as my wrist has been healing. I've been planning on working on a short film as my next long term project that I think would be good for portfolio and getting into college and really trying to learn animation. And I feel like jumping into a project and learning the hard way is the easiest way for me to learn.
Well, I can't wait to see it when it's done. This podcast is called GIRLBRAVE. I'd love to hear your definition of being brave. And if you think you are brave?
Being brave is...I think a lot of people say being brave is fearless. But I don't think I really agree with that. Because I don't think any person is fearless. It's being more powerful than than that fear. And going in being able to push past that for the things that you really care about. And so if you have a goal you push past your fear of failure to try it and to fail and to get better and then to do it. So I think bravery is just how you can still have fears and be brave but not letting fear control you. And I guess and I would say I'm brave in some aspects. I've done stuff that scared me before.
I love that answer. Thank you. Alright, so I have a few more little fun quick questions. And then I'd like to hear more about what's next in tell us where we could preorder the book and all that sort of stuff. But first, I wanted to ask you which do you prefer jeans or leggings?
Jeans. I very much don't like leggings.
Salty or sweet?
Reading or Netflix or maybe I shouldn't say drawing our Netflix?
Drawing. Oh drawing then I well. Oh, I usually draw and I like I draw and watch Netflix sometimes. I guess drawing Yeah.
What's been your most recent Netflix watch?
I don't think I've really been watching much lately. Actually, I what was the last thing I watched? I just I finished something not too long ago at the Promised Neverland is. It's an anime on Netflix. It's really good. And I've been reading The Hunger Games.
Great book series, my daughter just finished reading her other series. Suzanne Collins other series, and she loved it too. Well, nice. Who do you admire most? And why?
Oh, my family, for sure. Just because I'm really, I'm really, really grateful for my family. And I love every one of my family. And it's so nice. And I'm really lucky to have such a good family. So I admire my family, and my friends. One friend in particular, I really admire her. She's really, she's really smart, and really strong. And she makes me want to work harder.
That's very sweet. What superpower Would you like to have?
Shapeshifting shifting or flying? I think.
And what would you shape shift into?
Oh, I don't know, I've always...I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to be a dragon. If I didn't think about it at least once a month.
I love that. I love that. And my last one is, do you have a favorite band or musician that you're listening to?
I listened to very crazy. Like, my music tastes jumps around so much. But recently, recently, my guilty pleasure has been listening to the High School Musical to soundtrack. So that's just that just shows how obscure my music tastes can get. But that's that's what I've been listened to recently, recently.
Brilliant. All right, so tell us more about how we can get our hands on this book that you illustrated?
So it's going to be available for ordering in Canada a week before Christmas. And you can pre-order it now at David Yaygrr Books calm, and it will ship immediately once they get the order in. And 100% of the profits go to art solution, which is this really great organization that is about helping young refugees to heal through collaborative art, it's really awesome. They have an Instagram account.
What is the Instagram account?
Artolution, it's about so that's ARTOLUTION. Artolution...really great account. There's lots of really uplifting posts and projects that you can look through. And I'm very proud to be a part of something that's that like all the money's going to.
And that's great. That's great. And tell me a little bit more about the book, Purple Rules.
Purple Rules, it is it's about this really diverse, bustling land Kingdom thing, that they're all happy. And there's a bunch of people of different colors like red people and green people are blue people and, and one day, this big, bad purple King comes in and takes over everything and starts making rules. And based on the color of people, which is a subtle or very not subtle metaphor, that really helps. It's a really simple way to start talking about those sorts of topics. For kids. I think the demographic is six to 12 year old years old. So if you have any kids around that age, or if you're a teacher or something, it's a it's a good a good book to add to your library.
Great. Well, I can't wait to get my copy. I'll be sure to preorder my book. And gosh, thanks so much for being here today. I love talking to you. You're an inspiration to me. I'm definitely going to go out and feel some more times today and put myself out there.
No, thank you.
Alright, well have a great day.
Yes, you too.
Thank you so much for joining me on the girl brave podcast. If you would like an encouraging daily text message. Remember, I send those out every day. Yes. And you'll never know when you get it because it comes at a new time. Every day. Go to my website at PincurlGirls.com, that's PINCURLS.COM and click on the top where it says encouraging text messages. I'll talk to you soon. Bye