Ask Me!

Do you have a burning question that you’ve always wanted answered?

I’m a font of knowledge! Some of it is useful and some is not. You won’t know until you ask …

 

you asked...

Hey Jeremy! I’m Erika. You came to my school today and I stayed behind for an autograph. (Thanks by the way!) I’m in grade 6 and want to become an authorstrator ;) But I can’t draw. Any advice? — Erika

Hey back! And you’re very welcome. I love talking with future authorstrators (and just plain old writers and illustrators too). I’m of the opinion that anyone can learn to draw. And you’re still young so it should be even easier for you to learn. The best advice I can give, if you really want to learn to draw, is to just practice! Actually no, don’t practice, that makes it feel like work and you might lose interest. Just draw and have fun. I suggest drawing the things that you’re the most interested in. Go to your library and borrow “how to draw” books (they’re found in section 745.something — your librarian can help you). And look at books that feature photos or other drawings of the things you like. Also, don’t be shy about copying other artists work. It’s a great way to learn. And don’t be discouraged if your drawings don’t always turn out perfect. Heck, MY drawings are almost never perfect and I’ve been drawing for a loooooong time. But the most important thing is to have fun when doing it.

Hello I am a seven, almost 8 year old girl who just found the bird books. My mom and I love them and we want more! Will you be writing any others? We loved them and the pictures. Thanks so much for doing them. — Emma

Hello Emma, thanks for writing. And thanks for enjoying my books so much! I really enjoy writing about Bird and his friends. He’s an immensely satisfying character to write about. At the moment there aren’t plans for a new Bird adventure (although I’ve got a list of possible stories). I’ve spent the last three years working on a top-secret project that keeps growing and getting bigger and more complicated. I’m hoping it will see the light of day in a couple years. In the meantime I’ve been doing some illustration for other authors. 2012 will see two books with my art. Watch this website for details! But who knows, there might be a new Bird story sometime.

Today you came to my school and you did a presentation for us grade 5’s. i had a question to ask but i was too shy. what is your favorite book that you have written? mine is grumpy bird and boo hoo bird — Azza

Hi Azza, I don’t have a favourite book. That would be like your parents having a favourite child! Grumpy Bird will always be special for being my first; ME HUNGRY! is special because I worked harder on it than anything else I’ve done before - as a result it’s a book that I’m immensely proud of; and Boo Hoo Bird is probably the best one because I used everything I had learned while making the first two books. I’m glad you like the Bird books though, I think they are very funny.

hi,you came to my school today and i wanted to ask you what the tablet was really called that you drew ninja pig on? — Muhammad

Hi Muhammad, I enjoyed speaking at Forest Glen PS! I hope you enjoyed the talk. I was drawing with a Wacom Intuous tablet. However, they are quite expensive. If you’re interested in getting started with a drawing tablet I would suggest getting a Wacom Bamboo. The Bamboo is much cheaper and will do almost all the things you want. Ask for one at your local computer store. The Bamboo Pen is probably the one you want and it should cost around $70 or $80.

I love the way you make your artwork, what program do you use to make it? — Sunny

Thanks for asking, Sunny! My favourite “program” is a my Pentel Brush Pen on paper. I use a simple hard-cover sketchbook to draw everything in. I scan these drawings and clean them up in Adobe Photoshop. Then they are exported to Corel Painter for colouring then back to Photoshop for final editing and arranging. I colour each character separately so they can easily be moved around in Photoshop. I do some of my background colouring with Photoshop as well and all of the collaging of the various pieces. Some of the pages in Grumpy Bird have upwards of 100 layers. In ME HUNGRY they are much simpler but rely more of the quality of the original drawings. But yeah, it’s that first drawing with ink on paper that is the most important — even if it takes the least amount of time to produce!

you visitied my school, and i had a burning question to ask, but my class left before question time. you see, i am, in my opinion and in the opinion of many others, a born author. not a picture book writer, but an 800 page action-packed adventure and fantasy writer. I’m working on this awsome chapter book, and i know that we are total different writers, but i was wondering if you knew some publisher who might be interested in my work. I know you answered a question very much like this, from Erica, but that was about illustrator-writer. I’m sort of different. does the same answer apply to me? — Daniella

Hi Daniella, I don’t remember what I told Erica so I will give you this advice: the best place to start looking for a publisher is in the front of books that you enjoy. Find out who is publishing similar things and start there. Send them a nice letter introducing yourself; a synopsis of your story (make sure the synopsis is short); and a sample chapter or two. If the publisher is interested they will call you. If they aren’t they probably won’t contact you. Send it to another publisher. Then another. And so on until someone says “yes”.

Our kids (and us) LOVE your bird books, WE WANT MORE! …..and, when are you getting t-shirts?? — the Ducharme Family

Hello, Ducharme Family! I’m glad that you’re enjoying my Bird books so much. I had a great time writing and illustrating them. I might indeed do more books in the future; I’ve certainly got some great ideas for more books. But in the meantime I’m working hard on some other projects including a couple of picture books by other authors. I’m also authoring some other books as well, but they are in early stages. As for t-shirts: you’re not the first to ask (see the last ASK ME). I’ve still not printed any shirts because I just haven’t had time. It could happen one day. You never know. Personally, I would love to have a Grumpy Bird shirt.

I think I have a new idea for you. I was just at one of your presentations, and I think it would be great if your illustrations could appear on t-shirts. My friends and I love wearing graphic t-shirts, ones with cute and funny pictures on them. Having seen your illustrations, I know that they wil be a great hit on t-shirts. Is this possible? — Saarah

Hi Saarah, I also love wearing nice graphic t-shirts. Many people have asked about shirts. Sadly I’m just too busy at the moment to organize it. At some point in the future I hope to have some available. For now you’ll just have to look for some other nice graphic t-shirts. I recommend Threadless.com. They’ve got some great designs.

1.how did you become an author? 2.how did become hooked on stories — sahil

  1. By accident. I just wanted to illustrate books. My lovely editor suggested I try writing. I tried. And to my continued amazement I REALLY enjoyed writing. And an author was born!

  2. My parents read to me a LOT. They also told me many stories. I think everyone loves a good story. I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by some excellent stories. You couldn’t have NOT got hooked living in my household.

I just love love love your book grumpy bird. I just found it today and my son and I have enjoyed looking and looking at it. where do you get your ideas for the animal faces? and what is up with the peek a boo tongues?? keep up the good work. — Scarlett

Hi Scarlett. Thanks! I’m glad you and your son are enjoying my book so much. Grumpy Bird was definitely a moment of inspired lunacy. The animal faces? I don’t know exactly where they all come from. They each just developed slowly as I drew them. The trick was to be expressive while still being incredibly simple. The tongues comment made me laugh though. The only one who I thought had a visible tongue was Fox, the others I thought of more as their mouth. But if it’s their tongue that’s cool too. In fact it might be better if it’s their tongues. As for Fox: I remember a couple of girls in my second grade class who were always drawing dogs (or puppies probably). They always drew them with their tongue hanging out a little. So I drew my fox with his tongue hanging out in honor of those girls and their drawings.

My mom and I enjoyed your website. What can a kid do if she thinks she has a great idea for an animated/picture book? How do you get someone to look at it? I’m only 10. — Erica

Hi Erica, Thanks for the great question. I get asked this quite often when I visit schools. If you’re a kid who likes writing stories and making books the best advice I can give you is: HAVE FUN! If you’re not having fun then put it aside and work on another idea.

As for getting someone to look at it: if you just want someone to look at it, but aren’t looking for a publisher, you might show it to an author and see what they say (if you happen to meet one). Or you could show your teacher. But something else you might want to do is take it to Kinko’s and make a few copies to give, or sell, to friends and family. I believe Dav Pilkey used to do this — he used to make little Captain Underpants books and sell them on the playground to his friends (which is exactly what George and Harold do in the books!). It’s a great way to get started, have some fun, share your stories, and practice your craft! Go for it. Then, when your stories start to get REALLY good (after all this practice), you might move on to the next step:

If you think your book is really terrific and if you’ve worked very hard on it and if you think a publisher might be interested then send it to a publisher and see what happens! There is a great book called the 2010 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market that lists publishers and tells you what kinds of books they like. It’s a lot more work pitching a book to a publisher, but if you have put in the time to write a really great book then why not see what the publishers say about it?

Three great authors who got their start very young (and whose success stories can be read on their websites): Dav Pilkey; Kenneth Oppel; Gordon Korman (he wrote his first book when he was 12, I think)

My twin boys (20 months) are obsessed with Grumpy Bird and Boo Hoo Bird. Is there a stuffed animal Bird for sale? — Leslie

Not yet there isn’t. I think some stuffies might be nice. I’ve received some delightful homemade ones from fans. If I’m ever approached by a stuffy manufacturer I’ll be sure to tell them that there’s demand for Bird and friends stuffies.

I saw you today at Woodland Primary but didn’t get called on to ask a question. I love to draw but I can’t make a car. How do you make a car? thank you. — Eric, age 5 Woodland Primary

Hi Eric! I had a great time visiting Woodland Primary. I’m sorry you didn’t get to ask your question — there were just so many people who wanted to ask me things! When I was a child I used to trace photos from books and magazine. I also loved Ed Emberley’s books about drawing. They are all good, but perhaps these two might be the best for your particular question:

Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Trucks and Trains

Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book: Make a World

Good luck! Have fun drawing cars and trucks (and lots of other things too).

I’ve just discovered your books with my move to teaching kindergarten. They are perfect for young readers! (and old) Will you ever consider publishing your books in a big book format to help foster the shared reading experience in a classroom? — Mandy

If enough people and librarians and teachers ask for a large format book… it could happen. So, perhaps try getting in touch with Scholastic about it. I’ll tell them as well.

Jeremy you have done a pecintation at Nottwa Elementry well I was their the girl in the brown sweter.My qestun is how many schools have you bean to. — ceyara

Hi Ceyara, I’ve done more school visits than I can count. I used all my fingers and all my toes and still didn’t have enough to count all the schools I’ve visited. I really enjoyed talking with you and your classmates at Nottawa Elementary school.

2 questions: When will we get Bird part 3? What would it take to get a publisher to make a board book edition of Boo Hoo Bird? Our paper copy is quickly getting destroyed… — Rachel

2 answers: not for a while (although I’m tinkering with some ideas for another one); As for a board book… that’s a good question. There’s a board book of Grumpy Bird available in the Canadian market, but not elsewhere. I assume Canada will also produce a board book of Boo Hoo Bird in the next couple of years. As for the USA and elsewhere? I hope they make a board book at some point, but time will tell.

The first question is a good one: I’d love to do another Bird book, and so would Scholastic. However, I don’t believe in churning out books that I’ve not put 110 percent of my energy into. I’ll do another one when the time is right and I can make a really excellent book. It’ll be worth the wait! In the meantime I’ve got some other exciting projects on the horizon.

i would really like to know what program on the computer do you use , and if maybe i could get it somehow ? i think it would be really cool to do art like you, cause i think it’s really great ! — courtney !

Hi Courtney, I use a variety of programs for my art. Mostly I use Adobe Photoshop CS and Corel Painter X. I’ve been meaning to update Photoshop though, because I’m a little out of date. I use Painter to colour my characters and paint textures for my background art. I use Photoshop to put everything together. Photoshop is a great program for layering lots of pieces and making a collage.

A great program to get started with is ArtRage. It’s a lot cheaper than the ones I use and LOTS of fun to play with. You can check it out online here. I also use a WACOM drawing tablet. They come in a wide range of styles and prices. They’re all good and you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get something good.

The most important “program” I use is my sketchbook though. I love it more than my computer and all its programs. I draw with pens, brushes, pencils and markers and it’s waaaay cheaper than a computer or programs. And it’s very portable — I take it everywhere I go! Remember: computers are fun, but there is no substitute for good drawing skills. So, keep drawing and never stop. That’s how you get good.

I’m digging Edwin’s hair… really cool for a cavedude! Now the question - what made you choose that name? — Lisa

Hi Lisa. Edwin’s hair is surprisingly difficult to draw! His name is a good story (at least I think so). He’s named after a very good friend of mine who grew up in France. When I first met Edwin his English wasn’t too good and, being French, he has a love of fine food and good wine. He’s tall and keeps his head close shaven.

When I started working on ME HUNGRY my little caveboy was more of a toddler — he was mostly bald, he was on a quest for something good to eat and his language skills were lacking. In honour of my good friend I named my caveboy Edwin (Edwin, if you’re reading this, I’m not trying to compare you to a toddler). I thought it was a good joke and that I’d eventually change it to something more “caveman-like”, like, say, Ug or Dug or something like that. But the more I worked with him the more Edwin stuck. Luckily my editor loved it too. Eventually my drawings grew some hair so the physical resemblance to Edwin was lost, but the spirit was still there. When I showed the dummy of the book to Edwin he said, “Me flattered.”

will you be doing another book with grumpy bird being grumpy? I’m a mommy and a grumpy bird myself in the morning. I love your book and have read it at least 50 times since we got it last month. ps. I LOVE YOUR BOOK “GRUMPY BIRD”!!!!!!!! — melodee

Hi melodee. Nah, one Grumpy Bird is enough. Although I have to admit grumpy animals are way fun to draw. I think I’ll poke fun at some other emotions next time. Sad is next: Boo Hoo Bird is all about sadness. It’s quite tragic really. But you’ll have to wait until early 2009 to see it. Sigh. I have to admit I’m a little taken-aback by the huge number of people who claim to be as grumpy as bird. Perhaps you just need some exercise and irritatingly friendly companions? It seemed to work for Bird. — jeremy

(I was just sneaking a peek at your illustrations during naptimes, and i’m feeling nosey…) are you a lefty? — cassie

Nope, I’m definitely a righty. Although I do, on very rare occasions, draw with my left hand — just to see what will happen. And I’ve found that napping usually works best if you don’t peek at anything (personally, I like my eyes to be closed when I’m napping). But maybe that’s just me.

if you could settle anywhere in the world, where would you and why? — kate

In a treehouse. Perferably with a good view of the sea. It would have ladders and bridges to other parts of the house. My studio would be near the top where the view is best (but not so high as to sway too much when I’m drawing). There might be an enchanted forest nearby too. Oh, and a dock where I can moor my pirate ship when I’m not out plundering. If you happen to see such a place in your MLS listings, please let me know, okay? Thanks Kate!

Where can I buy some of your fantastic art? — matt

Hi matt! I have a lot of fun making these pictures so it’s always a pleasure to know that others are also enjoying them. My art is digital and I have often made prints for those who are interested in them. I use a process called Giclee printing which produces beautiful, archival-quality images. If you’re interested you can contact me here and let me know what you would like.

I seldom part with my original ink drawings as they are all in sketchbooks.

Do you use a “brush pen” (and if so which one) or a traditional brush (what kind) and bottle o’ ink? Photoshop? Painter? — Leon

Hi Leon! I use a variety of different techniques and tools in my work. Most commonly I use a brush pen. My favourite is made by Pentel. It has nice soft bristles. When I use “real” ink I prefer a Chinese brand that comes in a tall black bottle with a green cap (I don’t read Chinese or I’d tell you the brand). It’s nice thick ink with a good, slow flow. I prefer those bamboo-handled Chinese brushes when using “traditional” brushes.

I scan my ink drawings into Photoshop and clean them up. I either colour the characters with Painter or with acrylics. I use Photoshop to layer in all the textures, photos and other bits and pieces. However, the ink drawings are by far the most important part of the whole process. I never touch the computer until I’m completely confident that the drawings are just right.

What are the differences between apes and monkeys? And which are you descended from? — James

Apes = smart. Monkeys = funny. Therefore: ape + monkey - lemur = Jeremy

How come you don’t own a TV? — Joyce

Lots of reasons, Joyce. Most importantly I don’t have enough time to do the things that I really want to do - like writing, drawing, reading, hanging out with my daughter, etc. I suspect I’d get even fewer of those things done if I had a TV.

If you were an animal, what kind would you be? — Abby

Well, I got all inky while I was drawing today and I could have used more arms. So I guess I’d be an octopus. Or some other briny sea dwelling thing. What would you be?

Would you like to have one of your books become a kids tv show one day? — janet

Hey Janet, I’m not sure how I feel about that. I don’t personally own a tv, but I know there are some pretty cool shows on these days. I’d certainly consider it if the opportunity arose and the project sounded interesting.

What’s your favourite colour? — Bosco

Chartreuse. Now, my favourite colour combination is orange and green.

Will the next book you do have the same characters as the first book? — Clem

No it won’t. My first book, Grumpy Bird, features Bird and his friends Rabbit, Raccoon, Sheep, Beaver and Fox. It’s published by Scholastic. My second book is called Me Hungry and is to be published by Candlewick Press. I can’t say too much about it at the moment though. I can tell you that it features people instead of animals. My third book however, will likely feature Bird and his friends again.