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An Interview With Susan Detwiler

Susan Detwiler is an illustrator living and working in Baltimore. She has illustrated The First Teddy Bear by Helen Kay, One Wolf Howls by Scotti Cohn, and many of the Reading Roots Shared Stories series. For more information, visit her website here.


1) Have you always had an interest in illustrating for children?
Yes, I have always liked making illustrations, and the idea of my art telling a story in a book (that would hopefully be cherished) was always attractive to me. Advertising art is far more lucrative, but people throw advertisements away.
2) Was it difficult to get published?
Yes, it is a fairly competitive field, and a certain amount of luck is also involved.
3) What is the most challenging part of illustrating for kids?
Well, that's a hard one. I guess maybe time and money are the most challenging aspects; if I could take as long as I wanted on each illustration and was independently wealthy, everything else would just be fun. On the other hand, deadlines and money are great motivators.
4) How do you know when your work is finished and ready for publication?
Knowing when a piece of art is finished is tricky. I will still see things in the art after the book is printed that I would change.
5) Has the economy effected the children's book field, that you've noticed, and in what ways?
I am sure the poor economy has an effect on the publishing market, but I do not know this directly.
6) What children's literature organizations do you belong to?
I belong to SCBWI, the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. I am the Illustrator Coordinator for the MD/DE/WV SCBWI.
7) Is there any information you know now that you wish you had known at the beginning of your career?
I resisted the use of computers for too long, and now I don't know what I'd do without my Mac!
8) Do you have any advice for a novice illustrator?
Be persistent, hone your skills, and keep showing your artwork to Art Directors and Editors. As I mentioned before, it takes a certain amount of luck.
Many thanks to Annie Boes for this lovely interview. All images in this post © Susan Dill Detwiler.

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