Sunshine Smile Publications is delighted to showcase the very talented Jennifer Noel Bower!
Jennifer is an illustrator who describes her work as colourful, playful and fun, with a mixed media feel. In every piece she tries to tell a colourful story filled with movement, humour, and slightly offbeat vintage characters.
Her illustrations really capture a sense of each character's thoughts and feelings, while maintaining an effortless charm.
It's certainly a pleasure to Showcase her wonderful work! Enjoy!
Q & A with Jennifer Noel Bower, Illustrator
What are you working on at the moment?
Oh gosh! An exciting project that is a bit of a departure from my normal style and honestly, very overwhelming because it is my first job. I totally don’t want to screw this one up. I am illustrating Dead Glass for Folded Word. It is a chapbook based on a story originally told in Twitter feeds. The images are compact and will be completed in black and white. Since it is a mature storyline I am taking more of a graphic novel approach and trying to push the envelope a bit. Most of my work depicts humor so I have to tap into a different kind of energy, and do a good bit of surfing research. Additionally, I am working on honing my portfolio and creating promo cards in preparation for the SCBWI-Carolinas Regional Conference. It will be my first. I do have a few character ideas that I hope to develop into picture books of my own, as well.
Is there anything you're busy promoting?
I am constantly promoting my work on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and the new Google+, on my website, and through That’s My Folio. I work so hard at it that some days it’s hard not to get sick of myself. I also try to promote the work or advice of other illustrators. The art community is amazingly gracious with advice and information so until I have sage words of my own to pass on, I feel it is the least I can do to help others who are even newer to the industry than me. Holli Conger, Dennis Salvatier, Debbie Ohi and Dani Jones are probably four of the biggest giver-backers to the illustration community, are extremely successful and talented and always find the time to share their experience, strength and hope.
Can you recommend a children's book that you've recently enjoyed?
Every year, for Christmas or my birthday, family will give me a picture book. This year I received the wonderfully illustrated Art & Max by David Wiesner. It’s funny, expressive, clever, and I love how it explores friendship and the creative process. I think my favorite characters are not Art and Max themselves but the little guys that are looking on. The one book I can’t wait to get my hands on is One Love – based on the song by Bob Marley, adapted by Cedella Marley and Illustrated by one of my personal favorites Vanessa Brantley-Newton. Her work always makes me oooooh, ahhhhh, eeeeeek and smile. She just gets everything perfect. And, I love the message in that Marley song.
Do you have a piece of advice for beginning illustrators?
ABSOLUTELY, because I am one: PRACTICE & PATIENCE, PATIENCE & PRACTICE. I read once that it takes 10,000 hours to truly master something. Since I am just starting out & a single parent I still need to keep a ‘proper’ job in order to pay the bills, so I may average only two hours a day, fourteen hours a week, 730 hours a year working on my illustration dream. At that rate it will take me thirteen to fourteen years to get really, really good at what I am doing. But I don’t know that I ever want to arrive at “master” status because that to me sounds like I have nothing left to learn. I hope I am always learning and growing. Shoot, I’ve grown so much just this year. I didn’t pick up a digital pen until February. I am teaching myself Photoshop and loving every minute of every challenge. But, it takes practice, patience, and learning to go easy on myself. There are going to be days when all the lines dance on the page and then there are the days were it takes me an hour just to draw a stupid eyeball. I think the other thing any up-and-coming illustrator needs to be wary of is what I call “comparativitis” (my own made up word). We all have gifts and talents to share with the world, find your own voice and don’t worry about what others are saying. Trust me, I know how hard that can be, but on those days I make sure I sit down and draw something new. The best reward has been to see my ‘tweener’ daughter pick up a sketch pad and pencil rather that some do-dah gadgetry gizmo.
Jennifer's Creative Process
Oh, I am a melting pot of life experiences poured into my process. Sometimes that helps and sometimes it serves as a great big fat stumbling block. I classify myself as a self-taught ‘illustrator’ because I don’t have formal training in the field, but it really is kind of a cheat. I did receive my BFA in Interior Design so I do know how to draw. I started out at The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill as an advertising major so some of that influences my work as well. I suppose the biggest influences to my creative process are elements from my own childhood. I had a very colorful family and many who were/are closeted artists – wishful thinkers. I see many facial expressions, body language, family dynamics come to play in my work. Humor is another big influence. As far as my technique, I constantly have to fight the desire to draw a perfectly rigid and straight line, thanks to my interior design background. Much of my work is about me exploring movement and the curved lines in life and childhood from the perspective of a very sensitive and ‘old soul'. Although I work digitally now, I still try to replicate the same look I once created on vellum with tools from design school Sharpie pens, Copic markers and Prismacolor pencils.