Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's Time to Start Taking Myself Seriously!

I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a children’s book author/illustrator approximately two years ago as a recent college graduate staying at home with my one-year old son. I was researching how I might go about publishing a little “cat in a flowerpot” story I wrote. The more I researched the more my ambitions caught fire. I joined SCBWI, was counseled for a brief time by author and illustrator Vuthy Kuon, and did a great deal submitting, writing, and illustrating.

It can be a challenge to find time for these things when you are a stay at home mom. My studio became wherever my son happened to be: on the toilet seat next to the bathtub, on a park bench, and on the living room floor amidst legos and dinosaurs. For a time I managed my mom’s business, Attic Light Studios, where I would work on my illustrations while transferring VHS’s, 8 mm reels, and audio cassette tapes to digital files and DVD’s. It really didn’t matter where I was, if I had an idea my life would suddenly go on hold until it was complete.

I learned that making it as a children’s book author/illustrator isn’t something that just happens overnight. I put the “Cat in the Flowerpot” story on the back burner and started writing newer and better stories. The children’s section in the library has become my second home. Sam and I visit there at least 3 times a week and that is not just so he can play with the library toys. I’ve poured over hundreds and hundreds of picture books. They are my research. I come home from each library visit with an armful of them. Sometimes the pile is so big I barely make it to the car without dropping them. Perhaps I should invest in a wagon.

In addition to my picture book research I have also been extremely busy with illustrating for other people. In fact I just finished illustrating a cute little picture book about a llama named Lucy for my Aunt. In the past year I have been commissioned for multiple projects including a Human’s vs. Zombies poster, a book cover for my friend Victoria’s YA novella Re'and, multiple caricatures, and my Aunt’s 32 page picture book. Guess how much I’ve earned?! Not even enough to pay one month’s rent for our apartment. Ha! It’s a good thing I love what I do.

As much as I love making other people happy with my artwork I think it’s now time for me to start thinking about myself. Now that I feel confident in my abilities it’s time to start charging more and accepting less job offers. I need to focus on becoming professional. I need to make my own projects come to life. I do not regret the work I have done for others. Each has been a terrific learning experience and helped me develop confidence in myself. I have grown an unbelievable amount as an illustrator in this past year. However, now it’s time for me to start taking myself seriously, and recognize my own worth. My time is valuable and I need to spend it wisely. I’ve learned this the hard way.

Thank you everyone who has supported me in my struggles as new artist. Even though it can be scary, frustrating, and financially straining, it is an absolute joy for me to walk down a career path I love.


  1. This is wonderful, Heather. You should take yourself seriously, you are a wonderful artist. I'm can't wait to see where your career takes you. :-)

    1. Thanks Catherine! And you should similarly take yourself seriously as a writer. Your poetry is so beautiful.

    2. Thank you, Heather. I'm excited for my children's book to come out and I plan to work on my writing tomorrow. It's still a little hard to call myself a writer, but keep calling myself that so hopefully it will feel right soon. :-)