Illustrator Spotlight: Daniel Miyares

Illustrator Spotlight: Daniel Miyares

Happy Monday and welcome to Picture Book Spotlight!

Before we start, I just wanted to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for the outpouring of love and support after my announcement of finding representation. To be honest, it still feels a little like a dream and at some point I'm going to wake up. If you happen to be a querying author or illustrator and you're struggling with rejection, please know that even after 600 rejections...it's possible! Be encouraged. You have a voice. It matters. Keep going!

If you missed my post, 5 Things My 600 Rejections Taught Me, check it out! I hope it lifts your spirit to continue on.

Enough about me. Today, I am so thrilled to bring you a fantastic Spotlight interview and our first giveaway opportunity with author-illustrator, Daniel Miyares! If you aren't following Daniel on Twitter or Instagram YOU NEED TO! There are few picture book creators as open and generous with their process as Daniel. But don't go away just yet. The good stuff is straight ahead. Did I mention there's a giveaway? Well, there is. But first...the interview.

Hypothetical scenario: In a dystopian artistic wasteland, you are relegated to using only one color of paint...FOREVER! What do you choose and why?

I would choose black. It’s extremely versatile. I would get a lot of mileage out of black. My work wouldn’t be all that cheery, but at least you would be able to understand it.

Name three things you can’t do your job without.

Time, a mark making tool, and an idea

What is something you simply must have in your refrigerator or pantry?

Greek yogurt and granola. It doesn’t feel like a day without those things. I don’t know why.

Tell us a little about your background, books you are known for, and how you stumbled into kid lit. Why picture books?

I was born and raised in South Carolina. I left home at eighteen to attend art school at Ringling College of Art & Design. After college I moved to Kansas City to work at Hallmark Cards, Inc. I married my lovely wife Lisa and now we have two children and a dog. Years ago I was doing freelance illustration for the Kansas City Star newspaper on some serial books they were publishing in the Sunday paper. I did a chapter a week for about four years with them. After that a friend of mine suggested I share my work with a book rep he worked with. At about that time my daughter Stella was born so that idea started to make a lot of sense to me. After that I began working with the fabulous team at Studio Goodwin Sturges. My first book as an illustrator was Waking Up Is Hard To Do written by Neil Sedaka. I discovered that making picture books was a great way to use my love of painting and telling stories. It really suited my personality, but it had to find me.

I love following you on Instagram. So do over 20,000 other people. You're a great example of someone who is generous with their process. Nearly every image you share I end up thinking...there’s a story here...and I want to read it! There’s some really thought provoking, visually striking stuff. Are these posts just artist exercises? Random artwork? Why share so much on the gram? How has engaging in this particular platform impacting your career as a picture book creator?

I’ve loved working in sketchbooks since I was in the third grade. It’s how I process the world around me. I see Instagram as a new form of that, except it’s public facing. I could use my feed as just a promotional tool for the books I make, but I think people would get bored with that. I know I would. I’ve found that being generous with your process does open the door for others to appropriate how you work and think, but is that really a bad thing? As creatives, I think all boats rise when we share in that way. Besides, any negative outcomes seem to be dramatically outweighed by the rich community and encouragement you receive. It also builds immense mutual respect between fellow makers. I’ve gotten to know so many amazing creators through the process. I’m thankful for that.

Tell us a little bit about your studio space and what your daily routine involves.

My studio space is a room in the lower level of my house. It’s nothing out of the ordinary. It’s got all the things I need to make stuff. I’ve set up one side as my painting area and the other is my scanner/computer setup. When I have a studio day, I wake up get ready and help the kids to school. After that I can head down into my cave of creativity. I like to focus as much of my studio time as possible on art making. There are a lot of tasks that need to happen in a day that don’t include painting, but I try my best to keep the bulk of my time on making. I try to take care of a lot of my emailing, and administrative stuff when I’m taking breaks. There just aren’t usually enough hours in a day for all the art I want to get done. I do still spend many a night completing things.

Most of the work I’ve seen from you is traditionally painted. What’s your favorite type of paint to work with? Do you use any digital medium? If so, what do you use?

I do mostly paint traditionally now. I’ve moved slowly towards that over the past five years or so. Currently I use a lot of gouache and colored inks to paint with. I have gotten to where I crave the directness of painting on a piece of paper and letting it be what it is. Everything I make does still end up being scanned, so I use Photoshop to clean things up and get them print ready.