To close out this crazy and unprecedented year, I wanted to take some time to highlight my fellow kidlit creators who are working their tails of to birth their beautiful book babies into the world. These interviews will cast a light on the wonderful work of these pre-published authors and author-illustrators who are destined to be stars!
Meet Rising Star
Author-Illustrator Chris Vabre!
Welcome, Chris! Thanks for joining me for the Rising Stars in KidLit Series. I can't wait to hear more about your work, your inspiration, and your projects!
AD: Let’s start with a speed round…
AD: Okay, now down to the serious stuff….Please dish us the dirt on who you are and your journey into the fabulous world of children’s books.
CV: I’ve always been an artist, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do growing up. Children’s books made a real impact for me in my early life, and I knew I wanted to impact others in the same way.
AD: Did you always know you wanted to be an author-illustrator? Have you explored other paths or had/have other jobs?
CV: Although I always knew I wanted to be a professional artist/designer, it’s taken me a long while to get here. In order to keep myself happy, I had to approach everything I did from an artistic point of view. When I got into retail management, I sought industries that had an artistic flare. I was fortunate enough to find my way into management and buying positions in the fashion industry for designers that were art focused like Marni, Sigrid Olsen, and others.
AD: I love how you found a way to incorporate art and creativity into each position you held in retail. And hey, it doesn't matter how long it took for you to get here. You made it! How exciting is that!
AD: What topics or themes do you tend to focus on in your writing/art? Favorite genres you like to write in or favorite art materials/techniques?
CV: The types of stories I gravitate to are generally fantasy or magic related. Nature is another huge inspiration, and I have an idea, and the start of a draft for a story about forest animals. Watercolor is by far my most favorite art medium, and Procreate is a close second.
AD: Sounds delightful! I love the forest...and animals...so that a win-win in my eyes :)
AD: Breaking into the publishing industry is not easy! What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced thus far? What have you done to persevere?
CV: I still have that hurdle out in front of me, but I’m watching and listening to my peers and what they are experiencing. It’s quite exciting to see it happen, even from the sidelines, and gives me hope for my own dream of being published!
AD: Bingo! Watching and listening is key! There is always something to learn no matter where we are on this creative journey. Your dream will come true. Just stick with it!
AD: As creators (and humans), we tend to focus on the flaws of our creations or areas for improvement. This helps us grow and develop, but we need not forget the many things we are doing well. With this in mind, what has been your biggest accomplishment or something you are most proud of thus far on your writing/illustration journey?
CV: Being an illustration and fine art teacher on Skillshare.com has been my biggest accomplishment so far. It’s hugely rewarding, and it’s amazing how much teaching has improved my art.
AD: Yes! Your Skillshare classes are awesome, and I love being a part of you online Facebook community. So encouraging and supportive!
AD: In a similar vein, what do you feel are your strengths as an author/illustrator? What makes your art/writing unique to you?
CV: I like infusing as much humor and levity as possible, even when dealing with more serious subjects, like grief, loss, and confusion.
AD: What inspires your work?
CV: Personal experiences mixed with stories I’ve heard throughout my life all play a part in what inspires me to write/illustrate.
AD: Yes, so often we hear "write what you know," and I couldn't agree more. When I write from my own experiences, I often feel those are the strongest and most meaningful stories/art I create.
AD: Tell us about your creative process and what you do to keep ideas flowing or what you do when feeling stuck?
CV: When I am hot on an idea, I generally don’t have an issue with artistic block, but if I do, I like to walk away from it for a while. When I do that, even if I’m not aware of working on it internally, ideas to spur me on can hit me suddenly and at the most unexpected times! I think once I start on something I’m passionate about, I can’t quite lay it down completely units finished.
AD: What sorts of things have been most integral in your growth as an author-illustrator?
CV: Having good-hearted creative people around me! I believe that to be inspired, one must be submerged in an inspiring environment. I seek that in the people I spend time with, as much as the places I hang out in, and the things that I do.
AD: Yes! Surround yourself with other passionate people who will lift you up and challenge you to keep going and improve. So important!
AD: What advice do you have for fellow kidlit creatives?
CV: Don’t be afraid to be yourself! We all need the real you and what you bring to the world!
AD: Cheers to authenticity! Celebrate the unique you! :)
AD: Where can readers find out more about you and your work? Please include links to any social media, websites, blogs, etc.
CV: My online studio space is OctopusConnection.com where I share my illustration, classes, freebies, blog , etc. I don’t currently share my writing or kid illustration yet, but I hope to soon! Here are my other online homes: Skillshare, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube.
Chris, thank you so much for sharing a bit about yourself and contributing to the Rising Stars in Kidlit series! We can’t wait to read your stories and see your work in the hands of young readers! Feel free to drop a comment below to support Chris and her work. Stay tuned for next week where we get to meet another Rising Star in Kidlit, and be sure to subscribe so you don't miss out and follow along on Twitter at #RisingStarsinKidlit!
If you are interested in being featured in the Rising Stars in KidLit series, please complete the following Getting to Know You form to be considered. Thank you!
Who Am I?
Amanda Davis is a teacher, artist, writer, and innovator who uses her words and pictures to light up the world with kindness. Amanda is the author of the award-winning picture book, 30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag, Moonlight Memories (summer, 2023) and a yet to be announced forthcoming title. She also has poetry and illustrations featured in The Writers’ Loft Anthology: Friends & Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children. Amanda has over ten years of experience as a classroom teacher and was selected as Massachusetts Secondary Art Educator of the Year. When she’s not busy creating, you can find her sipping tea, petting dogs, and exploring the natural wonders of The Bay State with her family and her rescue pup, Cora. You can learn more about Amanda at www.amandadavisart.com and on Twitter @amandadavisart and Instagram @amandadavis_art.