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Amy Schimler-Safford

Amy Schimler-Safford

Amy Schimler-Safford Interview

Amy Schimler-Safford

Children's Illustrator

Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?

I started off as a textile designer and began drawing mostly animals and designing for the juvenile market. I began getting contacted by clients for a variety of chilcren's products including children's books. As my career developed I began illustrating more and more books.

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Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?

Yes, I studied fiberarts and painting at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston.

Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?

I live in a cabin in the woods outside of Atlanta, GA, an area inhabited by lots of wildlife such as herons, beavers, deer, woodpeckers, and lots of cool birds. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY and Miami Beach, FL. The perfect fusion of culture and nature.

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Was creativity part of your childhood?

Yes, I loved my Crayola box of 64 crayons. My favorite colors were periwinkle, melon, and aquamarine. My least favorite color was maroon. I think that is still true today.

Who or what have been some of your major artistic influences?

Maira Kalman, Matisse, and Milton Avery top my list.

What was your first commission as a professional illustrator?

My first commission was a set of sticky note pads by 3M specifically for Target stores.

What do you hope children take away from your drawings?

 A smile and a full heart.

Which 4 words would you use to describe your illustration portfolio?

Colorful, textured, whimsical, glimmering.

 

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Outline your dream project.

I think I've already had the experience of a dream project. Working on a manuscript whether mine or someone else's that feels personal. Working with a great team. Having the time to explore different media to take the book to finish.

Which area of children’s publishing excites you the most?

I love every aspect of illustrating children's books. It requires storytelling ability along with being able to create artwork. It gives you a defined space to work within, but once you understand the limitations, the sky is the limit. It offers so much opportunity for creative expression.

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

The best advice I think I've ever received is to remember that whatever you do it should be about the mission whether that is illustrating a children's book or branding a product or working on a persoanl piece. It applies to one's personal life as well as creative life and/or work life.

What was your last ‘lightbulb moment’?

To be true to your vision and trust your instincts. It is easy in this field to get pulled in a lot of directions, there are so many options when looking at a blank page. I think it is important to pull back, go within, be quiet and listen to your whispers.

What makes a good children’s book?

A perfect marriage of the words and pictures. I love when you have the feeling you are walking inside the pages. And of course everyone loves a page turner.... also books that evoke an emotional response.

What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I would say how much self reflection is involved in my creative life. I am fairly prolific so it can look like everything comes easily or goes smoothly. There is so much thought and intention put into each project. I put 100% of myself into my creative projects.

If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be doing?

After working on several children's books I have fallen in love with storytelling. I think I would enjoy being a documentary filmmaker.

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