Jason Jam! An SCBWI Montana Illustrator Spotlight

Art, Illustration, SCBWI Montana

Last Tuesday evening, the Billings community had the great opportunity to meet a beloved local artist and illustrator–Jason Jam! We invited Jason to come speak at our monthly SCBWI HobNob, share some of his artwork, and talk to us about his experiences as an illustrator.

Jason was halfway through his “100 Drawings in 100 Days” challenge, a project he started back in 2009. He brought his first 50 or so already completed drawings with him–less any that had been sold–and we got to take a closer look at them. They are even better in person than they are online!

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Jason’s skill with pen and ink was obvious, but I wasn’t a bit surprised to learn that he also has a way with words and a wonderful sense of humor! It is easy to see where the wit, irony, and plays-on-words come from in his comics. Thank goodness he didn’t listen–back when his guidance counselor in school told him to keep his career options open, because “there isn’t any money in comics!”

We are all glad he followed his artist’s heart and kept right on drawing! His watercolor artwork and daily pen-and-ink drawings have built an ever-growing fan base of followers, and I can’t wait to see the next 50 drawings in his 100 day challenge!

To follow along with Jason and his drawings, you can follow his Instagram here:

@jamcomics

And on Facebook here:

Jason Jam Gallery and Design

And here is the link to a great article about Jason and his 100 Drawings in 100 Days Challenge for 2019 in the Enjoy Billings:

100 Drawings in 100 Days

Thanks Jason Jam, for sharing your incredible talent with us! Here are some more photos from our fun evening!

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I look forward to featuring more Montana illustrators like Jason Jam, in our SCBWI Illustrator Spotlight! If you are a Montana illustrator who would like to be featured at a future event, please get in touch with me here:

Contact Erika!

Print Making with Julie Sola

Art, Illustration, KidLit

This week at my favorite Indie bookstore, This House of Books, we had a very special guest! Julie Sola, author and illustrator of RUN FAST, MILO! and Possum Dreams, was in town to sign books. She also gave a fantastic demonstration on print making.

Both of her books were illustrated with hand-pulled linoleum cuts that were carved and printed by hand at Hatch Show Print in Nashville, Tennessee, on a 1968 Vandercook proofing press.

I have never hand-printed anything before, so this demonstration was absolutely fascinating to me!

Here I am, giving it a try! I am using a spoon on the back of my print, making sure all the ink gets spread onto the paper evenly. I was surprised at how little ink I needed to make such a bold print!

Here are the two prints I “pulled” from Julie’s original hand-carved blocks:

I was completely enamored with this method of illustration, and I can’t wait to go find all of the odds and ends I need to start experimenting! I learned what “brayers” are, (the rollers) what kind of ink to use, how to keep from cutting your hands while cutting away your shapes, and how to “think in reverse!”

The icing on the cake was all the fun we had meeting Rod Stewart’s band/road crew! (Julie is also his costume/wardrobe manager, when she isn’t busy making amazing art!)

Please take a minute to go check out her awesome website:

Fat Crow Press

Thanks so much, Julie Sola, for sharing your art and teaching us a fun new skill!

How Do The Pictures Get In The Book?

Illustration, KidLit

I had the pleasure of teaching a kids workshop on illustration a few weeks ago at my favorite Billings bookstore, This House of Books!

In a wonderful summer series the bookstore hosted for children featuring workshops from different STEAM careers, I was honored to fill the slot for the “A” with some Art. I am a firm believer in the importance of the arts in our lives, and even more so in the lives of our children and students.

I brought my sketches, my storyboard, and my final watercolor paintings for The Spill, so I could show the kids my process from start to finish.

I even brought my light box along, which was a huge hit! All the kids got the chance to trace Faye, just like I did so many times throughout the six months it took me to finish all the artwork for the book.

The kids learned about basic story elements like setting, characters, and plot; they learned how to show emotion and action through body language in illustrations, and they even sketched their own storyboards!

I was thrilled to see such amazing little budding artists, who will be the storytellers of tomorrow! This event made me even more grateful for a life involving books, art, and children. What a beautiful combination!

Thanks so much to This House of Books for inviting me to come present this fun workshop! We will ALWAYS need stories and stories are so much better with pictures. I felt so lucky to get to share the wonderful world of illustration with such creative little minds–our authors and illustrators of tomorrow!

**Draw something everyday!**

~Erika

(Huge thanks also go to Rosanna Buehl–one of our amazing bookstore volunteers–for all of these awesome pictures!!)