Posted on Jul 18th 2010 by Lisa.
Here is Tanja, in her home studio, next to a draft of the Wright on Time: Wyoming, Book 3 cover painting.
I recently had the chance to ask Tanja a few questions. Here are her answers:
Lisa: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Tanja: I was born in Germany then moved to the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, when I was 11, where I actually learned English. Since I was little I have always loved drawing but never really knew that illustration was a career option. As a result I ended up with a career in Graphic Design. This field is actually a great background for illustration. Learning about composition, color, layout, and type can be directly applied to illustration. Eventually, my love for illustration caused me to leave my job, and work as a freelance designer while working on my illustration portfolio.
I now live near Phoenix, Arizona, with my husband Kevin, my daughters Isabelle and Zoe, and our zoo which is made up of two Golden Retrievers and four cats.
Lisa: Please list all the published books you have worked on.
Tanja: Published books:
2010 – “Wright on Time: Wyoming, Book 3” – Do Life Right, Inc. – Chapter Book Series
2009 – “Wright on Time : Utah, Book 2” – Do Life Right, Inc. – Chapter Book Series
2009 – “Wright on Time: Arizona, Book 1” – Do Life Right, Inc. – Chapter Book Series
2009 – “The Adventures of Salt & Soap in the Grand Canyon” – The Grand Canyon Association – Picture Book
2007 – “There’s a Coqui in My Shoe!” – ChiChi Rodriguez Books – Picture Book
I have also designed the book Jackets for several other books, and have another book due out later this year.
Check out my website to see more!
Lisa: How long have you been an artist?
Tanja: I have been an artist my whole life. I recently found a photo of myself when I was three that showed me holding a pencil and profusely coloring. However, I have been working professionally as an illustrator for the past 7+ years.
Lisa: What is your educational background like?
Tanja: I went to art school in Australia where I focused on Graphic Design. I also have a degree in Computer Animation.
Lisa: Who or what is your biggest artistic influence?
Tanja: There are many artists and illustrators throughout history that I admire greatly. Some of the older illustration masters that inspire are Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac and Anton Piek to name but a few. Some of my more contemporary inspirations are Graeme Base, P.J. Lynch, David Shannon and David Wiesner. Generally I love art and I can find inspiration everywhere.
Lisa: How do you spend your days?
Tanja: My main job other than illustrating is looking after my two girls. Isabelle is 6 and Zoe is 2 and a half. They are not always cooperative when it comes to my working during the day. Throughout the day I drive Izzy to school and pick her up, I drive both of them to swim and dance lessons, I help out at Izzy’s school and present “Art Masterpiece” to her class, and I do many other things. When it comes to my illustration, I mostly work during nap-time, in the evenings and on the weekends. I sketch, revise drawings, paint, ink, reply to emails, speak with my publishers and other clients, get paintings ready for upcoming shows and the Tempe Public Library, organize illustration meetings and events for the AZ chapter of the SCBWI, etc. The bottom line is that every day is different but there are always lots of things going on.
Lisa: What medium do you like to work in the most?
Tanja: I work in a couple of different mediums. I love the versatility of Acrylic paints and so used them quite frequently. I also love working in pen and ink. Watercolor is another fun medium to use and I have recently discovered acrylic gouache. Usually, the project that I am working on will determine which medium I end up using.
Lisa: What have you never illustrated/drawn/painted that you’ve always wanted to?
Tanja: When I was little other than being crazy about horses, I was also in love with fairies. I would love to paint some fairies some time or maybe work on a project about them.
[Lisa’s comment: Just wait for “Wright on Time: Iowa, Book 6” to see a cool fairy! There will be horses in at least one future Wright on Time book, too!]
Lisa: What are the books you have coming out soon?
Tanja: I am currently working on two books. Right now I’m am finishing up the artwork for the third “Wright on Time” book [this is now DONE and at the printers]. Also, I am working on a picture book with Raven Tree Press that is scheduled for release in Spring of 2011.
Lisa: Any advice to aspiring artists and illustrators out there?
Tanja: Stick with it and do what you love, but most of all draw, draw, draw. Have a sketch book and draw everything and everyone. The more you draw, the better you get.