The Whole Megillah (TWM): How did the opportunity to illustrate Thank You for Me! come about?
Ann Koffsky (AK): Rick Recht, a well-known Jewish musician, had a hit song, “Kobi’s Lullaby,” which he wanted to make into a children’s book. Since he had the words, he just needed some pictures…Several Google searches later, he found me!
This is actually the first time I’ve ever gotten a job through my website, and not through me proactively harassing, I mean, pitching publishers so that was kind of amazing.
TWM: How was illustrating someone else’s work different from illustrating your own?
AK: Collaboration. When you are collaborating with yourself, there is the fun advantage of being in total control, and being the total boss. But there is the disadvantage of not having additional input that pushes the project to the next creative level. Rick was really great at that—he had thoughtful and excellent critique at every stage that kept making the images get better and better.
TWM: What process did you use to illustrate the text? (creating the dummy, discussions with publisher/author, etc.)
AK: Rick’s song has beautifully imagery, but not a story, per se. I decided to create a very simple story with a beginning, middle, and end: Boy goes to bed, boy falls sleep, boy wakes up. Then, I drew up some character designs for Rick’s approval. Once Rick approved those, I created a sketch dummy which we went back and forth on a couple of times until we got it just right. Once those were set, I proceeded to color finals.
TWM: How did you decide on medium and color palette?
AK: Because this is a story of night and day, I really wanted color to almost be like a character in the book. So through color, the reader gets a sense of the sun setting, and the room becoming darker and darker with purples and blues, then lighter in the morning with yellows and pinks.
TWM: Did the music on which the text was based factor into your art? If so, how?
AK: I’m not sure how directly it influenced me, but I know I was humming it the whole time I was working! So on a subconscious level I know it impacted the final book.
TWM: What was the greatest challenge?
AK: In every book I do, I always find making sure the character looks like the same person in each spread to be the biggest challenge. Lots of fussing to get it right.
TWM: What was the greatest satisfaction?
AK: Going to Rick’s concert for the first time, hearing him sing that song and knowing
that I am now a small part of the history of that beautiful piece of music.
TWM: What advice can you offer up-and-coming illustrators?
AK: Get yourself out there! Meet people shake hands, show your work, share your work, give some away to good causes. Staying home and hoping someone will find you can get very lonely very quickly.
For more about Ann and the Thank You for Me book trailer, click here>>>
Thank You for Me! is a PJ Library selection.