Jillian Tamaki
 

Thanks!

May 13th, 2015

Hi all, not a lot to report but I did want to say THANKS for coming out to the bookstore tour events and TCAF. It was great meeting and/or catching up with you guys! It’s nice to meet the mysterious “readers” we’re always talking about. And to put an IRL face to an Twitter handle!

SuperMutant Magic Academy is #10 on the NYT Bestsellers List this week! This is cool! My mom is impressed!

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What’s next? CAKE (Chicago), ELCAF (London, England), ALA (SF), San Diego Comic-Con, and Autoptic. I post all the specifics on my website. And, like, all my other places online. I dunno. You know how to use the internet.

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Photo by IG user @leographs

 

GGs

Dec 1st, 2014
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Admit it, you couldn’t resist either.

This year, both Mariko and I were nominated for Governor General’s Awards for This One Summer. The GGs are a Canadian literary prize with a lot of pomp and, it must be said, a very hefty cheque attached. Mariko had been nominated in 2008, for Skim, in the category of children’s text. There was some consternation at the time, given the inherent absurdity of separating text and image in a comic. And so while it was a happy honour for us to both be nominated in our “respective” categories this year, the issue of cramming comics into an ill-fitting rubric remained.

Nevertheless. Mariko and I had a blast. Last Monday, we flew into Ottawa for the festivities, which consisted of a Parliamentary visit to both the library and question period (I sat across from Stephen Harper and his very blue eyes), a public reading, an official ceremony at Rideau Hall, and some various mix-n-mingle type events featuring high quality finger foods.

I met Shelagh Rogers who, as a former CBC morning show host, has undoubtedly been a companion to much comic-making.

We managed to ferret out a buttertart.

New fun and inspiring friends. Please check out their work: Jordan Tannahill (playright), Michael Harris (journalist), Marianne Dubuc (French-language author/illustrator), Raziel Reid (author), Arleen Paré (poet). Full list of nominees here.

I’ll leave you with my speech, which I gave in Rideau Hall. Thanks, Mariko. Love u, coz <3

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Your Excellencies, fellow laureates, ladies and gentlemen,

Hi.

Thank you so much.

Thank you to the Canada Council, the panelists who selected our book, our publishers Groundwood and First Second Books, Patsy Aldana, Sheila Barry, Mark Seigel and Calista Brill for helping us to shape it, Julia Kelk for driving us around Georgian Bay in a speedboat, the country of Canada for supporting artists, even the crazy ones, and all the zitty teenagers that work in weird corner stores in Muskoka, Ontario.

The most thanks, however, go to my cousin, Mariko Tamaki, whom I wish could join me on this stage right now.

Imagine a page of comics with all the words stripped from the balloons. You could not truly read the comic. Or at least not get the whole story. The same goes for if you erased the images and were left to read floating scraps of dialogue scattered across the page. In this medium, images and words do not support one another; they are intrinsically linked. The wondrousness of comics is the space and play and discord between the two.

Growing up in Calgary, I did not see much of Mariko, as she lived in Toronto and Calgarians don’t have a lot of time for Toronto. Making books with her has been an enlightening lesson in collaboration but also has had the gratifying side-effect of bringing us close as cousins and friends. I share this prize with her in every way.

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Shortly before I fell into the Eternal Flame and was scarred horribly.

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Parliamentary Library.

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With Sheila Barry, Groundwood Books publisher.

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An original edition of Audubon’s Birds. I flipped out at this point in the tour.

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They made us do this, but I think we liked it.

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Arleen’s tabs are on point.

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How did this get in here

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Life Cycles

Nov 15th, 2013

Got the color proofs in for THIS ONE SUMMER today… in glorious PANTONE! So luxurious.

I finished the art in July and the book is coming out in May. But things are busy again as production wraps up and the promo begins. Things that have been going on, starting with the glamorous:

-picking paper stock and pantone colour

-finishing up the back, spine, flap designs. I have been a pain-in-the-butt about these elements because I’m such a control freak (sorry, dear publisher!)

-planning our launch events at TCAF 2014

Now, the unglamorous:

-the necessary-evil of blurb-gathering, bio-writing (various versions, long and short), synopsis-generating (again, long-and-short versions)

-assembling a list of people who need to get review copies

-figuring out how many events we can cram into next year, ie. as many as possible, but not so many that we will actually physically perish

-a litany of other promotional strategies that is being handled by more capable people than myself

What I’m saying is that at some point a book ceases being one thing and becomes something else. First the book is a bundle of story, characters, themes that you massage for a few years. Then it kind of shifts and becomes a physical object, which needs a cover and paper and glue to hold it together. Then it transitions again to being a product. Products need marketing and promotion. All these various “life cycles” require a lot of care and attention to detail and I think shortchanging any individual stage (creation, production, marketing) can really fail the book as a whole. Fingers crossed!

Thousand Cranes

Mar 2nd, 2013

I’ve been waiting to post this image for a while, but the pub date got delayed. ‘Glad I finally get to share it. It’s a cover for Yasunari Kawabata’s novella “Thousand Cranes”, which explores a love triangle set against the tradition of tea ceremonies. Oddly enough, I got this job shortly after I made this image about Mishima’s “Confessions of a Mask”, another postwar Japanese novel. They’re such bleak and beautiful books. Also check out “Woman In The Dunes”.

You can see the whole series, and how the covers fit together, on designer John Gall’s website.

Things! New Things!

Feb 14th, 2013

There is a lot happening! Here is a rundown.

1. I am now, improbably, the Chair of the annual show at the Society of Illustrators. John Hendrix passed the reins over in a secret ritual somewhere in the bowels of the Society a few weeks ago. [We had a cordial brunch with the past Chairs in the dining room.]

When I first moved to New York, I didn’t go to the Society much. It seemed like a bit of a closed club to me and I don’t think I was the only one who felt that way. This has dramatically changed with Anelle Miller taking over SOI operations. She has revitalized the place and made it welcoming and open to the future of illustration (while still honouring its past); I think the spirit of the Society now matches the beauty of the physical space. Want to learn more about the Society of Illustrators? Here’s a great behind-the-scenes tour. And here’s an audio interview with Anelle Miller and Exhibition Director Kate Feirtag.

2. On a related note, I am a Special Guest at this year’s MoCCAFest! As many of you know, the Society of Illustrators recently acquired the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) collection and will now be the sole operators of MoCCAFest here in NYC. This is good news. The Society is well aware of the, ahem, “issues” the festival has had in recent years and is working very, very hard to rectify them. It’s a big job that’ll take a few years. But to be honest, after seeing what Anelle and Kate have done with the Society (see above), MoCCAFest is in very capable hands. I’m looking forward to seeing you in April!

3. My webcomic, SuperMutant Magic Academy, was nominated for a Slate Cartoonist Studio prize! Thanks Slate, Center for Cartoon Studies, and Françoise Mouly!

4. I am on my friend Lisa Hanawalt’s podcast, BABY GENIUSES! Topics discussed: boobs, marriage, Twitter, and The Beatles. We have fun.

5. Ryan Sands is one of those people who seem like they have access to a time machine because it’s kind of unbelievable how much they accomplish in a day. You may know Ryan from his anthology Thickness or his incredible Same Hat blog. Ryan, brave man, is now venturing into publishing by starting his own imprint, which will be no doubt impeccable. One of his first projects is a quarterly zine series called “Frontier”, for which I had the pleasure of designing the logo, thus employing my Graphic Design degree and languishing copy of Adobe Illustrator:

That’s my news! Current status: optimistic. Lots of good people are doing good things that are making the world a little more fun and beautiful.

Milestones

Jan 23rd, 2013

What you see above is exactly half of the finished art for Awago Beach Babies, the graphic novel I am working on with my cousin Mariko. The book is about summertime, vacation, swimming, biking, futzing around in the woods. Just by coincidence, I started the final art on June 21, the Summer Solstice. Well, the summer is long gone and I’m still drawing kids splashing in the lake and townie teens riding BMX bikes. They say today is one of the coldest days of the winter so far.

In other news, Print Magazine has just published an “oral history” of the Pencil Factory, my spiritual studio. I participated in the “discussion”, which you can read here.

I also participated in a real, live discussion with cartoonists Eleanor Davis and Drew Weing on Sam Weber’s podcast, Your Dreams My Nightmares. If you haven’t checked out Sam’s podcast, please do. If you’re an illustrator, designer, or cartoonist, there’s probably someone of interest to you that’s recorded an interview.

On Drawing and Illustration and the Difference Between the Two

Nov 8th, 2012


I’ve been teaching illustration for about 5 years now. I feel really lucky to have seen some of the students I taught/met during my first couple years at Parsons go on to become professional creative people themselves (Katie, Anna, Zack, Roxie, Hannah.)

The vast majority have not.

For my current class, a senior portfolio class in the Illustration Dept. of the School of Visual Arts, I require my students to build an online portfolio website for their final project. It’s the only group critique we have in the 2nd semester. I visited some of those sites this week and noticed that most haven’t been updated since that day of the final critique last spring.

Why? Why put all that time and money and effort into 4 years of college if you’re not even going to make a run at being a professional illustrator? I suppose there are myriad reasons… the main one being that I just don’t think most human beings find the freelance life to be all that amiable. Talent is important and so very lovely when you have it, but I’ve found it often doesn’t correlate to any real-world post-graduation success. A persistent attitude is just as important.

I actually think that most people don’t realize or think about the difference between Drawing and Illustration. They think they’re the same. They’re not. Drawing is an act, whereas Illustration (as I define it) is a profession. Illustration *can* involve drawing (it can expand beyond drawing too, obviously), but it’s actually the act of thinking and problem solving. I think I’ve mentioned this before but Tim O’Brien once said something to the effect that the sketch-phase of a project IS the Illustration… I couldn’t agree more, despite my work being incredibly different from Tim O’Brien’s.

I wish this delineation between drawing and illustration was made more clear earlier on to young art students. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe illustration is more than a just a “style” and that most students enter such schools with hopes of eventually making their living being an illustrator. For this reason, I try to structure my class around real-life projects, prompts, feedback, and processes. (It’s also the way I myself was trained.) I do recognize that illustration programs are not quite the “trade schools” they used to be, and that they can be fulfilling experiences unto themselves. But again, I think most students enter with reasonable expectations that they will be exposed to realistic representations of Illustration as a JOB.

Illustration is about fitting your conceptual and aesthetic style to a problem. There is a “solving” aspect to it. I find students either revel in this aspect or absolutely hate it. It can represent a brainteasing challenge or be completely oppressive, depending on your point of view. If you want to become a professional illustrator, it helps to be the former. Sometimes you will feel more like the latter! But mostly you need to be open to collaboration and working within constraints. The joy of illustration is striking the delicate balance of solving the problem with artistry.

No real conclusions or grand(er) pronouncements than that. Just something I’ve been thinking about lately…

Anxiety Blog

Sep 15th, 2012

Here’s an illustration I did for the New York Times Anxiety blog a few days ago. The story is about a woman who develops Trichotillomania and OCD as a result of trauma.

I haven’t been taking very many illustration jobs these days because I’m trying to be very diligent with the graphic novel progress. There is just so much to do, it’s almost hard to wrap my head around it all. It’s a very different workflow from my “normal” life as an illustrator, which is usually about lots of smaller, shorter jobs – little nuggets of reward and feelings of accomplishment. There is something monk-like about holing yourself up for a year, chipping away at one thing. Anyway, I’m glad I took this little job… a breath of fresh air for a few days.

Status Update

Aug 14th, 2012

Hello, I hope you’re having a nice summer. Here is what’s going on with me:

♪ My webcomic SuperMutant Magic Academy was nominated for an Ignatz award! You can vote for the awards if you attend SPX next month. Unfortunately I won’t be there though. SPX was the *first comic convention I had ever attended as either an visitor or exhibitor* in 2006, so I have a soft spot for it.

♫ I was in London in early June, during the Queen’s Jubilee.

♪ I was in Oslo where I walked in the woods with famous cartoonists.

♪ Continuing with the famous cartoonist theme: ICON conference, Providence, RI.

♫ I have a new piece in the newest Nobrow collection (7). You can buy it here. [If you’re an American, I think you might have to wait a few more days.] Below, the cover (not by me) and my 4 page comic.

♫ ONGOING: I’m plugging away on my giant graphic novel, Awago Beach Babies. Here is a pile of evidence.

♪ Enjoy the dog days ~

Babysitters

Mar 20th, 2012

Here is a job from this weekend’s upcoming New York Times Magazine about the economics of babysitters and nannies.

There was something refreshing about drawing the street clothing. I started taking note of how people ACTUALLY dress… they way they really wear their clothing and not just echoing my own tastes and preferences. See if you can spot the toning shoes.

I can’t say I envy these elite nannies, who make $200K (plus living expenses) per year. It reminds me of my summer grooming show jumpers as a teenager (the children being 1000lb horses). I just don’t take direction well from the superrich, I guess.

AD Rami Moghadam.