Monday, March 1, 2010

Illustrator of the Month -- Stephanie Ruble

Stephanie Ruble (a.k.a. sruble) has been drawing and painting ever since she could hold a crayon. She's been making up stories since she learned how to talk! Now that she's a grownup she's writing a YA novel and making art for her portfolio.

I love Stephanie's artwork. It's so fun. Really, it's a perfect fit for children's books. I would love to see her illustrations brought together in a book I could read to my little ones (perhaps the skateboard riding chicken--that's got kid appeal!) So, I asked Stephanie if she'd like to frolic over and be my featured Illustrator of the Month, and I'm so happy to have her because I have questions!

Stephanie, when did you decide you wanted to become an illustrator?

I’ve always wanted to be an artist. In first grade, I used to love drawing Snoopy. In third or fourth grade, we saw a film about an artist creating a picture book, which is when I decided I wanted to be a picture book artist. I didn’t find out until many, many years later that picture book artists were called illustrators. So, it was only within the last ten years or so that I decided I wanted to be an illustrator … even if I had wanted to be one since grade school.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember the title of the book in the film, but it was about the ocean. After seeing the film, I made a picture and wrote a poem, both titled, “The Fish with a Smile like a Crocodile.” I was so proud of that picture! Then my teacher stapled the poem on top of my painting, FOUR TIMES! She covered up my art and poked holes into it! (Yes, I am still upset about it. I took the staples out recently so I could scan the painting and was lucky the painting didn’t rip.)

What types of books do you hope to illustrate?

I hope to illustrate picture books (written by me or by someone else) and novels. I have a completed picture book dummy I’m sending out now. I’m working on another dummy and black and white images for my portfolio.

Do you feel you have found your illustration style, or is it still developing?

I have a very strong flat color style in my portfolio that I keep playing with so it doesn’t get static. I also have a more painterly style that’s always developing. No matter what style I use, it still looks like my art, because the drawing underneath starts the same way.

Do you have a favorite subject to draw?

Animals are my favorite subjects now. Cows were in the top spot for many years, but were recently replaced by chickens. Elephants are vying for the top spot in the future.

In high school and college, my favorite subject was people. I created lots of abstract figural paintings, mostly on large canvases. Sometimes I painted on a smaller scale or made drawings.

Have you had any artistic training?

Yes. I have a BFA in painting from Mankato State (a.k.a. MN State University, Mankato). I loved art school! I miss being able to paint on huge canvases; I just don’t have the space anymore.

Do you specialize in any one medium?

The artwork in my portfolio is digital. I still love to paint in acrylics and I do that as often as I can. Sometimes I play with watercolor, colored pencil, ink, and mixed media too.

Are there any illustrators whose work inspires you?

There are way too many to list! Here are some old favorites and some new ones too: Mark Teague, Lois Lenski, Ruth Carrol, Clare Turlay Newberry, Peter McCarty, Arthur Howard, Brian Selznick, Kazu Kibuishi, Raina Telgemeier, Lynn Johnston … and many, many more!

Do you write you stories for your illustrations as well?

I write stories for some of my illustrations, but my writing voice tends to be older. I’m writing a YA zombie novel now and have several other ideas to choose from for my next project.

How are you getting your work out there right now?

Postcards, my website, online portfolio sites, CBIG - my local illustrator’s group , conference critiques and portfolio shows, Watercolor Wednesdays , Illustration Friday, and anything else I can think of.

Do you belong to SCBWI? If so, how has being a member helped you?

Yes. SCBWI has helped me in lots of ways. The most helpful part of SCBWI for me so far has been going to conferences. I’ve learned about the business and craft of children’s books (including that picture book artists are illustrators) and had critiques that have helped me get to the next level with my art and writing.

If you could live in any book, which one would it be?

The first book that came to my mind was Harry Potter, but I’d only want to live there if I could be magical. It wouldn’t be any fun if I were a muggle.

Stephanie posts new art regularly on her blog, usually before it goes into her online portfolios. On her blog she also posts art that she did just for fun. You can learn more about her projects and see more of her art by visiting her website. you should definitely check out Sheila the Zombie Cheerleader. She's super fun!
You can also find Stephanie on Twitter.


  1. Great interview Heather and Stephanie. I am always amazed by people who can draw, paint, illustrate in any way, shape or form. I'm pretty much a stick figure doodler.

    I really liked that first Elephant Illstration. And that flying chicken on a skate board was cool.

    Best of luck Stephanie, with both your illustrating and writing.

  2. I really enjoyed this interview; interesting to read about your work, what brought you to it & where you hope to go with it. Thanks Heather & Stephanie. And thanks for your 'tweets' too!

  3. Thanks Paul and Dana!

    *Oh how I wish I could draw. Interviewing illustrators is the next best thing. :-)