Name, location? Do you have a day job?
I’m Tessa Blackham. I currently work full time as a freelance illustrator from my studio at home, overlooking Lake Union in Seattle. My only co-worker is my cat, Willow.
How did you hear about Ripple Grove Press?
As I was looking for various art directors and publishers to contact, I picked up a copy of the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market book and found Ripple Grove Press under the list of publishers.
What’s your work style? Early morning, late at night? All at once, bits at a time?
If I have a deadline it’s definitely lots of late nights, but on most days I start around 9am and finish around 5:30pm . However, since I get to pick my own hours (the best), it varies and I like to squeeze in time for practicing the piano or exploring Seattle. I also teach art lessons on the side.
Who are some of your creative idols?
My artist idol is Brittney Lee. While in college, I discovered her beautiful cut paper artwork and my mind was open to the many possibilities of what I could create with paper. I also admire the old, classic artists—Van Gogh, Vermeer, and Monet. I traveled to Europe last fall just to see their work in person. No matter what type of artist you are learning from the masters will only make you better.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I try to learn from the best by going to art museums or by keeping a collection of beautiful reference books when I’m looking for inspiration. I enjoy all the arts in all their varieties: ballet, music, theatre, art museums, etc. My best ideas come when I least expect them and it's usually when I am away from my studio experiencing the arts in person.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on finishing a landscape painting commission, building my Etsy shop, and hopefully working on another children’s book in the near future.
What mediums do you like to work with? What medium would you like to use in your next children’s book?
I love working with paper but it can be quite time intensive and detailed, so sometimes I like to go back to the basics—paper and a pencil with a good eraser. Drawing is my first love since every good idea starts with a drawing. I also love gouache and watercolor. For my next children’s book it would be nice to create beautiful pencil drawings with minimal watercolor.
What’s your favorite picture book, besides your own, of course?!
I don’t know if I can name only one! There are so many beautiful books so I will name my top 3: The Giving Tree, A Sick Day For Amos McGee, and The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree.
Visit Tessa's website for more information.