What was the catalyst / inspiration for your illustrations?
Our family has had great experiences adopting rescue dogs, the family Schnauzer is snoring beside me right now, and I appreciated how A Parade of Puppies (and A Carnival of Cats, the previous book) allow us to explore many breeds, but culminate in the child choosing a rescue animal. The rescue dog topic was handled in such a nice, thoughtful way. Oh and the puppy greeting committee at Orca always includes a particular beagle who may or may not be on the front cover of Parade of Puppies.
What are the challenges of illustrating a book that belongs to a series?
I kept in mind the visual continuity and tried to avoid repetitiveness, but otherwise I enjoy the challenge. If Charles wanted to keep going and create books on bugs, birds, fish, horses, dinosaurs, mammals – then I’m totally open to it.
What was your favourite book as a child and why?
Being a visual person I was attracted to books with great illustrations and lots of interesting details.
In your opinion, what makes a compelling illustration?
The kids and I usually agree on our favorites. The images have details that offer add-on conversations. A short picture book could last us half an hour if the illustrations encourage it. One of our family favorites was Uncle Wally’s Old Brown Shoe by Wallace Edwards, because it inspired fun sound effects, imaginative conversations and giggles. I also love patterns and juicy colour combinations.
What factors did you take into account while creating your illustrations? How did this influence your final product?
Well, for every new topic I need to do my homework. For instance, when the client and audience are cat or dog people – they will probably know exacting breed details about, say the colour and pattern of the underside of a paw. The flipside of this is that these books are being read to babies, so I needed to simplify the images to make them work. Right now I am researching the voyaguers, antique beadwork patterns and dinosaurs, it keeps things exciting.
Do you gravitate toward a certain medium of illustration?
In order to use a medium that was not ultimately destined for the landfill (disposable pens), I took a course in quill pen and ink. I discovered a beautiful sepia ink and watercolour combination that is both earth friendly and also has an ethereal west coast feel to it. There are other interesting techniques that I like to add, such as adding salt to wet watercolour to create crystal effects, and wax resist for a softer white reminiscent of batik fabric.
What types of conversations do you hope will come out of your book and it’s illustrations?
It’s pretty cool that a baby can learn to identify dog and cat breeds and understand the concept of rescuing animals. If kids can enjoy the artwork, learn some new facts and understand the message, then I am pleased.
Tell us a little known or interesting fact about yourself.
I currently have two praying mantis in my greenhouse. They are aware when I walk near them and they twist their heads upside down to see me better. It’s a little freaky but inspiring material for a series of illustrations.
Kristi Bridgeman has illustrated several books for children, including There Once Was a Camel and Uirapurú (Oolichan Books) by P.K. Page. Her fine-art pieces can be found at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and Sooke Harbour House Gallery. Born and raised on the west coast of Canada, Kristi resides and paints in her home-based studio at the edge of the rainforest on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. For more information, visit www.kristibridgeman.com.