Working with an Illustrator: Meet Davina Kinney

Davina Kinney
Davina Kinney
It appears the lovely and talented Mrs. Kinney is home and dry in her new place in Utah. She and her all ’round good guy of a husband Vince even invited us to drop by on our next Wisconsin-to-California trip.

If you’re writing a children’s book, it’s hard to imagine it without illustrations. Drawings, the shapes and colors, capture a child’s imagination and help develop their love of reading.

I’ve written 30 stories about Ginger, the Ship Captain’s Cat. This year the first few stories will see print, meaning somebody other than me has to bring Ginger to life visually. You’ve already seen a few sketches, done by friend and illustrator Davina Kinney.

If you’ve worked with an editor, you know a bit about handing your dreams off to someone else. Working with an illustrator is even more collaborative than working with an editor. It’s more akin to working with a co-author: the illustrator is responsible for the final visual image your readers will have. It’s vital to get it right. Not to get it fast or cheap or fancy or any other specific: the images in your book should be the best version of what you pictured in your mind as you were writing.

Here’s the first painful truth about working with an illustrator: sometimes, they won’t be a good match.

They may be a great artist. They may have experience. They may practice good business methods. They may even be a friend.

But if they’re not a good match, creating the images you envisioned, don’t use a shoehorn to make them fit.

Though I’ve known Davina for years and worked with her on another project last year (Sidney, the Uncommon Squirrel) which she aced on all counts, I still made her audition to draw Ginger. Her sketches made it clear she saw Ginger more or less as I did. A little back and forth, and she’s got the images from my mind all sorted. It’s eerie. It should be. This is a collaborative mind-reading act.

For the rest of this week, we’ll be chatting about working with an illustrator. Davina may even drop by to answer your questions and generally be her sweet self all over the comments. Let’s make her feel welcome, eh?

4 thoughts on “Working with an Illustrator: Meet Davina Kinney

  1. I’m looking forward to these articles!

    I can testify to that “don’t shoehorn” warning. If the person seems a little unwilling and mumbles about being too busy — well, maybe they could fit it in somehow — don’t persist. Find someone else.

  2. Thank you for inviting me in this weeks discussions and for the warm welcome! I am looking forward to meeting your readers and answer whatever questions I can. :)

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