Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Author/Artist Series: Keri Barbas Steckler

I have had the pleasure of working with Keri for almost 10 years now, and through our projects, she has grown to be one of my best friends. I have chosen to feature Keri this week, because she has illustrated all of Ellen Sabin's books for Watering Can Press that I featured here. Keri is a graphic designer, entrepreneur, illustrator, and on an everyday basis, one of the most creative people I have ever met. 

She has illustrated books and gift products for countless companies. She is one of the most prolific, and versatile artists I know. In addition to her illustration talents, her strengths are spotting trends and generating ideas. Walking around her adorable townhome in Charlestown, MA is a treat...creative projects both complete, and in-the-works abound. 

Here is Keri's story (my comments are in italics!):

1. How did you get your first book illustrated?
I was working as an in-house designer for CR Gibson, and although we mainly used freelance artists, I did some artwork at home that I thought would be perfect for gift bags and gift wrap. I brought it in to work, and the company liked it. Eventually, it developed into a "Name That Baby" book.

2. What was your next big break?
CR Gibson ended up using my artwork on a lot of projects as an in-house designer. My real dream was to go freelance, so I started submitting work to various companies. My first freelance job was with Peter Pauper Press designing a Baby Memory Keepsake Book/Box. Initially most of my response was in the baby market since that's what I had mainly created for CR Gibson.

3. What is your educational background?

4. Where do you get your inspiration?
Now that I'm a mom (with one on the way), I look at children's clothes, decor, magazines, children's books, and shopping in general. Keeping up, and trying to spot new trends is essential for me. It's especially helpful with the world of blogs and Doodlebuds at our fingertips! (thanks Keri!)

5. What were some of your first rejections, and what made you keep going? 
I wanted to work in London, so I contacted numerous companies and went over for a number of interviews. Unfortunately, none of them would sponsor my visa to work in the UK so I never had that opportunity. I have also had many "rejections" along the way when submitting artwork for freelance projects, but there's always more art to be created, and it's never a closed door if you have something new to show!

6. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
To maintain a clean, professional portfolio and to only put in your best work. It's also very helpful to have a good understanding of the printing process and how to submit files digitally that are clean and easy to work with. Lastly, once given a project, stick to deadlines!

Thanks to Keri for sharing her journey!


paula said...

what a fabulous interview. I love her work.

Ruth Dynamite said...

I love Keri's stuff - thanks for sharing!