Archive for November, 2015

A galaxy far, far away… Haida Gwaii!

Holman had the privilege of going up to Haida Gwaii last week to give artists talks and felting workshops. He was invited by Beng Favreau of Literacy Haida Gwaii and Kiki van der Heiden of Sun Studio. Kiki is an incredible visual and fiber artist who created the felt artwork for the picture book Taan’s Moons in collaboration with children from Haida Gwaii. Holman gives a quick visual tour of his trip.

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Haida Gwaii was named one of National Geographic Traveler’s 20 must-see places in the world for 2015, and I was lucky enough to be invited there! The natural landscape is simply stunning, as evidenced by this sunrise right outside the home I was staying in:

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The first stop was the local high school in Queen Charlotte, where I gave a talk about my work to an art class. It was a chance to share my artistic process with students, hopefully inspire them, and plug the youth felting workshop I was giving the same night!

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The afternoon turned into a “crafternoon”, as I visited Sun Studio and tried my hand at wet felting for the first time. Kiki taught me some wet felting techniques that I will try and incorporate into the next Cozy Classics!

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The youth felting workshop in Queen Charlotte was held in the evening, and the keen gathering of young people tried their hand at making Jawas.

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The next day, the adults of Queen Charlotte got their opportunity to needle felt.

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We brought along other colours of wool in case any participant wanted to make a figure other than a Jawa, and Kiki took full advantage by making a figure of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mum!

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Afterwards, I gave another talk about my work:

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The next day, I set off with Beng for the long drive to Masset, where I gave two workshops back-to-back. First it was the adults’ turn:

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And here are some happy Jawa-makers!

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Again, some participants took full advantage of the opportunity to create non-Jawa figures, like this beautiful ballerina:

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Then it was time for the youth of Masset to take their turn. I was completely blown away by the skill and determination of the some of the young participants!

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I also managed to get some sightseeing and tourist-y activities in while I was in Haida Gwaii, including visiting this carving center were the carvers had been working full-time on this totem pole since June. Apparently, it can take up to 10,000 hours of labour to complete a single pole!

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Here are some of the breathtaking views around Queen Charlotte:

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Here I am relaxing with a book on my final night in Haida Gwaii, in the home generously offered to me by local Fran Fowler (doesn’t it look cozy?):

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It was an incredible trip that I won’t soon forget. Haawa (thank you in Haida) to Beng, Kiki and their families for their kindness and hospitality. The epilogue to the story is that my mother-in-law has already promised to fly the family up to Haida Gwaii for her 70th birthday in two years. So with any luck, it won’t be long before I’m up in Haida Gwaii again!

The Original Art Exhibition, NYC

We had the incredible honour of having our illustrations from Star Wars Epic Yarns: A New Hope selected for The Original Art exhibition curated by the Society of Illustrators, showcasing illustrations from the year’s best children’s books published in the U.S.

The jury saw fit to include us in the exhibition with the likes of Sophie Blackall, Eric Carle, Emma Chichester Clark, Mike Curato, Tony DiTerlizzi, Oliver Jeffers, Jon Klassen, Nikki McClure, Julie Morstad, Jerry Pinkney, Chris Raschka, Sergio Ruzzier, Peter Sis, Hervé Tullet and Mo Willems. Here’s the complete list of exhibitors. There were so many kidlit legends in the show that we had to pinch ourselves that we were there!

Holman headed to New York City from Vancouver, while Jack had the much shorter trip from Ithaca. Here’s a visual tour of what we got up to in the Big Apple.

After getting off the red-eye, Holman headed straight to The Museum of American Illustration at 63rd and Lexington to set up the Epic Yarns display. Not only did we have a backlit print in the show, but we were also asked to display two felt figures. Here’s Holman setting up the figures:

01_Holman_Wang_Setting_Up_The_Original_Art.jpgHere’s the display after it was set up:

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We decided to take in the exhibition before the crowds arrived for the reception, which proved to be a prescient move. Here’s Jack checking out the exhibition in a quiet moment:

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Before the reception, we met up with our agent, Emily Van Beek of Folio Jr. We had worked with Emily by phone and email, but had never met her. Meeting up in NYC was an opportunity that we couldn’t miss! Emily is an absolute dynamo and we couldn’t be happier to have her represent us.

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The reception for The Original Art show was definitely overly warm and loud, but there was an incredible atmosphere: artists, editors, agents, and other guests all enjoying the best in children’s illustration:

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We had the chance to meet many incredible authors / illustrators, including Sara Gillingham, who’s also from Vancouver. Not only was she in the show, but we had another connection: Sara is the original Cozy Classics book designer who helped our books look so beautiful!

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Here’s Holman with Kelly Light, author of one of his kids’ favorites books, Louise Loves Art:

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Holman also ran into Jon Klassen:

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After the reception, we went to a dinner / drinks event hosted by Chronicle Books, where Hervé Tullet signed books for Jack:

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Before leaving NYC, we visited HarperCollins‘ new offices near the Financial District, and met with editors there to discuss future book projects:

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It was amazing to see such beautiful, thoughtful, and exuberant children’s artwork at The Original Art exhibition (check out the show until December 23, 2015 if you’re in NYC!). The whole trip was very inspiring, and we can’t wait to get back to making kids books!