Melissa Iwai 是我在紐約參加一個插畫家團體聚會時認識的童書插畫家，她的父母是日本人，她則是在加州出生長大。個子小小的她，說話很溫柔。在我們的定期聚會中，每個插畫家會分享自己正在創作的作品，每次看到Melissa的繪本插畫，無論在角色設計、場景構圖方面，都讓我學習並得到許多啓發。於是我問她是否願意將她的寶貴經驗跟插畫生活的讀者們分享，她很大方地答應了，並且提供詳細的資訊和豐富的圖片給我，以下是我跟Melissa的精采訪談。
Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background, etc..
I’ve been working as an illustrator for many years, focusing mainly on children’s book illustration. I have also written and illustrated one book, called Soup Day, which was recently translated into Korean!
我從加州Pasadena的藝術中心設計學院畢業後就搬到紐約，在一家廣告公司Ammirati Puris Lintas做了幾年網頁設計師。那段期間，我利用閒餘時間創作自己的作品，找到一位願意代理我的經紀人，在1999年，她幫我爭取到第一本童書出版的案子，自此之後我就辭去廣告公司的工作，全職做自由接案。
I was born and raised in California on the Central Coast. It’s a very rural area where a lot of this country’s vegetables are grown – not a very exciting place! I always wanted to be a children’s book illustrator and author when I was a child, but I couldn’t image how I could ever make it, so I studied Linguistics instead when I was in college. I even went as so far as pursue a doctoral degree in it, when I realized I still wanted to be an artist and do children’s books! To the horror of everyone around me, I quit my program and enrolled in art school. I had not created art in about a decade, so it was a good thing for me to spend the time exploring and reconnecting with my art during those years.
I moved to NYC after I graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena (CA), and worked as a web designer for Ammirati Puris Lintas, an advertising agency here, for a couple of years. During that time, I painted on my own and found a rep who was willing to show my work and represent me. She got me my first children’s book in 1999, and it was then that I allowed myself to quit working in-house and be a full-time freelancer.
What is your first commissioned illustration job?
我畫的第一本童書繪本叫做«Night Shift Daddy»。我的經紀人Katherine Tegen當時在Hyperion Books童書部門工作，是她給我幫這本書畫插畫的機會。這本書作者是Eileen Spinelli，至今我仍是她的忠實粉絲。
The very first commissioned job I got was in high school. I won an art contest for a lumber company in my hometown. They liked the character I invented, so they hired me to do a series of newspaper ads for them. Unfortunately I don’t have any samples of those!
I also did work for the Pasadena Weekly while I was a student at Art Center. That too is so old that I don’t have anything scanned in.
My first children’s book that I ever did is called Night Shift Daddy.
Please talk us about the process of this project.
«Night Shift Daddy»的故事是關於一個小女孩，她的爸爸的工作是上大夜班。每晚要去上班前，爸爸有一套慣例，先坐在搖椅給小女孩講故事，然後親親她的鼻子，照顧她上床睡覺。在小女孩睡覺的時候，爸爸則工作一整夜。到了早上，爸爸會回家和小女孩一起吃早餐，然後小女孩也有自己的一套慣例，照顧爸爸上床睡覺。這是個很可愛的故事。
Night Shift Daddy is story about a little girl whose dad works the night shift. They have a ritual before he leaves of him putting her to bed (reading in the rocking chair, tucking in bed, kissing on the nose, etc.). Then he goes to work all night while she sleeps. In the morning they eat breakfast together, and then they have a puts her dad to bed. It’s a really cute story.
After discussing it with my editor and art director, I decided to set the story in Brooklyn, where I live. Since the dad works the night shift, I imagined they were not wealthly, and probably lived in an apartment building. I was actually working freelance as a web designer when I first got this manuscript, and I worked a late shift: 4 pm to 12 am at a different ad agency. I became friends with some of the cleaners who would come into the offices at night, and I asked a nice man if I could take his picture for reference.
I also took a lot of photos of the buildings in our neighborhood, which I based the characters’ environment on.
There is no mention of a cat, but I wanted to include a silent observer, so I used my friend’s cat, Taxi, as inspiration and added him in the illustrations.
What did you learn from this project?
«Night Shift Daddy»這本書之後，我想我接了約20本童書插畫的案子，記不得正確的數量了。其中有些書是學校用的教科書，在書店裡找不到的，所以不容易留下記錄。當我回過頭看我的第一本書，感覺它好老！（它是很老！幸好，至今這本書還在再版中），而且有很多事我現在的做法可能會不一樣，我現在的作品跟以前非常不同了，現在我的插畫運用很多拼貼和電腦繪圖，用許多不同的媒材，不像以前我只用壓克力顏料。
I learned SO much. I had never done a 32 page book before. I had made many book dummies though. Planning it out was not too difficult. I remember that the editor and art director didn’t have me make many revisions – just moving things so there would be more room for text. I was very lucky.
Going through the process of painting the 16 spreads and keeping the characters and the environment consistent made all of my previous (children’s book illustration) studies click into place. It was a huge challenge and I was terrified the whole time. I think I did all the paintings in three months.
After Night Shift Daddy, I think illustrated about 20 books or so. I am not sure the exact number! Some of them are used in schools and are not found in stores, so it is easy to lose track.
When I look at my first book now, it feels old (it is old! Thankfully, it is still in print!) (link to amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Night-Shift-Daddy-Eileen-Spinelli/dp/0439221382/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358617791&sr=8-1&keywords=night+shift+daddy) and there are always things I would do differently. The work I do now, is very different. I do a lot of collage and digital work and use different media, not just acrylic paint.
I think as an artist, though, it’s important to keep growing and hope to continue to do this as long as I’m physically able to!