As part of our continuing series of 2012 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference faculty interviews with interviewer Carol Lynch Williams. Here is a sneak peek at the Illustration Class teacher, Julie Olson.
Julie Olson: I really don’t recall anyone ever telling me I’d be successful at an illustration career. My parents always supported me in whatever I did, but more importantly, they instilled in me a very hard work ethic and gave me a lot of confidence. I think because of that, they knew and I knew I’d be successful at whatever I chose to do. That’s really what it takes…hard work and a bit of confidence.
CLW: What’s your favorite go-to, bored-to-death, fill-the-corners-of-your-notebook doodle?
JO: I doodle kids. As a mom, I’m surrounded by kids all day everyday. I know them well and kids are gosh darn cute. I think I’m better at drawing kids than any animal or anything else.
CLW: Do you ever have a hard time coming up with characters for books you’re illustrating?
JO: Sometimes. I had to illustrate a book with Snow White and Cinderella that couldn’t copy Disney’s characters but had to look enough like them that the kids would recognize them as such. Growing up with those images and having to be close but not copy was hard. Most of the time I get a general idea in my head of what they look like and then draw and draw until the character on paper matches the one in my head.
CLW: When in your career did you start seeing yourself as a professional?
JO: When I saw my name in print on a hardback picture book in a bookstore (back in 2001). It was pretty awesome. And then once I started doing school visits and being the one asked to speak at conferences and book fairs, I felt like I actually “worked in the business.”
Julie Olson will be teaching the Introduction to Writing for Children and Teens at WIFYR this year. Register online today!
Julie Olson graduated from Brigham Young University with a BFA in illustration. She is the illustrator of numerous children’s books. She lives in Utah and loves sharing her life of art with her husband and four children.