Tea with Author Illustrator Danielle D. Williams
How did you get started in art/ illustration? What is your background?
I started drawing pictures when I was in elementary school, during a time when I was going through treatments for childhood cancer. We used art as a form of therapy to help me express my feelings, and I've been drawing ever since. I got started in illustration shortly after graduating from MassArt. Although my undergrad is in animation, I find that the styles aren't too different. One drawing style is way more repetitive and action pact, and the other is inanimate. And although animation tells a story with a bunch of drawings in movement, I wouldn't say that it is more diverse than illustrating, because illustrations can tell stories as well.
What is your preferred medium, method of working? And what music or snacks or activities do you use to keep motivated?
I prefer to work in all sorts of media. I like mixed media art mostly because I'm texture gal! I love texture in art because, to me, it makes it so much more dynamic. I like to use textures in my paintings and digital art, but not so much in my drawings. When I am working on a project, I try to play music from different genres to help me stay focused. I really like alternative rock, christian music, and positive hip hop.
How did your style and technique develop?
It is hard to pinpoint how my style and technique developed. I just noticed that the more illustration projects I took on, I'd develop a style that I was comfortable with and believe to be a reflection of me.
Can you describe a typical workday for us?
So on a typical workday, I designate so many hours to work on a project, or a part of a project. I usually set a goal to get so far, or complete the project all together. I get my music playing, and a cup of tea or decaf coffee and go in full speed. I'm terrible at taking breaks because I get so excited about my work that I just want to keep the creativity going.
What do you find the most challenging about illustration and what would you tell other artists to encourage them?
What I find to be most challenging about illustrating is translating the images in my head onto a visual scene. Sometimes my first, second, and third attempts just don't get it quite right. However, I keep at. It also helps to step back and look at different types of art to help me find solutions to my problems. My advice to an artist who is faced with this challenge is to look at different art. If you are working on a painting or illustration, step back for a while, visit a museum and look at sculptures, or installation pieces. I know it sounds strange but it really can help you think outside of the box.
Do you have a favorite book(s) from your childhood? How about more recently?
I have several childhood favorites when it comes to books, however one that I've cherished the most is "Thumbelina", retold and illustrated by Fred Crump Jr. In this book the story is illustrated in an ethnic format and the pictures are very colorful. I've been inspired by Fred Crump Jr's illustrations for many years now.
What would be your dream project? or something new you'd like to try.
Hmmm....I suppose my dream project is writing, illustrating, and publishing a children's book of my own, which I am doing right now. However, I'd like to try carving a sculpture from wood someday. I'm fascinated by the process!
What’s next for you? Any upcoming book releases/ art show or work in progress we should be on the lookout for?
In addition to my own book, I am also illustrating pictures for a Kansas City author who is an Early childhood education specialist who aims to publish an interactive children's book that follows a girl who travels. The purpose of the book is to teach children geography in a fun way. My first book is being published by Flying Ketchup Press. It's called HITCH A RIDE ON THE COLOR EXPRESS.