Laura Vaccaro Seeger, author and illustrator of the "Dog and Bear" series and "Green," discusses how she creates illustrations and characters, and offers advice to young writers. This video is part of the NBC Learn original series "Writers Speak to Kids."
Writers Speak to Kids- Laura Vaccaro Seeger
JENNA BUSH HAGER, reporting:
How do you create the illustrations?
LAURA VACCARO SEEGER: The text and the story and the characters dictate what the pictures will look like. So, very often I don't have the same art style for one book that I will for another because of that. Like for instance, with Dog and Bear. Dog and Bear are basically moments captured in time - they're basically just conversations between these two characters. So I really needed an art style that was spontaneous and had a feeling of, you know, being in the moment and of the moment. A book like Green, which really kind of dives, you know, head first into the concept of the color green that book called for a more lush, tactile feeling to it. So it's definitely the book and the text and the story that dictates the art.
BUSH HAGER: How do you create characters?
VACCARO SEEGER: What I did was I went into my journal-- which I don't think I could create anything without it because it's where I work out problems or sketches or little writings or ideas-- and I drew a line down the middle of the page and put Dog's name on the left and Bear's on the right and started writing down all of the qualities that I thought described the two of them. Like Dog is very impulsive and he's playful and he's a little self-centered and he's fun-loving. And Bear is cautious and afraid of heights and, kind, and different things like that. And eventually I got to know the characters.
BUSH HAGER: What do you like best about writing?
VACCARO SEEGER: I love that I can do it whenever I want to. It's not like there are, you know, hours--9 to 5--or anything like that. I love that it's not a job, you know, it's more a way of life. I feel that the words and the--and the paintings or drawings, depending on which I'm doing, are all the same to me, you know, whether it be a brush stroke or a word that I choose to say what I'm trying to say. I love that. I love that I have these tools. I have words and I have paints and ink and pencils and all these tools to try to convey what I want to convey. It's just the perfect job, I think.
BUSH HAGER: What advice do you have for young writers?
VACCARO SEEGER: The first thing I would say to a young writer is write. Just write and write and write some more, maybe every day, even if it's just a little bit. And then the other thing - and this goes for artists, too - the other thing is to not worry about whether it's good or not. And think that, if there is anything wrong with it, you'll fix it in the revision. That's another reason why revising and embracing the revision process is such a good thing, because it allows you that first time when you, you know, write that first draft or do that first sketch to just do it and not worry about it at all. And see what happens. Sometimes things happen that you didn't even know were going to happen. You know, sometimes you'll-- the story or the drawing will take you to a place that you didn't even know it was going to take you to. So it's liberating and it's almost like freeing yourself from your own head to just do it. Just don't worry about it.
Kathleen Benner Duble is an author living in Boxford, Massachusetts. She writes books for children and adolescents and specializes in historical fiction novels, which are made-up stories based on true events in history. Her young adult stories take place in a wide range of time periods, including the Salem witch trials, the French Revolution, the Age of Exploration and more.
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