I began drawing cartoons in college. I could not find a class to take so I worked with my professor and came up with an independent study. From there I ventured into the business on my own with some workshops and classes over the years. If I needed to learn something I figured out how to do it.
Do you work in just one medium? Several?
I begin traditionally with a pencil! From my pencil sketch I go to ink. When I get my lines inked, I scan my drawing and bring it into Illustrator. I select my image and hit “Image trace”. It gives me a nice clean line. I save it and bring it into Photoshop to color it. I LOVE color! My style is evolving a bit with the introduction of my Cintiq. It’s a wonderful tool that I recommend to anyone who works in Photoshop.
What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?
Inspiration! Gotta have it! It comes from so many sources. I have a wonderful licensing group that meets monthly. Being around my artist friends is very inspiring. I love looking at their art to see what they are up to. I think meeting with others in the industry is important. We help each other and encourage each other.
I also look for inspiration in magazines. Color combinations inspire me. I am forever ripping out pictures and taping them into my sketchbooks. I spend some time in the library too. I love children’s books! .. but I don’t rip up children’s book. Haha!
How did you start licensing your art?
In the late 90’s I discovered an Illustrators group on Yahoo. I met a lot of people who were making money with their art and many of them were going to NY. I took a leap of faith and flew to NY for the National Stationary Show/Surtex Show. I was like a kid in a candy store. There was art everywhere! I saw all the possibilities. I had worked hard on my portfolio and brought it to the show. I was completely OUT of my comfort zone as I lugged around that portfolio searching for art directors. I landed in a greeting card booth behind a line of other artists who were sharing their work with an AD. When she got to me, she looked through my cards quickly and said, “Do you have anything else?” I went to the back of my portfolio and pulled out an image of a baby. She loved it! She asked if I had anymore and could I email them to her. Of course I said, “YES!”
I drew babies all the way home on the airplane and had a nice selection ready in a few days. After that first trip, my road has taken twists and turns. It’s quite a journey! I am still learning!
What are you working on now?
At present I am working on some juvenile fabric designs for licensing and some work on my books. I have written a series of five children’s books featuring Burl the bear and Briley the beaver. I am looking for a publisher now so I have to put on my marketing hat. I am also looking for a literary agent.
My next book features a young boy named Jack who goes on an adventure in his imagination. Its great fun! I can almost feel what Jack feels as I write his story. All of my stories show the children that all things are possible if you believe!
I am also expanding many of my lines. My Chicz make me laugh out loud. They remind me of my friends. Haha!
Any great advice for our readers?
The best advice when getting started is to make a place in your home to work. I started in a small corner of my living room… my art supplies began taking over so I was moved to a back bedroom, then the front living room… finally, my husband saw the need and built me my little studio in my backyard. It’s getting smaller by the day! My next dream is for a second story studio above a garage.
Both need to be built! … But then again, all things are POSSIBLE!
Once you get a handle on your workspace, you need to keep working! It is easy to get distracted in a home surrounding but if you get your space settled, it’s easier.
Anything else you would like to share with us?
I was able to write and illustrate two board books with Christian Art Gifts and two picture books with Harper Collins. The little ones LOVE him. Peepsqueak had quite an introduction.
I have recently fallen in love with a new character. I call her Babe. She is a wee little hedgehog who lives in a garden. She is part of my Milo the fox collection. I learned that in England the hedgehogs are loved and that some folks make little holes in their fences so they can get them to come into their yards. I loved that idea! So little Babe was born. Take a peek. http://leslieaclark.com/leslieaclark.com/Babe.html
Are you an early riser? or night owl?
People used to ask this question a lot. My answer was always, YES! I simply loved being AWAKE! They say you get wiser as you get older… burning the candle at both ends quit working. Now I am an official early bird! I get up before the sun and go for a nice work out at the local Y, after that I am in the studio for the day.
What is your favorite food?
I would say chocolate… but then I love biscuits too… but since I was diagnosed with an extreme sensitivity to gluten my diet is radically different. I finally came up with a GF recipe for Pumpkin Cookies… with chocolate in them! They are low in sugar and rich in all sorts of things good for you. If you stay healthy, your brain can stay happy too and you can keep creating!
Feel free to visit me on my website! You will find many more little characters awaiting your arrival!