Note: Zelde Grimm is illustrating “Sania and the Bee.” I saw her work at Hire an Illustrator and had a feeling that she was the one for this story. This is the first time she has illustrated another author’s story, and it’s only the second time I’ve worked with an illustrator, so this is an experiment for both of us.
Tell me a little about how you became an illustrator. Or do you prefer the term artist?
I have alway been an artist, I’ve been drawing since I was old enough to hold a crayon but it was only recently I began to call myself an illustrator. I have tried over the years to make a living from my art but selling fine art is a big hustle that I found to be exhausting. A few years ago I gave up entirely and got a job working as a cobbler. It was really terrific work and I really enjoyed learning the trade, but my boss was not the nicest man, and my art was definitely suffering from a lack of time and energy. I used to think that the only way I would be able to make a living as an artist would be to learn the Adobe Creative Suite and become a graphic designer, but it really isn’t my thing. Nothing is more rewarding for me than sitting with a pen and paper and creating something new and exciting. The day I realized it was actually possible for me to make a living drawing pictures it was as if a light turned on and I could suddenly see all the possibilities of doing the thing I love every day.
What kinds of work are you doing now?
As of now I’m working on “Sania and the Bee” (of course), two albums and a long term project designing imagery that will be etched on cutting boards.
Which illustrators have influenced you and who do you find particularly impressive?
Brian Froud was a huge influence for me as a child and I obsessively combed through my mother’s copy of The Land of Froud until it was so worn she had to have it rebound. My latest infatuations would probably be Maurice Sendak, Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, Ernest Shepherd, Edward Gorey, Edmund Dulac and Shaun Tan.
What’s your favorite piece of illustrated fiction?
That’s a hard question! I don’t know if I could pick a favorite… Though I can’t say enough about Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. It’s a beautiful and moving story about immigrants told completely with pictures, no words at all. I’ve always felt that there is so much I am incapable of expressing with words, I love to see other illustrators prove how vital pictures can be to telling a proper story. Another great example of that is David Beauchard’s Epileptic, in which his brother’s epilepsy is beautifully portrayed as a sort of dark monster following and tormenting him. And I have to mention how much I adore Kurt Vonnegut and the illustrations he adds to his stories, especially Breakfast of Champions.