When I imagine a book that I didn’t write or illustrate, I usually think of the book’s front cover. But when I imagine one of my books, what usually comes to mind instead are my piles of notes and sketches, or a particular moment during my field research, or perhaps even one of the checklists that I kept while making the final art.
For every big project I work on—and certainly for every book—I need a checklist to keep track of all the things left to be done, and somewhere within sight of the finish line I start having regular fantasies about filling in the rest of those annoyingly blank little boxes. So empty. So white. So incredibly aggravating, day after day after day. And then suddenly, like waking up from a dreamy haze—POOF!—the last one gets crossed out, and the project reaches its end.
For the last six months, I’ve been hard at work on the illustrations for a new book, and this checklist is a tangible record of how I spent my time through the late fall and winter. Even though it’s not actually part of the final book, this piece of paper is as meaningful to me as any page of interior art. OTIS AND WILL DISCOVER THE DEEP: THE RECORD-SETTING DIVE OF THE BATHYSPHERE, by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by me, will be out from Little, Brown in 2018. Stay tuned for sneak peeks at my sketches and research for this book in the coming months!