Illustrator Interview with Kristin Abbott
Get to know Kristin…
I am currently designing giant sculptures that will be in a lantern festival opening in Barcelona, Spain this October. I spend most of my time thinking of funny and colorful things to make people, especially kids, happy. I love to draw places I would like to visit in the world and invent new adventurelands I wish existed. I love putting colors together especially with paint. I love to daydream in stories everyday. Hmmm… I must be an illustrator. I have had the lovely opportunity to illustrate many children’s books and I teach illustration at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Long ago I graduated from Stanford University and worked as a journalist for a few years until I took a different job being a Mom. That’s when I started illustrating and here we are at the beginning of my bio. For more info, visit my website.
If you ran a funeral home, what would your company slogan be?
So long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good bye.
What is the messiest place in your home?
The bedroom of my teenaged son.
What random act of kindness have you done in the past year?
There is a homeless man I see everyday on my way home from the ice rink. Usually I give him a few dollars but one early morning last winter I noticed that he had no gloves. I gave him mine.
If had to smell like one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Bergamot. It’s so clean and makes me think of shady green places.
What current product do you think will baffle people in 100 years?
Most exercise machines.
What is the last thing you paid money for?
A diet Dr. Pepper from the 7-11.
What do you often make fun of?
Reality shows, especially the Housewives of Anywhere.
What is the best thing about staying at a hotel?
Someone tidies up the bed and bathroom for me every day.
What is one thing you do with determination every day?
Working on a double salchow at the ice rink right now. I started skating as an adult and I ‘m working my way through jumps that most nine year old girls can do easily….sigh.
If you could have your mailbox shaped like an object, what would it be?
A Golden Spanish Galleon in full sail!
What healthy habit are you glad you have? What’s your worst habit?
Healthy: I love to eat my vegetables:) Worst Habit: I forget people’s birthdays (apologies to my brothers…)
What is the biggest advantage of being tall? Biggest advantage of being short?
Tall: Can reach things on high shelves. Short: More comfortable on long airplane flights.
What would you title your autobiography?
It’s ok if you forget me.
What topic would you like to know more about?
So many things! Any foreign language, any lost civilization around the world, shipwrecks, surfing, camping, ice dance, riparian habitat, ocean science and marine biology, meteorology, forestry, geology, brain development and neurological function, traumatic brain injury and healing, epilepsy, lyme disease, autism, beekeeping, and a thousand more things!
Knowing what you know now, what would you change about your high school experience?
I wouldn’t spend every day trying to be invisible.
What is the first thing you notice when you meet someone?
Everyone is so different, I can’t say that I notice one same thing consistently.
If you could travel back to 1492, what advice would you give Columbus?
Take my Swiss Army Watch, it will help you navigate better.
If you were a prescription drug, what would be your main side effect?
May cause daydreaming.
What company advertisements could you model for?
Uncle Norbert’s Reindeer Burgers.
What is the worst occupation in the world?
How do you deal with creativity blocks?
I haven’t run into this problem yet!
Can you visualize a finished product before you begin a book?
Do you feel that you chose your passion, or did it choose you?
I chose this, but I chose it accidentally.
Is there a particular place where you feel most creative?
Just before I fall a sleep.
Who or what has helped you to persevere through the challenges?
If you were no longer able to illustrate, how else would you express your creativity?
I would write more.
What has been your greatest sacrifice that has enabled you to become the illustrator you are today?
There are jobs I could do that would make much more money.
What words of inspiration were given to you that you would like to pass along to others?
‘Just keep swimming’ — oh wait, that’s what Dory, of ‘Finding Nemo’ says…
When did you realize that you had a gift for illustrating?
I love it when kids come to my house and they see my artwork and say, “OOooOOH! I want to go there!” When the first kid said that.
How do you balance your personal life and your creative endeavors?
7:45 am – 3:30pm every school day is all mine.
What is your typical day like?
6:30-8am Ice rink (or gym). Sitting at my drawing table by 9am with KQED (NPR) on the radio. Email check, draw paint draw paint draw paint. 3:30 kid check — carpool car pool car pool. Dinner. 7pm Pay bills, send out post cards, paperwork details, promo stuff. 10pm Good night kids. 10:30 Good night husband. Goodnight. (**My kids are old enough that they do not need bath or storytime from me anymore.)
How much of your own life is reflected in your work?
Everything I do is a little part of what is inside of me.
Do you have family members who are writers or illustrators?
Nope. Engineers, scientists, teachers or science teachers.
What was your childhood like? Did your upbringing influence the way you illustrate today?
Yes! So much of my work is a reflection of me in my childhood. We lived on the edge of the woods and had all kinds of freedom to roam around and explore. National Geographic was my window to the world. I was sure I was going to be an archaeologist or explorer. Lots of my work is armchair travel for me. We had a fun neighborhood full of nice kids from huge families.
Which of your books gives you the most pride or satisfaction?
There was a series I was working on, “The Sports Princesses,” published by an Australian company. I finished the Soccer Princess, The Baseball Princess and the Football Princess (The American titles). The stories had such a fun ‘girl power’ theme and there were going to be ten in the series, but the company was sold and they went out of publication. I still love the idea, the strong concept and the fun possibilities in the artwork.
How do you think you differ from other creative people in your genre?
Most illustrators in children’s books want to draw little characters and nothing else. I really love to design the whole world. Complicated scenes with extra special perspective is fun for me.
Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If so, in what ways?
It’s time for me to change. I have gotten much faster over the years, but I would like to change my style too. What happens though is that I have a certain kind of work in my portfolio, and that is what people hire me to do — so I end up getting assignments where they want what they have seen before. I will have to create personal work in order to have the opportunity to try new styles.
When do you feel the most energized?
Putting finishing touches upon a successful painting:)
Does your illustrating reflect your personality?
Absolutely. Funny, colorful, exuberant, fanciful –easy. Thoughtful, sweet, reflective — easy. I struggle to do dark, sick and twisted.
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