Laura Jacobsen has been drawing, painting, doodling, and generally making a mess her whole life. She graduated from The Columbus College of Art and Design and her work has appeared in many, many textbooks, wonderful magazines like Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, Ask, Highlights for Children and High Five, and in several picture books including My Brother Loved Snowflakes, Animal Mischief, The Best Eid Ever, A Party in Ramadan and The Boy and the North Wind.
Laura now uses her computer to create her illustrations when she is not posting on Facebook or answering e-mail. Her two dogs, Hopper and Lucy, keep her company in her studio, clean up the crumbs and alert her to every outside noise, including those audible only to them. For more info, visit her website.
What would you do if you wanted to annoy someone?
I’ve made up personalities, back stories and voices for my dogs. I’ll walk around holding imaginary conversations with them. In public.
What do you do too much of?
What do you do too little of?
Writing, painting, drawing, any of the hundred hobbies I’ve bought all the supplies for…
If you could make up a school subject, what would it be?
General Life Skills 101. Seriously, how hard is it to break down a cardboard box so it fits in the recycling bin?
If you could own one type of store, what would it be?
An art supply store. I’d spend all day there just inhaling THAT SMELL.
What do you waste your time doing?
Again, the internet.
What is the biggest inconvenience about the place you are currently living in?
Lack of good food close by. I would love to just walk down the block and have all things spicy available.
What was your favorite meal when you were growing up?
Spaghetti with Italian sausage, or homemade pizza. My WASP mom learned to cook Italian like a pro.
What do you do every day, without fail?
I make the bed. It makes the feeling of Clean Sheet Day last longer.
What is something you wish you did every day, without fail?
What makes you want to throw up?
German chocolate cake. There was a CVI (Childhood Vomit Incident) involving it, still can’t eat the stuff.
What was the worst grade you’ve ever received? What class was it?
I got a C in Biology one semester in high school. I drew two big posters showing the insides of frogs for extra credit to bring it up to a B. I was a bit of a slacker in school and so did a lot of extra credit posters to keep the parental units happy.
What are you thinking about right now?
How gross dissecting frogs was.
How do you deal with creativity blocks?
I surf the web looking at art, I read, I go out with friends. Just DOING something is always the best way to get past a block. Staring at the wall wallowing (which I have also done) never helps.
Can you visualize a finished product before you begin a book?
Things rarely turn out like the image in my head, but yes, I usually have an idea of how I want it to look.
Do you feel that you chose your passion, or did it choose you?
I feel I chose it. I was always drawing as a kid, and when I visited the art school I ended up going to, I can remember telling my mom, “I HAVE to learn how to do this.” I am still running after it yelling, “No, wait, I choose you! Get back here, I choose you!”
Is there a particular place where you feel most creative?
In the shower, I always get the best ideas there.
Who or what has helped you to persevere through the challenges?
Definitely my long suffering hubby. I’m not sure he knew what he was signing up for, but I could not be doing this without his support. And his computer expertise.
If you were no longer able to illustrate, how else would you express your creativity?
I’d write no question.
What has been your greatest sacrifice that has enabled you to become the illustrator you are today?
I don’t feel I’ve had to make any sacrifices. I’ve worked hard and continue to at something I love-no sacrifices there. I’m extremely fortunate, my life is easy compared to many. I try not to take this for granted.
What words of inspiration were given to you that you would like to pass along to others?
Don’t give up what you want most for what you want right now. The big picture might change, but one needs to always, ALWAYS keep it in mind.
If you knew that you had only one last opportunity to express yourself creatively, what message would you want to convey to others?
I like the funny, I like making people laugh. I would want to put something amusing out there.
When did you realize that you had a gift for illustrating?
I have always liked to draw and do art projects. I was lucky to have gone to a well funded public school that had art classes, so I got encouragement from my teachers to continue to pursue art, including a scholarship to art school.
How do you balance your personal life and your creative endeavors?
I don’t have children, so it is pretty easy to juggle. I really don’t know how some of my illustrator/parent friends manage.
What is your typical day like?
I have coffee and peruse Facebook and answer e-mail, then I get dressed. I try to do my hair and makeup etc., just like I’m going to a regular job most days, it is a slippery slope to wearing your pajamas for two weeks straight. Then it is into the studio to work. If I’m on deadline it’s pretty much non-stop until around four when I work-out for an hour and then start dinner. After dinner, I work more if I’m on a deadline, otherwise evenings are spent reading and binge-watching shows on Netflix with the hubs. I try and save errands and chores for a day during the week rather than the weekend. One of the perks of self-employment.
How much of your own life is reflected in your work?
Up until now, not a whole lot, but I am currently working on a picture book manuscript that has its beginnings in my own family.
Do you have family members who are writers or illustrators?
My mom’s dad was an artist, both commercial and fine art.
What was your childhood like? Did your upbringing influence the way you illustrate today?
Again, I was very fortunate. It influenced me simply because I was given all the opportunity and encouragement a child could have. I hate how we have eviscerated art education in this country and grieve the loss of all that talent. I will continue to vote for those who support strengthening and funding public education.
Which of your books gives you the most pride or satisfaction?
The one I just finished, Exploring the West, Tales of Courage on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, mainly because my drawing and painting skills get better with each project, so the most recent is usually my favorite.
How do you think you differ from other creative people in your genre?
I’m still casting about trying to find my niche despite being at it for awhile. I’ve always been a late bloomer.
Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If so, in what ways?
I’ve definitely loosened up and am trying to do so even more. As my drawing has improved, I let it show more and more. I may switch mediums eventually.
When do you feel the most energized?
Usually when I’m working on my own stories. As I mentioned, I enjoy humor, so if I’m cracking myself up, that’s a good day.
Does your illustrating reflect your personality?
Some parts of it, others not as much. I think the goal is to have your work showcase the parts of yourself you most want it to. I am still working on that.