A Truly Beautiful Illustrator: Scott E. Franson

January 10, 2008 at 9:05 am 1 comment

You might be thinking right now, Jen, “What’s up with this? I thought you were a beauty blogger?” Yes, indeed I am a beauty blogger, but I also love and enjoy the beauty in all aspects of life.A few weeks ago, I ran into a blog site that mentioned an incredible book that her kids adored. That led me to Scott Franson’s website and a peek at the Lookybook of “UnBrella,” and the rest, is all a great interview…

Name: Scott E Franson

Position: Educator, Author, Illustrator

URLs/links: http://www.scottefranson.com/

Jen:

Please Scott, introduce yourself. What is your background and what led you to create your own children’s book?

Scott:

My wife and I have four children, three girls and a boy. I have been working for the past 13 years at Brigham Young University-Idaho in the Department of Art. I teach mostly graphic design and illustration courses. During that time I have had the opportunity to sit with hundreds of students and hear their dreams. One of the reoccurring dreams was the desire to create children’s books. Although I had written and illustrated a picture book for my MFA, the book was never published. I decided that I needed more information to help the students.

Not long after this decision, I received a postcard for a children’s literature conference at UVSC in Orem. I went with the hopes of getting some answers for my students. Represented at the conference were authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians, editors, and parents. By the time the conference was over I had a better idea of what publishing for children was about and how it worked. I remember thinking on the drive home, “I could do this.”

Over the next two years I attended a handful of conferences and workshops. It was at a BYU Continuing Education Workshop, Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, that I got my break. This workshop is an opportunity to get critiques from established authors, illustrators, editors and a literary agent. So I prepared several manuscripts.

One of the manuscripts was Un-Brella. Eric Rohmann, the winner of the Caldecott medal for My Friend Rabbit, lead the illustration section. When he saw Un-Brella he liked it and offered to show it to his editor. Six weeks later I had a contract.

Jen:

What is your typical day like? What projects are you currently involved with?

Scott:
In my teaching position I am in the classroom 2.5 to 5 hours a day. The rest of the time is prep time and advising. I spend several hours a day visiting with and advising students. The remaining time I use to create.

Currently I am working on designing fabric for bow ties (I only wear bow ties). This is also a result of students asking me how to get into fabric design. I didn’t know and so I did some research and contacted some companies. I sent Beau Ties Ltd. of Vermont some samples, they liked them and the first three patterns will go on sale in the spring of 2008. Preliminary bow tie designs are on my blog (http://scottefranson.blogspot.com/search/label/Doodle%20Garden%20Bow%20Tie).

I have other book manuscripts at various stages. One of them is with a publisher for consideration. My sales line is, Delicious color mixing with tragedy and hope. It involves mosquitoes.

I have a collection of Un-Books. This is a creative exercise where I create a fictitious book cover based on a word. I use the weekly word from Illustration Friday (http://www.illustrationfriday.com/).

The Un-Books are on my blog: (http://scottefranson.blogspot.com/search/label/UnBook.blogspot.com/search/label/UnBook).

Using post-it notes I did a doodle a day for 100 days. They can be seen on my web site: (http://www.scottefranson.com/4-gallery/post-it/post-it.htmlfranson.com/4-gallery/post-it/post-it.html).

Jen:

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

Scott:

In publishing it is a child’s smile. I love to see a child understand and enjoy my book. In teaching it is seeing student growth. Students have more potential than they know. I love it when I hear them say, “I can’t believe I did that!”

Jen:

Who were your childhood heroes? Who are your heroes now?

Scott:

I grew up with, The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. I thought that being bionic would be really cool. Today I am satisfied with my original body parts. Besides, I live in Rexburg, Idaho, and all of the metal would get really cold.

On a more serious note, my heroes now are cancer survivors. I was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) in May 2007. I have spent the summer and fall in radiation and chemotherapy. Now I am waiting for a liver transplant. If you aren’t an organ donor, please consider it. One donor can save many lives.

Cancer is a mean monster. I have had good and bad days. I have discovered that most families have a connection with cancer. When someone tells me that one of their family members is a cancer survivor, tears come to my eyes. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. This experience is the most challenging that I have faced. All cancer survivors living and passed on have my greatest respect.

Jen:

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced with being an Artist? What advice would you give to budding artists for the future?

Scott: Self doubt.

Draw, draw, draw! You can always be better. Drawing is the basis of all art. Many people think drawing is being able to produce exactly what you see. While this is important, drawing is much more than that. Drawing is communication. Develop your visual vocabulary by looking at a variety of artwork. When looking at the work try to discern why someone picked it to be in a gallery, museum, or book. You may not like or understand everything you see and that is OK. Keep an open mind.

There you have it, one of the most inspirational and interesting interviews ever! Scott, thank you so much for being willing to subject yourself to a bunch of beauty bloggers! If you ever are in the SLC or BYU area for a book signing event, please let us know. All my kids, nieces and nephews received “UnBrella” from their Aunt Jen this Christmas. And your bow ties are next on my “must buys” for all the men in my life as well…

Many best wishes to you and your family! May the year 2008 be good to you and my prayers for a donor and successful transplant in the coming months.

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