Behind the Scenes: I Had a Favorite Dress

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I Had a Favorite Dress hits shelves this Monday, so I thought I'd show you some studio shots and process work:


Boni Ashburn wrote a lovely story with a very fun cadence to it. Right from the get-go it made me feeling like dancing, I wanted the text to dance, and I wanted the art to dance...(I'm not gonna lie, I had a sweet summer soundtrack consisting of Animal Collective /jazz blasting, so I did a lot of dancing around). Boni's words, "SNIP SNIP, SEW SEW" helped me feel playful enough to want to cut up, collage, get messy. I thought: wouldn't it be fun to stitch the title page by hand? So I did:

It ended up a little bloody (see capital "D!") since I'm not a seamstress of any sort, but I handed it in anyhow (thanks, Photoshop). I spent my weeks in a blissful world of little dresses, buttons, city scapes, and thread...



Cover sketch on the light box:

Fall leaves to be cut out for the school scene:

Snowflakes for the winter scene:

Tree tops in the fall:

Tracing days of the week by night light:


All the little dress components, ready to be scanned:

A very SERIOUS struggle to find the right pink:

EEEE! Tiny dresses! I love my job!

Chad helped turn these thumbnails into something that made sense:

There is always that initial image you see after shutting your eyes and you've let a manuscript whisper through your mind. For this book, it was a little window on the first floor of a brownstone, with a blossoming tree nearby. As I looked in the window from the sidewalk, I watched a little girl prance to her mother in her FAVORITEST dress for an embrace. I tried my best to stay true to that glimpse for the duration of the work, and expand the world from that little window...


The characters and urban settings came right along with the story for me, right from the moment I read it. The city itself is an amalgamation of New York and Boston. My go-to painting soundtracks (supplemented by Animal Collective, and Jonsi) on this book were jazz guitar/piano albums by:


Admiring thank yous to author Boni Ashburn, and to the excellent people at Abrams, especially Laura Mihalick in marketing, editor Maggie Lehrman, creative director+designer Chad Beckerman (for working through so many fixes and edits that our final art file came to be called "FOR CHAD_DRESS_FINAL_INFINITY")

See you again Monday for a BOOK BIRTHDAY!

18 comments:

Nina Crittenden said...

What a fun peek into your process, Julia! I can't wait to read it! Congratulations on another gorgeous book! :)

Bob Logan said...

Great post!
Inspiring!

Diandra Mae said...

YAY! I love process peeks! I cannot wait to get my hands on this book! The dresses and little outfits looks so magical. :) And I agree, I think a soundtrack is very important to keep a mood going for the creation of a book!

Brooke Boynton said...

What a great post!! I love seeing your process and I can't wait to see the book! Hooray!

www.juliadenos.com said...

Thanks folks :) your good words are so appreciated. XO

Jana said...

The lovely Laura sent me a copy, you are one of my all time favorite illustrators. This book was just wonderful, the writing and the illustrations. I adored it!

Francy Flicks said...

I can't wait to read this! I love your blog and your work :-)

Renee Kurilla said...

This is such a cool look into your process! I love knowing that you actually sewed the title page and everything else is so hands on cut paper-y. Can't wait to get a copy! I'm building my Julia fan section in my home library :D

www.juliadenos.com said...

Thanks Jana! Glad you got to sneak a peek.

Hi and thanks Francy for the kindness!

Renee-It was so fun to get cut-papery and crafty this time, even though I have needle and thread angst. Somehow it came together in the end! Thanks for the good words :)

Elizabeth Rose Stanton said...

Marvelous! Love seeing it ALL--esp the storyboards! I agree with everyone: fab post!!

Jessica Holly said...

Oh my, this is great! So so lovely.

Mai Kemble said...

aw, thank you so much for sharing!
I love seeing any blogs on process!! You did a lot of hard work for this book and I think it looks beautiful!

:)

Kristin said...

Positively love everything about this post. Congratulations to you both! Can't wait to purchase for my daughter. Thank you for giving us a glimpse.

AMW said...

love this behind the scenes peak...so inspiring! the pink is perfect, and old jazz albums make the best doodling soundtrack. your studio looks like a great place to be :)

amateur idler said...

Awesome! This makes me almost 100 percent sure that studying illustration is the right way to go for me - it looks so ridiculously fun.

Also, I totally ADORE Jonsi and Django Reinhardt. It's really interesting hearing about the music you listen to while working.

Annie Patterson said...

Julia, 'I Had a Favorite Dress' is really really fantastic! Every page is so much fun to pore over. I love how you combined the little collage-y elements, and your COLORS are just the best. More, more! :)

www.juliadenos.com said...

Thank so much Annie! Means so much, glad you enjoy it :) I just thought about it, we've been long distance blog friends for so long-years and years!

Vanessa Brantley Newton said...

I just had to come and visit your blog. I just brought my second book illustrated by you and I have to tell you... You are an inspiration to me! Oh my goodness the delicious illustrations in this book. It's alive and beautiful and fantastic. I hope this book does super duper well. I really like the story as well. Your style is amazing and I hope to see a whole lot more from you in future. You are amazing!