Mrs. Carver’s fourth grade class at Edison Elementary School, Tonawanda, NY, asked the following questions of Craig Orback about The Can Man and Mr. Orback graciously responded.
Was it difficult to draw the pictures?
It wasn’t too difficult as I have illustrated over 15 books now and have a process that works for me that makes the job easier. Though it always takes a lot of time but is very enjoyable.
Follow this link for a step by step demonstration of how Mr. Orback illustrated the cover of The Can Man.
What problems did you have in deciding what to put into the illustrations?
Early on when I am doing my sketches and coming up with ideas is when I make the hard decisions on what to put in the illustrations. I reread the story many times to get ideas and just let my imagination run wild then sketch my ideas out. It isn’t really hard to do. It actually is my favorite step in illustrating a book.
Which illustration is your favorite?
It’s hard to pick just one but some favorites are the cover image, the one in the bakery with Tim collecting cans from Jamal (I love baked goods!), and the scene of Tim looking at his favorite skateboard in the shop front window. The person putting up the sale sign is a portrait of me!
How did you make the skateboards in the display case look so cool and real?
I visited a sporting goods store in my neighborhood and took lots of photos then came up with some of my own designs based on the ones I saw in the store. I also took a photo looking through the shop front window so the reflections in the glass were what I captured in the photo. So that all helped a lot.
How long does it take to draw each page of his book?
The drawings are all done early in the process so that can take several weeks or more to get right for the whole book then the actual paintings can take 2-3 days per painting. For this book I was working on it off and on for about 6 months.
How long does it take for the book to get from the author to you?
I think it only took the publisher a month or so to find me once the author had finished writing the story. They like to look at lots of different illustrators work then chose one that best fits the story. That part happens pretty fast once they decide to turn the story into a book.
Do you work with the author on the illustrations?
For the most part they keep the author and illustrator separate so that the illustrator can have freedom to come up with their own ideas.
If I had a question though for the author I could ask the publisher to ask the author. The author helped me figure out what the automatic recycle machines look like as we don’t have those on the west coast!
Do others help you or is it just you?
It’s all up to me but the publisher helps me with making decisions on the art.
When did you learn to draw?
I have always drawn and painted form an early age and got better by taking art classes in school and getting a degree in art at a college in Seattle.
Did you like to draw as a kid?
Yes it was my favorite thing to do!
When did you decide to become an illustrator?
I always had favorite illustrated books as a kid and thought I might like to make a living as an artist. It wasn’t till I was in college that I decided to be an illustrator and shortly after college I decided to illustrate children’s books.
Did you collect anything as a kid?
I loved the Star Wars movies and liked collection the various action figures!
Did you collect cans in order to buy art supplies?
I did not but that would be a great idea!
Thanks so much for asking me such great questions!