Nicole A. Myers
Nicole is the illustrator for By the Light of the Night
Tell us a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, where and what you studied, and what you're up to now.
I grew up in Virginia. I went to Bishop O’Connell High School and Christopher Newport University. I earned my BA in Studio Art and stayed for CNU's 5-year MAT program, which was great. I’ve been a high school Art Teacher with Prince William County Public Schools for nine years, and I love it! Recently, I feel like I surrender much of the “artist” in me for the “teacher” in me; I’ve been working on recommitting to being both, making time for myself to be a professional artist and a children’s book illustrator.
Has art always been a part of your life, or was there anything else you wanted to do?
Art has always been a part of my life; my parents made sure of that. I was blessed with endless supplies of sidewalk chalk for crafty kids' days, and growing up, my parents unconditionally supported my creative exploration. Part of being creative is that you see possibilities everywhere. With the support of my family, I knew I could be anything that I wanted to be: a veterinarian, an astronaut or a marine biologist...literally, I was all over the place. My high school friends were exceptionally and artistically talented, and I aspired to be a part of that society.
What inspired you to become an illustrator?
I think (or at least I seriously hope) that we all have those formative children's books that remain special in our hearts, even as we grow up. ...books that become old and tattered, and live in a box in our parents’ basements until "next time". Generally, I love stories. I got into theatre during middle school and high school to satisfy my story-fix, and the attraction to the genre remained strong through college, and into adulthood. Eventually, my connections with art and stories coalesced through the medium of theatre. Scenic art, one of my specialties, reawakened my love for stories on pages. In college, I wanted to commit to children’s book illustrating; full disclosure, however, I didn’t have the confidence to take the leap. Teaching was much safer, guaranteeing the employment of my craft. With the support of my teacher friends, I embrace illustration opportunities for various genera. Funny how things work out like that sometimes.
Where do you find your inspiration for your work?
I enjoy most anything that has to do with nature, especially moody landscapes and places with interesting light and shadows. I’ve always appreciated Impressionism, and the use of color in the plays of light and shadows. If I can work those into a project, then I’m usually extremely excited to do so.
How do you begin an illustration project? At which point do you know that it is finished?
When I read, I try to visualize the spaces the stories live in. I guess that’s the first thing that materializes in my imagination. The characters tend to come to life as the design process gets on paper. As far as finding our way to paper, scribbling is involved, unrecognizable scribbling. I map out compositions to capture important actions and emotions, some of which I take directly from the text, and others are metaphorical and subtle. One of my favorite parts of the process is adding small details of humor, like the emotional roller coaster of Jackie’s bear in By the Light of the Night. A detail such as this may not be central to the plot, yet the depth encourages young readers to search the pages for patterns.
Are you working on any new projects you can share with us?
Well...there are FUN and exciting projects in the works. One endeavor is a series of books about a hilarious, accident-prone French Bulldog named “Flip”. We anticipate the release in September 2020, under the ConStella Publishing, LLC imprint. The books will definitely have a different mood and energy than By the Light of the Night. In addition, I’m working on new paintings and gallery work, which can be seen on my website: www.nicolemyerspaints.com.
Do you have any advice for someone who is looking to enter into the world of art?
“Comparison is the thief of joy". Don’t compare yourself to others, their talent, nor their success. We rarely see the formative work that got them to their place; everything is so circumstantial. Also, embrace the cost and the risk of making a change or jumping into the art world...Go For It! Taking baby steps towards what you want to do could be the foot in the door you need. Nothing is set in stone for our lives, especially in our professional space. Who knows, your story could be the inspiration that encourages someone else to pursue their dreams, as well. Welcome change. You owe it to yourself and the world to try.