We love discovering new talent here at Gobblefunked so were pretty happy when we recently came across the work of Kansas-native Lindsey Yankey.
Lindsey got her start in children’s illustration at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy but has since gone on to publish two stunning picture books, Bluebird –and her most recent title – Sun and Moon. We recently caught up with Lindsey to chat about Sun and Moon and her love of Roald Dahl (snap!).
1. Hi Lindsey, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to chat to us. First of all, why don’t you tell us about your latest book Sun and Moon. What’s it all about and where did you get the inspiration for it?
Hello! Thanks for inviting me to share my story with you! For me, Sun and Moon is a story about finding a newfound appreciation for our lives and discovering that sometimes beauty is right under out noses. More literally, it is about Moon overcoming his jealousy of Sun, recognising all the wonderful things that are unique to the night-time and becoming content with himself.
I got the idea for this story when I was walking home from class one day. It was warm and sunny, the birds were singing and flowers were blooming, it was a beautiful day. An idea popped into my head that ‘the sun has it all’. It gets to witness all of these things, but what about the moon? So that got me thinking about the moon being jealous of the sun and where that would lead.
2. Sun and Moon is one of the most visually stunning picture books we’ve come across this year. Can you tell us a bit about your process? How long does it take you to write and illustrate a book like Sun and Moon?
Why thank you! I start my illustration process after I have the storyline nailed down. I start with tiny thumbnail sketches that eventually make up a storyboard. I work on the tiny sketches until I have found the right composition for each page, keeping in mind the flow of the entire book. I do little color studies before I begin my final illustrations.
It’s around this point that I start considering the materials I want to use for each page. I like to use oil paint, watercolour, and linoleum cut, to name a few. And each page may require something different than the last. For example I knew that making the firework page with linoleum cut would make the best result.
If I tried that with watercolor I’d go crazy! After I have my sketch, colors and materials sorted out I start prepping my paper, sometimes with tea or gluing down scraps of paper. Once that’s dry I do a quick sketch of the illustration onto the paper to make sure I can fit everything in and begin the final!
Sun and Moon was in the works off and on for about nine years before it was complete. That said, I was a student studying education when I first wrote it so there was a lot of growth in between the initial draft and the final book. Just considering the final book I’d say about a year or so went into it.
3. We loved the section of the book when the Moon finally begins to see how beautiful the night is. We thought it was reminiscent of a fairytale or Roald Dahl’s The BFG. Did you have a favourite book as a child or a particular fairytale you liked to read over and over again before going to sleep?
I love Roald Dahl’s books! I read them over and over when I was little and have to admit that I’ve reread The BFG, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and The Witches in the last year. I love the way he writes for kids; to him kids are much smarter than the grown-ups in the stories give them credit for. I had a lot of books I loved when I was little: Balloon Farm, Winnie the Pooh, Where the Wild Things Are, Good Dog Carl, and a tiny book about a cat that I can’t remember the name of.
4. Are you a night owl like the Moon or an early bird like the Sun?
I was more of a night owl a few years ago, but lately I’ve realised I just work better when I’m well rested. That said I’m not exactly an early bird either.
5. Did you always know you wanted to be an illustrator? Were you a creative kid?
I knew when I was little I wanted to be an artist. We had a big red book of Disney stories at home and I would choose illustrations and characters from the book and draw them the best I could. I always enjoyed painting and art class was definitely my favourite in school.
6. We know you come from a family of artists; do you think that put pressure on you to succeed or made you more determined?
There wasn’t any pressure at all. I sort of stepped away from art in high school when I got really into athletics. Encouragement was always there but not pressure.
Having a family of artists is awesome; we all use different mediums so there’s a lot of knowledge to call on. For example, I’ve been printing small runs of fabric to sew tea towels, which is completely new to me, and when my grandma’s sewing machine started acting up I first called my sister. She has recently gotten into quilting, so after trouble shooting with her to no success I called my brother. He sewed a lot when he was younger and between talking to both of them we finally sorted it out!
7. Sun and Moon is your second book in English, and you previously worked on a number of Italian titles; can you tell us a bit about how that came about? And, do you think your process changes depending on the language?
The Italian titles were my first published books. The first was a translated edition of E. Nesbit’s Nine Unlikely Tales for Children called Melisenda e altre storie da non credere. I got that job after pitching my portfolio at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy.
I was right out of school and went to the Fair to shop my portfolio around to as many publishers as would let me and that’s how I found myself working with Donzelli Editore. They later published the Italian edition of Bluebird. My process was different for the Melisenda book simply because I was illustrating another person’s story, but other than that the process is still very much the same.
8. What’s your favourite thing about being a published author/illustrator?
Knowing that it is possible to have your dream job.
Granted it isn’t always a dream every step of the way, but knowing that books I’ve written and illustrated and poured my heart into are in the hands of children is extremely gratifying.
9. If you could offer one piece of advice to a budding author/illustrator what would it be?
Always ask yourself questions; to me that really helps fuel my creativity. Things like “What if I wrote it this way?” or “What if I mixed these to materials together, how would I make that work?”
And also don’t ever stop writing and drawing, and to have fun.
10. What’s next for you? Are you working on something at the moment that you can tell us about?
I’m working on several new things. I’ve got a few stories that I’ve been working on this past year. They aren’t fully formed yet so I still have a lot of work left on them.
I’m also becoming more active in the craft fair scene; selling my books, prints, greeting cards, and other things I make. I am also in the beginnings of working on a special illustration series based on the theme of ‘Book’ with a portion of the proceeds going towards a giving fund that allows me to give copies of my books to kids in need around my area.
Lindsey Yankey’s beautiful picture books Bluebird and Sun and Moon are now available to buy in all good local book stores and online. If you love Lindsey’s illustrations as much as we do, you can also check out her website.