Harbinger Extra: Joan Charles- Interview with the Artist

Follow the Path! 24 incredible illustrators and artists have created Harbinger-inspired artwork to give you a taste of Faye’s world (and to generally rub it in that they’ve all read Harbinger and you haven’t!) Each week, on the Holbrook Academy website, one picture will unlock, and a new picture will go up under lock and key.

This week’s password can be found on Presenting Lenore.

Once a picture goes public, I’ll be interviewing the artist about their illustration and their life as an artist. This week, I’m interviewing Joan Charles about her amazing portrait of Faye. Thanks Joan, for creating such a mesmerizing piece!

Faye Afloat by Joan Charles

Hi Joan,

SWE: First off, your piece is incredible! It’s dreamy and creepy and beautiful all at once. Thank you so much for creating it! Can you tell me a little about why you decide to portray Faye “afloat,” as you put it?

Joan: Thanks so much for asking me. I feel honored to be part of the Harbinger experience!

Have you ever been in a situation that’s so strange that you feel you’re somehow outside of yourself and watching yourself from afar?  Kind of like an out-of-body experience?  I could imagine Faye feeling like that – maybe as a way to separate herself from the nightmare that is Holbrook Academy. I wanted to portray her state of mind, rather than a specific moment in the book.

SWE: Did you always know you wanted to be an illustrator?

Joan: I’ve always drawn and made up stories. I went to art school and after graduation worked as a graphic designer and editorial illustrator. After a failed first attempt at a freelance career, I left the field and worked at civilian jobs for many years. I found that I really missed making art, though, and came back to it about ten years ago.

SWE: Were there any books that really captured your imagination when you were a kid?

Joan: I’m a big Roald Dahl fan – I love how wickedly funny and subversive his books are. My very favorite is The Witches – it’s creepy and scary and funny and warm all at the same time. And of course, I adore the wonderful illustrations by Quentin Blake.

SWE: I love Roald Dahl too. (And Quentin Blake!) Matilda is my favorite… she becomes so empowered by her own pain. It’s crazy that a book can be both funny and heartbreaking. Or maybe it’s the humor that allows it to do that?

Are you working on any kids books yourself?

Sketch for The Ice Castle, coming out in 2012

Joan: I’m currently illustrating The Ice Castle, a middle-grade fantasy-adventure novel written by Pendred Noyce. It’s the second in a series of four, all of which I’ll be illustrating. The first book, Lost in Lexicon, was published in August of this year.

SWE: Any chance we can get a sneak-peek of any of the illustrations?

Joan: Sure – I’m still in the sketch stage, since I’m waiting for approval to move to final art. Both illustrations feature Lila, a character new to this book. Most of the action takes place in the Land of Winter – makes me really appreciate that I live in Southern California!

SWE: Salty or Sweet?

Joan: Salty and sweet. Think pretzel-filled M & Ms.

SWE: Yum! I’m a salted caramel fan myself.

So, what’s your favorite thing about being an illustrator and freelance artist?

Joan: I’m thrilled to be able to work for myself and to actually get paid to draw and make up stories. And I have a very short commute from my bedroom to my studio.

SWE: What do you look to when you are seeking inspiration?

This is a typical picture of me working at my computer. My husband thinks I should call my company “Back of the Head Productions”, since that’s all he ever sees.

Joan: I draw inspiration from people who excel at what they do – whatever field they work in.

SWE: Orangutans or squids?

Joan: Orangutans. I’m a sucker for redheads.

SWE: Who is the person who most inspires/influences you?

Joan: I’m so grateful for the support of my husband, Kelly. He believes in me and my work and always encourages me and cheers me on. It’s good to have someone on your side.

SWE: So we know you did this incredible Harbinger piece and are working on illustrating The Ice Castle. Do you have any other tricks up your sleeve?

Joan: I’m one of a group of artists who’ve been invited to create the art for a special, limited edition deck of Tarot cards. I’ll be depicting “The World”. I’ll also have pieces in three separate group exhibits in early 2012. I recently opened an Etsy shop, Raven and Renn, where I sell some of my work, so I’m pretty busy developing new art to be showcased there.

SWE: Wow! I want that Tarot deck. When will it be out??

Joan: The deck is published by The Hive Gallery in conjunction with their annual Tarot show and will be available in January or February 2012.

SWE: Just as a side note to all the SoCal locals, The Hive Galley is also where we’re going to be showing all these Harbinger art pieces in March.

Okay, one more crucial question… Wonder Woman or Supergirl?

Joan: Supergirl. Or maybe Bizarro Supergirl.

SWE: Okay… I’ll give you Bizarro Supergirl, cause that’s a pretty awesome answer (even if you are wrong.) She is super creepy!

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