We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to the fabulous artist that has so colorfully depicted Rooster the Red Roany Pony. Maggie Harding of Maggie Card Co. took on the challenge of putting Rooster on pages and knocked it out of the park. We asked her what some of the challenges of putting together a children's book were as well as what she does when she's not drawing, you may be surprised!
1. How long have you been doing illustrations and how did you know it was your passion?
You know when you're five or six years old and your mom suggests you make a card for Grandma's birthday? Well, I was a card-making/painting/drawing/crafting fiend back in the day, and I just never really stopped working on art projects! At that age, I deemed myself founder of the Maggie Card Co.. Although I like to think my work has advanced a bit since then, there's still not much else I'd rather be doing than creating something.
2. What was your first thought when asked to be the creator of Rooster's illustrations?
I was thrilled! Having grown up on a farm surrounded by all kinds of animals, including horses, translating animal personalities to a static form is one of my favorite things to do. Rooster's story allowed for a lot of creativity in personifying his experiences, which I knew would be really fun to work on.
3. How long did it take you to complete all of Rooster's looks?
Oye. I would say it took about 5 months to complete all the illustrations and get them just right. Lauren was really great to work with as an art director, and it was important to visualize together what poses and composition we thought should go with each page of the story. Some of the illustrations took quite a few revisions to get them to where we wanted them, but I'm really excited with how they all turned out.
4. Which illustration is your favorite and why?
I have two favorites! I loved painting Rooster's closeup look when he realizes Rooster is the perfect name. Closeups are my favorite, and I love that he looks a little goofy in this shot. I also really like the illustration of Rooster jumping as he's practicing and practicing for the next dance. I just think it's a neat pose, and love the funny sneakers and headband he wears.
5. What was the hardest part of doing illustrations for a book?
Definitely making sure each pose and illustration really look like the same horse.
6. What do you do when you're not illustrating Rooster the Red Roany Pony?
Stay busy! My "real" job is working as a cheese scientist (for real), but I spend a lot of my time doing custom/commission artwork for the same old Maggie Card Co! I also love to do just about anything outside, run, bike, play and coach volleyball, and cook.
7. Wow, a cheese scientist! That's so neat! How did you get into that profession?
It really is! I studied food science at Penn State, and have a strong (family-related) passion for the dairy industry and dairy science. Most people eat something, like a piece of cheese, and either they like it or they don't, and they move on. I eat a piece of cheese and I think "How did they make this texture? What kind of bacterial cultures did they use? What was the acidification profile? How long did it age? Where are the flavor compounds coming from?" I'm truly a nerd... Plus, it allows me to be creative some more!
8. Who inspired you to pursue drawing as a business?
I think transitioning from "art for fun" to "art for sale" was a result of not knowing what to do with my newfound free time after college. I absolutely love to paint and draw, and I figured if people thought my stuff was worth paying for, why not make some of my free time more productive? Now that it's become such a big part of my life, one of my favorite things about my art business is being able to help people give really personal, unique gifts.
Thank you so much Maggie for all that you have done in bringing Rooster to life on these pages. If you would like your own commission from Maggie, send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! She would love to hear from you.