Wednesday, April 11, 2018

SCBWI Southern Breeze Congratulates Liz Conrad Awardee Laura Moss!

The Liz Conrad Award is a coveted Southern Breeze honor given to a promising illustrator in our region.  Every year we receive many applications which are judged by an industry professional to decide the awardee.  This year Claire Easton of Painted Words, Inc., an agency representing award-winning illustration for children's publishing, and the editorial and advertising industries, reviewed and provided comments to the top three awardees for Honorable Mention, Runner-Up and Winner.

Illustrator Coordinator Temika Grooms interviewed the 2018 Liz Conrad Awardee Laura Moss to learn more about her work.

 I received the award letter on my birthday, and it could not have been a sweeter birthday gift. It was such a huge surprise to pull the envelope from my mailbox, frantically tear it open and read it on my porch! It's a pretty amazing feeling and great honor to be chosen for an award from SCBWI since it's the largest platform that recognizes illustrators and writers for their work. So for me, I'd like to think the award was confirmation of me as an artist, and that illustrating children's books is what I was meant to do. Thank you to those of you who selected me for this prestigious award. It means a lot.

Laura, congratulations on winning this year’s Liz Conrad Award! Share with us a bit about what inspired the pieces you submitted for review. 

 The piece I submitted for this award was directly related to my own struggles growing up. I had really big feet when I was young and went through a lot of insecurities as a child because of it. When I got older, I promised myself I'd write and illustrate a story for children who experienced similar situations when faced with diversity. That is the reason for naming the book, "Little girl. Big feat!" This book was the best way for me to show kids that being different was okay, and not only okay, but to show them their differences were beautiful! The images that I painted for this award were pulled right from the days when I went to school; a very emotional, sad and confused young girl with big feet. I laugh at it now, but I do remember it was challenging for me at age 10 to wear a size 10.5.

What do you use to create your illustrations?  Do you have a special process or something that helps you get in the work flow?

I create children's books digitally, using Photoshop because it's more efficient over traditional methods. The only time I paint traditionally is when I'm asked to do a commissioned piece for someone. As far as my process, I would call it a routine more than a process. Before I start my day working on any illustration, I get up and go workout to get my blood pumping. I need to feel energized and alive before I start to paint because I know the long hours ahead will be spent confined to my office or the inside of a random cafe.

We love to learn about the spaces where artists work because they vary greatly.  What is the one thing you can’t live without when it comes to art making?

All I have to do is turn on my Spotify playlist, which includes, but is not limited to jazz, hip-hop, rock, blues and so on. I can create anywhere. Music always brings me back to a place and time, so I always need a great playlist to get me going. Oh, and Kendrick Lamar. I can’t forget my Kendrick Lamar! :)

Your application mentioned that you were inspired by children’s book illustration at an early age.  Who is your greatest inspiration?  Do you have any special projects or work coming up that you’d like to share?

At a very young age I knew I wanted to be an artist. The book that started it all for me was Ezra Jack Keats’s, "A Snowy Day." It was the very first time I saw a child that looked just like me inside a children's book. It was huge! I mean, i saw more animals represented in books than I saw people that looked like me, so naturally it was a really big deal and I'm sure for every child of color who read it felt the same way.  Since then, I've fallen in love with storytelling. Creating "Little girl. Big feat", had always been a dream of mine. Not only to create a beautiful visual representation of what I experienced, but true reflections and stories that represent what we all see in everyday life. In an industry that doesn't always reflect that idea, I would like to begin to change that. Inclusion would mean that we all matter and what better way to tell a child they exist is to show them in the books they read. My latest picture book project, "Little girl. Big feat." will be released by the end of this year, just in time for the holiday season! So be sure to check the Facebook page to get the latest updates and release info.

Where can we learn more about your work?

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