Q+A with Illustrator Jacqueline Schmidt

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We first discovered Maker Jacqueline Schmidt because of her beautiful, nature-inspired paper goods, so we were thrilled (but not surprised) when we found out she illustrated an adorable children's book featuring the adventures of the loveable Patchwork bear. Of course, we were eager to talk to her about the process of creating a children's book, and about the inspiration and motivation behind the project. 

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What inspired you to create a children's book?

Patchwork, the main character of Patchwork Helps a Friend, is based on an actual bear that is over 100 years old. He is tattered and fraying and I am not sure he will make it another 100 years. By making Patchwork Helps a Friend, I was able to find a way to have Patchwork take on another life form. Developing a character has been so much fun, and I so look forward to launching the next book in the Patchwork adventure series.

Tell us a bit about Patchwork and why he's a great character for kids.

Patchwork is a crafty bear and always finds creative solutions to problems. I think that is great for kids to learn and explore. He is also great at reaching out to his community for support which is an admirable quality as well. If our next generation took on creative problem solving and banded together to help each other, I imagine the world would become even more inviting.

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What's the process of illustrating a book like? 

I pitched Patchwork the character and the story to my publisher and then created all the visuals for the journey. After we had a story and some visuals, I then invited my friend [Gail Greiner] to add words to the already drawn images and story line.

What was the best part? 

The best part of making this book was creating Patchwork as a character and layering his world so that he can grow into future adventures. While that was the best part, I have to admit that the most fun part was making the trailer! I am so grateful to Natacha Fernandez of Asterion labs for her expertise in animation. She is so talented! Seeing Patchwork come alive just charms me to no end!

What was the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge was actually drawing Patchwork and making the revisions. He is a very complicated illustration since all of his patches are individually created and then have to match up in each image. Challenging is an understatement.

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Your own line, Screech Owl Design, is focused on animals. What is it that compels you to create art based on wildlife?

I am completely smitten with the notion that a bear could wear a pair of mittens or that a pig would throw a birthday party for his friend. I like the idea of animals and humans living side by side and sharing an environment and having adventures together.

What advice would you give to young artists who hope to have career as an illustrator, or are trying to start their own business?

Just get started! What stops most people from living out their dreams is just the difference between "doing it" and "not doing it". Also, ask questions. If you stay inquisitive and are willing to reach out to people for support, you will always find the answers you need.

Learn about Patchwork's latest adventures here, and learn more about Jacqueline here.

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