Stopping by today is author & illustrator, Cecil Paplinskie, who illustrated my story “BF’s & Butterflies,” in the current edition of STORIES FOR CHILDREN MAGAZINE.
Welcome, Cecil. It sounds like you’ve moved around some in your lifetime. Could you give us a quick overview of your life and how your travels have impacted your art & writing?
I was born in the Philippines. When I was little all I wanted to do was draw. I got a scholarship and at age 19, graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts majoring in Advertising. I was lucky; my first job was as an artist for an export company. I would design a theme, angel cows for example. I would then illustrate 20-30 poses of the angel cow doing different things. Then out of these drawings I would do the prototype by sculpting the design. It was fun. The company would join international gift shows, and they would send the artists to look at trends. I got to travel and work with people from all over.
Then I was offered work in China, decided to give it a try, and was there for two years. When I got back, I wanted to get into graphic designing. Computers were starting to be the thing, and I had a feeling that pretty soon things would be done through computers instead of the traditional hand-drawn art that I was used to. I got a contract to be a graphic designer in Taiwan. Although the job wasn’t quite suited for me, I stayed there for a year.
After that, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. However, I got lucky and was hired to do part-time illustrating for a children’s magazine owned by an American. I loved it, and I wanted to pursue a career in that field. So when the German Institute of Technology offered a workshop for children’s book writing and illustrating, I took it.
However, my new love for children’s book art had to be put on hold due to personal reasons. Eventually, I ended up in Canada where I met my husband and got married. I worked as a graphic designer in Toronto. When my first child was born, my husband and I thought it was best that we raise our kids in the country. I put my illustrating career on hold for the time being and instead funneled my creative talent into handmade crafts which I marketed. About year ago, I decided to return to my art. For an entire year I made sample artworks, compiled my best work and started writing. I created the illustrations and designed a website. Now I’m excited to be promoting myself and my work.
I love the ballet kitty in her tutu on your website. The kitty illustration has the single word “Dream” incorporated into the picture. What are your professional dreams? Are your dreams part of your motivation?
Very much so. I would love to have a published picture book which I wrote and illustrated someday.
What is the most fun part of the creative process?
When everything is done, and I see how good the finished product is. That to me is the most fun part.
What is your typical illustrator’s day like?
I’m a stay at home mom with a two year old and a seven-year-old. My working hours are during the baby’s naptime in the afternoon and from 10-3 during the day. Just like any other job, I work seven hours a day.
Describe your working environment.
Crazy and messy.
From your portfolio, I see that you use a variety of methods for creating your art from computer enhanced images to more formal paintings and also black and white drawings. Do you prefer one over the other? How do you determine what type of artwork you will use for a particular story?
It depends on what the author will ask for. Everyone, it seems, likes how I draw children.
What tips would you offer to others just beginning their career writing and illustrating children’s literature?
I myself am restarting my career. One thing that I am is persistent and hard working. It doesn’t hurt that I love what I’m doing.
What project are you working on now? Or what projects are pending?
I am working with self-published authors, Dionne Winters on her story, Frightful Things and Creepy Ones coming out soon and Zayre Ferrers’ Charlene’s Halloween Party.
I was selected to illustrate one of the stories for Gumboot Books in conjunction with Rotary International and their Literacy Foundation. These are collected stories from authors and illustrators around the world, celebrating different UN holidays.
That project seems a perfect fit for you, Cecil, with your own international background. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m sure we’ll see more of your delightful work in the years to come.