Interview Date: 10/23/19
Jessika von Innerebner is a self-taught artist who landed her first illustration job at 17 and has been coloring her way through studios like Disney and Atomic Cartoons ever since. Jess is the illustrator of several picture books and chapter books, but It’s Not All Rainbows is her author-illustrator debut. She and her illustrator husband live in Canada.
How did you get into children’s book illustration- was it something you always wanted to do or something you stumbled into?
Starting out I wanted to be an animator, cartoons are the BEST and I can’t stop watching them, even now! Throughout my career I’ve had the opportunity to work on many animated projects from TV to video games. But after a while I needed a change and wanted the chance to create my own characters and stories so I decided to jump over to the kid-lit world.
When did you decide to write stories as well as illustrate them?
Though I had a few story ideas of my own I started illustrating first. Many awesome projects came across my desk; I enjoyed working on all of them and I learned a lot! After a while I started pulling together my own story ideas. The very first one I sent out didn’t make it, I learned a lot from that experience, went back to the drawing board and tried again.
What gave you the idea for It’s Not All Rainbows?
My agent and I were casually chatting about rainbow unicorns and this magical character stuck in my head. I found the idea of a most perfect, glittery unicorn experiencing his first bad day just plain funny. But as I wrote I found the message coming out in this story was something I needed to hear. No one and nothing is perfect, you can’t always be happy and sparkly.
What is your process as an author/illustrator in completing a book like this?
I’ll start with an illustration or write down a funny experience I had that stuck with me. From there I’ll play with the idea, type up a small paragraph and sketch a few things to see if it goes anywhere. If it catches that’s when the work really starts! I’ll play with the words and illustrations at the same time to make sure the story flows nicely. After lots and lots and LOTS of writing and sketching the book will start to take shape. Once the text is nailed down I’ll get to work on final illustrations for all 32 pages of the book, plus the cover. This requires lots of coffee and good music!
What authors and illustrators inspire you?
One story that’s stuck with me since I was little is Cloud With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi & Ron Barrett. The thought of food raining from the sky was so wild to me. I also enjoy the many books by Bill Pete; he has such a wonderful imagination with a good message. Some new favorite stories I’ve added to my collection include The Hug Machine by Scott C. and Wild by Emily Hughes. But to be honest, my bookshelves are PACKED with kids’ books and I love them all!