Not long ago, Hannah Stephey posted the image above on her blog and wrote: “Truth be told, all I want out of life is just to publish this book…and maybe get some cute new boots.”
We recently heard from Hannah, a 2014 Kutztown illustration grad, via Facebook. She has big news, but it is still secret. She is not at liberty to reveal which of her many projects are moving forward. I am not surprised to hear of her success. I wrote about her self-published work when she was still a student. Today, she has a literary agent and two, yes TWO! children’s books in the works. I swiped some art from her website. I really don’t know what she talking about, but I bet some funny-looking pugs are involved. When he get facts, we will update! Meanwhile –some Q & A.
Question: Hey Hannah, most newly-minted illustration grads don’t find work quickly and get discouraged? How did you avoid that trap?
Hannah: I dealt with the dark void of post-graduation job searching by “keeping my day job,” so to speak. I did internships and freelance work in graphic design by day and worked on my book stuff by night. So, basically, no sleep ever.
Q: How did you keep your creative juices going?
Hannah: Here’s the important nugget: plan for the real world WHILE you’re in college. Get your name out there, try design competitions, portfolio reviews, trade shows, anything that puts you in front of clients & art directors. It’s super easy to just sleep and watch cat videos in your spare time, but the people who make it are the ones who never stop creating, even after class.
Q: What did you learn from your self-published I (heart) Captain project? did you do that as a junior?
Hannah: What I learned from my self publishing adventures was ANYONE can make and sell books. Sure it’s much more validating if you get actual-published, but you can make and sell any book you want through services like lulu.com. they make creative portfolio pieces. And, yeah, that was my junior year.
Q: Do you think zines are worth doing?
Hannah: Zines are a bigger thing than people realize! Many comic book people start out with zines or have at least dabbled in zines. They’re fun and conventions are a great way to network with other artists (& steal some of their contacts.)
Q: How did the book, The Look Cookers, happen?
Hannah: The Look Cookers is a story my uncle, Jim Malloy, wrote that I illustrated. It’s self-published. (It won a Mom’s Choice Gold Award and is available on Amazon.)
Q: Did going to BEA and other events help your illustration career?
Hannah: BEA (Book Expo America for students reading this) was a great way to get some serious exposure from the literary world. It’s pricey, though.
Q: Would you like to give a shout out to any of your Kutztown profs?
Hannah : I’d like to give a shout out to the entire KU CD department, but especially Kresge who was also my advisor for being so awesome and such a huge Toy Story nerd. Cunfer for being a stone-cold perfectionist and whipping me into shape, and teaching the importance of traditional techniques to give our work more soul and personality in a digital world. And of course… McCloskey! Who helped me discover you don’t have to be a cookie cutter logo tweaker to succeed in a creative career, and I needed to hear that! Also Clair and Prof. Voccola. I know he’s a writing prof, but he deserves props for being awesome.
All art in this post © Hannah Stephey. All rights reserved. When we get titles and publication dates of her upcoming projects, we will share more.