A lot of people ask me how I became both an illustrator and an author, or why I didn’t choose one over the other. To understand that, you have to understand where these interests come from.
My father was in the military for twenty-six years, full time. He would often wake up earlier than the sun and come home well after his three daughters had gone to bed. But sometimes, he would have an early day, and come home in the afternoon. On one such occasion, I remember running up to him with a piece of paper and a purple crayon and asking him to draw me something. At four years old, I hardly recognized the fact that he was exhausted, still in uniform, and probably needed a nap more than anything. Despite that, my father lovingly obliged and he drew a picture of Mickey Mouse.
Now, looking back, it probably wasn’t the greatest picture ever drawn, but to me it was the most stunningly accurate portrait. It leapt off the page, and I can recall, at four years old thinking…when I grow up, I want to draw as well as daddy.
Fast forward three years, and we were living in Germany for the second of three tours. I was eight, and our local newspaper was running an essay contest for our district, titled “What Does Christmas Mean to You”. Mom, who’d already made the local library and the local zoo our usual hangouts, decided to cultivate my writing skills by entering me into the contest without really asking me first. I wasn’t thrilled, but I did my best. To my surprise, but not to hers, I won. My essay was published in the next printing and promptly framed and placed on the wall of our living room by my mother.
To be fair, I have always had an interest in stories and characters. I was creating intricate dramas with my stuffed animals, and drawing on any flat surface within reach practically before I was out of diapers. But whether I’m using a pencil or a keyboard to create, in earnest, I can’t take the credit. My parents unknowingly did the heavy lifting. I now have the unique position of being both an illustrator and an author, which has provided some unique insights into both sides of that coin.
Annie Acorn of Annie Acorn Publishing, who is a Godsend, published my first real book in 2011. My twelfth book was published this month, and is the third installment of my Holly and Ivy holiday mystery series. I have illustrated over three hundred book covers, sixty audio book covers, three album covers, and a multitude of character illustrations for card games, video games, and personal requests.
Amidst all that, I’ve had the opportunity to work with other authors as I illustrate their works and work through the hazards of editing, and with other artists as we navigate the
finer points of interpreting creative thought into pictures. I’ve seen the frustrations that can come with authors and artists working together ineffectively, as well as the joys when two creative individuals find their strides together. I’ve conducted classes on how writers and artists can better work together, and co-authored a book on the subject, titled, “Cover Design and YOU! Do’s, Don’ts, and Choices”, which is meant to give insight to artists about authors, and vice versa.
While there are a multitude of differences and similarities among the two, if I had to condense what I’ve learned into one phrase it would be this – no one reads minds. Working together with anyone all boils down to effective communication.
About the author
Angel L. Nichols is a published multi-genre author and illustrator, and is the exclusive cover artist for Annie Acorn Publishing, LLC. She earned her Bachelors Degree in Visual Communication: Digital Design in 2009 from American Intercontinental University, her covers have been seen on the Barnes and Nobles Bestseller list. Being an ARMY brat, she has a soft spot for different cultures, their people, and of course, their food. Her interests include animal care, horseback riding, science fiction, reading the classics, hot tea, mystery and crime solving television shows, and taste testing for her husband who is an aspiring chef. She’s a collector of marble eggs and rocks from around the world, a pet owner, and a devout Christian.
Find and follow Angel
Paperback, Kindle and Audiobooks by Angel Nichols, available on Amazon
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