March 12, 2024

Let's Talk Illustrators #283: EB Lewis

I was lucky enough to get a chance to chat with self-proclaimed Artistrator EB Lewis about his Fall 2023 picture book (one that will be extra relevant in just a few months) The Walk (a Stroll to the Poll): A Picture Book, written by Winsome Bingham. Enjoy our chat!

About the book:
My granny is taking me on THE WALK.

"Because leaders are not born," she says. "They're made through molding and modeling."

"What's the walk?" I ask.

"You'll see. And there's a few treasured souls coming too."

Granny and her granddaughter are going on a walk. But this is not just any walk. It's a walk that must not be missed; one that is more important than ever but has been made increasingly difficult for many to participate in. It's a walk that joins together a community; that lifts voices; that allows us to speak up, stand up, and say what's on our minds. It's a walk for hope.

Where are all these treasured souls going? Just WALK ON and find out.

Peek underneath the dust jacket:

Let's talk EB Lewis!

LTPB: How did you become the illustrator of The Walk (a Stroll to the Poll): A Picture Book? What were the first images that popped into your mind when you saw Winsome Bingham’s text?
EBL: The illustrators are almost always paired to the author by either the editor or art director based on the artistic style. In this case, it is exactly why I became the illustrator of The Walk largely due to my style and my approach to making picture books. All of my books use live models and real settings, which makes my work very accessible to the reader because they can identify with the characters.

The first image that popped into my head after reading the manuscript was the var precession scenes. I couldn't wait to illustrate that multi-generational line of individuals heading to the polls. I actually went to Huntsville Alabama to shoot the entire book.

LTPB: Can you talk a little bit about the visual evolution of the characters and the cityscape As you got to know the characters and story, how did your illustrations evolve?

EBL: The evolution of the characters and setting comes out of actually working with live models in their natural environment. The actors, in this case the residents of Huntsville, became the characters in the story and I just simply directed and photographed. It was magical.

LTPB: You’re in pretty high demand these days! How do you keep your process fresh with every new book? Are there any topics or stories in particular you’re still hoping to explore in the future?

EBL: I become excited with each new project. Every story is an opportunity to meet new people and experience new lands, and that is what puts me right in the middle of my wheelhouse. I have an intrepid spirit and my religion is art; therefore, I am an Artist. One does not become an Artists until you have something to say and have a lot to say. This is what drives me and keeps relevant and fresh.

LTPB: What did you use to create the illustrations in this book? Is this your preferred medium? How does your process change from book to book?

EBL: All of my books for the most part are created using the medium watercolor on paper. There was only one time I used charcoal. It's scary medium, watercolor, but, that's what I love about it! The mystery of it all. I can truly say I have to create a piece that I love. I hope that I am blessed with enough time to do so. The joy is trying figure it out.

LTPB: What are you working on now?

EBL: I am presently working on three projects: A Walt Whitman title, Native American story and a book about a young girl overcoming the fear of riding a horse.

LTPB: If you got the chance to write your own picture book autobiography, who (dead or alive!) would you want to illustrate it, and why?

EBL: If I wrote an autobiography, it would be titled "This Light of Mine." I would want it to be illustrated by the late illustrator NC Wyeth. I love the attention to detail and his play of light and shadow.

A big thank you to EB for talking me through his process! The Walk (a Stroll to the Poll): A Picture Book published late last year from Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Special thanks to EB and Abrams for use of these images!

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