Thursday, June 11, 2015

A year of Being Bright

BY GOLLY. How fast a year goes by, and how much one can change in it.

In order for you to understand the genuine awe and heartfelt gratitude I'm about to express, I need to tell a little tale I don't usually talk about. I don't deny it nor avoid it - I simply don't like to shove it up people's faces. But it's true.

When I moved to Paris, I was chasing a dream. I had obtained a visa by a miracle and spent half of my year-long savings in getting it - so I had 1000 euros in my pocket, a couple of friends I could crash on while I found a room, one suitcase, and an mp3. I was terrified at the airport, once it sank in  this was, indeed, France - 11 hours of flight away from home.

My youngest brother gave me a playlist for me to listen on the plane, but to avoid jet lag I slept through the entire flight. Seeing as I was terrified to step out of the airport and begin facing not having a clue of what to do or how to become a paid illustrator, I sat down and listened to it.

One of the songs was Cloud Cult's "You'll be Bright". At that moment, the lyrics brought tears. In retrospective, they were prophetic.

Two years later, I had done everything to stay alive. I babysat, I worked in a small video game company, I got a scholarship. I used credit cards, I borrowed money, I made friends, I fell in love and got heart-broken. I sent out portfolios, I learned french, I met people in the industry, I got rejection letters. And in June 11th, after a very intense streak of work on my portfolio to finally master Photoshop and work faster, I got the Bright e-mail.

It's been quite a year. My life has been turned around completely: my first assignment was to draw some dogs on a street, I now have my own dog that I got to force me to go out for walks because I have so much work I could be shut in all day in the gorgeous apartment I call home, in the beautiful city I love. I've worked with Random House, Top That, Pearson, ABDO publishing and Benchmark - my first book is about to be released for sale and I'm working on the sequel. Somethings won't change, of course: I still feel a thrill of wealth whenever I buy a pain au chocolat (a left over from the times when 1 euro was impossible to afford), and I still delight myself in knowing the city better than most because of the time I spent walking it to avoid paying for the metro. But everything else did change.

So this is a very, very heartfelt THANK YOU. Thank you to the Bright lovely people, who took me in and gave me a shelter, a home. Who've encouraged me to grow, mentored me to strengthen my voice, and given me the confidence to experiment and step out of what is comfortable and safe. Who've been there whenever I've needed them. Who've become my friends, my family. This thank you is to the whole Bright family - to the artists, who are my partners of mischief and fellow Brightlings. To the agents, who are the loveliest people on earth. Specially to lovely, never-stopping Lucie for getting me my first assignment and becoming my fairy godmother, to James for being adorable and getting me the biggest project I could've dreamt of on the very day I had to move out (you didn't know, huh?), to Nicky for being patient, relentless and fierce in her struggle to protect us in tricky projects while remaining adorable, to Anne for having such a sharp exigent eye pushing me to push my pieces and give the 110% in personal artwork. To Florin for enduring endless e-mails and getting me my money to pay my rent. To Vicki and Amber, for not hating me every time I trembled like Oliver Twist to ask for my fees and going beyond the call of duty on my behalf. To K.M. for being K.M. - but for having been my very first contact with what would become a completely different, blossoming Erika.

I still have too many projects ahead. I have stories in my head and in my sketchbook, stories of bears, of socks, of girls with umbrellas and glowing luminous creatures. And I know they will be there to help along, to encourage, and to simply continue to be one of the best things that have happened to me.

I'm sure there'll be many more years together. But none will be as significative, special or life changing as the first. Thank you, my loveliest - from the bottom of my heart, for giving me the chance of earn a living from what I love and helping me become Brighter every day.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


It's the first day of Summer!! It's the 200th post on this blog! And it's time to talk about Pumpkins!!

This morning I received an e-mail from my art director pointing out the review the people at Kirkus did of Pumpkin Day!, the tiny lovely little book I illustrated last year for Random House. It's coming out quite soon!!!

It's this little tale of a family of four taking a day trip to pick the perfect pumpkin to carve. It took away my whole of September 2014 - I literally have no memory of that month except waking up every day at 8, 8:15 am on my friend's living room (I was between flats) when she would get up to go to work, grab breakfast and start painting away until 2 am or so. Thank goodness for her view, or I would've gone mad:

Not BAD, huh? It was mental. Very mental.

Either way, I survived, I moved to my flat, and I kept on working away in other things - so this morning the review made me quite giddy, since I hadn't thought of that cover in ages and I'm in a completely different place now.
I know I will lose it whenever I receive the physical copies. I just know it.

*whispers*: you can already pre-order it if you want!!! :D :D *glee*

Monday, April 20, 2015

Powder Blue

Ok! It's been a while since I was producing artwork I could show: the last three weeks of my life went away in chaos, isolation, computer crashes and overall drama. Meaning, four simultaneous deadlines.

So it's nice to be able to relax and draw for the pleasure of drawing under excuse of the Colour Coklective going on on Twitter.  This week, powder blue! 

Pale Man Little Golden Books

What do you know? I did keep going on the theme. What the Pale Man from Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth would look like for kids. Sort of.

What's worse is that I'm now hooked. Now I really want to revisit each film in a Little Golden Book style... Perhaps even Crimson Peak??

Gaaaah I gotta work too. NOT GOOD (but so much fun...!)

Another Faun

Now and then I get some time off or create it to make some imperative personal art. This is one of those times.

Last illustration done in my old, faithful computer, HAD to be a Little golden book illustration of Pan's Labyrinth... Maybe the first one in the new computer should be the same theme?? Perhaps the Devil's Backbone! :D

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Already Trained Dragons

Here's a little commission I was asked to do for a little boy who just turned 4: him (on the orange dragon) and his little baby brother (on the green) just, you know. Chilling on dragons. Because why not?

I'm genuinely pleased with how it turned out - now just to cross fingers and hope the kids like it too... :D

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Fox Galore

Please don't hate me. I love foxes: I really do. I think they're the most perfect mix between a cat and a dog - and since I love them both, I HAD to adore these little critters.

Some of you may have already seen this piece on Twitter, but I wanted to post it anyway so you can take the detail in should you feel like it. Not every day do you get to see a stubborn kit (that's the fox's cub) failing at his jump...