Storey acquisitions editor Liz Bevilacqua and Ndubisi Okoye, the illustrator of Love Your Amazing Self, discuss inspiration, patience, and the importance of loving yourself!
LIZ: When did you begin drawing?
NDUBISI: I’ve always been drawing as far back as I can remember. It’s been a long and beautiful journey.
LIZ: Where do you get inspiration?
NDUBISI: I get inspired by everything, literally, the way God arranges the clouds in the sky, a beautiful chord progression in a song, or something as simple as the smile on my daughter’s face inspires me. I save and savor those moments as best as I can.
LIZ: How does working on a kids’ book differ from some of the other kinds of art you make?
NDUBISI: Working on a children’s book is similar because I follow the same design process. Which is conceptual sketch, refinement, color, and then finalize the art. It’s different because the process has many more rounds of revisions in a short period of time. It’s also different because those final illustrations live forever in a book that’s shipped around the world, which is kind of crazy to think about.
LIZ: Did you always want to be an artist?
NDUBISI: I knew I wanted to be creative. I don’t call myself an artist because I don’t think it fits me. I work in a bunch of mediums and disciplines creatively. I draw, write poetry, paint, paint murals, design, and many more things. I lean more towards the term creative as a title because I think it fits me better.
LIZ: What do you hope kids will feel when they see your images in this book?
NDUBISI: I hope that kids feel a sense of joy, excitement, and curiosity. I want their excitement to make them want to read the book or have their parents read it to them. I hope that then leads them to become curious about who made the book and find me and the author Ofosu Jones-Quartey, and from there, I hope their discovery of us brings them joy.
LIZ: What advice would you offer young people who want to get into a creative field?
NDUBISI: I would say to jump in. If you want to be creative, go for it and keep at it for a long time. To build a sustainable career takes a long time but it is worthwhile. Also, don’t believe anyone that says you can’t—even if it’s you.
LIZ: What are some things you love about your amazing self?
NDUBISI: I love my Blackness. I love my motivation to inspire youth to do something dope today. I love the fact that I created art that will touch the hearts of many. I love that I am amazing. I love that I am enough. I love that this book that I helped create is something I can share with my daughter.