SSEF Literacy In Action: A Talk with Illustrator Laura Freeman

Interview by Kimberly Lawson

LTI_Freeman (2)

Illustrator and author Laura Freeman, known for her work on the inspiring Hidden Figures.

The staff of North Springs’ Echo Literary Magazine and Oracle Web Zine had the good fortune of speaking with several of the sponsors, authors, and illustrators at the event. This is the second of those interviews.

The Oracle: Tell us about your work.

Laura Freeman: I am more of an illustrator than writer, having only written the one. Recently I seem to have been getting a lot of biographical assignments, which suits me just fine as I’ve been enjoying both the work and the research!

My most recent books have been: Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race, written by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Low, written by Deborah Blumenthal.

Natalie’s Hair Was Wild! My debut as an author.

And soon to be released in November 2018: Pies From Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained The Montgomery Bus Boycott Written by Dee Romito

And in February 2019: Biddy Mason Speaks Up! Written by Arisa White and Laura Atkins.

The Oracle: What books inspired you?

Laura Freeman: I am always most excited about whatever book I’m working on at the moment, even though I may be doing sketches for one and finals on another. I’m very focused on whatever I’m working on and since I’ve been getting such wonderful projects how could I not love what I’m doing?!

The Oracle: How did you get involved in the SSEF literacy festival and what was your role?

Laura Freeman: I was initially approached via email by Esther Levine of Book Atlanta and then by Kathy Shapiro of SSEF to speak at The Sandy Springs debut children’s literacy event. I spoke to a small audience about what it’s like to be a children’s book illustrator, my process and how I work.

Laura Freeman

Freeman sharing her vibrant work at a Literacy Fest panel.

The Oracle: Why do you think reading is important and how do we get more kids to read?

Laura Freeman: I think a beautifully illustrated book can spark a child’s imagination and help get them interested in reading. It did that to me when I was little. It also sparked a lifelong interest in art.

The Oracle: What advice do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

Laura Freeman: If you saw my presentation you’d know that it wasn’t a smooth progression to becoming an illustrator. There were lots of hard times with little or no work, and if I didn’t want to do this as much as I do, there were many times when it would have been much easier to just give up. My advice then to fledgling illustrators and writers is: If you really want to do this, don’t give up. Keep working, do personal projects. Keep working on your craft. Put in the proverbial “10,000 hours” (look that up if you’ve never heard of it), experiment and your work will grow. You’ll find your style, your approach, your favorite way of working… and don’t forget to have fun along the way!

HF

Special thanks to Miriam Salpeter, Marketing Director for the Sandy Springs Education Force, and to Mr. Hanson.

 

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