The question I am asked most frequently about publishing children’s books is, “Where did you find your illustrator?”
As general rule, I dislike any story that begins with, “I spoke it into existence,” but in this case, it applies and is true.
After yoga class, I said, “I’ve written some children’s books. Now, I just need an illustrator.” And from the other end of the studio, I heard, “I’m an illustrator.”
A few cups of coffee and some sandwiches later, Duncan and I decided to make some books.
Me: For those who may not know who you are, how would you describe yourself and your work?
Duncan: I would say I’m a production designer and artist. I’m loyal, opinionated, and hardworking.
Me: Have you always been an artist?
D: I have. When I was in school, I had really great art teachers. They would take my work and secretly enter it into competitions. Now and then they would come up to me and say, “Hey! Here’s the award you won!” I had no idea they were submitting my work.
Me: Oh, wow! That’s great to have that support so early. Did you think then, “Yes, I want to be an artist for a living?”
D: I guess, but when I was a teenager, I just really didn’t want to babysit for money. I hated the baby-sitting. So, I would do a customer home illustration for some folks, or, I did this one drawing of a bathroom that an interior designer asked, and she liked and used it. That led to more illustrations and work drawing people’s houses in my illustrative style.
Me: So, you didn’t have to do the babysitting?
D: No, I did not have to do the babysitting, which was great.
Me: Is the kind of art you’re making now the type you thought you would be making as an adult?
D: Well, my major in college was graphic design with a minor in printmaking. I was on the advertising path. It wasn’t the best fit for me.
Me: Is that what made you shift gears to set design and production for television and movies?
D: Kind of. I remember at one point thinking, “What can I do? I can’t stand advertising anymore.” When I told one of my teachers how I was feeling, she said she knew someone who was doing special effects on a movie called Ernest Scared Stupid in Nashville. I had no idea working on movies was even an option! That was my first job on a film set. After everyone saw what I could do, I got more jobs. I made business cards, and it became my full-time gig.
Me: You’ve expanded since to other mediums.
D: Yes, I’ve illustrated children’s books, designed some magazine covers, and I’ve recently started a line of stationery.
Me: What inspired you to create a line of stationery?
D: I have always wanted a product line that featured my illustrations. For years, I’ve made mail art for my friends and family, so it was natural for me to take those designs and make them into something that could be produced. I’m also not a prolific designer, so I like the idea of making something, doing it well, and using what I learn on the next project.
Me: I see you also do custom work from time to time. What kind of custom work are you booking right now?
D: Yes, I do custom house illustrations. These are pen and ink drawings based on a picture of a home. I also do pet portraits in acrylics. Both of these have been really popular lately.
Me: You are a busy woman!
D: I am, but it’s nice to work on one thing, and then switch to something else. It keeps me inspired and creative.
Me: What big plans are on the horizon for Duncan Ragsdale Creative?
D: More stationery for sure. I am also looking for licensing partners and wholesale partners, so my work can reach more people. And, of course, I am always open to taking clients for event invitations, custom home illustrations, and pet portraits.
Me: Thank you, Duncan. This has been great.
D: Thank you. My pleasure.
You can find all of Duncan Ragsdale’s work at https://duncanragsdale.com/