Noam Paris is a returning to the Shout Mouse team to illustrate their second Reach Incorporated children’s book. Noam graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in May and is now working as an illustrator in Baltimore. Noam previously illustrated The Blue Spark in 2015, Shout Mouse’s first comic book. We asked them to talk a little about illustration, the process of working on Reach books, and the importance of picture books.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your history with art and illustration in particular. What interests you about picture books?
A: Like a lot of artists, I was drawing from the moment I could hold a pencil. I was always drawn to art that could be used to tell a story, in the way that illustration can. I also draw comics. I think that there’s a tendency to think that things for kids are frivolous or shouldn’t be taken seriously, but I see that as disrespectful to kids. Kids take things so seriously and the issues that some children's books deal with are very serious for the kids reading them. I’m interested in creating book that are for kids that are not necessarily super serious, but deal with some serious issues.
Q: You’ve illustrated one other book for Shout Mouse, The Blue Spark. What was that experience like?
A: It was a really great experience. It was the first book ever illustrated, so I didn’t really know what to expect. But the authors that I worked with were really fantastic, and Kathy made the process of getting to know them and talking about what we wanted to see out of the book very easy.
Q: Knowing what it was like to illustrate The Blue Spark, what are you most excited for this year?
A: I’m most excited to get to know a new team of authors and to work with them, and to see what comes out of the process.
Q: What do you see as the hardest part of illustrating picture book?
A: I think it can be difficult when you have a particular idea in your head of what you want a page or particular illustration to look like but you’re not there yet so you keep doing it over and over again. That can be frustrating.
Q: Shout Mouse focuses on bringing diversity in both characters and authors to books. How do you see the role of social justice in illustrating?
A: I think that social justice has a role in all aspects of life including art. In terms of illustration I think that bringing diversity into illustration--so not just depicting people who are white, or able-bodied, or families that are a mom, dad, and 2.5 kids--is important for kids and adults to see their families reflected in books that they read. But having that diversity is only the first step, we also have to tell stories that respect and honor those people.