Behind the Scenes: I Had a Favorite Dress

I Had a Favorite Dress hits shelves this Monday, so I thought I'd show you some studio shots and process work:

Boni Ashburn wrote a lovely story with a very fun cadence to it. Right from the get-go it made me feeling like dancing, I wanted the text to dance, and I wanted the art to dance...(I'm not gonna lie, I had a sweet summer soundtrack consisting of Animal Collective /jazz blasting, so I did a lot of dancing around). Boni's words, "SNIP SNIP, SEW SEW" helped me feel playful enough to want to cut up, collage, get messy. I thought: wouldn't it be fun to stitch the title page by hand? So I did:

It ended up a little bloody (see capital "D!") since I'm not a seamstress of any sort, but I handed it in anyhow (thanks, Photoshop). I spent my weeks in a blissful world of little dresses, buttons, city scapes, and thread...

Cover sketch on the light box:

Fall leaves to be cut out for the school scene:

Snowflakes for the winter scene:

Tree tops in the fall:

Tracing days of the week by night light:

All the little dress components, ready to be scanned:

A very SERIOUS struggle to find the right pink:

EEEE! Tiny dresses! I love my job!

Chad helped turn these thumbnails into something that made sense:

There is always that initial image you see after shutting your eyes and you've let a manuscript whisper through your mind. For this book, it was a little window on the first floor of a brownstone, with a blossoming tree nearby. As I looked in the window from the sidewalk, I watched a little girl prance to her mother in her FAVORITEST dress for an embrace. I tried my best to stay true to that glimpse for the duration of the work, and expand the world from that little window...

The characters and urban settings came right along with the story for me, right from the moment I read it. The city itself is an amalgamation of New York and Boston. My go-to painting soundtracks (supplemented by Animal Collective, and Jonsi) on this book were jazz guitar/piano albums by:

Admiring thank yous to author Boni Ashburn, and to the excellent people at Abrams, especially Laura Mihalick in marketing, editor Maggie Lehrman, creative director+designer Chad Beckerman (for working through so many fixes and edits that our final art file came to be called "FOR CHAD_DRESS_FINAL_INFINITY")

See you again Monday for a BOOK BIRTHDAY!