The Artist Behind Princesses Penelope’s Fabulous Wardrobe
We’ve been waiting at the edge of our seats for the publication of Princesses Wear Pants since Princess Penelope took the Javits Center by storm at BEA this June. The signing line for co-authors The Today Show host Savannah Guthrie and Allison Oppenheim snaked around the exhibition floor full of readers from across the country dying to get their early copies. Now this sassy little princess has hit the shelves as Bright Artist Eva Byrne‘s debut picture book, an instant New York Times Bestseller!
In this week’s blog, Eva Byrne tells us about how she brought her royal highness Princess Penelope Pineapple and her fabulous closet to life in this highly-anticipated book now on sale with Abrams Books for Young Readers…
What originally inspired you to become a children’s book illustrator?
I have always loved drawing, I was one of those kids who just loved being indoors, reading and drawing, so once I realized people would actually pay me to do what I loved, there was no stopping me!
You have a background in fashion design and illustration — and your new book, Princesses Wear Pants, is chock full of fun, colorful outfits. Tell us a little about how your experience in fashion has impacted your illustration style.
I worked for years as a fashion illustrator for clients such as Elle Magazine, L’Oreal, Image Magazine, The Gloss and many others, which I loved. It’s a very fast paced, trend-driven form of illustration, so when I was introduced to Princess Penelope Pineapple, I knew with a name like that she definitely had a touch of fashionista in her. Princess Penelope and I spent many wonderful afternoons in the studio with my Vogues choosing her outfits!
Eva’s background in fashion illustration made her the perfect fit for Princesses Wear Pants—we marveled at every detail and flourish. She played such an important role in developing Princess Penelope Pineapple’s personality and style.
— Tamar Brazis, Editorial Director at Abrams Books for Young Readers
Why the switch from fashion to children’s illustration?
The move from fashion illustration to children’s book work happened about three years ago, when a French Educational book editor who had seen some of my work in French Elle Magazine commissioned me to illustrate a three-book series about a fashion loving French teenager attending boarding school. I just loved the process of creating a character and their surroundings. I then took about six months off to create a children’s book portfolio, my fashion illustration background informs pretty much all of my work. I love illustrating funny, fabulous little people.
The text of the book is co-written by Savannah Guthrie, co-host of The Today Show. What’s it like to work on such a high-profile title?
Working with Savannah Guthrie and Alli Oppenheim was an amazing way to launch my children’s book career. I had a wonderful experience bringing Princess Penelope and her companions to life. I had fabulous day in Manhattan, where I met with Savannah, Alli, Tamar Brazis (the editor) and Pamela Notarantonio (the designer) at the NBC studio, followed by a trip to the local indie store Books of Wonder, and a delicious lunch where I finally got to meet my agent Anne Moore Armstrong, who has been such a catalyst for my career.
Every Illustrator should have an Anne!
We were overjoyed and delighted by the way Eva brought our beloved Princess Penelope to life. We wrote the words, but she made it sing!
– Savannah Guthrie, co-author of Princesses Wear Pants and Today Show host
Eva surprised us. We knew we loved her style and the look of her girls, but her ability to use illustrations to add layers to the story is remarkable. Her work elevated our narrative in ways we couldn’t have predicted.
–Allison Oppenheim, co-author of Princesses Wear Pants
What was your artistic process like for this book? How did you interpret the text to create such vibrant characters and scenes that bring the story to life?
Once I read the text, I felt I knew where Savannah and Allison were coming from right away. Both are moms to princesses of their own, and it was obvious from the story that Princess Penelope was a funny, determined, and resourceful character. It was important to everyone working on the book that Penelope was so much more than merely a pretty princess.
I hope her bright personality shines through to the readers!
Can you tell us how you worked with the editor and art director on this book?
Right from the start working with Tamar and Pamela was just so easy. Tamar is someone you can trust to guide the artwork to just where it need to be, and Pam’s layout and design work was just beautiful. I’m so delighted to have been part of this team.
With the publication of Princesses Wear Pants on the 12th of September 2017 has come a flurry of publicity as Savannah promotes the book to all her fans.
Savannah is seen here on her Today show set featuring the book and Eva’s art in giant form in Rockefeller Center in the heart of NYC! And we’ve just got word that the book has skyrocketed to #1 position for 1st Oct NYTimes Bestseller picture book list after also being featured on Jimmy Fallon’s late night show. Everyone loves the message to girls ~ you can be a princess and do great things!
What else do you have coming up on the illustration horizon?
I’m working on a Around The World Fashion Sketchbook for Lonely Planet Kids, another perfect excuse for me to stay indoors and indulge in my love of glossy fashion magazines! And I’m writing a fun picture book biography about fashion icon, Coco Chanel.
Princesses Wear Pants is on sale Sept. 12, 2017 with Abrams Books for Young Readers.