Inside the Studio with Shawn Harris, Illustrator of Her Right Foot
The Children’s Book Review | September 21, 2016
Shawn Harris is an artist and musician who lives and works in Morongo Valley, California. Her Right Foot (Chronicle Books, 2017) is his first book. Learn all about his studio (including the name of the ghost that resides there), his artistic process behind Her Right Foot, and be sure to enter the giveaway below, too!
Inside Shawn Harris’s Studio
I work in the desert, underground, in my house’s basement, where I keep cool and hide, like the rest of the animals out here.
My art studio doubles as my music recording studio, so there are tape machines next to reams of paper, next to brushes and ink, next to speakers and a laptop computer, which also serves double-duty.
The couple that built my house in 1947 dug this hole that is now my studio, and lived down here while they built the rest of the house above me. When they had visitors, they let them sign the rafters. There is a ghost that protects this place, and I’ve decided, of all the visitors, he is probably named Max Cooley.
I was building a new door out on the porch one day, when from right behind me, a deep-voiced man warned, “…Sure hope you’re the new owner of this place.” I replied that I was, turning around to find nobody at all. My dog was losing her mind, barking at thin air. But he must have been satisfied with my answer because he hasn’t bothered us since.
Shawn Harris’s Creative Process
When I’m illustrating, I make a mess of the basement until I have no more space to work, then I migrate to the kitchen table, upstairs, forcing me and my wife to eat dinner on the couch. When eventually, the heap of papers on the kitchen table forces me to the couch to work, I know that I should be nearly finished with my project.
I start every project at the library. I have a 25 book limit, and am constantly having to weed out a selection or two at the checkout desk, with an impatient line forming behind me. I love doing research and figuring out the backstories that might not appear in the text I’m illustrating, behind who and where my characters are.
Then I start sketching. There’s usually a really rough gesture or shape sketch . . .
. . . followed by another in which my subject matter can be recognized . . .
. . . followed by a digital mockup in photoshop that always feels pretty finished, and I can’t imagine why I’m going to spend so much time inking and cutting paper when this looks so good . . .
Except when I do spend the extra time inking and cutting paper, it makes the digital mock-up feel like a basketball without air, or a deer lying by the side of a road, and I’m glad I didn’t settle for the computer drawing.
Sometimes I ink directly onto the cut paper.
Sometimes I use a light table (or my laptop’s glowing screen) to paint the ink on a separate piece of paper that will line up with the paper shapes when I digitally overlay them.
I always photograph, never scan, the cut paper. I like the dimension that a more pronounced shadow adds to my work. I intend to build an overhead rig for my camera, but until then, I shoot my work through the rungs on this rickety ladder that is not safe to climb anymore.
Written by Dave Eggers
Illustrated by Shawn Harris
Publisher’s Synopsis: If you had to name a statue, any statue, odds are good you’d mention the Statue of Liberty. Have you seen her?
She’s in New York.
She’s holding a torch.
And she’s in mid-stride, moving forward.
In this fascinating, fun take on nonfiction, Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris investigate a seemingly small trait of America’s most emblematic statue. What they find is about more than history, more than art. What they find in the Statue of Liberty’s right foot is the powerful message of acceptance that is essential to an entire country’s creation.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Chronicle Books | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1452162812
Enter to win
- A copy of
- A Her Right Foot poster and set of postcards
Two (2) winners receive:
- A copy of
Giveaway begins September 21, 2017, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends October 21, 2017, at 11:59 P.M. MT.
How To Enter
- Complete the entry form below.
- Enter once daily (optional).
- NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.
- Enter between 12:00 AM Mountain Time on September 21, 2017 and 11:59 PM on October 21, 2017.
- Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older.
- Winners will be selected at random on or about October 24, 2017.
- Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
- The Children’s Book Review is not responsible for prize fulfillment.
Prizes courtesy of Chronicle Books
Discover more books like “Her Right Foot,” written by Dave Eggers and illustrated by Shawn Harris, on The Children’s Book Review by following along with our articles tagged with Acceptance, American History, Books Set in New York, History, Non-Fiction, and Picture Books. And be sure to check out more authors and illustrators featured in our Inside the Studio column.