Meet the cover artist: Laura Zarrin
Laura Zarrin, creator of the adorable May/June Babybug cover, always knew she was an artist. But, she recalls, “the trick was how to earn a living doing it.” When she discovered that she liked working with art directors and solving problems, she decided to make her career as an illustrator, earning a degree in Graphic Design and Illustration at San Jose State University. Laura now works from a spare bedroom in the house she shares with her spouse and two sons, aged 10 and 14. To her joy, her studio has a door that allows her to close out most of the world sometimes—but not Cody, her crackerjack assistant (and dog).
What was your illustration process for the May/June Babybug cover and for the poem “Yellow Plane”? What inspired you?
I love drawing cute animals! I was very excited to receive these projects, because I was allowed to choose any animal. What a treat! For the cover, I needed to find a water animal. I wanted something a bit different, and a platypus is the different-ist animal I could think of! It’s still hard to believe they aren’t made up.
For “Yellow Plane,” I suggested quite a few different animals, including a Chihuahua and an ostrich. I love the silliness of a giraffe flying a plane!
What was your path to becoming an artist? Do you remember when you first became interested in art?
I’ve always been interested in making things. I have sketchbooks from when I was very young, and I learned to sew when I was seven. I also loved making dams and forts. I’m happiest when I’m making.
What do you like about illustrating for children?
I love that anything is possible! Children’s imaginations are vast and flexible. This allows me a lot of freedom and fun when I’m illustrating. I think that childhood is a magical time. I have very clear memories of my own childhood. It was full of exploration and discovery. I was a big fan of climbing trees, exploring the woods and creeks near my home, and riding my bike.
In your opinion, what’s the best way to get a child interested in art?
Give them great materials and let them play! Now that I’m adding collage to my own work, I see how much fun it would be to hand them a glue stick, magazines, newspaper, scissors, paint, and anything that can be attached to their piece (like ribbons), and let them go! It should be like playing with no expectations. I’ve seen some wonderful kid art where they’ve done something so unexpected. When they are young they are very brave about creating! As they get older, I hear a lot of “I can’t draw.” That makes me sad. Creating is essential to life.
Did you have any favorite illustrators when you were a child? How about now?
I absolutely loved Garth Williams, who illustrated Charlotte’s Web and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. Now I love so many, it’s hard to list just a few. Laura Huliska-Beith, Elise Primavera, Peter Brown, Sophie Blackall, Mary Grandpre, Chris Van Dusen, and Marla Frazee. There are so many more, but you get the idea.
You’ve created some adorable animals for BABYBUG. If you were an animal, what kind would you be?
H’mm . . . probably a puppy. They’re cuddly and playful.