Interview Adventure series—Chad W. Beckerman

Marci Hersel: What are your responsibilities as Art Director for Abrams Books for Young readers and Amulet Books?

CW: I oversee the design, direction, and visual develop-
ment of books for these two imprints, as well as de-
signing and re-branding of the new ABRAMS logo.
I, along with the editors, think about which illustra-
tors out there are doing work that excites us and
offers the correct emotional response to the text.
Once an author and illustrator have been matched
up, I will go over sketches with the illustrator and
offer direction on how to better their work. At
of their work by offering understanding, encour-
agement, advice, honesty, excitement, and loads
of jokes.

I am also responsible for the design and direction of
the books from cover to interior — and yes, even
the back cover. I try my best to make the book look
as entertaining as possible so it becomes more entic-
ing for a reader to pick up.

Marci Hersel: What advice can you give illustrators trying to break into the business?

CW: Treat breaking into the business less like a dream
and more like a job with goals and responsibilities.
What I mean by this is if you are serious about be-
coming an illustrator you have to work at it like
your life depends on it.
My first goal would be to get a website or blog to
showcase your work. Try not to showcase too many
styles as this might confuse the art director and
make them wonder what style is truly yours. Sec-
ond, try and do a drawing a day or every other day
to keep yourself focused on your dream as well as
enhance your skills. Think of yourself as an athlete
who needs to work out before they can be at the top
of their game. It’s hard but you’ll look great for the
summer! Third, get yourself out there by any means
possible, mailing cards, e-mails, Facebook, Twitter,
etc., be inventive!

A word to the wise: if you find your way into talking
directly with an editor or art director and they don’t
respond, don’t keep calling or e-mailing, chances are
they are busy. If your work is what they are looking
for they will call.

Fourth, I cannot say this enough, do your research.
Take a trip to your local bookstore, Barnes &
Noble or Borders. Take a look at what they are posting up on
their walls and ask yourself, why? What looks like it
is selling? Don’t try to copy what is selling but look
deeper. Is it a book with animals, a book about a sin-
gle character? How is the book laid out? Who is the
publisher? These details will help you fine-tune your
own art, and your search for the publishing house
that will best match with your work. Lastly, I will
repeat my second piece of advice, draw, draw, draw!

Marci Hersel: How do you find illustrators for your projects? Are you open to hiring new talent?

I find illustrators numerous ways. For example:
• Illustrator reps.
• Artists’ websites.
• The Society of Illustrators, Illustrator annuals.
• Illustrator mailers.
• Student portfolio reviews.
• Other illustrator recommendations.
• Searching illustrators’ links to other illustrators.
I am always looking for new talent. One of the rewarding parts of my job
is finding new illustrators and giving them a stage to show off their talents.•