In anticipation of our Wisconsin's SCBWI Fall Conference Experiment & Play, we've put together an interview series as a way to meet the people behind this year's presentations and breakout sessions. Today, I'm spotlighting Saho Fujii.
Saho Fujii is the art director of Little, Brown. Over the years, she's worked with many talented authors and illustrators, including Jerry Pinkney on his Caldecott-winning book, The Lion & the Mouse. And just last year, another project of Saho's was awarded the Caldecott: Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear. To be sure, Saho Fujii is a master at her job.
Saho, we are thrilled that you will be presenting at our fall conference. Thanks for answering a few questions for us!
Where do you find inspiration, and how does it inform your creative process?
"I often visit bookstores, toy stores, gift shops and museums when I’m looking for inspiration."
What catches your eye when looking at artwork? What things do you pay attention to most?
"I look for an unique style/medium. I also look for consistency. I would like to know whether or not the artist is capable of drawing the same characters in a consistent way so they are recognizable from page to page. Varying perspective is important as well. You don’t always want to draw from the same view point because it gets repetitive."
How do you balance the author's, the illustrator's, and your own vision during a project?
"I value and respect the author’s and the illustrator’s vision. You have to remember it’s their book and without them, we can’t make books. Of course, if I have suggestions, I discuss my ideas with them. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don’t. Building a good relationship with authors and artists is very important because making picture books is a long process. It usually takes about a year to make a book and you talk to them a lot during that one year. I always make sure that the author and the artist are kept in the loop and don’t make any changes to the art or to the layouts without their approval."
How can authors best work with art directors and illustrators?
"I don’t usually talk to authors directly unless they are also illustrators. Authors normally send their notes to editors, and editors share their comments with me and artists. However, depending on the project and the relationship between the author and the illustrator, occasionally, the four of us (the author, the illustrator, the editor and the art director/designer) get on the phone/email and discuss ideas together."
What's the best part of being an art director?
"The best part about my job is being able to work with so many talented people, illustrators and authors in particular. Their ability to create something so wonderful out of nothing always amazes me!"
Saho will present at the Wisconsin SCBWI Fall Conference, which runs from September 15 – 17, 2017. If you haven't registered for the fall conference yet, there's still time. Register HERE before we sell out!