Meet the Artist
Jingo de la Rosa
We caught up with Jingo de la Rosa, the talent behind the illustrations that will bring Good Boy, Blue! to life. Jingo was kind enough to answer a few questions about the forthcoming book and offer some insight into his artwork and background.
I work full-time as a freelance illustrator, and a big part of what I do is that I illustrate children’s books. Before the opportunity of illustrating “Good Boy, Blue!” arose, I had no association with Butler whatsoever, except for the fact that my wife is a Butler graduate. She also happens to be a Bulldogs basketball fan, and being a fan of the game myself, I almost instantly became a Bulldogs fan. Fast forward to early 2013, when the Bulldogs were in the NCAA tournament, my wife and a friend of hers convinced me to make social media banners as a sign of support for Butler. The concept was a play on how the tournament is fondly called, “The Big Dance,” so I made several cartoons of Blue II in different dancing poses. It caught the eyes of Butler fans everywhere, including Michael Kaltenmark’s, who happens to be Blue II’s handler. So when Michael offered me the chance to be the illustrator for “Good Boy, Blue!” it was almost a no brainer! I simply had to say yes!
I was born and raised in the Philippines, and I grew up at a time when the nation was experiencing a major power crisis, back when 8-hour blackouts were normal every night. Since having no electricity leads to not having to do much, most kids would go out and play hide-and-seek under the moonlight. I, on the other hand, would spend those nights next to a dim, flickering lantern; doodling on used typewriting paper that my Dad would take home from work for me to use. My love for drawing didn’t stop there, though. I attended workshops under veteran cartoonists, went to art school and even received training in New York City. But it wasn’t until 2 and a half years ago that I had my first big break, when I was offered a job as an in-house illustrator for a publishing company. After learning as much as I can about the ins and outs of the industry, I decided to go on my own as a freelancer!
I have many artists that I look up to, but I’d have to say that my biggest influence was my grandfather. He was an artist himself; only that his art was in music. He was an extraordinary pianist. His piano looked and sounded like it had seen better days, but each time he played it, magic happened. He never pursued music as a profession, but his love for it cannot be denied. It was contagious. From the moment he knew I could draw until the day he died, he was my biggest and most genuine fan. His picture always sits on my work desk. It reminds me to do what I love and love what I do.
When I think of favorite illustrated books, a few titles come to mind: Flotsam by David Wiesner, I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and probably any book by Dr. Seuss. It’s tough to pinpoint just a single book, to be honest. I do have to stress that these books are more of an influence when it comes to visual storytelling. Stylistically, my influence comes from animation. It’s no secret that I love Disney and Pixar. Their work is undeniably beautiful. But to me, there’s a certain depth and honesty to their craft that I’m simply in love with. I try to apply those same qualities to my work.
My process is pretty much the same as what most illustrators do. First, I read the manuscript. Not once, not twice… but it was probably close to 30 times! I did more than just read it. I studied it until I could almost recite it word for word. Then, with Michael’s help, I gathered photo references of the characters and places that were featured in the book. In this case, it was Blue II, a few other characters and Butler University! Luckily, I live relatively close to campus, so I had the chance to see and study the places where some of the scenes in the book take place. I even had the chance to meet the main Dawg himself! After that, the most important part follows… the thumbnails. Thumbnails are basically miniature-sized roughs of the book which are layed out side-by-side. They’re created so the artist can get the layout and flow of the story right. Next comes my favorite part, which is character design! I spend a lot of time preparing for this phase, since I believe that the core of the story runs through its characters. Once all of that is approved, I move on to the final phase, which is illustrating the book itself!
Aside from illustrating more books, I would like to branch out and try other things. Maybe get my work in advertising, or possibly design a character or two for a full-length feature film. Who knows, right? The possibilities are endless! But mostly, I just look forward to doing what I do now… forever. Pablo Picasso once said that every child is an artist, but the only problem is how to remain one when growing up. I guess it’s safe to say that I’m one of those people who never grew out of it or ever will. To me, being an illustrator is a way of life. I believe it’s a gift that I simply can’t ignore, even if I tried. It’s in my DNA.