Jannie Ho is also known as Chicken Girl. Is an Author and Illustrator, born in Hong Kong raised in Philadelphia. Jannie studied at Parsons, The New School of Design ( New York ) earning a BFA in illustration. Now based out of Boston, MA (USA) Jannie creates these wonderful children books that people have often commented that her books are Hilarious and Adorable.
With a history of working as a graphic designer at Nickelodeon, Scholastic, and an art director at TIME Magazine for Kids. Jannie moved on to pursue her passion full time.
1st I would like to say "cluck cluck!"! LOL !! You have been pretty busy in your work as an author and illustrator. How long have you had this business to establish so well and what were the challenges you faced starting your business?
Cluck Cluck! I've been an illustrator in the children's book industry for about 10 years. I recently became an author as well and hope to continue my path as an author/illustrator for picture books and beyond. The challenge in starting out an illustration business (and in all business really ) is knowing if I had enough work to sustain a living for me in the long term. Also working from home by myself was a big adjustment in the beginning. Setting my own schedule but not blending work and personal hours was quite a challenge.
Leaving a secure job is often a challenge for many people. Where you always confident in your decision to work for yourself?
It was a tough decision for me to leave an art director position at a nice publishing company. But I was hitting a certain age and I thought to myself, if not now, when? I was single and did not have anyone to support but myself. I was doing my day job as an art director and moonlighting as an illustrator at night. I was starting to burn out, and something had to give. I put a lot of safety nets in place for myself- saving money, getting freelance design clients, etc. before I took the leap. I also had an illustration rep by then and could see the type of work that was coming in for me. I wanted to dedicate all of my time to making my illustration skills great. The best advice I got when I was making the decision: You could always go back and get a staff job again. That comforted me to make the jump. I haven't looked back since.
I see that you often visit schools and read to the children. What would you like the children to take away from your visit ?
I don't visit schools as often as I like, but since my book BEAR AND CHICKEN came out, I've done a lot of events, festivals, etc. where I read my book to children. I love it when children get a good laugh. When I visit schools, I just love students knowing that there is a real job out there where you can draw and write stories all day. I wish I knew that when I was young.
As an Author and Illustrator you must have read many books when you where younger.What books did you grow up reading? Any favourite Illustrators?
I was born in Hong Kong so many of my childhood memories involve reading manga and watching Japanese anime as it was a big influence there. When I moved to the US, my favorite (and still my favorite) picture book is Busy, Busy Town by Richard Scarry. His anthropomorphic animal world inspires me tremendously to this day. I also loved the Cam Jansen chapter book series. I remember my English reading level was not where it needed to be at the time and a librarian recommended this series. To this day, I remember how motivating and powerful a good book can be. Favorite illustrators include Marc Boutavant, Delphine Durand, Zachariah OHora, Marion Billet, Marianne Dubuc, and too many more to mention!
What’s your biggest dream? Is there anything you haven’t done that you are hoping to accomplish?
I would love to have my stories and illustrations turn into an animated series and licensed into products. And there is so much more to accomplish. The main goal is for me to create worlds and stories for others to enjoy.
What words of wisdom could you offer to someone trying to overcome creative blocks or doubts within themselves?
Take your time, clock in those hours. You will get better. Sometimes it just takes one person to say "yes" to open up the doors for you. And we all have doubts within ourselves as artists. It means we want to improve and do better. :-)