I’m Erin Dealey, and I write books for kids. I’m a teacher, presenter, rhymer, blogger, and proud Drama Mama.

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7 Qs with debut #kidlit illustrator Shiho Pate

August 7, 2020

Raise your hand if you love to doodle or draw!

Random fact: So do I–which is why I LOVE learning about the

illustrator’s process in a picture book.

Today we’re chatting with Shiho Pate (pronounced SHE-ho)

about her debut illustrations for


(Kane Miller / Henry Herz)

A rollicking space adventure

with humorous pirate talk!

Don’t you love Shiho’s “Exuberant, distinctive, action-packed

Shall we learn more? 

Q 1: Can you describe your process for 2 PIRATES + 1 ROBOT? Did you have a visual image of what you wanted right away? Did you research Pirates and robots? Did the art director request certain elements?

Shiho Pate: I think character design is a good example. We focused on characters first to get on the same page about the style and the tone of the book. First I did a traditional pirate look. They wanted a more high-tech, space pirate feel so I took away most of the traditional pirate clothing and added lots of high-tech patterns and weapons. The result was a bit too much, too scary.

So I pulled it back and we came up with something high-tech and friendly. Once the characters were set I was able to pull elements from those character designs back to the ships and the rest of the world. I did a lot of research on pirates and robots throughout the iterations. I looked at books, movies, video games etc. I showed my sketches to my daughter and that was fun because she would always gravitate towards characters with a smirk.

Q 2: How did you choose the color palette?

Shiho Pate: I knew the story of 2 ROBOTS + 1 PIRATE occurred in outer space which meant that the background was probably going to be on the dark side. So I chose brighter colors for characters and ships to make them pop. I color coded Jetsam’s crew so they looked like they were one team. I chose red for Mad Morgan because he is a aggressive pirate. I wanted him to look intimidating and angry even from far away. I also loved using solid colored backgrounds for more emotional pages. It felt like a nice change after few pages of outer-space, dark backgrounds.

Q 3: Since this is your debut picture book, was the process what you expected? Any surprises?

Shiho Pate: The overall process was what I expected, but I still learned a lot. The biggest surprise was how much they let me explore. An example would be making some texts more visual. When I saw “BAM! BAM!” the sound coming from Mad Morgan I knew I wanted to illustrate that. But I wasn’t sure if that was appropriate thing to ask. I definitely didn’t want to overstep the designer’s boundaries. I’m glad I asked because they said to try it first and they would decide whether to keep it in. I was happy they kept it (there were some that didn’t make it into the book but that’s ok too!). It’s a fun quick foreshadowing of what Mad Morgan looks on the next page.

Q 4  As it happens in #kidlit, you weren’t done once the book released. I enjoyed the fun video you made for your publisher, Kane Miller. (Click here to view.)

Any tips for a shy illustrator or author—to help overcome your shyness during presentations or videos—or even on social media?

Shiho Pate: I love this question! When I was making the promo video it really helped to have my daughter by my side (she hands me the whiteboard). My husband was filming so seeing him nod and smile behind the camera helped too. Also talking slower and with fewer words. When I do that I can breathe better and lets me focus on the message rather than the words that are coming out of my mouth. Social media is a good practice for that as well. Very few people are going to read anything below the fold so I try to write as simple and to the point as much as possible.

Q 5 What books have you been reading to your daughter lately?

Shiho Pate: I just attended SCBWI Summer Spectacular so I rushed to my local library and picked up books from the panelists! We loved reading SHOW WAY by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by Hudson Talbott and ¡VAMOS! LET’S GO EAT! by Raúl the Third, colors by Elaine Bay.

Q 6  What would you say to all the young Shiho’s out there, who dream of working as an illustrator some day?

Shiho Pate: I knew I wanted to create children’s books when I started my art career, but it took about 10 years of being a game artist and having my daughter to start focusing on that path. I’m glad I took the game artist path first because I learned so much on how to create art, manage time, and collaborate with others (especially those that are not artists). So be flexible, take opportunities that comes your way. But also stay focused. I still remember making book dummies and showing it to my game studio art director.

Pirate interior

Q 7 Where can we find more of your work?

Shiho Pate: You can visit my website at shihopate.com and on twitter and instagram by searching @shihopate. Come say hi 🙂 I am repped by Deborah Warren at East West Literary. Here is my feature from a recent Illustrator Highlight.

PS Click here for a fun coloring page that goes with the book!

Thank you, Shiho, for sharing your process with us today!

Happy reading–and drawing and writing–friends. Stay tuned for next time, when I’ll chat with the author/illustrator team of GURPLE AND PREEN: Linda Sue Park and Debbie Ridpath Ohi. 



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