5 Questions for Kristina Carter

Today we catch up with guest artist Kristina Carter from Lehi, Utah. Kristina is a drawing artist who specializes in intricate ink drawings, and she has been painting and drawing since childhood.

Kristina has also penned several art-books on coloring and we have invited her to share with us more about her art-books.

Qn: Can you share with our readers more about yourself and the type/s of art that you do? (How did you get started? And how did you improve on your artistic skills over time?)

Ever since I was a child I have loved art. I did not have any formal training at a young age, it was just the basic markers and crayons and my imagination. During Junior High, I started taking art classes and got really into art. My parents bought me professional grade supplies at that point, and I spent a lot of time just messing around with them. I have dabbled in watercolor, acrylics, pastels, pottery, and drawing but really only spent a of time in drawing. In my last year of Junior High, I was in a gifted artist class called “The Young Master's Class” - my experience with that teacher was less than ideal and i stopped making art. I didn't start creating art again until my sophomore year of college where I was attending Utah State University for a bachelors in interior design with an art emphasis. My first drawing class in college was a disaster. I was lagging behind the other students and I left the first day feeling very depressed. I pushed on and found that with practice my skills improved. My field required a lot of drawing and rendering and I became more proficient.

After I completed my Bachelors degree, I decided that I would like to teach in the industry so I went on to receive my master's degree (also in design). There was very little art required during my masters but I learned a lot about how to teach it. After graduation, I was hired to teach at the Art Institute of Salt Lake (AiSLC). I found that breaking down art to teach students really improved the details and accuracy of my own art. I teach a lot of computer software classes on art and architecture. My main specialty is Autocad which is a computer aided drafting program. I still teach at the AiSLC.

During my college years and after I worked for several architecture firms drawing plans and designing spaces, I found that the problem solving skills utilized to create plans were really helping me understand space and composition within my drawings.

One day about 2 years ago I was sitting home bored and decided to try a new drawing style. I broke up some simple shaped and filled each one in with a pattern. I posted these on Instagram and people went crazy for them. I found out later that my style was very similar to the 'Zentangle' style of art. I decided to make more and eventually opened a shop on Etsy selling art prints.

My prints did pretty well and people started asking me to create an adult coloring book. I decided to give it a try so I created some small ebooks (about 20 pages a piece). Many people asked about a physical book so I looked into it but it was really expensive and a lot of work so I decided to try and get published instead. I was able to do it. The week before Christmas 2015 my first book came out and then two more followed in January and 2 are on their way.

Qn: Will you be able to share with us more about the art-books you have written, 'Oceans: An adult coloring book' and 'Wild World: An Adult Coloring Book'? (What is covered in each book and what can readers learn about coloring from your books? If you have written any other book/s other than the 2 mentioned above, please feel free to share.)

I decided to create each book with a theme. I think it makes it a little bit more fun and gives it an overall cohesive feel. For my first book, Oceans, I did a nautical theme. I spent my childhood in California and always loved the beach and often drew whales and sharks so I started here. Being very math brained I've always had a love for patterns and tesselations. If you're not familiar with tesselations think: MC Escher. Creating a shape that can fit together perfectly. In my books, I always try and include a variety of types of pages including mandalas, mirror images, tessalations, patterns, and single scenes or objects. In Oceans, I infused a lot of patterns into the backgrounds of things. When colored, they really start to come to life and you can shade it to make things recede or come forward.

After releasing Oceans and having it do really well, I decided to release another book. I had created a book of 20 animals as one of my first ebooks, and it was really popular so I added to that book to create

After the release of Wild World, I decided to create Bloom, a floral themed coloring book. I grew up gardening with my grandmother, and learned to love flowers. There were so many cool things about flowers to draw and such a variety of them to choose from. On a recent trip to Amsterdam, I was fascinated by how many different kinds of flowers there were that I had never heard of or seen just growing out of the sidewalk. I drew a lot in Amsterdam and that kind of kickstarted my idea. Bloom probably appeals to me the most as a colorist. The variety of shapes and sections and colors allow for so much creativity. When you see a frog you think green or a wave you think blue but when you see a flower everyone thinks of something completely different.

I have two books currently in the works. One is all mandalas and the other one is about world cultures. I'm really excited for both. The world cultures book is divided into seven sections like the seven continents. Each starts with an intricate map of the continent broken out into countries of patterns and is then followed with pages that coordinate with the culture of that continent. Some sheet examples are: Chinese dragons, Russian Stacking Dolls, Brazilian Masks, Kangaroos etc. I am having a great time putting these together.

Qn: How long did it take you to come up with these coloring art-books above? (from writing, designing the books, publishing and finally getting the books on the shelf)? Can you share with us how each stage of the process is like?

Firstly, I draw really fast. The reason I do this is because I've found that I stunt my own creativity when I overthink a project. Drawing quickly forces my hand to draw without my brain overtaking it. Although I decide my subject matter ahead of time, I rarely know how I'm going to draw it beforehand.

Sometimes I will do a very loose outline with a pencil, the equivalent of a stick figure, but most the time I just go at it with a pen right from the start. I like that if I make a mistake, I have to use my creativity to fix it because there's no eraser for black ink. I would say that it takes me about a month for each book from conception to on the shelf. I draw constantly and rarely take more than 30 minutes for a sheet.

After I draw my sheets, I scan them in at a super high resolution (2400 dpi), this can take a long time so I try and have a drawing going while I'm waiting for the scanning to complete. I then bring the scan into illustrator and turn it into a vector image. I do a little clean up for any pieces that were lost or distorted in the scan. I prefer a vector image because I can manipulate the drawing size without pixelating the drawing.

Once I create a separate drawing for each sheet, I will make a layout for the whole book. Because my books are 'full bleed', I have to calculate how much run-off I need for a trim edge for my sheets, and make sure that I left sheet spaces for the title page and other information. This part took forever on my first book. I kept doing it wrongly, and when I went to edit the book, I would find a mistake and have to start over.

Once the layout is done, I create a high resolution pdf of the whole thing and submit it to the publisher for review. They send me a digital layout to review. Once I approve it, I send it back to them along with the cover. They will then review the entire thing, and send a physical book. When I receive the book, I redline any issues, make changes and then send it back. They review it again, and send a physical book as many times as needed. Then the book is available on Amazon within about 24 hrs. It can take longer for some other bookstores.

I create the covers in illustrator using a collage of drawings from the book, and then color them in photoshop. I wanted all of my books to look alike so that people could recognize them as mine. All the books are of the same size, have the same typeface, soft touch, velvet cover finish, and come in three colors - two are shades of the same color and one accent. This gives them a more cohesive feel.

Qn: What was the biggest challenge and the most rewarding experience you have encountered in publishing your art-books?

The biggest challenge is probably time. I wanted everything to be done instantly, and I dread having to wait to hear from the publisher for approval. I also hate it when I make a mistake and have to start the process all over again. I also have a hard time setting my coloring books aside so I can prepare dinner, do homework with my kids, walk the dog, etc.

The most rewarding experience is when I get feedback from customers. I often encounter someone telling me it's the best coloring book they've seen, or that it's better than anything you could buy at the store. I also love it when clients tag me #thecoloringaddict with one of my pictures that they colored on Instagram. It's really cool to see how someone else interpreted the drawing, and it's always different from what I would have done.

Qn: I noticed that your coloring art-books are priced at US$9.99, which is a pretty good deal for your buyers. Say, do you get to earn a decent income from selling at this price?

When pricing my books, I asked a lot of colorists on Instagram how much they thought my books were worth. I didn't want to under or over price them. Most valuated my books at $13-15. But I wanted my books to be affordable and a good deal for readers, and figured I would sell more if I priced them for less, so I chose $9.99.

On my Etsy shop, sales volume for my 3 books were almost the same, but on Amazon sales for Oceans was about 10 times more than the other two. This is because that title comes up more often in search engines, so it gets more hits which results in more purchases - this in turn translates again to this book showing up more in search engines. I hope to inform more people about my other two books, because honestly I feel like they are slightly better than Oceans - I was more experienced when I came up with them. I am confident that I have the potential to do really well if I can get my name out there.

We thank Kristina Carter for sharing with us about her art-books and experiences coming up with them. For more about Kristina and her artworks and books, you may visit her website


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