In celebration of the release of one of our newest picture books, “You are the 'U' in Unique” by Nichole Hawkins, I sat down with the illustrator, Gabrielle Floyd, to gain some insight into her creative process and what it’s like being an illustrator.
Gabrielle has been drawing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until her junior year of high school that she began thinking about becoming an illustrator. And it wasn’t until her sophomore year in college that she truly considered herself an artist due to the opportunities and recognition she was receiving because of her artwork. Perhaps the biggest opportunity of all: being able to illustrate Nichole Hawkins new children's book.
When a mutual friend of Hawkins and Floyd approached Gabrielle about illustrating she felt uncertain. Once she sat down and had a one-on-one with Hawkins the chemistry was undeniable and Gabrielle knew she wanted to illustrate her book. In fact, after their first meeting back in May, and just hearing a few lines from the book, Gabrielle’s creativity blossomed.
When asked what drew her to Hawkins book she responded, “I resonate with this. This is something I would want my nieces and nephews to read and that’s part of the reason why I included them in the books. This is something I would want to read myself.” Nichole Hawkins gave Gabrielle a lot of creative freedom in designing the characters and setting. For Gabrielle it was a breath of fresh air to be able to take advantage of this creative opportunity and it doesn’t go unnoticed she took advantage of this in the two characters, Jace and Naveah, who she based on her nephew and niece respectively. Illustrating Hawkins’ book was Gabrielle’s first experience and one of the things she loved about working with Lauren Simone Publishing and Nichole was how smoothly everything came together.
As an illustrator Gabrielle is looking to improve everyday by drawing everyday. One of the best pieces of advice she has received is from her favorite professor at Hartford Art School who encouraged her to draw everyday and carry a sketchbook everywhere with her. Their advice must have paid off because Gabrielle’s illustrating for Nichole Hawkins new book is incredible! Her images really capture all the facets of the story and truly bring the story to life. Being able to hone her creativity definitely benefitted Gabrielle in the end. The connection that Gabrielle and Nichole share comes to life through seamless link between story and art.
Gabrielle wants to thank Nichole for involving her in this process and her mom for always supporting her.
Everyone has a unique story and Gabrielle’s is one of many. Be sure to check out You are the U in Unique, available now, to see her beautifully unique illustrating!
Can’t get enough of Gabrielle’s art? Check out Gabrielle’s art Instagram @gfloyd_arts to see more of her amazing artwork!