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It’s the first Sunday of the month, which means I welcome a student or brand-new illustrator to 7-Imp. Today I welcome Olivia Chin Mueller, who grew up in Connecticut but now lives in California. She recently graduated, as you’ll read below, from Rhode Island School of Design.

You’ll see I had trouble picking which illustration to feature at the very tip-top of this post. The first one, called Beware of the Bird, seemed fitting, since it’s Halloween weekend. But the one under it is called All Summer in a Day, and that’s the title of my very favorite Ray Bradbury short story (which, incidentally, HAUNTED me when I was a child). So, I thought I’d just put both up there.

Olivia is here to introduce herself. She sent me two pieces of art (Haze and the first Perrin piece of art), and she told me I had free reign of the art at her website to share here in this post. So, I chose all the rest you see here. I made sure to include pieces that would be considered more picture book-friendly, but I couldn’t help but also pick some of the other types of images too.

Here’s Olivia, and I thank her for visiting.

OLIVIA: Hello, everyone! My name is Olivia Chin Mueller, and I am a recent graduate of RISD’s illustration program—and aspiring children’s book illustrator!

Self portrait

Self portrait

I always knew I wanted to be an illustrator, but it took me until senior year of college to realize that I wanted to do kids’ books. I took a really great class taught by my teacher, Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges, and since then I knew that was what I wanted to do.

Before then, I didn’t really know where my work fit in. I was making very different stuff then. I still love making those illustrations—like my piece, Haze (pictured below)—but it definitely wasn’t nearly as fun for me.

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I found myself over-rendering and getting lost for hours in the details. I would come away with pieces I loved visually—but also with a giant headache. When I started doing children’s book stuff, I found that I really loved the process. I could be looser with my work and still love the outcome.

The first book I wrote and illustrated was in that senior year class. It was called Perrin and the Peculiar Poppy Pod. I made a book dummy and three finished illustrations. I’m hoping one day someone will like it enough to publish it!

Here is a small excerpt from the book:

“Perrin poked it gingerly, and with a ‘Ping’ the flower pod popped out of the ground and landed by Perrin’s paw. He picked it it up, and one of the purple seeds pattering about inside fell out onto the sandy dirt.”

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Cover concept

Cover concept

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Right now, I am working on building my portfolio and looking for jobs. I’m hoping soon I will be lucky enough to support myself solely on illustration. But right now I’m relying on income from my Etsy shop and commissions. I’ve also been on the hunt for an artist rep, and things are looking good. I am crossing my fingers things keep on the right track.

So, that’s about it! Thank you so much for featuring my work and letting me ramble on a bit.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

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All artwork is used by permission of Olivia Chin Mueller.

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Julie Davidson (Jules) conducts interviews and features of authors and illustrators at her acclaimed blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog primarily focused on illustration and picture books. The above interview was posted at 7-Imp on November 2, 2014.