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Life & Work with Maple Lam

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maple Lam.

Hi Maple, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I’ve always loved to draw, but I didn’t know how to bridge that into a career when I was young. In college, I thought I would become a concept artist, as I enjoyed watching movies and playing video games. Turns out, I didn’t enjoy it the same way concept artists in the industry did. It was more like I liked the idea of liking it, but my passion lies elsewhere. What I truly love is reading books, from history to theoretical physics, from wordless to graphic novels. I didn’t put two and two together until much later when I noticed the amazing artwork in children’s books.

I started putting together a portfolio, attending children’s book conferences, learning and improving my craft diligently, and making friends along the way. Friends are really important as you meander through the creative journey – because publishing is a long and windy road, and it is essential to have peers to cheer each other on through all the ups and downs.

Eventually, one of my postcards I sent out got picked up by an art director whom I admired. She pinned it on her office wall, and when a manuscript came in (“Two Girls Want a Puppy”), she thought I could be a great match as the illustrator. That became my deput illustrated picture book.

I continued illustrating and writing books for children since. One of my latest projects will be a graphic novel series: Monkey King and the World of Myths. I am very excited to work on this, as I have always been a graphic novel fan, and I love mythologies!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I can go through long periods of creative dry spells. The truth is, the only way to go through the dry spell is to treat it like you are not going through a dry spell: to show up and do the work anyway. But it doesn’t mean it’s easy. I could struggle for a long time, finding the right way to write or design the character or finding out how to best execute the artwork. That can be very frustrating and can feel like an uphill battle.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I write and illustrate books. My natural style gravitates towards bigger heads and smaller bodies. Such proportion gives a look-and-feel suitable for a young audience. My focus is on children’s books, specifically board books, picture books, and middle grades.

The most exciting part of working in the book industry is the collaboration with a lot of talents. I am a big reader myself, and when you collaborate with other big readers, the level of storytelling ideas naturally elevates. It is an amazing process that takes time but is filled with passion and love of the art.

Children’s book illustration is an art form that reflects individual style. Art directors hire specific artists because of their unique visions and specific visual delivery. Our style reflects who we are, and I am happy that my work reflects warmth, fun, and kindness, as these are values I hold dear to.

I grew up in Hong Kong for the first eleven years of my life before moving to Los Angeles. The East-meets-West in me gives me a special love in finding ways to express the blend of cultures in my storytelling methods.

How can people work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
The best way to support is to purchase my books (ideally at an independent bookstore near you so to simultaneously support your local community and small businesses) or to write a review on GoodReads or Amazon.

For educators, I also do school visits, where I help promote reading and creativity. You can contact me via email for pricing and information.

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