Sunday, March 4, 2012

Words From the Wise #3 -- Barb Dragony

This week in Words From the Wise, I am featuring Barb Dragony, the illustrator for Annie and Me.  Since you have all been learning so much about me, I figured that it was time we all learned some more about Barb.  Enjoy!

1.  How did you get your start as an artist, and particularly as an illustrator?
I've been drawing ever since I can remember. My grandmother always provided me with paper and crayons and I just drew! In kindergarten, I was coloring with wild abandon and the teacher tried to get me to color "in one direction" and the proverbial "inside the lines". I did like she asked, but  as soon as she walked away, I went back to my wildness. Again, she told me to color in one direction. How did she know? She wasn't watching me color? My 5 year old mind didn't grasp that she could see the crayon strokes…I just figured she was all knowing and all seeing. It wasn't until high school that I finally broke free of trying to stay within the lines.
When I went to art school I was thinking of going into Fine Arts or Photography, both of which held great interest for me, but decided on Illustration. I began to like the process of giving life to the characters that lived in my head…and those that lived in the heads of others through their stories.

2.  What types of art to you specialize in?  What is your favorite medium to work with?  Where do you find your inspiration?
I'm not a cartoonist by any means, but my drawings range from quirky little line drawings to children's books. Since the Mac came into my life in the mid 90's I work in Photoshop and Illustrator, casting aside the little tubes of watercolors, inks and brushes. I still keep a box of 64 Crayola Crayons nearby just to remind me of my roots! I scan in my sketches and redraw them on my Mac. I still like the feel of being able to create and put my ideas and layouts down on paper first.
Everything inspires me! That would be hard to pin point. On any given day it could be swatches of colors on fabric, an ad in a magazine, or my dog sleeping with her toys. When I get the story from an author, I first give life to the characters…what do they look like, what would they do…then I do a story board layout and break down the "scenes". 

3.  Can you describe for us the process that you went through in designing the artwork in the uTales format, and specifically for Annie and Me.
I went through the same process as I described, but this time  I had to be conscious of the limitations of web vs printed colors and also that animation and sound could enhance the story. This was my first time designing an ebook. When I received the story of Annie and Me, I really wanted the two girls to come to life! 

4.  Is uTales something that you would recommend to other illustrators, and is it something that you would be interested in working with again?
I really enjoyed the whole uTales process and have been recommending it to my artist and writer friends. To be able to collaborate with writers and other artists all over the world has been wonderful. And, the uTales team is very helpful!!

5.  Where do you envision yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully continuing to create books for kids! I was so blessed to have a grandmother who taught me the love of reading. I want every child to have the opportunity set their imaginations free. You don't have to color inside the lines!

Bio: Barb Dragony resides in Cleveland OH where she has lived all her life. Being close to family and friends, a plethora of museums and theaters, and of course that big, beautiful Lake Erie, give her the inspiration she needs for her creativity. When not at her drawing table giving life to the characters in her head, Barb can be found bringing life to characters on stage where she has performed for over 20 years.


  1. Thanks for this opportunity to get to know your illustrator, Sandi! I find it so interesting to get to see things from an artist's perspective. (and as a "convert" to Macs, I'm always delighted to read about someone using Macs to great advantage!)

    1. Illustrators always fascinate me, especially because I have ZERO artistic ability. I'm glad that Barb shared with us.

  2. It is so freeing to know I can color outside the lines! I love the fact it was your grandma that inspired your early reading and that you still keep a box of 64 Crayola Crayons around! You have so brought Olivia and Annie to life in "Annie and Me". Love it!

    1. I love how Barb brought Olivia and Annie to life as well. She was a perfect match for the story!