Author: Robin

A Pen & Oink Interview with Stephen Savage, in which he talks color scripts and courting Neal Porter

Interviews / Process

  Today we’ve got an awesome interview with my neighbor and friend, Stephen Savage. He has a great new book out called Little Tug, and Polar Bear Morning, his sequel to the award-winning Polar Bear Night with author Lauren Thompson, comes out in January. You may also know Where’s Walrus?, a beautiful, wordless picture book about a walrus who escapes from the zoo. Stephen’s work is bold and graphic and he’s generously given us some insight […]

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby: Picture Books and Doing It

Featured Books / Thoughts

Last week, out of the blue, my 4.5 year old asked me, ” but how does the baby get IN the mommy’s belly?” In a not-my-best-parenting moment I cheerily said, “Hmmm I forget! I’ll have to look it up and get back to you.” Up until this point we had gotten by with a great book called Amazing You. It’s a perfect first book on where babies come from and I recommend it, but it does […]

Cooking is Child’s Play: A French Cookbook for Kids


This beautiful vintage French cookbook for kids belongs to my friend, Cybele. Check out that chef baby on the cover! La Cuisine est un Jeu D’enfants was published in 1965 and, according to the jacket flap, “Any child who cooks from this book is well on the road to culinary success, and his elders will have to borrow the book or hire a French chef to keep up with him.” I love the simple, bold illustrations […]

The (Re)making of the Pen and Oink Logo

Process / Show and Tell

When we decided to start this blog I created the logo below. I chose the font because it felt piggie: chunky and round, and the letters curling up reminded me of pig tails. Well in turns out someone else thought the exact same thing. I got an email from Liz a few weeks later. She was visiting Simon and Schuster and saw a book called Oink on the shelves there. Same word, same typeface. The book […]

Brooklyn Museum Children’s Book Fair

Events / News

  If you  are in Brooklyn this Saturday, check out the Children’s Book Fair at the Brooklyn Museum. We go every year with our daughter and it’s a great time. Brooklyn authors and illustrators set up tables in the big main entrance and you can go around and meet them, check out and purchase books, and get your books signed. There are also some cool activities for kids. Man, there are so many amazing illustrators […]

2013 Tomie dePaola Awards


Looking for an external deadline and cool assignment to get your creative juices flowing? I give you the Tomie dePaola Awards! Tomie, the renowned author and illustrator of Strega Nona, gives you a passage from a book to illustrate and if he picks you as the winner you get a free ride to the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York. The competition is open to all SCBWI members. (You might want to consider joining anyway […]

What Art Directors REALLY Think About Your Online Portfolio


It’s no surprise that an art director’s main source for finding illustrators is the good ole world wide web. Art Directors look at hundreds of websites a year so naturally they have some strong opinions about what they love and what they hate about the sites they visit. I polled several of my art director friends and we came up with some online portfolio dos and don’ts. Don’t freak out if your site is more […]

A Technique For Producing Ideas

Creativity / Process / Thoughts

My writer friends, Patrick and Cassie, have this sign hanging on the cork board of their home office. I asked Patrick where he got it, and it turns out it is an except from a classic book, A Technique for Producing Ideas, by advertising executive, James Webb Young. Young first presented the 5-step process in 1939 and he published a book about it in 1965. I love it. Especially the “Relax” part. Seriously! I find that […]

Speedy Carve, I love you.

Tools of the Trade / Tutorials

Last summer I took five glorious weeks off from client work to participate in the Summer Residency Program in Illustration at School of Visual Arts. Our first assignment for Viktor Koen’s class was to create a family book-plate for ourselves. I chose to do a “field” of turkeys to represent a long-running joke in my family about a large flock of turkeys that visits my parents’ home. I drew a sketch for the idea that […]

Save-worthy Illustration Promotions, Part I: The Zine


Above: Some of Mark Todd’s zines. From top: John: Issue 1 (2 different versions shown), Troy: Issue 2, and Bad Ass Girls 2. I am both an art director and illustrator so I receive promotions from illustrators and I make my own illustration promotions to give out. As an illustrator, I always hope my promotion pieces make an impression on those who receive them. As an art director, I’ve received lots of great promos over the […]