In the March/April 2014 Horn Book Magazine, Mag assistant editor Cynthia Ritter asked Melissa Sweet about her creative process when illustrating Firefly July. Read the starred review here.
Cynthia K. Ritter: Your visual interpretations of the seasonal poems in this collection are a mix of literal and symbolic. What was your artistic process like when approaching each poem, and also the book as a whole?
Melissa Sweet: These poems are short but evocative and they deserved a spirited interpretation. I began with the four seasonal spreads, hand-lettering the name of the season subtly within the art. This helped set the tone and anchored the book visually. Each poem was so different; some inspired more of an impression rather than a literal rendering. But at a certain point, the art takes over and I ask myself: what does this painting need? Keeping the materials simple — paint, pencil, a few collage papers, and judicious use of color — integrates the book as one piece of art.