Victoria Kann is the award winning illustrator and author of the picture book series featuring the whimsical and effervescent character, Pinkalicious. Victoria co-authored and illustrated the first two books, Pinkalicious, Purplicious as well as the play, Pinkalicious The Musical. She wrote and illustrated Goldilicious and is working on several more books about the adventures and antics of Pinkalicious.

The Pinkalicious character was inspired by Victoria's real life daughters – two girls with vibrant imaginations who love cupcakes, dress up, playing princess, and all things pink. Recently Victoria's husband, a toy designer, built a tree house for their Princess Pinkerbelles. She often hears galloping in the house and wonders if it's Goldilicious or just her Pinkerellas.
 

How did you come up with the idea for Pinkalicious?

The story of Pinkalicious was inspired by my daughters who love cupcakes and the color pink and never seem to get enough of either one. I wrote it as an April Fools' joke and sent it to my friends and family telling everyone that my daughter had turned pink after eating too many pink cupcakes. Some folks who knew just how much my daughter loved the color pink and pink cupcakes were very, very concerned.

Were you like Pinkalicious when you were a kid?

As a child (and adult) I have eaten many cupcakes and have only gotten wider, not pinker.

Pinkalicious has many qualities that I admire. She is a girl who has an incredible imagination. She knows what she likes and is very brave and courageous. Pinkalicious stands up for what she believes in. When she does something wrong she learns from her lessons. Wherever she goes there seems to be a bit of magic and a lot of fun.

Which comes first, the story or the illustrations?

The story comes first, but as I work on the artwork I often modify the story. Sometimes the story is inspired by what I want to draw. Everything flows together.

How long does it take to create the illustrations for each book and what is your technique?

The artwork takes a long time, almost a year. The illustrations are created using a combination of different mediums. I create a paper collage, which I scan into the computer and paint on, scale, and “play with” in Photoshop. I also scan in pictures that I take, as well as maps, fabric, wallpaper and anything else I can think of. Anyone who is reading this might want to try collaging. You don’t need a computer. Just get a glue stick, a surface to glue on, and any kind of paper you can find to use as collage material. You can use wrapping paper, food packaging, construction paper—anything! Try making a collage of faces. Make a happy face, a sad face, an angry face, and a surprised face. Will your illustration be of a boy or girl? What kind of hair will you give it? Just have fun and see what happens!

What does your workspace look like?

I have a WONDERFUL workspace. It is a white room with a big desk, two computers, many books to inspire me and a fireplace, which my gray and white cat likes to sleep in front of. It has a reading nook for my daughters and three windows with a view of pink roses.

How has your artistic style changed and grown over the years?

I started out as an editorial illustrator. An editorial illustrator is someone who does artwork for newspapers and magazines. I did artwork for magazine covers like BusinessWeek, Harper’s Magazine, and Newsweek. I also did illustrations for the New York Times and the Washington Post, among others. It was a lot of fun, but the deadlines were very tight. When I did work for Time magazine I often only had a few hours to come up with a concept, sketch, and a finish. When I had my children I became inspired to do children’s books because that was what I was looking at and thinking about all the time.

What lessons do you hope your readers will take away from the Pinkalicious books?

Pinkalicious is character who is a very normal little girl who has wonderful, magical things happen to her. In each book she has a different adventure which has a subtle message. I want children to feel empowered to know they are beautiful on the inside, to feel the courage to express themselves even if it goes against their peers, to be creative and use their imaginations, and to know that sweetness comes from the inside. Most of all, I want the books to be fun to read. When you look at the artwork I want you to look at it more than once to find the various layers. There are musical notes in the grass or the textures, letters and numbers on the butterflies and birds. I want people of all ages to have an enjoyable experience when they read the books.

Is Pinkalicious just for girls?

Peter is a very important character in the books. You will notice he loves Pinkalicious and, like any younger sibling, wants to do what the older sibling does. For example, in the book Silverlicious, Pinkalicious is the one learning the life lesson and Peter is the one who gets to collect all the goodies. He is having a blast! I have met many boys who LOVE the Pinkalicious books and tell me that pink is their favorite color. Once I met a mother who had traveled two hours to come to see Pinkalicious: The Musical. She introduced me to her three boys ranging in age from four to nine who were all big fans of the stories. It would be wrong to tell girls that they can’t love the color blue because it is a “boy” color, so we shouldn’t tell boys that they can’t love the color pink because it is a girl color. Pink is for everyone, as is the color blue!

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors and illustrators?
  • First of all, you do not need to have your story illustrated in order to present it to publishers or agents. Publishers usually like to find who they think would be the best to illustrate your manuscript.
  • Join SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and attend their conferences where you can connect with editors, publishers, writers, and illustrators. They also have a bi-monthly magazine with very helpful information, and a website (www.scbwi.org) and message boards.
  • Take a course in children's book writing at a local college or through your local continuing education. Or join a writer's group to get feedback on your manuscript; you can find one through SCBWI, through your local library, and some bookstores have them as well. If there isn't one nearby, start a writing group yourself by putting an ad in the local paper.
  • Once you have a manuscript that you like, get the Children's Writer's & Illustrators Market book. This book contains lists of publishers to send a manuscript to and explains in detail what format it should be in and how to do it. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, Second Edition by Harold Underdown is also an amazing resource of information. The author also has a web site: www.underdown.org. Here is a helpful link to twenty DO'S and twenty DON'TS for writers of picture books: www.memfox.com/20-dos-and-20-donts.html.
  • Search Google and Amazon to learn how to write and publish children's books. You will get wonderful suggestions. If you can't find a publisher or an agent, don't rule out self-publishing. There are many wonderful books out there, which are self-published.
  • Lastly, when you write, don't write to be published. If that is your primary goal you will be frustrated and sad if you don't get published. Write for the pleasure of it. Write because you want to express yourself. Enjoy the process. Most of all, keep at it! Write from the heart, go to whatever feels good and gives you joy while you write. Trust yourself and your inner voice. If you are creating something and it doesn't feel right, start again. Keep going and don't give up!
How old are you?

I am old enough to be a wise woman and young enough to fall off my chair laughing over very silly things. That is why I have carpeting on my floor. Only my mother and the government know how old I am. I stopped counting when I celebrated my 31st birthday. All I can say: I am the perfect age.

What was your favorite picture book growing up?

When I was a child I read Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans over and over and over again. I would look at it and say “I want to do children’s books when I grow up.” Of course, I also wanted a horse farm and a candy store!

What is your favorite color?

I LOVE all the colors in the rainbow. Color brings me joy. Of course I have a special spot in my heart for the various shades of pink.

What is your favorite dessert?

Yum. I love all desserts, but if I had to choose between a warm, right-out-of-the-oven, moist chocolate cupcake topped with a light and fluffy vanilla buttercream frosting of a flan I would go for the cupcake! Wouldn’t you?

What are you working on right now?

I am working on more Pinkalicious books!

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