Academy Illustrator Uses Her Art as an Academic Resource
Academy of Art University’s School of Illustration
alumna Debbie Bakker has created a children’s book that teaches the fundamentals of flora, fauna and wildlife to kindergarten and first graders. This book, whose title has yet to be released, will be published as an app through iTunes in Spring of 2013. Also a former teacher, Debbie has included several interactive educational components: nonfiction information about the flora and fauna in each of the twelve habitats in the story, educational games, and a wonderful animal song. “It is me being both a teacher and an artist,” said Debbie.
The Academy alumna got started as a wildlife illustrator by signing up for a replacement course in wildlife illustration. “I was fortunate to take Terryl Whitlach's Wildlife Illustration course. This was a last minute substitute class, and I absolutely fell in love with wildlife and nature illustration,” said Debbie.
In 2009, during her wildlife illustration class, she was commissioned to complete a mural for West Valley College's brand new biology building. Debbie worked closely with biology faculty members to draw over seventy-five different species of native California flora and fauna, painted as a transect of fourteen ecological zones from the ocean on the west to the Central Desert on the east.
“The mural is 45 feet long, over 200 square feet. I relied heavily on resources: the college scientists, my local art store for advice on acrylic products. I also invested heavily in resource books on wildlife/landscape painting/acrylics. My resource file of photos by the end was 8 inches thick. I painted the landforms first, and then added the plants, then the animals. I painted and sealed the whole mural myself. In all, the mural took 350 hours from start to finish,” said Debbie.
Debbie’s illustrations have also just published in her first book Lighthouse Tales
. It is a wonderful collection of spooky stories for young adult readers, written in verse and told by the author and storyteller Lance McVay. Debbie was discovered through a local conference for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). The illustrations are in pen and ink. There will be a “telling” of the stories by Lance and a signing on Tuesday, October 30 at Palo Alto Books Inc. just in time for Halloween.
This busy alumna credits the Academy for helping prepare her for life as an illustrator. She spent her time at Academy of Art University honing her drawing skills and cultivating the highest level of professionalism at all stages of her work. She was exposed to such a variety of styles, mediums and projects over the course of her program, that she felt confident in tackling all sorts of assignments as a professional illustrator. “And that is a really great thing as a freelance artist!” said Debbie.