The Illustrator Looks for New Inspiration

Ruth is an acclaimed children’s book illustrator who recently released her fifth book, Georgie’s Best Bad Day. She’s been drawing for over a decade, but her tech setup was starting to slow her down. We met up in Brooklyn to talk about her workflow.



We took a look at your MacBook Air because you ran out of space and were afraid of losing your work. What was going through your mind?

Every time I'd work on my laptop, I'd end up whispering to myself "please have enough memory to save this...", which can get kind of creepy when working in public places like coffee shops.  Some of the files I work on are pretty big, but I was finding even saving Microsoft Word docs was stressing me out.
What drove me absolutely crazy, though, was that I had deleted all the files I could find, and yet there was still a huge chunk of memory I couldn't account for. Robbie was able to find all of that "other" (which I didn't need), got rid of it, and gave my laptop a whole new life. Now I don't have to be creepy anymore!


A refresh of your machine plus some special tweaks brought it back up to speed. Are you finding your illustrating sessions more efficient?

Yes! My laptop is so much quicker now, and all the apps and systems have been streamlined nicely so I can save my big PSD files in iCloud, but also know that I have plenty of space to save it on my computer if need be. I had somehow convinced myself that it was time for a new laptop, but clearly, Robbie proved me wrong.


Lastly, how does it feel to have a new book and what else is in store for you?

There's something about being able to tangibly hold something you created that never gets old.  It's irritating that you don't see the final product until a year after it's done, but by the time you get it, you're like, "Wow. I made this! It's not bad at all!"  I've also been doing a lot of school visits, and seeing kids crack up and talk about my characters like they're old friends, that's the most affirming thing to experience.
 I have a new book coming out in November called "Amy the Red Panda is Writing the Best Story in the World".  I'm also working on a graphic novel about the birth of my father in China during the Sino-Japanese war. I'm really excited to make a book like this, though I'll probably regret saying so when I finish illustrating a dozen of 200+ pages.
Robbie Klein