Artist Journey: Becca Stadtlander
last updated 25 July 2017
When Anne Moore Armstrong joined Bright as a picture book agent, Becca Stadtlander was one of the first US artists Anne approached to join her list at the agency.
Becca received her BFA in illustration from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2010. Using watercolor and gouache, her eclectic, sometimes primitive scenes showcase texture, color, pattern, and intricacy unique to Becca. Her work has a warmth and intimacy that draws the viewer in, ready to snuggle up in one of her cozy living rooms or walk in one of her lush landscapes.
Becca’s career has flourished with Bright’s representation since joining in 2014 — she sat down with us to share her Bright story:
You were one of the very first artists agent Anne Moore Armstrong signed to Bright. Where did this relationship with Anne begin and how has it evolved over the years?
I worked with Anne Moore Armstrong on a book for Candlewick Press, On the Wing, in 2013. When she became an agent and was seeking US artists, Anne asked me if I was interested in joining Bright. She’s really gotten to know me as an artist over the past few years. She’s developed a thorough understanding of the kind of work I like to do and what I need to further develop my portfolio.
What drew me to Becca’s work is her ability to create little worlds that you want to dive into and investigate. Her attention to detail, setting and color palette is impeccable, and she researches the historical context and creates a believable place for characters and stories to flourish. Not only is she a talented, seasoned artist but she also is extremely conscientious about meeting deadlines and planning her workflow and communicating with me if anything needs to shift. This is a sign of a mature artist that will excel, because clients can count on her to deliver. As a result, she is working with so many high end trade book clients like Chronicle, Candlewick, Viking, HMH and Quarto. It’s been so satisfying to work with Becca and find her strong trade book work.
– Anne Moore Armstrong
How has your career as an illustrator developed since joining Bright?
I think it’s a little hard to break into the children’s book world without an agent, so I’m glad to have had Bright help me find my niche there. My portfolio has really expanded over the past few years. It’s also nice to know that I have people on my side, to help negotiate the business side of illustration, as it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. A freelance lifestyle can be pretty isolating, so being in constant communication with the agency has been great for boosting my morale.
You work across the various arms Bright offers — from covers to picture books to art licensing, you really do it all. What is it like to work across these genres and how does Bright support you in each unique creative endeavor?
I enjoy working on different projects — it keeps things exciting! It’s been great working on both publishing and licensing because I get to create more decorative work and keep my ideas flowing at the same time. It can be a bit of a challenge to switch back and fourth, but it keeps me on my toes. I’ve gotten to work with a handful of different agents at Bright, and they’ve all been great at finding jobs that are a good fit for me, no matter what type of project it is.
Bright Art Licensing‘s Senior Agent, Hannah Curtis has said:
“Becca has a beautiful sensibility to scale and perspective. One of the first things I noticed about her stunning work was the way she created a scene within a scene, something I was keen to showcase in her portfolio. Becca’s perfect eye for detail within both nature and still life has helped her portfolio develop into something truly beautiful, her portfolio shows a trend led yet timeless aesthetic that lends itself to all areas of licensing.”
Cogheart was shortlisted for the 2017 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in the UK. Called “a steampunky tale of ambition, pursuit and revenge” by The Guardian and “a gem of a book” by Katherine Woodfine, author of The Clockwork Sparrow, Cogheart earned rave reviews upon its publication.
Your style is influenced by everyday objects, comforts of home, and lush colors and landscapes — each piece looks like something out of a classic fairy tale. How has your style developed over the past few years?
I can’t remember ever sitting down and working on developing a particular style. It seems like it just developed over time, through a whole lot of trial and error. I have a very particular aesthetic, which affects everything I do. I’ve had more work in children’s publishing in the past few years, and that has definitely affected the way I paint. I am trying to figure out how to simplify and still stay true to myself. I don’t want to stray too far from what I like, but I’m open to trying new things when I can.
What has been your favorite project you’ve done with Bright? Tell us about it!
I don’t think I can pick a favorite, but I do really enjoy working on book covers. I like having the time to focus on just one piece of artwork. I’ve been getting more and more historical fiction covers and the research is so fun!
You have a few major books coming out: Look! What Do You See? an art puzzle book of American and Chinese songs, and a picture book biography on Emily Dickinson called On the Wing, to name a few. Can you tell us a bit about the processes of these two projects?
Both projects involve a lot of historical reference and research. All book projects I work on start with gathering as much reference as possible. The challenge isn’t the execution- it’s coming up with ideas. Look! What Do You See? was fun because each page is a different concept. On The Wing is one narrative, and I’m currently working though my ideas for the sketch phase.
Look! What Do You See? published with Viking Books for Young Readers on November 11, 2017
What are you most excited for as you move forward in your illustration career?
I’m excited to someday write a book of my own. I’m not quite ready for it just yet, but I’d like to work toward it the future.
“Becca’s story with Bright is one that perfectly exemplifies how a Bright artist can find work in multiple areas of illustration—from picture books to fiction covers to licensing work. She excels in all these areas, and is growing as an artist with each project, so I only have high hopes for Becca in the future. I am honored to represent her and always delighted to see the artwork she creates for each new book.
She is currently illustrating a non-fiction book for Candlewick called Made By Hand featuring early American historical objects, and she’ll be diving into a new picture book with Creative Editions called The Great Feast, illustrating a range of cultures and cuisines from around the world ~ so her journey certainly has just begun for Becca!”
– Anne Moore Armstrong