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In Conversation with Breakout illustrator Eric Afuso

Eric Afuso has a long history of creating captivating illustrations, but recently his art has really taken off, having been featured in the “Dragons Don’t Dance Ballet,” an extraordinary children’s book written by Jennifer Carson, which has been extremely popular with children, adults and reviewers. His brilliant art is also featured in the much anticipated ‘Song of the King Salmon’ by iconic writer Wang Ping, which is slated to cause a huge stir in the literary book world once it is released.

Vinal Publishing’s choice of teaming Afuso up with these talented writers was nothing short of visionary. Both these books take readers on epic adventures, which have readers riveted and leave them wanting more, so if you are looking for books that will capture your imagination and teleport you to another realm with pen and illustrations, these books are for you.

Afuso took some time out of his very busy schedule to tell us more about his work, visual storytelling, and what’s next from this amazing illustrator.

You went from working with corporations to working with Vinyl Publishing to create brilliant art for two awe inspiring children’s book. What was your greatest challenge, and conversely your biggest success during the illustrating process?

I think the biggest challenge was the amount of work that went into illustrating children’s books. Each step in the process took a lot of time, patience, and careful planning. This was much different from working with corporations in my apparel graphic designs which were mostly unique one of a kind designs that were quickly completed. As a new book of children’s illustrator, the process can be overwhelming at times. But taking it one careful step at a time made it possible to finish illustrating each book to the very best of my abilities.

My biggest success would have to be my work on character development. It is important to me that the book effectively display each character’s unique personality and emotion through the illustrations. Esmeralda Dragon in “Dragons Don’t Dance Ballet” needed to display a full range of emotions that defined her character in her journey as a ballet dancer. The King Salmon in “Song of the King Salmon” needed to show their emotion that would convey the hardship of their journey and the joy in fulfilling their destiny. I hope that my illustrations will help the reader embrace the characters by relating to the emotions displayed in each page of the book.

“Dragons Don’t Dance Ballet” has been a huge success and “Song of the King Salmon” is expected to create a huge stir on the literary scene once it is released. What has it been like to have this kind of success right out of the gate? 

When I started my career as a children’s book illustrator, I understood that it might take some time to be given the opportunity to illustrate my first book. Children’s book illustration is a difficult and very competitive market to break into. It was a complete surprise to achieve this level of success so early in my career. I feel extremely grateful and fortunate that my editor, Brett Axel, took a chance on me to illustrate these two outstanding books.

Both “Dragons Don’t Dance Ballet” and “Song of the King Salmon” are fun and whimsical, so I am going to ask you a fun question – if you could have any superpower what would it be and why? 

Wow, I do love to watch a good superhero movie, so it’s hard to pick one. I think I would have to choose the superpower to fly. I would love to travel around the world without boarding an airplane or having a flight schedule. I’m also a bit of a sci-fi film geek, so flying to other worlds would be a perfect part of the superpower package. That got me thinking that I would probably be lost in space since I have a terrible sense of direction.

When you aren’t creating brilliant illustrations what are you doing to relax and unwind?

I live near Seattle, so there are a lot of things to do outdoors all year round over here. I love to go snowboarding in the winter and hiking in the summer time. There are so many amazing hiking trails around the Pacific Northwest with breathtaking views all around.

“Dragons Don’t Dance Ballet” and “Song of the King Salmon” were clearly amazing projects to be involved in on many levels. Can you tell our readers what is next for you?

I am currently working on some other projects, one of which is the follow up book to “Dragons Don’t Dance Ballet.” I am very excited to have another opportunity to work with the talented author Jennifer Carson on another dragon book. I hope that someday I will write and as well as illustrate my own children’s books. I will keep updating my website, www.eriafuso.com with information about any upcoming projects and new artwork.

You can get more information about “Dragons Don’t Dance Ballet” and “Song of the King Salmon” on the Vinal Publishing website.

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