Apr 25, 2017

We're The People- Summer 2017 reading list

Excited to have "Furqan's First" featured among some great authors and illustrators for this summer 2017 reading list. You can download a pdf and or share it with your folks. Check out the great books on this list, especially "My Night in The Planetarium" by Innosanto Nagara.


We Need Diverse Books roundtable

This is part one of a roundtable discussion online about best practices or advice for new illustrators in children's books. And it features people in traditional publishing and independent publishing. I get to chime in alongside some greats.


Apr 11, 2017

Reading at Turn the Page-Fairyland

If you'e in Oakland, come to this event with your kiddies to meet me and Laurin Mayeno, and a bunch of other authors! FAIRYLAND

Freelance Chronicles 2- Children's books

(Photo: Collider, Muhammad Ali)

Get passionate: You can’t really do this unless you feel deeply passionate about the medium, artform, genre, whatever you wanna call it. I became both passionate and obsessed with children’s books around 2005. Here are a few points to share how I got started in the children's book community. There is no one way, and this is by no means a comprehensive list of points. Just my experience. Look out for more soon.
(Photo: My Son and I, Oakland 2005)

Read a lot: My son is the reason I got into kids books. No joke. I was inspired by reading to him. There were artists who I wanted to be like and there was no where near enough stories telling his story or mine. So, I read to him every chance I got. And when he was able to read, we read together. I felt better equipped after reading lots and lots of picture books with prose, narrative, alphabets, long paragraphs, etc. He's 12 now!

(Photo: Brentwood/Funtimes Guide, Barnes and Noble)

Book stores: When I could I would go to bookstores and look through all the new children’s books. I started to write down who was publishing what, who the illustrator or author was, what was there on the shelves, and what was missing. As you can probably guess, I saw no books about what it’s like to be Blasian (Black and Asian), or Korean American (Korean Parents, American upbringing). I went to the stores with my son first, then I started going on my own.

(Photo: Denise. A Diff World)

Reach out: I started making work. Mostly short book proposals that were terrible at first. And then I started to reach out to people and ask for advice. Mike Perry (Daniel’s Ride ,Turntable Timmy), Maya Gonzalez(Fiesta Femenina, Iguanas in the snow), Doug Cunningham( Turntable Timmy), GregChristie ( Bass Reeves, The Book Itch), Simon Silva and so many more were very generous with their feedback. I also reached out to book industry people and let me tell you, I learned a lot. Reach out, ask lots of smart and dumb questions.

(Photo: Scbwi)

Associations: I have mixed feeling about associations like ALA, Scbwi, and others, but I mention them as a resource if you are beginning. It’s worth checking out because there are lots of people there who can offer advice. There are also grants there. I haven’t been a member for a long time, but see what you can learn. Some members are open minded, some are part of the old guard. What I mean is that when I pursued the old guard their aim was to get people to approach traditional publishers only. The open minded ones looked for any avenue to make and share books. Especially books by and about people whose stories have not been told. Learn from both. 

(Photo: African Amer Animators past & present-Jackie Ormes)

Make shit and share it: Ok, so after I attended Scbwi, ALA, and checked out a whole bunch of the “traditional” avenues I realized three things. First, I didn’t fully understand all the parts that were working together, for me, or against me. Two, I realized that there were way too many people going the traditional (agents, publishers, writing seminars, groups,etc) route and they were competing with each other. You have to work on your craft. No short cuts about this. Write, draw, repeat, until you have something you like. Then keep doing it. Then share it.

(photo: NY Daily News-Malcolm X)

Law of attraction: It sounds corny, but people helped me when I worked up the courage to ask for help. Or rather, they began to send me children’s book related things because I kept mentioning it to people in real life and online. And people will especially help if you are a moving train. People want to be a part of something (a project, a film, a book, whatever) that is happening with “passion”. A moving train is like dancing whether people see you or not. The passion you have is infectious. And when you show rather than tell, more people get hip to your dream and your skill.

(Photo: Mission SF branch library-Yuyi Morales)

Library: I hit the local library. Not just one branch, but several. In fact, I would go to libraries in other nearby cities just for fun. Why? To read more. To find out what libraries purchased and what kids would sit down to read. I could take home a bunch of books to study them further as well for little to no cost. I researched all kinds of business, magazines, young adult novels, middle grade, comics, graphic novels, and lots of picture books. This to me, was studying “storytelling” as an art form and it was also learning intangible things about the readers I wanted to reach, business, and so much more.

(Photo: Joy Liu-Trujillo, Me)

Kickstarter: My wife and I shot my kickstarter at the library and at our home to self publish my third children’s book. I’m not the biggest social media user ever, but I’m active on several platforms and building a community with like-minded storytellers came in very handy when I launched the kickstarter. After learning more about the industry, the systematic racism (call it bias if that sounds less threatening), the gate-keepers, sending out lots of work and getting no response, I decided to do it on my own. And I wasn’t the only one. Both Janine Macbeth (Oh Oh Baby Boy, Blood Orange Press) and Innosanto Nagara( A is for Activist, Counting on Community) had done it and they inspired me. Kickstarter and Indiegogo combined with other crowd funders are the biggest publishers of books, music, and film outside of the “traditional” companies. It is NOT for everyone though.

(Gif: Make a Gif:Stranger Things)

Persistence: It took a lot of asking, sharing, emailing, calling, reading, writing, redoing, editing, researching, breathing, promoting, talking, and screwing up to get where I’m at now. And I feel like I’m just beginning. To get anything good going, it takes time. I worked all kinds of cool and very not cool jobs to pay the bills. I got help from family members and my wife and I am still struggling. But, good gumbo takes time to cook, I didn’t want to throw it in the microwave. Persistence to me, is letting a “no” or “i’m sorry, but” or “no response” pass without stopping me. People are going to say those things, but you must keep going because the next milestone or jewel is right around the corner. And this is a marathon, not a race.

(Photo: Mi Vida Loca)

Give back: I’ve also helped out other authors/illustrators with their books. And I have a few in the works. I’m still learning, but I plan to share more information as I go. If you’ve read this far, that means you want to make books too. Do not wait for acceptance or permission, make your book (or film, or album, you get the point) and email me if you have any sincere questions. There is no short cut. Once you get in , give back to the next generation.

(Illustration: Tony Purvear & Erika Alexander: Concrete Park)

POC/LGBTQ: When looking at the numbers for books written AND illustrated by people of color/queer folks it can get depressing. It feels like no one cares. But, as Fredrick Douglas said “power concedes nothing without a demand”. We’re showing the “traditional” industry what we can do for sure, but we’re also showing parents, librarians, caregivers, teachers, and kids themselves what else is out there. And Mira Nair said “If we don’t tell our stories, no one will”. The act of showing a child a beautiful story that they can relate to, or of showing them the story of someone who is different from them is revolutionary because there is so much mistrust, misunderstanding, mis-education, and stories that are invisible or erased. So tell your story, and do it with skill and quality.

(Photo: Halline Overby, Me)

Hello: My name is Robert Liu-Trujillo. I am an author illustrator from Oakland California (Born and raised in the Bay Area). I started my journey in children’s books 11 years ago. To date, I have illustrated four picture books. In 2013 I began work on A bean and cheese tacobirthday, published by Arte Publico Press and written by Diane Gonzales-Bertrand. In 2013 I also began planning for Furqan’s First Flat Top a book I self published with my wife (designer) Joy Liu-Trujillo (Come Bien Books) translator Cinthya Munoz and a team of folks. The book came out in 2016. In 2014 I began work on I am Sausal Creek written and coordinated by Melissa Reyes. It was later published by Nomadic Press and released in 2015. I began work on “One of a kind, like me” published by Janine Macbeth’s Blood Orange Press in 2015. The story was written by Laurin Mayeno and released in 2016. In 2018 I contributed to the book "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy" by Tony Medina. And in 2019 Sam!, a book I illustrated for writer Dani Gabriel came out. Both Sam! and Thirteen Ways were published by Penny Candy Books. Stay tuned for "Fresh Juice" written and illustrated by me and published by Lee & Low Books in 2021.

Want more info? You can purchase this PDF for some basics before you begin your journey into kids bks

Do me a favor, if you liked this, please share and request the books I've worked on at your local library, classroom, office, or store. Another great author who is doing it independently and talking about it worth checking is Zetta Elliott (Zetta made me feel understood, when I was losing my steam for the art)
Follow me on Instagram @Robert_Tres 

You can see another post I did about how I started out as a freelance artist HERE.

Apr 8, 2017

"Play with Records" Poster

Your parents played with records, you should too. And while you're at it, introduce your kids and the kids around you to records. Just made a poster with this artwork which you can cop HERE. Look out for more merch for the Etsy shop.

Apr 7, 2017

Muphoric Sounds 44 - Curtis Mayfield (In the trunk)

It has been awhile since I did an "IN THE TRUNK" piece for Muphoric Sounds. If you have not heard this song by Curtis Mayfield I highly suggest you go on over to Muphoric Sounds : LINK
and listen to it. 

For those unaware, I have been writing as a contributing editor to Muphoric Sounds (a contemporary and old school music blog) since 2010 or 2009. It is a passion project for me because I love music, and the Chief editor Vanessa gave me a shot to write about old records I like. Please go there and listen to some of them. And if you're a beat maker/producer definitely download those songs and use them! Hopefully they inspire some new sounds. Share and support good music. I also write a series there called "PRESS REWIND" about old beats. Tune in.

Apr 4, 2017

Children's portrait Collage 3

So here is the third collage of children's portraits. I started painting these about 5 years ago. My goal is to hit 100 portraits and I'm almost half way there. I took a short break while working on picture books, but some of these have been in my files that I wanted to share. If you can do me a favor and share this that would be great. Share with parents, grand parents, aunts, uncles, or guardians that would be interested in commissioning a painting of a child.
Here is the FIRST collage
And the SECOND
This is the original video I made to talk about them.

You can email me directly about this at Info@robdontstop.com or visit my Etsy Store where photos of the portraits are.

Children's Portrait 45- Sekani

This little boy is Sekani! I believe he is 6 or 7. He is Haitian and African American, and although I've never met him I love seeing his smile. His eyes and smile are as bright as the sun! Shout out to his parents who commissioned this as part of the kickstarter campaign a few years back for Furqan's First. 

If you would like a portrait painted of your little one or someone else's hit me up at info@robdontstop.com or visit the store.

Want to see the previous Children's Portrait of Zulu? Click HERE.

Apr 3, 2017

Children's portrait 44 - Zulu

I don't know this young man personally but this was one of the portraits commissioned awhile ago for a kickstarte campaign I ran. This and a copy of my book was a gift for the contribution.  If I recall though, this little one is both Chicano (dad) and African American (mom). His name? I'm glad you asked! He was named after the Zulu Nation (Hip hop community started in the BX, now world wide) and the legendary Shaka Zulu.

If you or someone you know is interested in commissioning a portrait of a child, please tell them to email me at info@robdontstop.com or check out my Etsy page for rates.

Want to see the previous Children's Portrait of Lucy? Click HERE

Children's portrait 43- Lucy

This is Lucy! She's about 5 or 6 I think and she's a hapa baby. Dad is from Germany and mom is Chinese American. She loves orange, yellow, and red and some symbols of her heritage are in the fabric of her shirt. She has a beautiful smile, no?

If you or someone you know is interested in having their child painted; or you want a painting of a child please contact me at info@robdontstop.com or visit my Etsy page and purchase a painting.

Want to see the previous Children's Portrait of Ezra? Click HERE

Children's portrait 42 - Ezra

Known this little boy since he and my son were in kindergarten. And his name is Ezra!! I think Ezra is 12 now and I think either me or his mom wanted something reflecting the outdoors and adventure. 

If you or someone you know is interested in commissioning a portrait of a child, please tell them to email me at info@robdontstop.com or check out my Etsy page for rates.

Want to see the previous Children's Painting of Kai? Click HERE

Children's portrait 41- Kai

This little one is family. Her mom and dad and big sister, are incredible human beings and it was a blast to paint her. Seeing her just this past weekend I see so much growth.Not only in size but facial expressions she makes. 
Here is a bit of process from the painting. If you or someone you know is interested in having their child painted; or you want a painting of a child please contact me at info@robdontstop.com or visit my Etsy page and purchase a painting.

You can see some of the other Children's Portraits I've painted by clicking HERE.

Apr 1, 2017

Visions for a Strong California

This past winter, in addition to working with MIV creating artwork to learn about what is what in the system of voting, I also had the chance to create some work for some of their related campaigns. Such as this one , which includes a coalition of folks who are fighting for a California that respects and values the rights of immigrants within the state. That means access to healthcare, fair and just treatment in the courts and legal systems, civil rights, investment in public schools, and more for all immigrants living in California. 

The coalition of folks working to make this a reality is strong, some of the folks involved are:
Just Cause/Causa Justa, Asian Law Caucas, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Familia-TransQueer Liberation Movement, National Immigration Law Center, United Farm Workers Foundation, Undocumented Students Program-UC Berkeley, Priority Africa Network, and more.

Here are some of the original illustrations, please follow the link to download a copy of the Visions in 6 different languages.

Big shout out to Reshma from ACLU, Jidan, Suguey, and the whole MIV team!