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studio: a place for art to start cover reveal + interviews + studio tours + giveaway!

I’m thrilled to be able to share the cover of STUDIO: A PLACE FOR ART TO START by Emily Arrow and The Little Friends of Printmaking with you today! This picture book is a debut for both author and illustrators and is coming to you from Tundra in March of 2020.

Studio might be best described as an ode to being you and finding your singular expression and space to cultivate it, and then sharing that with the world. It has bright, thoughtful, detailed, and exuberant art and feels like a truly kismet collaboration between text and visual story. It explores and honors creativity and making. (And it was written by one of my dearest friends.)

I give you…

the charming and truly eye-catching cover by The Little Friends of Printmaking!


Just look at all those different kinds of studios and makers on display! Even the title itself on that sign is in the very process of being made, which is such a brilliant thematic touch! There in the middle of the top row of windows is our main character, a bunny who we follow as they tour studios and see artists of all styles and stripes, soaking up the energy and options they might pursue.  By taking a tour along with bunny, readers will get a chance to do the same.

And here’s one bonus spread from the inside as well!



In honor of Studio’s cover reveal, I asked the creators three questions each and they’re all giving us a tour of their studios, past and present! What a complete treat!



First up, the illustrators, The Little Friends of Printmaking, husband and wife team James and Melissa Buchanan who you may know from their silkscreened prints, pins, as well as their fine art!


  1. What does a studio mean to you?

James: Art is a job, and the studio is the place where the work gets done. What having a studio means for me is the benefit of having a private, peaceful space where I can work out new ideas; a place where I can experiment and even get frustrated without feeling like I’m bothering anyone; where I can put down a project for the night and pick it right up in the morning, without having to put everything away. It’s the freedom to work the way you want to.

Melissa: The studio is the place where we make our work, but it’s also a place to be inspired. We decorate it with the kind of work that we like to see, fill it with books that we can reference, and houseplants and other trinkets that help make it a comfortable and inspiring place to be.


  1. What and where was your first ever studio?

James: First ever? The kitchen table or an elementary school art classroom would probably be the most accurate answer, but the first studio that really felt like my own was an out-of-the-way photo darkroom at high school. I finally got that sense of freedom and ownership you get with a studio because I could work there independently, uninterrupted, and play whatever music I liked. It felt great to be in charge of my own space, which is something I didn’t have at home.

Melissa: My first studio was a very similar situation! I had wanted to study oil painting in high school but there wasn’t place in my high school art classroom so my teacher lent me an underused storage closet that I could use as a painting studio. I had my own key, which felt very grown up. In retrospect, it was probably a terrible idea to let a teenager use solvents in an unventilated storage closet but I couldn’t have been happier.

From  our studio in Milwaukee circa 2006-2008. We built and ran a community print studio and workspace in a Milwaukee children’s museum called Discovery World and worked on our personal work after the normal workday was complete. The work hanging behind us was from our students.

From our studio in Milwaukee circa 2008-2013. It was in the basement of our house and was our first non-shared studio (we had worked out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison print studio – our alma mater – before moving to Milwaukee to run the Discovery World Print and Publishing Lab).

From our studio in Lincoln Heights (Los Angeles) circa 2013-2014.

  1. How did you approach creating the visual story for STUDIO after reading the text?

James: First, we felt it was important to create a visual story, independent from the text, with a strong through-line. That way, readers of all ages and skill levels could return to the book and enjoy it, even if someone isn’t there to read it with them. We also wanted to treat this as a true picture book of artists’ studios, showing as much detail and as many tools and supplies as we could fit in. That way, young readers could get a sense of the studio as a real place—and of being an artist as a real job that they could aspire to.

Melissa: As the characters go through the various studios, our thought was to show the little bunny getting progressively more comfortable among the community of artists and feeling more and more free to express themselves, and in the end, join the community of artists.



From our current studio circa 2014-present.



Next up the author, Emily Arrow, who you may already know from her music! 

  1. What does a studio mean to you?

Right now, my studio means the place with:

my stack of books and notebooks

my ukulele

my sweet rescue dog



  1. What and where was your first ever studio? 

Finding a space to be creative has been one of my favorite adventures for as long as I can remember. When I was about 7 years old, my piano teacher helped me record my own songs in her home recording studio she called “Squeaky Floor Studios.” I was in my happy place with headphones on, listening to the music and finally being able to step into the song with my own voice. Other special studios over the years include the recording studios where I’ve recorded my “Storytime Singalong” albums!


3. Tell us about the genesis of this story concept.

Because I believe creating art leads to peacefulness, I believe spaces that foster creativity have a special magic. I love visiting artists’ studios, dreaming up ideas about where I might create a music video, and finding the creative spark that can turn even an ordinary place into a studio space. A few summers ago, I decided to create my work in a shared studio space in Nashville. That cozy studio full of artists and illustrators was bursting with creativity, twinkle lights, and collaboration. Naturally, it became the “place for my art to start,” and I wrote Studio.



And here are all three makers of this book, together!! How special is that!






And finally, a giveaway! Simply comment below to be entered to win this pair of pins from The Little Friends of Printmaking. (N. America only; ends Friday, June 28th at midnight PST.)



Big thanks to Emily and to Little Friends for collaborating on this post—photos were provided by them. And to Tundra for book images!