Thursday, March 13, 2014

Beach Babies!

New from duopressBeach Babies!

Beach Babies is an adorable 22-page board book for you to share with all of the tiny readers and beach-bums in your life.

Written by Puck, designed by Grant McMahan....

... with illustrations and art direction by me, your friend, Violet Lemay.

I hope that you and your baby will have as much fun experiencing Beach Babies as the team at duopress had, making the book. 

The charming words and colorful art on every page, and the activities at the end of Beach Babies, are all designed to make itty bitty beach-goers and their caregivers very, very happy.
Announcing the arrival of Beach Babies makes me so happy that I have to sing! 
What better song to celebrate babies at the beach than Bon Voyage
(Think back to your high-school production of Anything Goes, and sing along!)

Bon VOYage.
You mean bon voyAGE-uh.
I hate to say goodbye sweetheart.
By the seashore...
You mean sur la plage...
I'll sail and watch the sea,
Til you come back to me.

Oh my dearie...
You mean ma cherie...
I'm yours for life...
You mean pour la vie...
So kiss me pretty wench
In English or in French
Bon voyAGE!
Bon voyAGE-uh!


Beach Babies is available on-line (click here to order!), and at your favorite local independent bookstore.


Special thanks to George M. Cohan for the lyrics to Bon Voyage. Thanks also to my little brother Matt, who refrained from either killing me or smashing my stereo during my high-school "Cohan Phase"— four solid years of binge Cohen album-listening interrupted only by short bouts of AnnieHello Dolly, West Side Story and My Fair Lady. I'm proud to have been a theater nerd through and through, but Matt, I'm soooo sorry! Ask yourself: Did you decided to become a trombonist to drown out your sister's music? Perhaps my youthful obsession with classic musical theater actually spurred you on to your eventual career. It just may be that you owe a great big thank you to George M, brother-mine! What do you think of that?

Monday, March 10, 2014


Last October I submitted this image from San Francisco Baby to the annual competition sponsored by the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles. Several months later a happy e-mail announced that I made the cut. Hooray!

The perks of being recognized by SILA include involvement in ILLUSTRATION WEST 52, a group gallery exhibit, which is happening right now (March 7-39, 2014) at Center Stage Gallery, 847 Hollywood Way in Burbank, California.

Because I live on the east coast I packed up the art and shipped it to the gallery. My good friends Tyler and Paige Garrison, talented illustrators who live in Burbank, stopped by to snap these photos for me.

Tyler, Paige and I all met in a classroom at the Savannah College of Art and Design where I was teaching several years ago when they were still students. Since then they got married (yay!) and eventually moved west. Meanwhile, my family picked up and moved north. Somewhere in the middle of all of that, Paige and I co-illustrated Beach Doodles, another fun and creative activity book by duopress.


If you can't make it to Center Stage Gallery but would like to see the show, click here to virtually stroll through SILA's on-line gallery.


San Francisco Baby, published by duopress in 2013, was co-written by Tess Shea and Jerome Pohlen. Jerry and I have teamed up on several other duopress projects, including Doodle Texas, Doodle America, and Chicago Baby.


As I mentioned above, Tyler and Paige are both amazingly talented illustrators. Check out Tyler's work here at fizzlepopstuido, and click here to see Paige's portfolio.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Introducing: PUZZLES!

Last summer I created art for an exciting new duopress venture: PUZZLES!

My New York Puzzle and My San Francisco Puzzle were just released, and they've already won the prestigious Oppenheim Toy Award. Go, Team duopress! These 20-piece puzzles are the first in what is sure to be a successful series.

For NYC we chose to depict Lady Liberty back-lit by a night sky filled with fireworks—a classic scene that celebrates the Big Apple in a kid-friendly way.

And you simply cannot make a puzzle about San Francisco without featuring the majestic Golden Gate Bridge!

Designing art for puzzles with so few pieces presents a few unique challenges. First of all, we didn't want the seams crossing key elements in an unflattering way. Secondly, visual elements in each composition had to overlap every single seam—visual clues to aid tiny puzzlers in their mission to assemble our handiwork.

As this project's Art Director, I got to create the puzzle die (the cookie-cutter used to cut the puzzle into 20 interlocking shapes). As the illustrator, I had to design each image to work within the die.

Grant McMahan designed this project, which entailed quite a bit of work. Packaging at its simplest involves a box—six surfaces to beautify. There is a drawer cleverly designed into these boxes, which gave us five more surfaces to fill (four sides + the bottom).

I got to create tiny bits of spot art for Grant to sprinkle around the sides of each drawer, and I absolutely love to make spot art, so that was a special treat.

In keeping with duopress's mission to create innovative books and gifts for curious children, the bottom of each drawer is covered in fun facts about the subject of the puzzle it contains.

My New York Puzzle and My San Francisco Puzzle by duopress are available now in local bookstores, museum and gift shops. No matter where you live, you can order them on-line! Click here to order My New York Puzzle, and here to order My San Francisco Puzzle.


This "My Puzzle" series, like all duopress projects, is the brainchild of Mauricio Velázquez de León, publisher of duopress books and gifts.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

123 Little Bugs

Over the summer I art-directed my first project for duopress: Puck's 123 Little Bugs, a Cool Counting Book for itty-bitty readers. Prolific artist Rey David Rojas made the adorable illustrations, and my long-time friend Grant McMahan designed the book. Grant added patterns to Rey David's art, two of which—including these swirls on the cover—were created by me, just for fun. This art director job has its perks to be sure, not least of which is working with such talented people.

All duopress books are interactive. On the final pages of 123 Little Bugs you'll find helpful conversation starters to give you ideas about how to help your baby interact with the art on each page.

For example:
"Did you know that caterpillars have twelve eyes? How many eyes do you have? Can you close one eye? How about both? Now, open your eyes! There's much more to see in this book!"

Adorable. Where were these books when my son was small?

Get a jump on spring with 123 Little Bugs, available on-line and at your local independent bookstore.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

¡Isabella va a México!

Last spring at Book Expo America, as I was wandering around the Javitz Center in awe, a small group of amazing people met to discuss the possibility of translating Isabella's Shoe Studio into Spanish. Editiones B eventually bought the rights, and here she is—en español! 

Included in the afore-mentioned group of amazing people: Mauricio Velázquez de León, publisher of duopress books (thank you, Mauricio!), and long-time friend of duopress Pablo de la Vega of Indent Literary Agency, my new amigo.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Typhoon Haiyan Art Benefit and Auction

A few weeks ago I sent this 3D assemblage, "Possibilities," to Savannah, Georgia, to my friend Ryan Sanchez. There's a story behind the art and I'll share that soon soon enough, but this post is about bigger things.

Ryan, an amazingly talented illustrator and an esteemed professor, has been working very hard to organize the Typhoon Haiyan Art Benefit and Auction, the proceeds of which will benefit victims of the awful typhoon which ravaged the Philippines in early November. My work is one of a hundred that he has been rounding up internationally, and be advised, I am in extremely good company.

The show is happening on Friday, January 10 from 6-11pm at 201 W Broughton Street in an empty storefront in the heart of the historic downtown area of Savannah. If you're from Savannah, you might know the space as the old Clipper Trading Company. It is 12,700 square feet of awesome space for displaying art.

Bidder sign-in will start at 6pm. Bidding ends at 10pm. $10 cash donation suggested at the door. Cash, checks, and all major credit cards will be accepted.

Live music will be performed by Jon Waits of Waits and Company.

There will be food by John and Amber Kent Roell of Brasserie 529, and Seth Musler of Betty Bombers and Butterhead Greens, and wine provided by Johnny Ganems.

Oh man, I wish I could be there! If you're close enough the trip, go for me, okay?

If you would like to make donations outside of this event, Ryan suggests donating directly to the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), the organization who will be receiving all of the proceeds from this event.

Here's a peek at how the event crystalized, from Ryan's perspective:

Everyday for the past 2 weeks, packages have been coming to my house. The postal service, UPS, and FedEx have definitely been through a work out. Every time I open one, I am amazed and humbled by the shear talent you all have. I can't thank you all enough for the tremendous show of support you have given me and this cause. You are truly amazing and caring people. I am so honored to call you friends. Happy holidays everyone.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Isabella in the Savannah Morning News

This past Sunday (December 1), The Savannah Morning News included Isabella's Shoe Studio in the following article by Linda Sickler, called "Put books by authors with Savannah ties under your tree this year."

"Isabella's Shoe Studio" by Violet Lemay. $12.95, duopress. Available at Shop SCAD, Ex Librirs, and

Savannah College of Art and Design professor Violet Lemay is the art director of duopress and an award-winning children's book illustrator.

Her latest juvenile nonfiction book, released in September, is a whimsical introduction to the process of design. Children don't just read the book, they're encouraged to doodle and create their own art.

"'Isabella's Shoe Studio' is a Doodle Storybook about 8-year-old Isabella, a budding artist with a charitable heart, who dreams of becoming a famous shoe designer," Lemay says.

"The daughter of a hat designer and the granddaughter of a dress designer, Isabella's bent toward art and design is in her DNA," she says. "Through a series of fun interactive activities, Isabella encourages young readers to try their hand at drawing and design, while teaching them about artistic inspiration."

Lemay moved to Saratoga Springs, NY in August 2012, but she still teaches classes online for SCAD. "To date, I have illustrated 18 books for children, with more on the way, mostly for duopress, my favorite publisher, for whom I now act as art director, "Lemay says.

An award-winning illustrator, Lemay's other children's books include "Beach Doodles" (which she co-illustrated with SCAD alumna Paige Garrison), "Doodle Chicago," "Doodle New York," "My Foodie ABC" and "New York Baby."

"'Isabella's Shoe Studio' is unique, fun, educational and adorable," Lemay says. "While most other books for children about fashion are filled with illustrations of designs for grown-ups, 'Isabella's Shoe Studio' is very down to earth, focusing on fun but practical shoes for little girls.

"The shoes are merely a vehicle to teach about artistic inspiration and the process of design.

For example, Isabella asks readers to look at the night sky and at their breakfast table to find inspirations for new shoe designs."*

To see the complete article, click here.