Creative Playdate Episode 21: Interview with Michael Byers

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Episode 21 of Creative Playdate features an interview with Canadian illustrator and super nice guy, Michael Byers. His editorial illustration is whimsical and colorful and always includes a touch of humor - as is Michael, himself. We talk about whether or not we should be properly dressed to take our kids to school and Michael mentions a lot of great writing on creativity that is worth checking out.

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Michael recently created all of the illustrations for an incredible activity book for kids called "SUPERPOWERS! A Great Big Collection of Awesome Activities, Quirky Questions, and Wonderful Ways to See Just How Super You Already Are." I only wish my daughter was old enough to read and write, because it seems like a fun thing for kids to do alone or with their parents or friends.

We also talked about daily drawing and drawing from reference in a way that has inspired me to do more daily drawing and drawing from life. It's easy to get stuck on your image reference but it's nice to let your personality show through in the way you draw things straight from your own mind.

Creative Playdate is syndicated at Illustration Age.

The theme music was created by Thomas James and Jason Ritz.

You can follow the show on Twitter and Instagram. And don't forget to subscribe, rate and review the show on iTunes!

Creative Playdate Episode 20: Interview with Francesca Tortora of Doing It For the Kids


You are going to LOVE this episode with Francesca Tortora of Doing It For the Kids (DIFTK)! She has created an incredible community of freelance parents and I only wish she could do some meetup events in the US. We learn about her journey to being a parent, freelance graphic designer and founder of DIFTK.


She speaks about how her work has changed since her son came along and how it's influenced the types of clients she works with. She's had limited childcare in the past and manages to stick (mostly) to a pretty strict schedule with her clients, which has led to more clients who are happy to be more flexible. I also learned a lot about freelance maternity leave in the UK. Whenever I speak to someone out of the country, their maternity leave situation will inevitably make me incredibly jealous.


Frankie talks about the guilt we all feel as freelance parents and how she manages to rein it in whenever possible. 

Be sure to check out the DIFTK blog as well as the Instagram feed and wonderful Facebook Group. And you can see Frankie's graphic design work on her own site. And remember, DIFTK is a collaborative project, so get in touch with Frankie if you think you've got something you'd like to write.

Creative Playdate is syndicated on Illustration Age and our theme music was created by Thomas James and Jason Ritz.

Thanks, as always, for listening and for sharing with a friend. Be sure to rate, review and SUBSCRIBE on iTunes!

Now go play!

Creative Playdate Episode 19: Interview with Regina Flath


I am back from ICON with a great new episode featuring book designer and art director Regina Flath! She gives a nice overview of how Penguin Random House chooses illustrators, what they are looking for and how often they use stock images, illustration or their own photoshoots for book covers. One of her latest, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White is among her favorite recent projects.

Regina is also mom to an adorable toddler. She takes us through an epic year of getting and being pregnant as well as dealing with a host of medical issues that came up for both her and her daughter along the way. Fortunately, everyone is healthy and thriving now. Regina also mentioned that sometimes parents are the best artists to work with because they are GREAT at time management and at keeping their art directors abreast of what's happening as it relates to the timeline of the project. Go parents!


If you haven't heard yet, Creative Playdate now has it's own social media presence. You can follow the show on Instagram @creative_playdate_podcast and on Twitter @PlaydatePodcast. I've also created a Facebook Group where we can talk all things parenting and illustration and design and everything else. In the future I will be putting out a call for questions when I am interviewing a new guest, so I hope you will participate and get in some questions I might not have thought about.

Thank you all for listening and thank you to Thomas James and Jason Ritz for the theme music. Illustration Age is our proud syndicate, so check them out as well.

And of course, subscribe to the show, rate the show, review the show and SHARE the show!

Creative Playdate Episode 18: Interview with Melinda Beck

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 Images © Melinda Beck

Images © Melinda Beck

I am super happy I had the chance to interview Melinda Beck for the show. She's an incredible illustrator and graphic designer who showcases a wide range of styles. And you can certainly see the graphic design influence in her illustration. We talk about what it's like to be a freelance illustrator while raising two teenage girls and what childhood in New York City is like.


Melinda has some good advice about time management and living simply in order to make time for her kids, her work and herself. Advice we can probably all use. She will be dispensing lots of advice in her workshop at ICON10 so be sure to check and see if there are any spots open.

If you'll be at ICON10 please say hello! I'm thrilled to be going back for the second time and excited to explore Detroit.

Creative Playdate is syndicated at Illustration Age. Theme music was created by Thomas James and James Ritz.

You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can see my illustration on my website.

And don't forget to subscribe!

Creative Playdate Episode 17: Interview with Dan Santat

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I am very pleased to have children's book illustrator and author, Dan Santat on the show. We talk about his career and the effect that winning the Caldecott Medal has had on the way he approaches his work and his place in the children's book industry.


Dan has a pretty laid-back attitude about parenting and truly feels there is never a right time to have kids; you just have to do it and work it out as you go along. He's also no stranger to being a workaholic and he talks about how he was forced to relax.

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Dan also has a new book out with author Minh Le called Drawn Together. You should definitely check this one out.

Thanks for everyone who listens to the show and who has shared it with a friend. Please rate, review, and subscribe if you haven't yet!

You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Creative Playdate's theme music was created by Thomas James and Jason Ritz and we are syndicated at

Creative Playdate Episode 16: Season Two! Interview with Merlin Strangeway


Creative Playdate is back!

Since the first season ended, my life turned upside down a bit - including a move to the DC area that we had 3.5 weeks to plan. 

I'm thrilled to be back with new episodes and I'm kicking off the season with medical illustrator, Merlin Strangeway. Her work is incredibly varied in both style and technique, which is necessitated, somewhat, by the field. The work Merlin does with clients is fascinating and I think you'll enjoy learning more about the world of medical illustration.

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Merlin made the surprising decision to start her freelance illustration business just as she was first becoming a mother. We talk about that decision and how her career has grown alongside her 9 year old daughter. Merlin has an optimistic, yet realistic outlook on parenting alongside a career in illustration that we could all probably use, sometimes.

Thank you for being patient while I worked on season 2 and thank you for listening to the show! If you are enjoying it, please give the show 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and review it as well, if you are so inclined. And of course, subscribe!

You can find out more about myself and my work at and you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Oh, and if you'd like to hear me talk about me for a bit, you can listen to the Being Freelance podcast. It's a great show even if you don't want to hear me talk about me.

The theme music to the show was created by Thomas James and Jason Ritz and the show is syndicated at

Creative Playdate Episode 15: Interview with Jessica Abel - Season Finale!

 Photo by Lauréne DuCrocq

Photo by Lauréne DuCrocq

I can't believe I've done 15 episodes of Creative Playdate! This episode is the last one for Season One and I will be back with Season Two in a couple of months.

This week's episode features the incredibly talented Jessica Abel. Her list of accomplishments is far too long for these show notes but you may know her from her graphic novels, like La Perdida or Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars, her textbook Drawing Words & Writing Pictures (written with husband, Matt Madden) or she may even be your teacher. Somehow she's been able to do all of these things all while raising two children.


We talk about moving her family to Angoulême, France for four years and the adjustments they've had to make when their children started school in the U.S. Parenting is always unexpected in different ways and it has been no different for Jessica. For those of us who find it hard to maintain our creativity while our lives swirl around us, Jessica has a book for that, Growing Gills: How to find creative focus when you're drowning in your daily life.

I suppose I say this every episode (and I don't know how else to say it), but thank you so very much for listening and sharing the show. I love getting to have these conversations and I've already got a great lineup started for Season Two.

You can follow me on Twitter @MissIllustrator and Instagram @mkondrich and you can see my illustration at

The show is syndicated on Illustration Age and our theme music was created by Thomas James and Jason Ritz.

Don't forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Creative Playdate Episode 14: Interview with Chris & Jennifer Sickels

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The penultimate episode of Creative Playdate is an interview with Chris & Jennifer Sickels! You likely know Chris as Red Nose Studio. I was thrilled when Chris suggested his wife, Jennifer, join in the conversation. It's the first time I've had a partner one who is not also working as a creative. It's important that the people behind the scenes who support these crazy careers we've chosen get all the respect and gratitude that they deserve.


Chris and Jennifer have 4 children between the ages of 3 and 13, so we talked a lot about what it's like to have kids at various stages of development. We also talk about the financial aspects of raising 4 kids primarily on the income of a freelance illustrator and whether or not Chris wishes they could live in New York.

As I mention in the episode, I have made the decision to break the show up into seasons. There will be one more episode this season and I will let you know as season 2 approaches.

What would you like to hear about in season 2?

The show is created and hosted by me, Michelle Kondrich and our theme music was created by Thomas James and Jason Ritz. The show is syndicated at Illustration Age (where you can also find a bi-monthly business column by yours truly).

Thank you for listening and be sure to subscribe on iTunes. And leave a comment and rating!

Creative Playdate Episode 13: Interview with Santiago Uceda


The last episode of Creative Playdate for the year is a wonderful interview with illustrator, motion graphics artist, and designer Santiago Uceda. His work has so much character. He talks about how is illustration used to be very dark but that his family has helped to inject more hope into the work. You can read a great interview with Santiago and his partner, Jen Bell, in Family Circle about their blended family and lives.


Santiago is a Peruvian immigrant and he was very open about his experiences and feelings about the current political climate around immigration. If you want to know more about Santiago and his work, you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

As I mention at the beginning of the show, in addition to Creative Playdate being syndicated on Illustration Age, I am now going to be writing a bi-monthly column on the site. My first installment, "How I Built an Illustration Career Without Going to Art School" is up now and I should have a new one out next week.

Thank you to Thomas James and Jason Ritz for our theme music and thanks to all of you who have been listening and supporting the show!

You can find out more about myself and my work at and please be sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes!

I will be back with new episodes in January, so please enjoy the holiday season, stay safe, and Happy New Year!


Creative Playdate Episode 12: Interview with Jannie Ho

Episode 12 features an interview with children's illustrator Jannie Ho. Her work is everywhere - books, educational magazines, toys, games, stickers, even dinnerware! She is the mother of a six year old daughter and her debut author/illustrator picture book, Bear and Chicken, is out now!


Jannie's illustration is perfect for the children's market and it was great to hear how her work and her new book developed. She loves Richard Scarry books from her childhood and you can really see the influence, which I love. 

She also is a big proponent of day care for those of us with young children who do not have the luxury of family nearby. It can be an expensive necessity when working from home.

You can follow Jannie on Twitter and Instagram @chickengirldesign.

The show is syndicated on Illustration Age - with it's own dedicated page now - and our theme music was created by Thomas James and Jason Ritz.

If you want to know more about my illustration or about the show, visit my website or follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Listen and subscribe to the show on iTunes!

Creative Playdate Episode 11: Interview with Andi Butler - Part 1 and 2

Interview with Andi Butler Part 1

Interview with Andi Butler Part 2

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This week I've got a special, two-part episode with illustrator and surface pattern designer Andi Butler. We had a lengthy conversation about both her experience in the surface pattern design industry as well as her experience raising two boys, one of whom is autistic. I've split the conversation into two parts - the first part covers more of her work life and the second goes into parenting much more.

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Andi is incredibly knowledgeable about both of these worlds and she is also very happy to talk about them and to answer questions about them. She's been at it for decades, so enjoy the wealth of information and insight!

You can follow Andi on Twitter and Instagram @andibutler and she also has a Facebook Page.

Thank to you everyone who has been listening to the show and welcome to all my new listeners! Feel free to get in touch any time!

Our wonderful syndicate is Illustration Age and our theme music was created by Thomas James and Jason Ritz.

Please be sure to rate and review on iTunes if you like what you hear.

Creative Playdate Episode 10: Interview with Britt Wilson


Today's episode was a supper fun, casual conversation with illustrator, comic artist and hand letterer, Britt Wilson. We have children who are almost the same age and we are at similar stages in our lives and careers. We jump right into the conversation with little preamble, so if you like to commiserate with other toddler parents and listen to their crazy stories you will LOVE this episode!

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Britt is super open and honest about her experience becoming a mother and the financial and emotional toll that it can take. Like most of us, she had some... maybe... unrealistic expectations of what working at home with an infant would be like. I'm starting to think that there's no such thing as a child who will hang out in a play pen alone for more than 2 minutes.

Britt's work is colorful and honest and fun and you should definitely check out her books like Britt Wilson's Greatest Book on EarthYou can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @britterson. Her Instagram stories of her daughter are definitely worth the follow - and so are her plants. 

Thanks for listening and don't forget to share with a friend!

Illustration Age is our wonderful syndicate and the theme music was created by Thomas James and Jason Ritz (who have a new podcast, by the way).

Creative Playdate Episode 9: Interview with Jacqui Oakley and Jamie Lawson


For the first time EVER, I've got a couple on the show! Jacqui Oakley and Jamie Lawson are both freelance creatives (she's an illustrator, he's an illustrator and designer) with an energetic three-year-old. We talk about their childcare situation and dividing up time with their son when deadlines don't always coincide with day care.

 © Jacqui Oakley

© Jacqui Oakley

It was good fun to chat with them. They are beginning to collaborate on fine art/gallery work and it makes me wish my husband and I could collaborate in that way. It sounds like a great way to get back to the early parts of a relationship, before kids. And Jacqui weighs in on her experience taking a break from work after giving birth.

You can follow Jacqui on Twitter and Instagram @jacquioakley and you can follow Jamie on Twitter @poly_studio and Instagram @jamielawson. Oh, and Jacqui has some great videos of her speaking at Weapons of Mass Creation and Creative Mornings.

And if you're enjoying the show, please take a moment to rate and review on iTunes. It helps spread the word!

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Creative Playdate Episode 8: Interview with Daniel Hertzberg


Episode 8 of Creative Playdate features an interview with illustrator Daniel Hertzberg. We have an interesting conversation in which Daniel is very open about his and his wife's experience with trying to get pregnant and with having twins who were very premature. They had a first year that, fortunately, many of us have no experience with. 


Daniel has a great attitude towards being a parent and it's one that I know I lose touch with at times. When you are in the thick of an especially difficult time with your children, it's easy to forget the joy and humor they can bring. 

You can follow Daniel on Twitter and Instagram @danielhertzberg. And you can follow me on Twitter @MissIllustrator and on Instagram @mkondrich.

Want to help the show grow? Please share with a friend and rate/review on iTunes. I've got some great ideas for turning this show into more of a community rather than just an audience, so keep listening and thank you for all the support.

Creative Playdate is syndicated at Illustration Age.

Creative Playdate Episode 7: Interview with Allison Cole


Episode 7 is an interview with illustrator and surface pattern designer Allison Cole. Her incredibly playful work has appeared on products for clients like Target and West Elm. In fact, when I met her in person after our interview, I discovered that the Camelbak water bottle that my daughter uses was sporting one of her designs! 

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We had a fun conversation about what it's like to work in surface pattern design and licensing and we discovered that our lives are shockingly similar - our husbands even work at the same school. She talks about her crazy-long commute while teaching out of state and about dealing with a serious health problem during pregnancy.

Check out Allison's portfolio and also her Busy Family 2018 Planning Calendar - which I think many of us could probably get some use out of. You can follow her on Twitter @allison_cole and Instagram @allisoncoleillustration.

I'm also very happy to announce that Illustration Age is now syndicating the podcast! Hopefully that means more eyes and ears on the show. And you can help by rating on iTunes or sharing with a friend. Lots of you have been doing that already, so thank you!

In the future, I hope to give you all opportunities to send in questions for guests in advance. I'm not quite there yet, but I definitely want you to be a part of the show because it wouldn't be hear without you!

Creative Playdate Episode 6: Interview with Kyle T. Webster

 @ Kyle T. Webster

@ Kyle T. Webster

Today I am pleased to bring you Episode 6 of Creative Playdate with the incredible Kyle T. Webster!

As I mention in the episode, you should really go to his site and watch his "Meet Kyle" video. He's come up with a great way to show his personality and interests to the world.

Kyle is an award-winning illustrator, author and illustrator of the children's book Please Say Please!, and creator of an impressive line of Photoshop brushes that mimic hundreds of traditional materials, and then some.

Kyle often uses his Photoshop brush business to raise money for important causes, so be on the lookout for those in the future. He usually announces them on Twitter and I will do my best to signal boost those fundraisers.


In the episode, Kyle and I talk about his work and his experience as a parent of two children. His wife is the primary caregiver to their children which allows him to keep very regular work hours. We talk about how he is able to stick to that schedule without being tempted to work tight deadlines during times when he should be with his family.

Kyle and his wife have also made the decision to keep photos of their children off of social media. We discuss that decision as well as their approach to screen time with their kids.

You can find Kyle's work at and you can follow him on Twitter @kyleTwebster and Instagram @kyle.t.webster.

The show is created and produced by me, with theme music from Thomas James and Jason Ritz. You can find out more about myself and my illustration at and you can follow me on Twitter @MissIllustrator and Instagram @mkondrich.

Thank you for listening and please take a second to rate and review on Apple podcasts so that more people can find the show. And, of course, share it with a friend or colleague who could use the support of other parents like us!

Creative Playdate Episode 5: Interview with Maria Fabrizio

 Maria Fabrizio

Maria Fabrizio

What better timing for an episode to feature the creator of Wordless News than now? Chaos is everywhere and illustrator Maria Fabrizio tackles as much of it as she can by creating illustrations without captions or descriptions in response to items she finds in the news. In Episode 5 we talk about that process and how it has changed now that she is a mother. She is also a natural early-riser so we talk about the adjustments she has made to her work schedule to accommodate the new early-riser in the house.

 © Maria Fabrizio

© Maria Fabrizio

Maria is also the author of Cultivating Creativity: Daily Rituals for Visual InspirationShe is a great example of someone who uses process and routine to keep her work fresh and exciting.

Listen to hear her speak about her experiences with the unexpected nature of pregnancy and giving birth and what she recommends for those that might be considering having children while pursuing illustration. You can find her work at and and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @StudioRia.

Thanks for listening and please share with someone who might enjoy it. I love hearing feedback, so don't be shy.

Creative Playdate Episode 4: Interview with Renee Kurilla

Today's episode of Creative Playdate is an interview with children's book and graphic novel illustrator Renee Kurilla. She has illustrated a new children's book, The Pickwicks' Picnic by Carol Brendler, that will be released on September 5th of this year. Renee's daughter is still under a year old so we chat about the initial transition to parenthood and how to find ways to keep sketching. She's also got me drooling over the Wacom Mobile Studio Pro.


You can find Renee's work at and she shares lots of sketches and snippets on Twitter and Instagram.

Thank you to everyone who has been listening and sharing the show and thank you to Thomas James and Jason Ritz, who composed the theme music. And, of course, you can listen to the show here, on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or Google Play Music.

Get in touch with me if you have any comments or questions about the show! You can find my illustration at and you can follow me on Twitter @MissIllustrator and Instagram @mkondrich.

Creative Playdate Episode 3: Interview with Keith Negley

Episode 3 of Creative Playdate features on interview with editorial illustrator Keith Negley. In addition to his editorial work, he is the author of two lovely children's books: Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) and My Dad Used to Be So CoolWe talk a lot about how he found himself writing children's books and his experience writing a book like Tough Guys Have Feelings Too, which is very male-centric. It was great to hear his perspective as a father and Keith shares a bit of good news. You can find more of Keith's work at

All the positive feedback for the show so far has been amazing, so thank you for listening and for all the words of encouragement.

As always, thank you to Thomas James and Jason Ritz for our theme music. You can find the show here or on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Please share via social media if you enjoyed the show. You can find me on Twitter @MissIllustrator and on Instagram @mkondrich.

Creative Playdate Episode 2: Interview with Jaime Zollars

In Episode 2 of Creative Playdate I have a wonderfully candid conversation with artist and illustrator Jaime Zollars. She is the author of Il-List-rationImprovisational Lists and Drawing Assists to Spark Creativity and she is the mother of two. Her website is

Our conversation touches on a lot of very important aspects of being a parent while being an illustrator like the consistent financial pressure of daycare and time management between her and her husband. We also go into the gender differences in the world of illustration both as parents and not.

  © Jaime Zollars

© Jaime Zollars

I hope you are enjoying the show so far! And if you are, please share and subscribe. And if you have a second to rate and review, that helps me spread the show far and wide. I've got many more incredible conversations to share with you, so don't miss them! In addition to my website, the show is syndicated at

Thank you Thomas James, who created the theme music to the show (co-written by Jason Ritz).


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