A Sharp-Schu trifecta is the perfect way to kick off the week. We're celebrating Lizi Boyd's INSIDE OUTSIDE. Your first stop is Colby Sharp's blog

Mr. Schu: I love everything about INSIDE OUTSIDE: the texture of the paper, the inventive die-cuts, the hidden mice, the cat, the boy, and the dogs. I spot new details with each reading.

Please share the process of making INSIDE OUTSIDE.   I’m especially interested in how Chronicle Books manufactured the book. I imagine there are unique challenges (all fun) when printing a book that has die-cut holes.

Lizi Boyd: Thank you Mr. Schu. I like it too. INSIDE OUTSIDE is a book that feels like it has been waiting inside me for years. I think it was the paper that finally found the book. A printer friend had given me big sheets of kraft paper. I made some large drawings and liked the texture, how the black and white popped and its simplicity. I folded the scraps, made cut out windows and did five or six little drawings.

Then I tucked them alongside my paint box. They sat there for a month or more. My studio sits up on a hill with long views to the mountains. The sketches mimic the inside and outside of my work space. It was winter when I did the sketches and as the snow began to melt everything outside became brown with patches of white. I went back to the kraft paper, cut pages with windows, made a mock up book and began to paint.

The first book that was submitted was just black and white. There was interest, suggestions and comments. Then came two more mock ups of the book, one with a bit of color and the third one with its seasonal arc of colors. I needed to make the book three times, 120 paintings, so I could ‘see’ if it worked. I wasn’t sure it needed color and I didn’t want to lose anything along the way. The book changed only in that more detail, narrative and characters appeared.

Chronicle Books believes in wonderfully constructed books and they’re brilliant about how to produce them. There was a bit of back and forth with production and the printer before I could begin the finishes. We needed to see how different papers and colors would reproduce and how the die cuts would work and be placed. Once the production details were settled I began to paint. The final painting didn’t have die cuts so I had to make templates to see where they would fall. It took all of me to imagine these details and then I’d pop up in bed, worried I’d made a mistake and go and check. The art director at Chronicle, Sara Gillingham, is very relaxed and knows how to make changes on her computer. Doing my work with paint and brushes, mistakes are lurking terrors for me.

Steve Kim, Production Manager: We had to adjust positioning so that things lined up properly. Viewing the galleys PDFs we had to make sure the simulated under lying pages actually matched the position of that under lying spread.

Then the die cuts on each page need to align to the under lying page both when the page is open to the right side of the gutter, and also when it's turned so that it's on the left side.

When binding, it's difficult to precisely align the die cuts, since there's a slight variance from copy to copy. Also, when the signatures are folded, the inner pages of the signatures are positioned very slightly farther away from the spine than the outer pages, so won't exactly match a simulation using flat spreads. This is called binders creep.

Those early mockups were handbound, and I think the die cuts were also hand cut. So it's difficult to make accurate adjustments from those.

There was a long search for a toothy, textured paper, but we weren't able to find one that was affordable. We considered brown kraft paper early on, but that would have been very expensive, and would have dulled the colors.

The bright colors were hard to match in cmyk, but I picked out the closest equivalents from the pantone process swatch books, and that helped a lot.

Mr. Schu: What do you enjoy doing INSIDE?

Lizi Boyd: When I’m not in my studio which is nearly every day I like playing music, making puppets, sewing, gathering up friends and cooking dinners. I like taking tea breaks at home or scooting down to town to meet someone. And I love reading in bed. I have tall, tippy stacks of books lined up beside my bed so I have plenty of choices.
Mr. Schu: What do you enjoy doing OUTSIDE?

Lizi Boyd: I live in Vermont and it's all about seasons. I love being outside all year: in the winter we snowshoe in the fields and cross country ski on the wooded trails. In the spring and fall we hike and ride bikes. In the summer I kayak and swim.I love to walk in the woods, watch all living things, gaze at clouds and stars. Yesterday I took a drawing board to the farm up the road, sat in the sun, and drew the little lambs with their pointy, black horns.

Mr. Schu: How did Olive and Zuli assist you in the making of  INSIDE OUTSIDE

Lizi Boyd: Every day I take a long morning walk with the Olive and Zuli. The smells of the spring have them distracted these days. They run off into the fields, poke around the stonewalls, chase out the squirrels and almost always come when I call. I see things on our walks I wouldn’t see without them. And then when we're home again they nap in the sun on the studio floor and keep me company. While I work and sometimes talk to myself, they look at me and understand what I'm saying. 

Mr. Schu: If you invited us inside your studio, what would we see?

Lizi Boyd: My studio looks like the inside of a book. There are bits and pieces of stories everywhere. There are shelves of materials, piles of books, drawings in stacks, work on the walls. My drawing tables have tubes of paints, pencils, water jars and at least a hundred brushes lined up against the edges of the tables. It is messy but oddly tidy, noisy, lively, quiet and full.

Mr. Schu: I’m a huge fan of wordless books. They have a special section in my school library. What inspired you to create INSIDE OUTSIDE as a wordless book?

Lizi Boyd: INSIDE OUTSIDE came about all on its own; silently, simply, following in and out through the seasons. Making the book was as if I'd found the child who just loves to sit and draw. And I just went off with her to find out where she was going. I didn’t think of it as a wordless book until it was finished. And then I thought of it as a book that could belong to the eyes and imagination of any child that held it.

Please complete these sentence starters:

Picture books are places to go, see, be. They are dreamy and quiet, noisy and delighting. They can take you far away or pull you very close.

Reading is full of sounds, sights, sensations, imaginations and wondrous discoveries.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me what I liked about libraries when I was a child.

We lived in a small Vermont town and we didn’t have a school library so we walked to the town’s library, a great marble building with shiny stone floors and heavy wooden doors.I loved the seriousness of the libraries, the commanding ‘shh’of the librarians and the sneaky desires created from all that silence. I liked the stacks, the loud clicking light switches. I liked finding books no one had opened in years, their musty smells, embossed covers, the delicate tracing paper flaps protecting the illustrations. I loved getting a special pass to take out more books than my card allowed. Everything about libraries made me feel like an adult and it still makes me feel that way.

I am giving away one copy of INSIDE OUTSIDE

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 4/14 to 11:59 P.M. on 4/16. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Lizi Boyd is today's Nerdy Book Club blogger


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