Tag Archives: art process

The Grumpy Artist

grumpy kid hiding behind art

When I first started writing this a few weeks ago, I thought it would be about celebrating the one year birthday of my book, TUMBLE, sharing my new art, paintings, and summer plans. But, so much has happened in the land of social media and how it affects artists that I could not gloss over the chilling effect it has had on how I share my work.

The backstory: Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram) has decided to scrape all existing images to train artificial intelligence engines (and probably resell it to users in the form of a new app or whatever). At the same time, Adobe (parent company of Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign) has also decided to scrape the usage data and art created by millions of its users industry-standard software to continue to train its own artificial intelligence engines. Adobe was/is likely already scraping our data. 

Last year, they rolled out Adobe Firefly, a generative A.I. tool where users could generate entire sections of their compositions using text prompts. I think most artists signed up to use the toolset that Adobe provides to make creative work and meet industry standards for design and illustration. I highly doubt any of us signed up for Adobe's subscription to feed some engine with our creative work, only to then have it regurgitated back to us for the low-low price of a monthly subscription fee. I've been thinking hard about whether I want to continue to share my art digitally and whether I want to use Adobe tools to make my work. It's a very hard pill to swallow after literally decades using and mastering these tools.

Jump here if you don't want the backstory. All of this artificial intelligence drama has affected how free I feel sharing my work on the internet. It has further solidified my own thinking that I should go back to blogging and dedicate more time to making in-person connections, doing school visits, and writing.

Whenever I start thinking too much about all of this, I just get really down. The solution tends to be making art by hand and "touching grass," as well as focusing on telling stories through my art and words. I guess that's what I'll be doing more of in the future.

Motivation: the look on a child's face when they read one of my books and it sparks curiosity or connection. That makes it worth it to me to keep going. Hope it does the same for you.

TUMBLE! An origin story

There's just one more month until TUMBLE 'tumbles' onto bookshelves everywhere, and I am so proud of this little book! It received a Starred Kirkus Review and was positively received by many beta readers.

So where did the idea come from?

TUMBLE's origins are kind of sad, but it's a story of survival and so I'll share it with you. Rewind to Fall of 2020. COVID lockdowns. My family had traveled to be closer to my mom and stepdad who was in the final stages of cancer. As they were in home hospice at my stepsister's, we were doing the best we could e-learning at my mother's condo. Zoom school with first graders who had already missed half of the social skills from kindergarten was not easy. 

After e-learning one day, kiddo turned to me at the table wanting to write a story about "tumble." Tumble? I asked if he wanted me to write the words for him as I'd done previously, and with an emphatic "NO!" said he wanted to challenge me to a duel... a story duel! I don't know where he got the word from, but we got to work. He on his version. Me on mine... I started with some thumbnails that came quickly, and the words followed.

A bit later I brought it to my online critique group and they thought it was great. They were so encouraging! They helped me polish the text into the rhyming couplets you see in the final.

You can find the book here on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61780003-tumble

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Tumble by Adriana Hernández Bergstrom


by Adriana Hernández Bergstrom

Giveaway ends June 08, 2023.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Also, there's currently a giveaway for TUMBLE! Entries opened today and anyone in the U.S. can enter until it closes June 8. 

TUMBLE goes on sale June 6 wherever books are sold.

I hope you win!

Part 2, Sketch to Final: Abuelita and I Make Flan

 from sketch to final for abuelita and i make flan book

Back in 2017, when I started writing ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN my story looked like a list of ingredients (literally) and a recipe. I took this to my first writing critique group (!!Qué pena!! but you have to start somewhere). I had a hazy vision in my head for a story about a grandchild and grandparent making flan together.

The story changed shape many times between 2017 and it's publication in 2022.

Abuelita and I Make Flan early draft


In between, I realized the story was missing 'the heart'. So I combined a memory of baking with my own Abuelita with that feeling where you think everything's going wrong, but you're still safe and loved and accepted as an imperfect child deserving of love. This was a big step in learning to write for kids. There needs to be some kind of heart or hook or something for kids to relate to.


thumbnail dummies for abuelita and i make flan children's book
Next, I did a sketch dummy from Debbie Ohi's site:  https://debbieohi.com/resources/. I played with different thumbnail illustrations until the story made sense to me (and my agent!). Then I enlarged it to a full size dummy, refined the illos, and began the back and forth of editing and revising.


I needed to add more tension! Here are some of the people who saw it and offered editing thoughts: critique partners, mentors, teachers from various courses and organizations, professional/industry critiquers, peers, and my mother*. And this jogged a memory of me breaking my mom's wedding plate while we were moving back in with my grandparents.

*For my second and third books, I did not have to take it so far and wide for editing. It took a lot for me to grow confident in my writing abilities! Also, sometimes your family doesn't know what makes a good children's book!

And that was the key! Once I added that broken plate, it all came together and we sold the manuscript to Charlesbridge in 2020, and it finally came out in August of 2022.

These days, my process for writing is more like a yes/no flowchart: outline or list, then a test draft in prose (does it work? yes/no), if no, a draft in lyrical language. When I think something's working, I'll exchange with a critique group (love/hate/boring?)... rinse repeat until it's feeling ready-ish enough to submit to my agent.