By Kelly Davis
Name: Julie Hampton
Programs: Children's Book Illustration, Children's Book Writing
Folks come to Extension for a variety of reasons: to advance their careers or learn something new for fun. For Julie Hampton, Extension’s certificate programs helped her fulfill a longtime goal to write and illustrate books for kids. Not only did classes help Hampton sharpen her writing and illustration skills, but also helped her better understand the business side of things. “I have never been short on ideas,” Hampton says, “but developing them into workable projects was something I needed help with.” Her hard work paid off: Hampton recently signed with an agent who’s submitted her book — which, she says, "mixes art, story and humor with the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math" — to editors so she can add “published author” to her list of accomplishments.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am an architect, author and illustrator living in Encinitas. I have had a lifelong obsession with books, which really started with my parents reading to me. I also love to create art, so developing children’s picture books seemed like a natural path.
Why did you decide to study at Extension?
UCSD Extension offered targeted certificate programs focusing on writing and illustrating children’s books. I have enjoyed taking digital media classes at local community colleges prior to hearing about the certificate programs offered at Extension; this was clearly my next logical step. As I was trying to both write and illustrate my own stories, I went through both certificate programs, which really complement each other.
What did you learn in your classes?
I have never been short on ideas, but developing them into workable projects was something I needed help with. This involves all elements of craft, including analyzing theme and story structure, character and plot development, language and of course the art! Teachers also covered the business end of the industry, especially in Getting Published, the final class required for each of the two certificates. One of the most important aspects of the coursework is giving and getting feedback from teachers and classmates.
Any particular class that stands out?
There were many great classes and teachers. Sarah Tomp’s writing classes were a great idea incubator for me, and she was wonderfully encouraging. I ended up taking three different writing classes with her. On the illustration side, Jennifer Hewitson’s illustration II class really brought my artwork up to another level.
What advice would you give to students interested in this program?
Dive in, and enjoy immersing yourself in these classes! Extension classes are all about pursuing your dreams. Focus on your goals but enjoy the process! Also, join the San Diego chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Each offers fun learning and great community.
How has your experience at Extension changed your life?
I think it is interesting that the week I got my second certificate in the mail, I signed with a literary agent!
Learn more about the Children's Book Writing and Children's Book Illustration programs on our website, or contact the department by phone at (858)534-5760 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.