Ten Picture Books with Resources about the Illustrators’ Processes by Helen Labun Jordan
I’m not a visual artist. I lack all visual artist sensibilities. In high school, I drew a charcoal picture of a lizard statue sitting under a flower vase that looked pretty much like the objects in front of me. I framed it, hung it up, called it a day artist-wise, and never thought about shadowing or foreshortening or perspective lines again.
Today, part of my job at Bear Pond Books is to help coordinate a series where authors and illustrators talk with teachers and librarians about using books in the classroom. It turns out that you don’t have to be artistically inclined yourself to learn a lot from artists talking about their work. Hearing illustrators share the different ways they think about crafting stories is inherently interesting to me because it’s a glimpse into someone else’s unique creative process. And it gives me new perspective on all the stories around us – including ones that don’t involve any words.
I’ve moved from listening to local artists speak in our bookstore series to also looking for other places illustrators discuss their work. The result – this top ten list of picture books paired with interviews or videos that give a glimpse of their illustrators’ processes.
Viva Frida – Yuyi Morales
Neighborhood Sharks – Katherine Roy
Quest – Aaron Becker
See what he did with this interview on the Let’s Get Busy podcast.
Lost and Found – Oliver Jeffers
Start with It’s Nice That interview. This interview includes both a short, funny video about a typical day for Jeffers and notes that he does a lot of other, non-children’s art. You can see examples of that work here: http://www.oliverjeffers.com
Swamp Angel – Paul O. Zelinksy
Start with an interview with Nancy Pearl on Book Lust.
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker – Christian Robinson
Look at “Pen, Ink, Watercolor, Repeat” by Brian Floca in Horn Book – a brief reflection on working off the screen.
The Baby Tree – Sophie Blackall
Begin with “Drawn from my Father’s Adventures” – a blog where she illustrates stories that her father tells about his life. Technically that’s not her creative process, but it’s still really cool. And for a bonus to make up for cheating on theme, check out a short piece on the studio space Blackall shares with other illustrators (including Floca), from Pen and Oink
Beekle – Dan Santat
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole – Jon Klassen (& Mac Barnett)
Helen Labun Jordan is the events coordinator at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont (@BearPondBooks). She writes about author-educator connections at http://montpelierbearpond.blogspot.com