…to some of my guiding lights of writing and illustrating for children.
You know how sometimes someone plants a little seed of an idea in your head, and for a while you don’t notice that it’s growing. Say for maybe, for example, 20 years or so, and then one day, it just springs forth with a great big duh!?
My friend, writer and teacher, Deb Lund and her husband Karl Olsen used to house sit for my landlords, when Deb and Karl first moved to Whidbey Island. I got to know them and they came to know and admire my artwork. One day Deb said, “You know, you would be really good at illustrating children’s books.” I said something like, “yeah, yeah, in my spare time,” because I was kind of on a fine art mission, and I didn’t want to get distracted.
So, fast forward 20 years and one day, after I had been panda-ing around with my cartoons for a year or so, it popped into my head that It. Was. Time, and so I called Deb up and said, “It’s time!!! NOW what do I do????” Deb pointed me in the direction of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and I went to a conference, started paying attention, took a class with Deb, and soon Pandamorphosis started on it’s long journey.
There are some other big influences in my trip to writing and illustrating for children, but they are people I have never met. (OK, one of them signed the book I bought, but that doesn’t really count.) The author/illustrators I consider to be my primary guiding lights are Chris Van Allsburg, and David Wiesner. They create art and stories that inspire me. The paintings they create for their books are brilliant in their own right, and when put in service of whatever tale they are telling, pure magic happens.
When I was making the rounds of publishers and agents with Pandamorphosis, one agent who turned me down commented, “don’t you think the artwork is too good for children’s books?”
I don’t think that’s possible.
So I will try, to do my duty, to art and illustration, to aspire to the quality of art and the rich and quirky story telling, of my heroes.
And here is a Fabulous Furry Friday Funny, cause, like, I did NOT forget!
Be the Bear,
Bob T. Panda