Though I don’t have any of my earliest drawings as proof, I remember that by the time I was in 4th grade I was already one of the two kids in class who was “good at drawing.” An attraction to all kinds of illustration, design, film, animation, or any creative artform, has always been a driving force for my own creativity and way of life. Though I seemed to have an understanding of visual language since very young, it has been a lifelong endeavor to become more proficient and fluent.
The origin of my interest in illustration can be traced to character design. In animation, comics, children’s books, and film, character design and the story-building that drives it has always been a major inspiration for me to put pencil to paper. Stories like the Frog and Toad series from Arnold Lobel, and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by Jon Sciescka and Lane Smith impacted me through their great narratives, but the illustrations and the particular way they were drawn spoke to me in a special way. Great illustrations and stories such as those invited me to a playground where I could create anything – and all I wanted to create was characters that jumped out of the page. Somehow, I never stopped drawing. That’s what I call my real talent: an inexplicable ability for and never-ending interest in drawing.
Perhaps if I had been a more avid reader growing up I would have found my interest in writing much sooner. But my talent for keeping at it with drawing eventually lead me there. Toward the end of college, I began to rediscover children’s books and children’s book illustration. My character design practice, that at the time was anchored in animation and film concept art, suddenly reconnected with one of my earliest inspirations for making art. Not long after that I was sure that children’s book illustration was a great home for my work.
Today, whether I’m writing a story or illustrating one, the magic of visual language still speaks to me in a profound way. My connection to it grows stronger and more complex each day. In the simplest terms, character design and story are at the heart of my passion for illustration.