I was drawing pictures of my favorite things before I started kindergarten. The things were horses, cars, and cartoon characters of my own or copied from comic books. The drawings looked good enough to me so I kept on doing them. Some of my friends quit drawing because their pictures didn’t look good enough to them. Give yourself a lot of second chances to get better. With practice you usually do improve. Almost no one gets worse.
I didn’t get much art training in public school, but when it was time for college everything changed. I went to an art school college. All the students were terrific artists. We all struggled to keep up with the best of our group.
After graduation we all went our separate ways—some of us designed cars, some designed clothing or appliances or toys. Others did art work for ads in magazines and for TV. I did some of that kind of work, too.
A job offer came along to work for a greeting card company, so I did that for five
years. During that time I got connected with some children’s book publishers. The greeting card job ended, and ever since I found myself happily working on children’s books.
I’m glad readers seem to like Joe and Sparky. What I like about Joe and Sparky is that, while their opinions and feelings about anything are totally opposite, they still remain best friends. They are truly an odd couple, and this makes their stories more fun.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. I’ve done some unusual art projects, including a design with new animal drawings for the animal cracker box that was in stores from 1996 until 1996! Sometimes people would bring boxes of animal crackers to book signings for an autograph.
2. Art work for dead illustrators was another odd job. It started with new illustrations of The Saggy Baggy Elephant for Golden books. The originator, Gustaf Tenggren, was not longer with us. It worked out OK, and I soon was drawing some of his other famous characters such as the Tawny Scrawny Lion and the Pokey Little Puppy.
3. Later I drew Detective Arthur for Aurelious Battaglia and went on to draw characters of the artists Bill Peet, Noni Hardigan, Bill Steig, Wanda Gag and H. A. Rey. Kind of strange but it enabled me to advise young students to go ahead and copy some artist that they admired or wanted to learn about. But, just don’t forget to keep on drawing like yourself later.