“My work in children’s books really grew out of a desire to explore what I was feeling as a new father,” says Jon J. Muth. “I was working in comics, which was a natural forum for expressions of angst and questioning one’s place in the universe. But when the children came, it became important to say other things about the world. With the births of my son, Nikolai, and my daughter, Adelaine, there was a kind of seismic shift in where my work seemed appropriate.”
As a child growing up in Cincinnati, the artist says that he “drew and drew and drew and drew, and painted.” His mother, an art teacher, took him to visit museums all over the United States. Jon J. Muth had his first one-man exhibit of paintings and drawings at the invitation of Wilmington College when he was just eighteen years old. He went on to study stone sculpture and sho (brush calligraphy) in Japan as well as painting, printmaking, and drawing in England, Austria, and Germany. But most of his intensive education, he recalls, came from informal apprenticeships with two fine artists.
For a while, Jon J. Muth concentrated his published work in the area of comic books, work that gained him a worldwide audience as well as an Eisner Award. Then, in 1995, he says, “I created the comic strip Imaginary Magnitude for a Japanese magazine, and that was where my work began to express the very real delight I find in being a parent. It’s always been easy for me to make myself small and run around in my work. In children’s books this ability has a natural home.”
The first children’s book Jon J. Muth illustrated, Karen Hesse’s Come On, Rain!, won a Society of Illustrators Gold Medal. He also painted Douglas Wood’s Old Turtle And The Broken Truth and Eric Kimmel’s Gershon’s Monster, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book. Jon J. Muth is the author-illustrator of Stone Soup, a familiar tale that he set in China, and the critically acclaimed The Three Questions, a book that The New York Times Book Review called “quietly life-changing.” Mr. George Baker, a poignant tale by the award-winning Amy Hest, was his first book with Candlewick Press.
Jon Muth lives in upstate New York, where, he says, he spends time chasing the clouds from his brushes.