Working with kids at Stone Academy, Chicago
Cooking up ideas with Beth Ferry
Getting help from Scooter
Using all the tools in the toolbox
Drawing cows with a brush pen

I make books for children and people who used to be children.

I’ve always loved drawing pictures and making up stories, so I feel very fortunate to have found a job that lets me do both. 

The question I hear most often from readers is “Where do you get your ideas?” I get ideas by keeping my eyes and ears open, especially when I’m around kids. I try to see things as they would and create from their perspective. I create as if I’m just having a fun conversation with a child and I keep in mind that they’re smarter than we think.

For inspiration, I have a bunch of photos of kids on my wall. Whenever I’m stuck for an idea, I look at one of those photographs and think to myself, “What would make that kid laugh?” 

Whether working from a manuscript, collaborating with a writer or writing a book myself, I always start with lots of rough sketches. The final illustrations are often done on colored paper, using ink, watercolor, colored pencil, pastels and whatever else achieves the look I have in mind. I prefer the hands-on tactile experience of traditional art materials but I will use digital tools to add layers and fix mistakes. 

I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with many wonderful authors, editors and designers, and I appreciate everything they do to make this the best job in the world. 

None of this would happen without my wonderful wife, Jan, who helps edit my ideas and keeps me on schedule. Thank you, Jan! 

A progression of one illustration, from rough sketches to finished art.
Final medium is neocolor crayon on mi-tientes colored paper.