Tag Archives: original art show

The Original Art Show: Part II

As I mentioned, I already attended the Society of Illustrators’ Original Art Show during its opening, but the hustle and bustle of the event kept me from really getting a good look at all the pieces and reading the actual books.  So the Putnam art and editorial crew took a field trip last Friday to spend a few hours there in relative quiet and share our likes/dislikes.

All of the books are obviously winners, and of course, there were plenty that I already knew I loved: Peter Brown’s Children Make Terrible Pets, Jan Jutte’s Sleepover At Grandma’s House, Lane Smith’s It’s A Book!. But I wanted to mention a few new titles that I discovered along the way.  Here are my favorites:

1. Tao Nyeu – Bunny Days (Dial)

I was literally cooing and gasping with laughter aloud when I read this, as I couldn’t believe that a single book could be so adorable and disturbing at once!  In three parts, Mr. and Mrs. Goat find various ways to accidentally muddy/trap/maim a group of baby bunnies, and Bear comes to the rescue… with, um, interesting solutions.  Well-meaning Bear subjects the bunnies to the washing machine (and hangs them to dry!), a high-powered fan, and a sewing machine. AND THE BUNNIES ARE STILL CUTE! AND NOT DEAD!  Hilarious.

2.  Carmen Segovia – Brownie Groundhog and February Fox (Sterling)

This was one of my favorite designed books at the show.  I just love the wintery limited color palette with pops of red… reminds me of a modern version of classics like Mary Wore Her Red Dress. Plus, predator (Fox) and prey (Groundhog) become friends and share toast.  Aw.

3.  Laura Ljungkvist – Pepi Sings A New Song (Beach Lane Books)

The creator of Follow The Line comes out with a new – totally fun – picture book!  Pepi the perpetually wide-eyed parrot puts a crazy spin on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for his stargazing owner, Peter.  I always feel that word books and digital illustrations can go so easily BLAH, but Ljungkvist brings both to a whole new level.

4.  Steven Savage  – The Fathers Are Coming Home (Margaret K. McElderry)

Sniffle alert!  Margaret Wise Brown’s post-humous bedtime story is simple and touching, bringing a tear to my eye as all the animal fathers (and one returning sailor) come home to their babies at night.  I’ve been enamored with Steven Savage’s atmospheric textured prints since he came into one of my illustration classes a few years ago, and as with Polar Bear Night, they’re once again the perfect complement.

5.  It was raining cats and dogs this year!  I’m not normally a fan of “big black eyes” on characters, but Emma Dodd’s I Don’t Want A Cool Cat makes it work (plus, the book rocks). Emily Gravett’s Dogs is just that: all the breeds you can think of, animated with her classy British restraint. And one of my favorite original art pieces on the wall was Jon Klassen’s Cat’s Night Out… it’s a crying shame that the printed book had a polluted, sepia hue not in the art itself.  Klassen’s adorable little cats deserved more!

Despite what you may think, the show had more than picture books.  I haven’t read Tony DiTerlizzi’s The Search For Wondla (I’m woefully behind on my middle-grade and YA novels), but the design was spectacular. Color in the interior!  Gorgeous chapter openers!  I wanna do that!  The other book I must get my hands on is Jon Klassen’s The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Book 1: The Mysterious Howling.  Like A Series Of Unfortunate Events, it looks like something I’d love as a kid, but is sophisticated enough for adults.

Now that I’ve checked out all (okay, most…) of the books in the show, I definitely recommend that y’all do the same before it closes next week.  Go to there.

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The Original Art Show Opening Reception Recap

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending the 30th Annual Society of Illustrators’ Original Art Show opening reception!  It was a crowded, swinging party full of the best children’s book illustrators of the year, plus the editors, art directors/designers, friends and family who support them.

I’m not gonna lie – I was a little nervous about being there with so many people I admire, but don’t actually know.  But I wasn’t nervous enough NOT to go, and I’m so glad I did!  There were quite a few Penguin people there, so I wasn’t without my fellow assistant-types.  But the cool part was getting to briefly meet some awesome Putnam illustrators, and put faces to names for industry folks who were wandering around the event.  From the moment I ran into Eric Carle on the stairs (within 2 minutes of being there), my mantra of the evening was turning around, only to look at someone’s name-tag and go, “Whoa, I’m two feet away from ___________!”

The awards ceremony filled me with pride for being in the children’s book community. All of the winners were excited to be recognized by their peers, and there wasn’t one speaker who didn’t seem like a lovely, humble person.  Silver medalist Dan Santat, especially, seemed touched by the award and reminded us that this is one of the few occasions where illustrators, usually holed up alone in their studios, get the chance to be validated for the great work that they do. Aw.

The Gold medalist, Renata Liwska, is a huge illustrator-crush of mine, and I’m so glad that she won the top award of the year for The Quiet Book!  Her adorable animals are just up my alley, and I can’t wait until her book with Philomel, Red Wagon, comes out this winter.  The cutest!  Check out some of her sketches (believe it or not, her finishes are digital) on Amazon as well.

The highlight of the evening, hands down, was getting to hear Eric Carle accept his Lifetime Achievement Award. At 81, Carle is a champ for coming all the way down to NYC. Though his “senior moments” came out just a bit when he mixed up a few of his own life details (he has had quite a lot of experience!), his wisdom was more than clear. The laughs came when he mentioned that he “never really thought of himself as an illustrator” – says the creator of the most famous picture book ever. But I thought it was so interesting how he described the relationship between his graphic design/advertising background and the way that he composes his illustrations.  Carle said that every picture book spread he makes, he designs as a poster. Bold color, clear compositions, graphic shapes. Isn’t that incredible?

The award that hits closest to home is the Founder’s Award, which is given to an up-and-coming talent in the field (this year, it was Hyewon Yum).  Now, here’s how I feel about awards: they’re nice to get, but they don’t really matter. With so many equally talented people out there, awards like these are full of out-of-your-control factors like the tastes and predisposition of the judges. So don’t bother thinking about it, because there’s really not a lot you can, or should, do to “try to win” an award.

That being said. I WANTSSS IT. The Founder’s Award, I mean. I have too much competitiveness in my bones not to want that award someday (at least a little). And with the board books already published, that means I have one chance to win it.  In short, my picture book debut better be smashing.

But enough about awards.

It was way too crowded to check out all of the books and art displayed at the Original Art Show, so I’m going again with the rest of the Putnam crew in a couple weeks.  I’ll report back on my findings later!