It’s not the first Sunday of this month, when I tend to shine the spotlight on student or brand-spankin’-new illustrators, but last Sunday was usurped by butterbeer, remember? So, the up-and-coming illustrator feature got bumped up a bit.
Today, we get a visit from Zack Rock, who describes himself as an illustrator and jackalope fancier. He lives in Seattle and is going to tell us a bit more now about his training and plans. Let’s get right to it…
Zack (pictured left is his self-portrait): I was born to illustrate. Or at least I never realized the adults were just humoring me when they, for instance, complimented my irredeemably Cubist portrait of a moo cow. So, instead of learning practical things like accountancy or hammers, I tossed all my chips on “Artistic Genius” and let it ride.
Reality eventually disabused me of any delusions of genius. But my youthful gamble did land me a career as a video game artist and acceptance into the renowned MA in Children’s Book Illustration program at England’s Cambridge School of Art. Developed by scholar and gentleman Martin Salisbury, the program attracts talent from all over the globe and throws us together in a no-holds-barred, steel cage death match of mutual respect and encouragement. Martin himself is an insightful and frank appraiser of illustration, and he brings in top-notch illustrators from the UK picture book industry—such as, David Hughes, Alexis Deacon, James Mayhew, Salvatore Rubbino and Pam Smy—for further critique. Highly recommend for anyone with a spare couple of years to cultivate a picture book illustration practice and a palette for Marmite.
Currently, I’m collaborating with the Creative Company to get my first book out the door. They make some of the most beautiful picture books on the market, and meeting them at the 2011 Bologna Children’s Book Fair was the non-Italian-cuisine-related highlight of my time there. It’s still a bit unreal to be working with them. Can’t reveal much about the book itself, but I can say it fits comfortably within the ever-popular “Custodian Adventures” picture book genre.
I work in watercolors, because I love their luminous and unpredictable qualities. They’re also the medium of choice for some of my favorite artist growing up, like Lisbeth Zwerger, Arthur Rackham, and Jon J Muth. Though I’ve lately been tempted to jump on the oils bandwagon with my current influences — Michael Sowa, Quint Buchholz, Tony Meeuwissen, Roberto Innocenti, and the ludicrously brilliant Shaun Tan (who I wrote my MA thesis on and cited heavily in a lecture on picture books I delivered last year).
Many thanks to Zack for visiting. I look forward to his picture book debut and to seeing where he lands next. (Also, don’t you all think that looks like a young Sendak in the diner spread?)
All images are copyright © 2012 by Zack Rock.
Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.
I’m here, you all. It’s been a busy week full of unexpected things, and I’m amazed when I even get one post up these days, but I’m here. And Betsy—who is such a wonderful co-author—and I still plug away on manuscript revisions, as we edge closer to the big due date.
1) My littlest turns seven years old today. She’s not really sticking her tongue out at being seven. We were just being silly with my Photobooth camera thingy.
2) One day this week, she described her foot having fallen asleep as “like little dots are hopping all over you.”
3) Her older sister has somehow developed this really impressive ability to recognize BS when a person engages in it. I have great examples of this, but then this post would be too long. I love this about her.
5) The season finale of Hell on Wheels, which very much seemed like a series finale, was quite good, I thought. If that really is it, I’ll miss that scrappy, if sometimes uneven, little western. I’ll even miss the creepy Norwegian.
6) Rufus at the Ryman! Just five more days!
7) This image from Bob Staake, which Eisha and I agree needs to be a on tee shirt:
- A new blog about children’s book illustration is always a good thing, especially this very promising one. Check out Pen & Oink.
- Speaking of fabulous blogs, did you all see Travis Jonker’s interview with Jon Klassen this week? It’s here. I love the blunt answer to the last question — and especially Travis’ response.
- I re-discovered this Q & A this week, and I love the wisdom Mo Willems imparts here on raising readers, especially this:
6. Show some respect. “There’s no need to talk down to kids, in children’s books or otherwise. Kids are human beings, which some people seem to forget. Their emotional life is as deep and rich as ours, if not deeper.”
7. Don’t tell kids it’s good for them. “Forget about reading being healthy. It’s not broccoli. In fact, most children’s books are lies. And the bigger the lie, the better the book — as long as it’s emotionally true.”
VERY LAST BONUS: I can’t remember for the life of me where I read this and who said it, but someone was recalling how her mother would recite this poem to her nightly before going to sleep. First of all, I’d never read the poem, and I like its simple beauty. Secondly, how much do I want to steal that idea? You think, even in the midst of manuscript revisions, I can memorize that one for my own daughters? It’s short, so it’s do-able, yes?
What are YOUR kicks this week?