Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Dan Santat
(Your Coffee Pot Will Thank You)

h1 May 27th, 2014 by jules

I think many people in the field of children’s lit would agree that author-illustrator Dan Santat is one of the hardest-working people out there. In fact, Minh Le at The Huffington Post said as much recently.

I also happen to think he’s one of the most talented. Carolyn Juris at The New York Times notes what I like the best about his work when she described his mixed-media illustrations as “wild-eyed” and looking “as though they could bound right off the page and onto the screen.” That wild energy is part and parcel of what makes his work so intriguing, and there is often a refreshing irreverence for what your typical grown-up thinks a picture book should be. And his comic timing? I think up-and-coming illustrators could learn a lot about such pacing by studying Santat’s illustrated titles.

His newest picture book, just out on shelves, is called The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend (Little, Brown). It’s a wildly imaginative story of friendship, tender and restrained. “[W]hile his immense talent was always evident, Beekle takes his artistry to a new level,” Le adds over at The Huffington Post piece. Below, Dan shares artwork from this book, as well as some deleted scenes and rejected covers.

As you’ll also read below, Dan schools us in the way of coffee. And I, for one, am happy to be schooled. I definitely learned a thing or two from his response, all the while drooling as I read. (Big coffee fan here. This “impossible things before breakfast” bit is only a ruse. A RUSE, I tell you! The truth is that I am capable of little to no possibilities till I have my mornin’ cup of joe.) This morning, as we chat we’ll have some of his own coffee, pictured here. (You can click the image to embiggen it and see it in more detail.)



 

And I’m putting out three coffee mugs, since his clone may show up:

 



 

Let’s get right to it. I thank Dan for visiting.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Dan: I would consider myself an illustrator/author, though I’d like to hopefully change that to author/illustrator — someday. Some folks still just call me an illustrator.

Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Dan: Picture books:

Middle Grade:

Graphic Novel:

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Dan: The majority of the time I will work on a computer, using Adobe Photoshop and a drawing tablet. However, in the last few years I’ve often tried to illustrate a book using materials that I feel lend themselves to the content of the story and incorporate these various elements on a computer. For the last five years, I feel like I’ve been under constant deadlines, and the computer is just the most time efficient way to do things. I’ve always been open to the idea of using various mediums together to add to the look of a project, and I’ve always wanted to have a more organic feel to my books without it feeling forced. The computer affords me the luxury to experiment without losing time. In [Mac Barnett’s] Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World), I actually screen-grabbed scenes of white from old movies so that I could overlay that gritty texture over my artwork in order to make it feel like a still from an old film.


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[Ed. Note: You can visit this 2010 7-Imp post for more on this book, including more art and sketches and more from Dan.]

 

The artwork in Beekle is supposed to feel like it’s all hand-painted, so I scanned in various art textures and used them as color masks.

 




 

Overall, my process always seems to evolve and change as I go from book to book. I originally tried doing [Samantha Berger’s] Crankenstein with 3D sculptures and integrating them into elements of real life, but the publisher opted for me to paint it instead. Perhaps I’ll revisit the technique in the future? I never know where my interests will take me.


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Illustrating Crankenstein
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Final spread
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Jules: If you have illustrated for various age ranges (such as, both picture books and early reader books OR, say, picture books and chapter books), can you briefly discuss the differences, if any, in illustrating for one age group to another?

Dan: When I work in picture books, my mind is thinking more painterly than my chapter book work, which is more line-driven. If I’m juggling multiple projects, I tend to work in large spurts between painterly work and line work. I tend to get into a groove if I’m working in one particular way, and it’s hard to flip flop between styles (credit richter). I personally think my line work is stronger than my painting ability, but I actually prefer working on picture books over chapter books, because the story relies so heavily on the visuals — and I feel I can contribute more to the storytelling medium from an illustration standpoint.


Spread from Michael Buckley’s
Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show (Abrams, 2012)

I also feel like I’m at a place in picture books where I feel most publishers have confidence in allowing me to design every aspect of the book — or at least respect my input, which I love. I love designing books just as much as illustrating them, and I actually feel like they are one and the same. Chapter books sometimes are a little more out of my control, because the text in a chapter book is so descriptive. You really have to just be literal with the illustrations, and there is less room for artistic narrative.


Dan’s wife and children

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Dan: I come from the hard streets of Alhambra, California. Elaine McFly’s house from Back to the Future is about a mile away from me, as is the tree which George McFly was caught peeping in.




 

Across the street from that house is Ralph’s grocery store in which the opening scene of The Big Lebowski was filmed — where the Dude writes a check for $0.69.

 



 

Pee Wee’s home from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is in the area as well, though it’s not covered in knick-knacks, like it once was.

 



 

The home which Norman Rockwell was married in is here in town, a few miles away from my place, too. I missed the open house when it sold a few months back.

 

The famous movie producer Phil Spector is about a mile away from me. If you recall, he produced the Wall of Sound for The Beatles’ album Let It Be. He happens to now be in jail for murdering a woman in his home.

If you want real authentic Asian food of any kind, then this is the place. Boba shops, Pho, Korean BBQ, and Dim Sum restaurants are everywhere. All the Chinese folks from L.A. Chinatown moved out and came here and to Monterey Park (the next town over). It’s so authentic they put up signs in Mandarin and Cantonese, and they don’t care if you can read it. For example, I once went into a dumpling house with my wife and two non-Asian friends. The entire restaurant literally stopped what they were doing and looked right at us. I think even the water in the boiling pot stopped moving for a few seconds. The waitress came up to us and asked, “Are you lost?” and “Do you know how to use chopsticks?”

That’s how real it is.




 

One of my favorite places in town is down the street from my house. My good friend (and old art school buddy) has a fabulous art gallery, Gallery Nucleus, just down the street from me where they host many shows featuring the production art of many film releases.

 



 

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

 


Dan and his agent, Jodi Reamer, at a friend’s wedding


 


Dan’s art director, David Caplan, and his editor, Connie Hsu
Dan: “[This] picture was when we first all got together after signing the contract for
Beekle, and it’s on the dedication page of the book.”

Dan: In brief, I started at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, in ‘98. My good friend and picture book phenom, Peter Brown, and I went to school together, and we were part of a very teeny tiny group of illustrators who wanted to make picture books for a living. I was flopping around with various art styles, showing interests in various disciplines, like entertainment design, editorial, and gallery illustration. I graduated in 2001 and grabbed my first job working in the video game industry, while working on my art portfolio every night after work at home. One year later, I attended my very first SCBWI conference with a dummy book I had been working on for about three months and met my editor, Arthur Levine, at the conference portfolio display show. He gave me a two-book deal a week later. The dummy book was The Guild of Geniuses. The second book was what became Sidekicks.


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Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Dan: www.dantat.com.

 







Creating art for Susan Middleton Elya’s
Fire! Fuego! Brave Bomberos (Bloomsbury, 2012)
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Jules: If you do school visits, can you tell me what they’re like?

Dan: I generally like to give the kids a glimpse of my life at home. Kids and adults both love it as a “fantastical” Willy Wonka form of entertainment. Back when I illustrated [Tammi Sauer’s] Chicken Dance, I hired a chicken to be a model for me for reference. He was a good little sport but he never left my house afterwards, so now I have this chicken in my house.


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I cook for him, I go out bike-riding with him, and we play games, though I’m not very good at soccer.

 


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In addition, I have also managed to clone myself in order to get my constant mountain of work done.

 



 

We once had a mishap where I accidentally shrunk him down to the size of a Smurf. We finally fixed the problem, but it took a while.

 


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Right now, we’re in the middle of a kitchen remodel, and he’s been shopping around inside a Crate and Barrel catalog testing things out. Together, we all work together to get assignments completed and help me be a parent.


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I’m my presentations, I’ll also show illustrations from books, talk about my book-making process, and read to the kids. I’m hoping I can one day learn to play ukulele.

 


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Jules: If you teach illustration, by chance, tell me how that influences your work as an illustrator.

Dan: When I teach illustration, I try to make the point that you as an illustrator are not trying to just make pretty pictures, but that you are trying to communicate an idea. When I teach, I’m always more about the concept than about the look of the finished result. The ability to communicate in images is harder than one might think.


Spread from Tammi Sauer’s
Chicken Dance (Sterling, 2009)
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[Ed. Note: For some of Dan’s art from the sequel, Tammi’s Bawk & Roll, visit this 2012 7-Imp post. And for more art from Chicken Dance and other titles, visit this 2009 post.]

When you tell a story in graphic novel form, it’s a sequence of images trying to tell a story, and the difficulty is making sure each image relates to one another in a sequence that doesn’t lose interest or confuse the reader. As you get down to fewer and fewer images, like if you have to illustrate an entire magazine article in one single image, then you get into have to be really efficient with your communication. When you try to teach this to students, you really have to know your stuff in order to even explain how it’s even done. I always tell my students that the two most important skills I would recommend to an artist is to have a solid knowledge of graphic design and to take an advertising class in order to learn symbology as a form of efficient communication.




Spreads and cover from Corey Rosen Schwartz’s
The Three Ninja Pigs (Putnam, 2012)
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Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Dan: My second picture book, The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, just came out from Little, Brown. It’s a personal story that works in several layers of metaphor. The story is about an imaginary friend, who is born on an island of imaginary creatures. On this island, an imaginary friend will be lifted up by the stars and taken to a child who imagines them. It isn’t until this imaginary friend meets this child that they will finally learn their name. Each imaginary friend is unique in this story and show a clear purpose to their creation. A boy who loves to fly kites has a cloud who blows the wind as his imaginary friend. A girl who loves origami has a giant paper origami panda as a friend.


Opening endpages
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“Every night he stood under the stars,
hoping for his turn to be picked by a child and given a special name.”
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“But his turn never came.”
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The main character is more obscure. He’s just a white blob with a paper crown on his head. His purpose isn’t clear. As time goes on, he watches the others fly off to the stars to their child, and he’s left worrying that no one will imagine him, so rather than waiting, he decides to build a boat to find his friend. By the end, he finally meets a little girl who you realize has been drawing the entire adventure the whole time and that his purpose is to be the main character to her story and eventually helps give her courage to go out to make friends with other kids.



“…he did the unimaginable.”
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“Then he finally saw something familiar … So he followed.”
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“He climbed to the top of a tree and looked out,
wishing and hoping his friend would come.”
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The story is a metaphor about the birth of my son. It’s also about the collaboration of how an idea is turned into a book. And lastly, and the most obvious, is that this story is about making your first friend.

 


“Her face was friendly and familiar,
and there was something about her that felt just right.”
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(Click either image to see sketch in its entirety)



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“The world began to feel a little less strange.”
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Closing endpages
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I have other projects in the pot. The most notable is having the honor of re-illustrating the entire Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot series, written by Dav Pilkey. That’s been an amazing experience, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.

 


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Comics Squad: Recess! [pictured below] is a graphic novel anthology coming out this year that I had the honor of participating in. I wrote a short story about a kid who wants to copy a 300-word essay about The Giving Tree from a girl that he has a secret crush on.

 


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Other projects coming out this year are Ninja Red Riding Hood with Corey Rosen Schwartz, which follows the further tales of the wolf from The Three Ninja Pigs.

 


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Working on a spread from Corey Rosen Schwartz’s Ninja Red Riding Hood
(G.P. Putnam’s Sons, July 2014)


Final spread: “The wolf took a swing at that instant, but Red deftly dodged the attack.
She got a good grip, threw him over her hip, and the wolf wound up flat on his back.”

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“…she’d gone to Ninja school, too!”
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Also, a third adventure of [R. A. Spratt’s] Nanny Piggins in Nanny Piggins and the Runaway Lion; and two more books from [Suzanne Selfors’] Imaginary Veterinary series.

 


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I’m currently working on a second Crankenstein book called, A Crankenstein Valentine. I’m also working on my next picture book titled, Are We There Yet?, and my next graphic novel, The Aquanaut. I also just signed on to illustrate a great picture book written by Gennifer Choldenko, and I’m continuing to illustrate the Ricky Ricotta series, which includes two new books (Book 8 and 9) by Dav Pilkey. Hopefully, in the near future, Tom Angleberger and I have also discussed doing a book together, and he has given me a pretty great manuscript to work with.

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, we’ve got more of Dan’s coffee, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with seven questions over breakfast. I thank him again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?

Dan: I’ll typically take a manuscript and read it over and over again, trying to sound out the natural page breaks. In that process, I’ll sit there and just visualize scenes in my head. This is the time when I try to figure out the best way to approach a story in terms of the mood, theme, and especially the particular design theme, which would best represent the story from a functional point of view. I’ll think about everything from how I imagine the title page to the details on the jacket flaps.


Beekle as a work-in-progress
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There are times when an entire story is clearly pictured in my head, and I know the book is really speaking to me. And there are other times when I picture book can be a little more complex and will need a little bit more time to figure out. I honestly try to create the book as much as I can in my head. I try to visualize the entire book before I even draw anything. After thinking about the manuscript for a while, I’ll just dive into a project and start drawing tiny thumbnail sketches. I think I’m probably one of the rare artists who doesn’t do concept art or sketch studies beforehand, and I don’t usually get wrapped up with photo references, unless I absolutely need to. I just read the text and get right to laying out compositions, and I’ll usually design characters and settings along the way. Sometimes characters will just start out as little squiggles or stick figures until I figure things out. It’s really all about efficiency of time with me. I figure that I’ll be drawing the character enough times throughout a story that by the end it will figure itself out, but while in the process, I’m still managing to figure out other parts of the puzzle.


The first draft of Beekle
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The page turn and pacing is really important to me. I usually think in terms of full-page spreads rather than individual pages. You’ll typically find that most of my books are comprised of full-page landscape illustrations, and I try to jam as many extra visuals into them as I can. I’ll take sketches to very tight line drawings. I find that the tighter the drawings, the better the end product. Once that’s squared away, I’ll just jump right into coloring it in Photoshop.


An early Beekle sketch
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Early versions of Beekle
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Beekle deleted scenes
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Beekle rejected covers
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2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.

Dan: Have you ever watched Office Space where they keep pushing that guy further into the basement with boxes and junk? That’s my studio, except filled with kids’ toys. I wish it was fancy like some of the other illustrators you’ve interviewed, but my studio generally revolves around my computer and the work that’s in it. I’m ashamed of my studio, and I plan on making it not stink in the near future. It’s a shame, because I actually spend a good 75% of my life in that room.

Some highlights of my studio are a Hermann Miller chair, a chalkboard wall, and oodles of bookshelves. Look away. It’s hideous. Go look at John Hendrix’s studio instead. That neat freak.


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3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Dan: The work of William Joyce has always been a huge influence on me. In my early years of art school, his books like Dinosaur Bob just blew my mind. Many of the compositions in my books are influenced by the work in his books, using his method of separating the foreground, middle ground, and background. N. C. Wyeth is another huge influence of mine for his great sense of narrative in all his illustrations. His compositional sense to direct the eyes to a first read is amazing. Chris Van Allsburg was always stellar with his sense of lighting and mood.

Outside of children’s publishing, I was always a comic book kid. Bill Watterson taught me how to draw trees, and both Katsuhiro Otomo and Hayao Miyazaki both taught me the usefulness of quiet moments in the art to influence both pacing and tension. Chip Kidd is an excellent book cover designer, and I try to study his work as much as possible as well.



Spread and cover from Jill Esbaum’s
Tom’s Tweet (Knopf, 2011)
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4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Dan: I met Lane Smith for a few brief moments here and there at an ALA a few years back, but I don’t really count that as really meeting the guy. I think every single one of Bob Shea’s tweets have managed to make me laugh. His books feel like books I would write if/when I eventually get around to writing my own funny picture book. I’ll round out the illustrator trio with Chip Kidd. He’s more of a designer, though, and not so much an illustrator, but they kind of go hand-in-hand in my book. He seems like such a character.

Lastly, I know she’s not an illustrator, but I’ve heard that Kate DiCamillo is hilarious and is the only person who has managed to make Jon Scieszka blush in public.





Artwork from the Imaginary Veterinary series
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5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

Dan: I’m actually more of a TV/movie-watching kind of guy while I work, and I’m always on Netflix — or Hulu on my computer. I rarely ever sit and watch shows on an actual TV anymore. I end up feeling guilty if I’m just sitting around and relaxing on the couch, so half of my 27-inch computer screen is devoted to work, while the other half is devoted to entertainment.


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I bounce around from one show to the next, but right now my favorites are House of Cards, True Detective, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Brooklyn Nine Nine, New Girl, and The Walking Dead. I also watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report fairly regularly.

I generally listen to podcasts when I go running in the morning. I often need to listen to something that keeps my mind off of the fact that I’m running. My favorites on constant rotation are: WTF with Marc Maron, This American Life, Snap Judgment, Unfictional, The Moth Radio Hour, Radiolab, and the Nerdist podcast. I’m a sucker for listening to stories. I’ve recently become addicted to Matthew Winner’s Let’s Get Busy podcast, where he interviews authors and illustrators in children’s publishing. Everyone should check that podcast out. It feels like I’m hanging out with all my friends. I think in about a year, when everyone catches on, it will be one of the most important media sites in the children’s publishing field.

I’m always up for talking tunes, though. I have a very eclectic taste, ranging from Wu Tang Clan to Nicola Conte. I’m currently listening to Phantogram, Nicola Conte, Vampire Weekend, Neko Case, Andrew Bird, Laura Mvula, Lord Huron, Nujabes, The National, and Of Monsters and Men. Every morning on the way to school, I’ve been giving my kids a lesson on good, old music that isn’t on an annoyingly constant rotation on the radio. We’re currently listening to The Smiths, The Beatles, The Kinks, A Tribe Called Quest, Fatboy Slim, Soul Coughing, Outkast, and The Rolling Stones.




Artwork from the Nanny Piggins series

6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Dan: In most reviews, I’m described as being an animator, which probably couldn’t be further from the truth. I actually have no formal training in animation, and I have never worked in animation with the exception of my own show, The Replacements, which was actually developed originally from a picture book idea that I had. I know it sounds weird after just saying that outloud, but the TV show was actually my first and only experience in animation, and I was technically more involved with scripts and visual development. My illustration style has very little to do with animation. It’s more comic-based, if anything.



Dan with his family at Comic Con

7. Jules: Is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do? Feel free to ask and respond here.

Dan: Q: What makes a good cup of coffee?

A: Well my dear/sir, there are three factors:

 


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1) It’s all about the beans. Have you ever bought a bag of coffee from a store and the beans are all black and oily? Those beans suck. Those beans are burned. Throw that coffee away. Your beans should have a satin finish. Also look at the butt crack of the bean. (I don’t know the technical term for it.) The crease in that bean butt crack should have a wheat-like color to it and not be black. That’s where most of your flavor is going to come from.

There’s a misconception that dark-roasted coffee has more caffeine. This is not true. It has less. The longer you roast a coffee bean, the more caffeine molecules you break down. Lighter-roasted beans have more caffeine and more flavor. I tend to go for a middle roast from Ethiopia or Papua New Guinea. Arabica beans are generally regarded as the better bean over a Robusta bean, because they have more flavor, but Robusta beans have more caffeine. Here’s a fact you may not know: Folgers used to be a famous whaling family. They were so famous they were even referenced in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Folgers went into the coffee business when the whaling industry started to die down, and they started selling coffee to settlers heading West for the California Gold Rush. None of this is really important in your good coffee knowledge. I just thought you’d like to know the origin of the worst coffee in the universe and realize that every time a person uses Folgers coffee, a baby whale dies.

2) It’s all about the grind. Use a conical burr grinder, not a blade. You want to crush the beans into equal sizes, not chop them up into bits and pieces like a bloody savage. Depending on the method of brewing, you need to grind your beans to the appropriate size. Don’t grind your beans into a powder unless you’re doing an espresso. It’s all about how long the water is in contact with the beans. I tend to do a drip, because the filter removes all tannins from the brew and you end with a cleaner, brighter tasting cup. You want a coarse grind when doing a drip, like maybe the size of coarse ground pepper in your salad.

DON’T BUY PRE-GROUND COFFEE! The second you ground that coffee you’re losing freshness and flavor. Generally, from plant to store, a bean can sit around for six months before ending up in your cup. If it has already been ground up, then you’re basically letting it dry out and die a slow death. You might as well take lint from your dryer and brew that. This means don’t use those stupid Keurig instant coffee machines! You bloody savages.

3) It’s all about the water. First, use filtered water, of course. Don’t use water straight from the tap, which is filled with minerals and crap. I’m not saying you have to crack open a new bottle of Evian every time you make coffee. A good clean Brita with a fresh filter will do. Second, the rule of thumb is to use a scoop (1 tablespoon) of beans for every 6 ounces of water. Don’t be cheap and use less beans. I always tend to go a little over. When you steep your coffee, it should be no more than five minutes and no less than three. If you’re doing something like a French Press, where the end product is going to be stewing in the tannins, then I suggest you steep for the lesser time.



 

Third, DON’T BOIL YOUR WATER. You’ll burn your beans and it will all taste like charcoal-ly poop. The ideal steeping temperature for your water is from 195-205 degrees. I have an electric kettle.

 




 

You don’t have to be as obsessive as I am, but if you make a good cup of coffee, you’ll never go back to Starbucks.

 



 

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Dan: “Friends.”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Dan: “Never.”

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Dan: The best way to get my inspiration going is when I hear a really good song. A song can get me really pumped up or it can make me cry in an instant. I can often associate visuals to emotions really quickly, and they can flood into my head like a montage.

I’m also really inspired by people who are relatively unknown people in the arts field or are just starting out. When you go to comic conventions and wander away from the big movie industry booths and large comic publishers. you’ll find places like Artist’s Alley and small press publishers who are ignored by most folks at these conventions. I spend the majority of my time in these areas, because they all love the craft. They may or may not turn a profit or draw up any interest from the crowds, but they’re making their books by hand and selling their goods, because they’re passionate about their craft. They take risks and are open to meeting new people. You want those people to succeed. Seeing others work hard can be infectious and make you want to work just as hard.

I remember one time I was sitting at my friend’s booth at San Diego Comic Con, and Matt Groening came up to his table and bought his little hand-made comic. It blew our minds and made his entire comic con experience worthwhile, even though he took a big financial hit, because no one was buying stuff.

Jules: What turns you off?

Dan: When people homogenize content in order to please as many folks as possible. Or rehashing something that’s been done over and over, because it’s a “safe bet.”

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Dan: “Shit” or “fuck.” You’re never going to improve on either of those two curse words, and they roll off your tongue so effortlessly. Sometimes, if I get really frustrated, both words are combined into one: “Shiii-fuuuuuUUUCK!”

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Dan: Laughter.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Dan: Whining or complaining. (I don’t know if those count as sounds.)

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Dan: Industrial Designer. I’d like to make high-end furniture. Either that or an art thief.

There’s also this guy:

 



 

He’s my new hero.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Dan: Professional poker-player.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Dan: “Mr. Santat, you are excused from jury duty. FOREVER.”

 



 

* * * * * * *


 

All artwork and images are used with permission of Dan Santat.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

 


Portrait of Dan by author-illustrator Kadir Nelson,
painted live at a 2011 SCBWI Intensive; more information here
.

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8 comments to “Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Dan Santat
(Your Coffee Pot Will Thank You)”

  1. Starting the day with the RIDICULOUSNESS of this illustrator makes me so very happy. I’m always excited to see solo projects from illustrators I like, and Beekle is ADORKABLE. I love how much creativity just buzzes and bubbles out of this man – it’s the type of thing that makes others feel totally capable of making art, having fun, just being happy. And, I also love how much crazy bubbles from him, as well. But, that’s what you get from stompin’ the mean streets of Alameda… ::snort::

    Also: his coffee advice? That’s why we have both an electric kettle AND a French press. He and Tech Boy would TOTALLY get along. It is hilarious how disdainful these coffee people get of others who drink it burnt, etc. etc. I’m like, “just give me something in a mug… whatever.” And Tech Boy recoils…


  2. I know Dan and his work only through his several appearances at 7-Imp. But I have to say, I think he and is work are perfect examples of the sort of “children art(ist)” who should not be wasted exclusively on children.

    Luckily, I am a tea drinker, not a coffee drinker. I say “luckily” because I will never again be able to look up close at a coffee bean with a straight face — not after encountering that “butt crack” analogy. I can’t wait to use it on coffee fanatics I know.


  3. I sure hope that thing about him collaborating with me is true!!!!

    Dan Santat is amazing, both the guy and the work.


  4. It’s hard to hide how much I love and admire Dan Santat, but this post did something I didn’t think was possible… made me respect him even more! What an amazing talent is that Santat and, moreover, what an incredible gift he is to our kidlit community and to our readers. So glad that there are Dan Santats in this world and that the one and only is exactly the guy he is.

    Awesome post!


  5. What happens to the baby whales when you drink Starbucks?


  6. […] Weekly, this one from NPR, this one from Dan’s local station in Pasadena, and this one on the 7 Impossible Things blog. And there’s this fun podcast from […]


  7. […] so many talented illustrators that it’s really difficult to narrow it down. I’m a big fan of Dan Santat and was thrilled Beekle won the Caldecott. It’s a beautiful book, and I love that he works […]


  8. […] who inspire me the most are current illustrators, such as Dan Santat and Jon Klassen. Other favorite illustrators include Oliver Jeffers, Greg Orfanos, Alexander Vidal, […]


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