It’s the first Sunday of the month, dear Imps, which means I have a student or newly-graduated illustrator. Today, it’s James Serafino, who graduated from the School of Visual Arts and tells me that children’s books are his primary passion in life and that he loves to share and learn and talk about them as much as possible.
Let’s get right to it, and I thank James for sharing his artwork.
James: I’ve always known I’m an artist. That’s the easy part. As a kid, I taught myself to draw by coping Calvin and Hobbes and Jim Lee’s X-Men. I started out tracing them and tracing them until I could do it freehand (way before I knew what freehand was). By the time I got to the School of Visual Arts, I knew I was an illustrator. And by the time I graduated, I knew that I only cared about picture books.
At school, I discovered that I am a storyteller. Story is my art. I thought I was a painter, but I was not. There was never enough room on the canvas to fit everything I wanted to paint. All of my ideas are actually a hundred ideas, and the story is what brings them all together.
I think the picture book is the perfect art form. It is everything; there is nothing a picture book can’t be. Where else can you be serious and silly all at once? You can be powerful and meaningful on one page and downright ridiculous on the next, and the story is only better for it. I love that they are important. I love that they are fun. I love that I feel like I am reaching out to the future, and I love that in doing so, I spend a great deal of time trying to figure out how to fit raccoons into Victorian garb. They never sit still.
What I love best is telling people that I am a children’s book illustrator. They always get excited and start remembering THAT ONE BOOK that has always been a part of them, even if they had forgotten. Picture books create meaning and connection that last a lifetime. They shape us more than we can know. There is no more powerful art experience than story time with your child. It is more important than any painting in any museum. I’ve stood in awe of the Sistine Chapel; I’d rather be in bed with a book.
All artwork used by permission of James Serafino.
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.
Thank you, James!
1) A lunch date on Thursday with my oldest.
2) This interview with John Lewis.
3) Ordered this. All proceeds go to the ACLU, and I love the image.
4) Thank you, MoMA.
5) Live music.
6) I found a mug (and got one for a friend) that says “DO NOT TAUNT HAPPY FUN BALL.” Only fellow Saturday Night Live geeks will understand how much I love it. (Late ’80s: Best cast ever. No argument.)
What are YOUR kicks this week?