I just spent an hour and a half with one of the funniest, most unpretentious and humble author/illustrators I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet.
Jon Klassen is all that and more. What a great story teller, he completely sold me on his talent. I couldn’t have been more impressed by him.
He talked about his start as an animator and claimed how terrible he was at it! Even though, at the age of 25 he was working on big films, such as Coraline. But it was the work he did on his own time that fulfilled him.
He started illustrating other people’s books after he got himself an agent (who didn’t mind that he wasn’t Maurice Sendak or a rich lawyer’s wife). His beautiful illustrations for Ted Kooser’s, “House Held Up By Trees”, not only does justice to the author’s story, it takes it a little bit further by adding mood and a timeframe not readily evident at first. Until you notice the two empty chairs and notice the illustrations in the book go from dawn to dusk and back again.
Other work he has done include various book jackets and some illustrations for a series of books called “The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place” by Maryrose Wood. He mentioned that he didn’t like drawing people, because he wasn’t good at it. Unless they weren’t moving of course!
His two books that he author illustrated “I Want My Hat Back” and “This Is Not My Hat” are quite hilariously funny when you really look at them. I think listening to him talk about them and what he was thinking about as he wrote and illustrated them has made me appreciate them even more.
One thing that he said that I loved, was that he enjoys illustrating the back of books because as an animator, films don’t have a back!
His talk really hit home with me. It has given me the confidence to stop struggling with my illustration and trying to make it something it isn’t or will never be because I’m not a fine artist or watercolourist. Instead to find what works and is comfortable for me and embrace it.