Thursday, 7 October 2010
I was getting frustrated that I'm not reading as many books as I used to. Actually, the opposite is true. I'm reading between three and five a night - it's just that they're children's books. And I recently realised that when they're done well, they really let my imagination run wild (let alone my son's) and take me back to my childhood. One author I've just discovered is Steve Jenkins, who lives in Boulder, Colorado. He combines science and illustration into beautifully designed books. Many of the books were inspired by questions from his children.
Which five words best describe you? Active, optimistic (personally), pessimistic (socially), introverted, grateful.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I began, in college, to pursue a career in graphic design. My wife and I still have a design office, and still do design work, but we are focusing more and more on writing, designing, and illustrating nonfiction books for children. My design training helped me get started as an illustrator. It gave me experience with a visual vocabulary - things like scale, contrast, rhythm, and so on. Perhaps more significantly, I was able, while wearing my designer/art director hat, to give myself illustration assignments. I started working with cut paper to illustrate a series (probably hundreds) of Frommer's travel guide covers. These book jacket, done over a period of several years, were my illustration apprenticeship. What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Everything matters - once one is willing to do less than their best work, whether for money, or just to get something done and gone - the work loses not just its integrity but its rewards. So I try to make sure I meet my own expectations of professionality, even if I could do less and no one would notice.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Being able to combine my interests in science, nature, books, art, and children into a viable profession.
What’s been your best decision? Marrying my partner and co-author Robin Page.
Who inspires you? My children. Also artists, athletes, scientists, writers. Too many to name.
What are you passionate about? My family. Also art, sport, science, writing.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Dead: Leonardo Da Vinci Alive: Richard Dawkins
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Writing the perfect children's book. After I figure out what that is.
What are you reading? The Singularity Is Near by Ray Kurzweil. What he's excited about - the literal integration of human and artificial intelligence - I find a bit scary. I hope his optimism is well-founded. Tinkers, a novel by Paul Harding. Picked it up at the suggestion of friend. Just starting, so no book report. But the writing is gorgeous.
images courtesy of steve jenkins