By Gerardo Blumenkrantz, 2012 Sendak Fellow.
Monday, December 31, 2012
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Monday, December 17, 2012
Monday, December 10, 2012
Friday, December 7, 2012
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Googling my name (I promise: I only do that a few times a day), I came upon this:
Sergio Ruzzier's deceptively mediocre livelihood drawings are a win enhance to these child-centered poems; I can't affirm of a improved approach to found a bairn to the pleasures of patter. Considering Kuskin writes, what separates each lone of us from unexpurgated the cattle again bugs and birds? In toto they presuppose feathers, fur further wings but we postulate words, besides words, also words?
What can I say? I'm flattered!
Monday, November 12, 2012
Next week I will be in Milan, Italy, to teach a 5-day workshop on children's book illustration at MiMaster, an illustration school.
In the evening of that Thursday, the 22 of November, I will be at Libreria 121 to talk about Randolph Caldecott, Heidi, and how to be an unreliable illustrator. Please come by if you are in Milan.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Monday, October 8, 2012
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Cleaning up my studio drawers, I realized I have many drawings that never see the light of day, poor little ones. So, I've decided to open an Etsy shop and put them out there, hoping that some of them will find a home.
In the future, I might also offer prints and books.
In the future, I might also offer prints and books.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Sunday, May 6, 2012
I wrote this piece for the March/April 2012 SCBWI Bulletin. They are kindly letting me post it here as well.
Among the very first books that I ever touched, were the five Little Bear books by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. The bittersweet episode in which Little Bear thinks his mother has forgotten about his birthday was especially fascinating to me as a young child. The story is touching and beautifully told, but what really got into my guts, and stayed there forever, are those perfect ink drawings. The disappointment you could see on Little Bear's expressions; the different personalities of Hen, Duck, and Cat; the melancholy of the humble birthday soup: all this is illuminated by Sendak's pen in such a sensitive manner. The last time I took a good look at those drawings was years ago, but if I close my eyes I can still see them so clearly.
As an adolescent, I began imagining for myself a future as a visual storyteller of some kind. Looking around for inspiration, I encountered Hieronymus Bosch, Alfred Kubin, Elzie Crisler Segar, George Herriman, Wilhelm Busch, and other artists in various fields. Since I didn't go through any kind of formal education to speak of, these people and their work were fundamental in my artistic progress, for better or worse. But when I sat down at my table to learn how to use that wonderful drafting tool that is the dip pen, I knew what to keep near at hand: Maurice Sendak's drawings.
In Italy, where I was born and grew up, most of Sendak's books were not nearly as popular as they were in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Only when I moved to New York in the mid nineties did I fully understand the range and importance of his work. I began collecting his books, which kept me company on my path to the profession.
One day in February of 2011, opening the mailbox to clear it up from the usual utility bills and advertisements, I found a curious item: a letter. It was addressed to me, and bore the letterhead The Sendak Fellowship. I opened it, expecting to read a request for a donation to a children's literacy program or something of that nature. Instead, the letter was an invitation to spend four weeks in Connecticut, in a house a few steps from Maurice Sendak's, in the fall. I would be given a studio where to work on my projects, if I felt like it. In fact, there was no obligation to produce anything specific, or anything at all. In addition to this, and to me most importantly, I would have a chance to meet Maurice Sendak. Maurice Sendak! I said yes, but I was scared.
The notion that Sendak actually knew my books enough to invite me to his place was unsettling. I have always been afraid that one day I'll hear a knock at the door and some stranger in a uniform, an Art Police officer, will notify me of my lack of qualifications and therefore my inadequacy to be in this business. I will have to surrender my pen and nibs and my India ink, my watercolors and my paper. Something like this might happen one day, and I was afraid the time had come. Sendak himself was to notify me personally.
A few months before the fellowship began, I learned the names of the three other fellows who would be in Connecticut with me (four illustrators are invited each year): Denise Saldutti, Frann Preston-Gannon, and Ali Bahrampour. I was very familiar with Bahrampour's picture book, Otto. The Story of a Mirror, a wonderful, truly original book. I thought: if he is also being invited, maybe I don’t have to be too afraid. After making that first book, he seemed to have disappeared from the children's book world, so they couldn't possibly want him out, as he already was out. I began to think that the Sendak Fellowship must have been some kind of rehabilitation center for picture storytellers. And for me, it was.
Everything in my stay was delightful: the convivial atmosphere; the incredible kindness and efficiency of Dona McAdams and Lynn Caponera, who organize the program; my studio, with windows that looked into the woods, populated by birds, frogs, toads, turtles, chipmunks, deer, and very long and fat earthworms. In that studio, I was able to draw and think freely, with no deadlines or pressure of any kind, just for the pleasure of it.
The main reason why I draw and tell stories is to be in that state of grace and intimate isolation you reach when you are completely immersed in your creation. We all know it is often a delusive state, but still. In that world that you are building, you want to be honest, you want to be true to yourself. But when you make picture books for children, there are so many hurdles, taboos, things that you are not allowed to show or tell. You get used to this notion; you come to accept it as a given; you censor yourself. And you produce books that are not as good as they could be. You forget why you are doing this.
Sendak reminded me that it doesn’t have to be that way. He is a very warm, sweet and witty person, but also very honest. He told me what he liked in my books and what he didn't like. His main concern was that some of my choices were too safe and tame. “You need to be brave,” he said to me. I tried to blame the publishers, and he did acknowledge that today’s industry, at least in the United States, is not as favorable and nurturing as it was forty or fifty years ago. But that, he told me, should not be an excuse. He is completely right, and I already knew that. But talking with him, while walking in the woods with his dog Herman, made me remember why I draw and tell stories.
|This is a drawing I did while in Connecticut,|
based on a drawing I did in fourth grade
Monday, April 23, 2012
About ten years ago, while I was doing books with Frances Foster at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, she gave me a copy of a picture book just published by that house: Otto: The Story of a Mirror. I loved that book, and I had since been very curious about the author and illustrator, Ali Bahrampour. Last year I had the fortune of meeting and getting to know him, a fellow Sendak Fellow. He has many other great ideas for picture books, and I think one of these days we'll be lucky enough to see them in print.
You can read more about Ali and Otto here (you'll have to scroll down).
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Monday, April 2, 2012
Saturday, March 31, 2012
I just came back from Bologna, via Lisbon.
I was also very happy to see the Disney/Hyperion booth nicely decorated with a blow-up of the cover (still not in its final look) of my Bear and Bee. To make the thing even more pleasant, I shared the wall with Matthew Cordell's Hello! Hello!
Bear and Bee is the first of a series of picture books and it will be out in January 2013.
On my way back, I stopped in Lisbon. Here I am in front of one of the most beautiful paintings I know: The Temptations of Saint Anthony by Hieronymus Bosch.
There are many nice things in Lisbon, including this pavement: