Everytime it’s the same: Seeing his newest work for the first time begs the question, “What’s the story here?” You know his work, you just didn’t know you know. “Jumangi” and “The a Polar Express” are movies made from his books.
Chris Van Allsburg has been writing and illustrating for years. I’ve been a fan just as long. Most of his work is done in black and white with varied shades of grey, sepia, tan, …. But always, they are stunning.
“The Garden of Abdul Gasazi” book cover sets the stage for intrigue: What’s going on here? Who is this Abdul? Is this based on a real garden? His way with words is as sharp as are his illustrations.
In every book he hides a small drawing of this little guy too, it’s his trademark. Kids, young and young-at-heart, like me, anxiously buy his books and begin turning pages without reading, to find this dog. A stroke of genius marketing.
His website includes a look at his work, some great videos (including a Ted’s Talk he did about his book about the real life dare-devil woman who plunged down Niagra Falls in a barrel), and a statement about himself as artist and storyteller. It’s worth your time to check it out.
And check out his attic studio! Who wouldn’t wanna a creative place studio like this? Simple, clean + hard work ethic & imagination = complex, detailed illustrated storys in books that become heirlooms. I’ve all his books, and I’ve already deemed them to our grandchildren, specific books for specific kids, with a handwritten note in each telling why I liked the book, what lessons I learn from it, and why I think they will like it as well.
And so, like Chris here does, I extend the same wishes to you:
Be Well, Do Good.
p.s. In the previous post I spoke of a River Walk in Providence, Rhode Island. Here it is again at the Alma mater of Chris: The Rhode Island School of Design. Also the school of another favorite illustrator I’ll soon be sharing with you: Brian Selznick.