I believe that all of the interviews here on Frog On A Blog are special and this one is no exception. The talented and busy Kurt Cyrus is the latest picture book author and illustrator to submit to my questions. Actually, he very graciously and quickly answered all of the questions. He’s written and illustrated many picture books, including Tadpole Rex, so check out his terrific website (listed below) to learn more about them. Here’s the interview:
Interview With Author/Illustrator Kurt Cyrus (6/26/2011)
Q. Why are you drawn (no pun intended) to children’s book illustration?
KC. It’s just a natural fit for me. My drawing has always had a storytelling aspect to it, more than aesthetic. Children’s books are the perfect place for that.
Q. What inspires your creativity?
KC. Sometimes it comes from observing the natural world, as with Tadpole Rex. In the case of Oddhopper Opera it came from reading some kids’ street rhymes in a book of American folklore. It can be anything, but whatever triggers the idea, it almost always goes back to some subject or idea that has intrigued me for a long time.
Q. How would you describe your style?
KC. I’m not consciously aware of having a style. Some people tell me they can always recognize my work, and others say that my books look so different from one another that they seem to have been done by different people. Usually it’s pretty close to realistic, but with stylistic liberties taken.
Q. Are there any books from your childhood or authors and artists that positively influenced your work?
KC. I loved Dr. Seuss of course, so I imagine my rhyming must show some influence from him. Later on, as an adult, I discovered and loved Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories, and I think some of my word choices have been influenced by that.
Q. You have written and illustrated several picture books. Any favorites?
KC. Tadpole Rex and The Voyage of Turtle Rex have to be my favorites. They’re the ones I really enjoy reading and showing to kids. It doesn’t hurt that those books have had the best critical reception of any I’ve done. I’m pretty insecure, so any book that brings public validation is likely to become my favorite.
Q. What are you working on right now?
KC. I’m illustrating a picture book about trucks for Candlewick. Also I’ve been writing and revising several manuscripts that have begun making the rounds. I’ve learned that when times are lean and there’s no job on the horizon, rather than give in to anxiety and paralysis, I’ve got to make use of the time and let some new ideas flow. Something good always comes from that. I may only sell one out of five or six projects, but that’s enough.
Q. How can fans learn more about you and your work?
KC. There’s a website: www.kurtcyrus.com. It has the basics, and if you want to know more, you may email me from that site. I answer them all.
Q. Any closing thoughts for fans or aspiring artists?
KC. Good luck!