Incredible news came over the weekend when the Theodor Seuss Geisel committee called and said Stop! Bot! is the 2020 winner of the Geisel award. I was stunned because it is the dream of anyone in children’s book publishing to be recognized by the American Library Association who also award the Caldecott and Newbery Awards.
I like to think I take awards in stride but this was a bolt of lightning. According to the ALA, “The Geisel Award is given to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year. Award winners are recognized for their literary and artistic achievements that demonstrate creativity and imagination to engage children in reading.” It’s hard to believe these words describe Stop! Bot!
As a child, I loved spending time at the elementary school library reading Caldecott and Newbury winners. One shelf was filled with Dr Seuss books. The other kids and I would sit on the floor in front of the shelf and read one Seuss book after another. Sometimes we traded books after finishing. Library hour always passed too quickly.
Stop! Bot! was meant to be fun and imaginative so winning an award named after Dr Seuss means the world. Thanks again to the Geisel committee, Viking for Children’s and my dream team of editor Tracy Gates and art director Jim Hoover.
It is still a shock.
One of my favorite regular gigs is the Word on The Street column by Ben Zimmer for the Wall St Journal. Every week a word or phrase in the news is featured and Ben talks about the origins for the word. I’ve joked to him it’s basically Electric Company for adults. This column has also turned into a nice diary of current events for the year.
Wired has always been on my dream list of publications and it was a blast this summer when AD Elena Lacey called to work on the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing and a project about artificial intelligence. I’m a bit of a geek so it was fun diving into the assignments. Here’s a taste of the work I did for Wired:
Great news from 3×3 Magazine: My “Dear Diary” series about my experience at The Masters for Golf Digest, and my illustration about quantum physics for Notre Dame Magazine were selected for 3×3’s International Illustration Annual. 3×3 has an international audience so it is always a thrill to be selected. Much thanks to the judges, Publisher Charles Hively for the news and Art Directors, Ken Delago and Kerry Prugh for choosing me to work on great assignments.
Dear Diary: A guide to the fine art of hanging out at your first Masters. Publication: Golf Digest. Art Director: Ken Delago
Stranger than Fiction. Publication: Notre Dame Magazine. Art Director: Kerry Prugh
Very happy news! Two pieces were selected for American Illustration’s 38th annual. Out of 7000 pieces, 368 were chosen. It’s always a good day to be selected for American Illustration because their annual has a reputation for showcasing the most exciting work in illustration. Much thanks to the judges for this honor.
Dear Diary: James Yang’s first look at The Masters. Client: Golf Digest. AD: Ken Delago
September. Client: Konica Minolta. AD: Kenny Eicher
Art Director, Ken Delago called last year with a dream assignment. Golf Digest wanted me to be the artist for the 2018 Masters Tournament as part of their First Look series. Each year Golf Digest Sends an illustrator to Augusta National to experience the masters and create an 8 page series of illustrations based on your first impressions. Ironically I am the first illustrator who golfs whom they’ve sent in 14 years and this was the assignment of my dreams. Many legendary illustrators and friends of mine who are insanely talented have done this gig and it was exciting and frightening at the same time. Not only did they ask for art, they also asked me to write a humorous story.
The story and art are now out with the 2019 Masters Preview issue and I have been grateful for the positive reaction from readers for both the art and the story.
Much thanks to Ken Delago and Editor in Chief Jerry Talde for making my dreams come true. You can read the story online at Golf Digest.
One of the funner challenges is creating art for the Opinion Section of the New York Times. The deadlines are famously short, you may have deadlines as short as 3 hours to pull something off and it needs to be compelling and thoughtful. It helps to have smart art directors like Hannah K Lee and John Custer. The art, article, and design happen at the same time. The designer may change the layout based on your sketches or the story has been revised so your specs are fluid. The art also needs to work for both print and web. The career has come full circle as I have updated a line oriented approach used at the beginning of my career since it allows illustrations to be executed quickly. It’s been a fun trip creating art as fast as the news for this rising generation of art directors.